The Examiner: Howie Hawkins the Choice in Governor's Race


The Examiner
by Billy Warton
October 31st, 2010

 

New York voters will be faced with stark choice when they enter the voting booth this Tuesday. Cast a vote for Democrat Andrew Cuomo and give your endorsement to the extreme budget cuts that he is planning. Or, mark your ballot for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in order to make a definitive statement in support of a progressive plan to address the need for jobs, a clean environment and good schools. Sure, Hawkins is a protest vote, but this is a protest with a higher purpose.

 

The primary goal of the Hawkins for Governor campaign is to achieve the magical mark of 50,000 votes. Doing so, will provide the Green Party with automatic ballot status. This means that, for the next four years, independent candidates running on the Green line will not be restrained by New York State's remarkably tough ballot access laws. Most offices require the collection of thousands of signatures which serves to disqualify many independents. A vote for Hawkins would result in many more choices for New York voters in coming elections.

 

Though securing those 50,000 votes was the initial goal, the Hawkins campaign soon found itself confronted with a Democratic Party candidate that sounded an awful lot like a Republican. After racing out to a double-digit lead that he still enjoys in the polls, candidate Andrew Cuomo declared war on public employees unions by viewing their wage levels, benefits and job security as a big part of the political problem in Albany. This, in addition to brazen claims to be the real Tea Party candidate based on his commitment to slash the budget, secured Cuomo's conservative credentials.

 

Such right-wing rhetoric did not, however, stop the Working Families Party (WFP), the ostensibly progressive voice for labor inside of the Democratic Party, from endorsing Cuomo. This was no quicky marriage though. Cuomo forced the WFP to sign on to his package of budget cutbacks as a condition for his acceptance of the endorsement. The WFP accepted this as part of a pragmatic approach to defending their ballot line, but, in the process, negated their annual claims to be able to steer the Democrats platform, thereby eliminating any idea of political independence or progressivism. The WFP is the organization of budget cuts and anti-union attacks - same as its candidate.

 

Hawkins didn't. Instead of capitulating to a budget cuts agenda, he offered a bold plan to shift the burden onto to those who led New York State into this economic crisis Wall Street and, more generally, the richest 5% of the population. Hawkins' proposal of a state owned and run bank would break the grip on credit exercised by the big private banks and investment houses. A state bank would become the lynchpin for what Hawkins describes as a Green New Deal. This would shift the political conversation in the State from what gets cut or what fees or fares are increased to how we can end unemployment or how we can re-energize our public services or how we can more efficiently tax the rich.

 

As a democratic socialist, there is much to like about Howie Hawkins' 2010 run for Governor. I want my daughter to have tuition free access to public education from K through graduate school. I want the governor of my state pushing for a single-payer healthcare plan that would eliminate the influence of private health insurers. And, I want all the underemployed and unemployed folks in New York to be provide with the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to society. What started as a campaign for ballot access has become a point of resistance against the Democratic Party's assault on unions, public services and the education system.

 

I think that independents and progressive will agree that Howie Hawkins is the best choice for Governor in 2010. A vote for Howie is a demand for a more human-centered economy in New York State. The added benefit is that this year your vote will make a difference it could be one of 50,000 that opens the door for more independent candidates. The choice is yours.

 

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Billy Wharton is the editor of the Socialist WebZine. His articles have been published by the Washington Post, Counterpunch and In These Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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