What’s In An Eco-Socialist Green New Deal?
Each new report indicates the need to take urgent action on the climate crisis. The impacts in the US so far this year are already devastating – much of the farmland in the Midwest is still unsuitable for planting because of flooding and severe storms. In the European Union, climate was a major factor in the parliamentary elections with Green Party candidates surging toward the top in many countries. Will there be a similar awakening in the United States? We speak with Howie Hawkins, the person who brought the Green New Deal to the US and who recently announced that he is seeking the Green Party nomination for president, about the details of the eco-socialist Green New Deal he proposes and how to win it.
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Howie Hawkins is the original Green New Dealer, the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010.
He is also one of the original Greens in the United States, having participated in the first national meeting to organize a US Green Party in St. Paul, Minnesota in August 1984.
Howie became active in “The Movement” for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. Repelled by the racism and warmongering he saw in both major parties, he asked, “Where is my party?”
From the start, he was committed to independent working-class politics for a democratic, socialist, and ecological society. He supported the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the People’s Party in 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party in 1980. Since that first national meeting in 1984, Howie has been a Green Party organizer.
As the Green Party’s candidate for governor of New York in 2010, 2014, and 2018, each time he received enough votes to qualify the Green Party for a ballot line for the next four years. In 2014, he received 5 percent of the vote, the most for an independent progressive party candidates for governor in New York history except for Socialist candidates who received 5.7% in 1918 and 5.6% in 1920.
As a Green Party candidate many times for local office in Syracuse, his vote grew from 3% for at-large councilor in 1993 to 48% for a district council seat in 2011. In 2015, he received 35% of the citywide vote for city auditor.
Outside of electoral politics, Howie has been a constant organizer in peace, justice, union, and environmental campaigns.
When his draft number was called in 1972, Howie enlisted in the Marine Corps while continuing to organize against the Vietnam War. He remains a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War as well as a member of the American Legion Dunbar Post 1642 in Syracuse.
After studying at Dartmouth College, Howie worked in construction in New England in the 1970s and 1980s. He helped organize a worker cooperative that specialized in energy efficiency and solar and wind installations.
When the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs, A. Philip Randolph, Helen Keller, and Norman Thomas re-established itself as an independent party in 1973, Howie joined and remains a member. He is also a member of Solidarity, which promotes “socialism from below” and international solidarity because the fight for freedom against all dictators and imperialisms is worldwide and indivisible.
Howie was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was also a leader in the anti-apartheid divestment movement to end US corporate investment in the racist system of oppression and labor exploitation in South Africa.
Howie moved to Syracuse in 1991 to develop cooperatives for CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives that promoted cooperative ownership, democratic control, and ecological sustainability in the local economy.
From 2001 to 2018, he worked as a Teamster unloading trucks at UPS. Now retired, he remains a supporter of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, US Labor Against the War, the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, the Labor Network for Sustainability, and the Labor Notes network. Howie’s articles on politics, economics, and environmental issues have appeared in Against the Current, Black Agenda Report, CounterPunch, Green Politics, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, New Politics, Peace and Democracy News, Roll Call, Society and Nature, Z Magazine, and other publications. He is the editor of, and a contributor to, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate(Haymarket Books, 2006).