Endorsing Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is a form of protest, but it’s also an endorsement of Hawkins’ dogged effort to put important, progressive ideas before the public.
Hawkins has received almost no coverage in this campaign. The media seem to mention him (along with Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott) simply because he’s on the ballot. And some dismiss him as having ideas too far out in left field to pay attention to.
Some of Hawkins’ ideas are indeed not realistic. Others may be sound, but they’re expensive, and Hawkins’ tax-reform proposals aren’t likely to pay the full cost. But on many issues, progressive New Yorkers are more in sync with Hawkins than with Andrew Cuomo. And that’s likely true of many moderates as well.
Hawkins’ position papers contain more detail, and more food for thought, than those of all the other candidates combined. And through them, he is painting a picture of the kind of New York many of us wish we could aspire to.
On Hawkins’ list of reforms:
• A $15 minimum wage and “a living income above poverty level” for everyone who can’t work.
• A publicly funded single-payer health care system.
• An end to high-stakes testing, Common Core, and Race to the Top. Free tuition to SUNY and CUNY.
• Tax credits for renters. A moratorium on home foreclosures. Requiring that all mortgages be refinanced at the homes’ current market value. Construction of new, high-quality mixed-income housing. Expanded public transit and construction of intra-urban rail lines and high-speed long-distance rail lines.
• A ban on fracking. No new fossil-fuel infrastructure: no trains, trucks, or barges carrying shale oil through the state. No storage of natural gas, liquefied propane, or liquefied butane in the Seneca Lake salt caverns. Closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant and phasing out of all the others.
• An end to “corporate welfare.” Requiring the state to pay for services it mandates local governments to provide. More progressive estate taxes and an increase in taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, taking them back to the levels of the 1970’s, which, Hawkins says, would enable the state to reduce taxes for others and could fund investment in infrastructure and other initiatives.
• Publicly owned power and fuel companies. Universal access to high-speed internet. Preservation of net neutrality and blockage of the Comcast-Time Warner merger.
• Restoration of funding for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Promotion of a “zero-waste solid waste policy,” including boosting reuse and recycling efforts. Stronger wetland protection.
• Ending segregation in housing and schools. Establishing a state civil rights department. Banning solitary confinement, expanding educational opportunities for prisoners, and restoring voting rights for convicted felons.
• Requiring 12 weeks of paid family leave. Subsidized high-quality child-care and elder care. Extension of labor rights to farmworkers. Medicaid funding for abortions. Restoration of state funding for homeless-youth centers. Public financing for campaigns.
There’s much, much more on Hawkins’ website (howiehawkins.org): progressive ideas on agriculture, women’s rights, criminal justice, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, ethics in government.
Hawkins has no chance at becoming governor. Sadly, few of his proposals stand any better chance at getting adopted. That’s proof of the drift of the state and the country away from the progressive philosophies of the past, when measures like Social Security and national park protections could get adopted and Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt thought that huge companies had too much power.
There was a time when New York political campaigns included a robust discussion of progressive ideas. Now, only people like Hawkins are talking about them, and Hawkins is routinely ignored.
That’s an indication of the strength of the conservative movement. And Hawkins deserves support in his effort to push back.
Howie Hawkins won the Green Party nomination for Governor in Troy on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Andrew Cuomo. Hawkins says he plans to challenge the 1% tag team of Cuomo and Republican nominee Astorino on economic, climate change and criminal justice issues. Hawkins also wants NY to go carbon free with a 100%, clean renewable energy by 2030, while providing a public living wage job to any New Yorker who needs one.
The Greens selected NYC Educator Brian Jones to highlight their opposition to Cuomo’s education policies promoting privatization of the education system, including his promotion of the Common Core agenda and charter schools. The Greens are seeking full funding to meet the educational needs of New Yorkers, including free tuition at CUNY and SUNY.