Who is Howie Hawkins and Why Is He Debating Paladino and Cuomo Tonight?

10/18/2010 1:07 PM |

howie hawkins

“If we don’t vote for what we want, we will never get it.” So says Howie Hawkins, your progressive third party candidate in this year’s race for governor of New York. Representing the Green Party, Hawkins will be at tonight’s gubernatorial debate, which also features the evil Carl Paladino and quietly center-right Democrat Andrew Cuomo (along with two other candidates).

What would you say to an “Anyone But Carl!” voter pulling the lever for Cuomo, justifiably terrified that that lunatic Paladino could be the next governor of New York?
First, Carl Paladino has no chance of winning. His campaign self-destructs every time he talks.

Second, you’d better be scared of Cuomo, too. He’s Robin Hood in reverse. He wants to cut and gut state agencies, public workers, and public services in order to protect tax cuts for the rich. He told Fred Dicker of the NY Post (Sept. 17) that he had the same Tea Party message of tax and spending cuts as Paladino, but without the Crazy Carl rants. In addition to millions from Wall Street finance and real estate interests, Cuomo has accepted over $50,000 in campaign contributions from David Koch, the richest man in New York and the national Tea Party movement’s biggest funder.

A vote for Cuomo is a vote for his conservative economic program. If you’re a progressive, a Cuomo vote is a wasted vote. It gives away your power. Cuomo will take you for granted, because what are you going to do, vote for a Republican like Paladino?

No! You’re going to vote for Howie Hawkins and the Green Party. That vote will send a clear message to the people, the politicians, and the media of support for the Green New Deal: full employment, universal single-payer health care, fully funded public schools, tuition-free SUNY and CUNY, building a carbon-free clean energy system—all paid for by restoring progressive tax rates on Wall Street and the rich. A big Green vote will put Green policies on the public agenda. If we don’t vote for what we want, we will never get it.

You’ve also been endorsed by the Socialist Party. What’s the difference between a Green and a Socialist?

Less and less these days. They’re converging around the eco-socialist vision of an ecological and democratic economy with sustainable systems of production and an equitable distribution of work and income. It’s a vision of ecological plenitude where the means to life and free human development for all are produced in a way that protects and restores the natural environmental productivity upon which human means of livelihood depend.

What’s really at stake in this election?

The Green New Deal prosperity plan vs. the Cuomo austerity plan. The Green New Deal will bring a sustainable green economic recovery. Cuomo’s cuts to the public sector when aggregate demand is sagging will yield a vicious circle of debt and depression. The Green Party will take the rich off welfare and make them pull their weight in society by paying their fair share of taxes again. Cuomo and the Wall Street Democrats won’t.

Last year the state received $16 billion from the Stock Transfer Tax and gave it right back to Wall Street. Then they declared $9 billion deficit and a fiscal crisis. That’s politics, not economics; money-drenched politicians, not impersonal market forces. If they had just kept the money, we would have had a $7 billion surplus for fully funding public schools, public transit, environmental protection, public safety, and all the other things that were cut. We could raise another $10 billion with a 50% Bankers Bonus Tax on the $20 billion they paid themselves in cash bonuses out of the trillions they got from taxpayers in federal bailout money. We could raise another $8 billion, and give 95% of us a tax cut, by restoring the 1972 progressive income tax structure. That adds up to $34 billion. Subtract the $9 billion deficit projected for next year again, and we have $25 billion a year for the Green New Deal.

The Greens are tying to become an official party with an automatic ballot line for the next four years in NYS by getting 50,000+ votes for our gubernatorial ticket. That’s our minimum goal.

What we really want is ten times that vote to demonstrate to the public, the media, and lawmakers that the Greens are the third major party; that we are central to the main narrative of New York politics, not a sidebar; that our platform is more in the mainstream of New York’s progressive political tradition than the old major parties; that our agenda of single payer health care, a WPA-style jobs program, affordable housing, rent control, fully funded public education, progressive tax reform, open and transparent government, proportional representation, public campaign finance, real action on climate change, same sex marriage, an end to racial profiling and the drug war, and deep cuts in military spending and an end to foreign wars of occupation has broad public support.

Until liberals and progressives use their vote to reject the corporate agenda of the Democrats and confirm the public support for the progressive agenda with Green votes, the political dynamic will continue shifting to the Right.

Do you think Andrew Cuomo hates Brooklyn as much as Carl Paladino does?
Paladino hates Brooklyn, too? He just can’t help himself. Every time he opens his mouth his mean spirit compels him to insult another group. He’s talking himself right out of the race. If everybody in every group he has denigrated finds out what he thinks of them, he will be lucky to come in third or fourth.

You live in Syracuse; do you hate Brooklyn too?
I love Brooklyn. My running mate, Gloria Mattera for Lieutenant Governor, is a lifelong Brooklynite. My Campaign Manager and Downstate Coordinator both live in Brooklyn. I keep running into former Syracusans when I campaign in Brooklyn. I expect a big Green vote out of Brooklyn. Statewide, the Greens always get more votes out of Brooklyn than anywhere else.

4 Comment

  • I’m definitely voting for Howie Hawkins. Everything he said makes perfect sense.

  • I saw the debate tonight. I’m impressed with Howie Hawkins. I want the Green Party to get the 50,000 votes. That’ll mean more candidates like Hawkins running for, and get elected to, local offices. One more vote for Howie Hawkins and the Green Party!

  • Voting for Hawkins here, too. I am afraid of what Cuomo’s policies will do to NY. He lost my vote early–when he announced that our mayor will be his running mate. Duffy put the city school district under mayoral control, because he, like many other politicians who came before him, failed to address the problems associated with urban poverty. Urban poverty, which we all know always gets worse when local and federal governments gut public services.

    We need Cuomo to aim his austerity measures at Wall Street, not the rest of us. He wouldn’t do that to his friends, though.

  • I am very thankful that Howie Hawkins is running for Governor. I am glad that we are given real voting choices today. Unfortunately, there was no real Green Party candidate running for my local congressional seat, but if there was, I’d vote for them in a heartbeat.

    Mr. Hawkins is absolutely correct. “If we don’t vote for what we want, we will never get it.”