Environmental advocates filled the room at Olive Ridley’s Taphouse & Grill Late Night for the Planet Forum Wednesday night alongside 2020 National Presidential Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins.
Howie Hawkins, the first U.S. candidate to run on the Green New Deal during his New York governor campaigns in 2010, came to Plattsburgh Wednesday to educate young voters on the climate crisis, the economic bill of rights, socialist economy, political democracy, social justice and civil liberty. He is a part of the Socialist Party and a co-founder of the Green Party, surrounding the deal.
The Green New Deal, is a proposed US legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. This combines conservation efforts with the New Deal, a project of social and economic reforms and public works done by Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Great Depression.
“The problem is Democrat’s take our ideas and they water down the content,” Hawkins said. “Fossil fuels—they extended the deadline from 2030 to 2050. That’s too late. It is not being talked about.”
A lifetime of activism and a fighter for civil rights, peace, unions and the environment since the 1960’s, Hawkins’ campaign goals align with trying to fight the lack of communication on these issues. His campaign goals are to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington D.C., to qualify for federal matching funds, to train local Green organizers, help down-ticket other Green Candidates, as well as expand the Green Party into a major third-party among the working class, youth, and people of color.
The Green New Deal is one of the biggest factors behind his campaign, an eco socialist movement that strides for 100 percent clean energy by 2030, no nuclear weaponry, zero waste manufacturing and habitat, wetlands and forest restoration. The deal also aims to cut military budgets by 75 percent, using the rest of it to support the deal globally. One of the biggest factors is ranked choice, national popular vote for president, and proportional representation in Congress. Howie’s ideas include getting rid of the electoral college.
“That’s the problem with the two party system,” Hawkins said. “They’re not dealing with the real issues. That’s why young folks, they feel like we’re not paying attention to them. Party suppression is a part of vote suppression.”
The youth of America can look forward to the issue of student loan debt being addressed during his position if elected. During the forum, a game was played called the ‘Rant Wheel’, a wheel introduced by Senior Charles Olsen, full of several topics like climate change and other social/economic issues.
Student Association President Essence Hightower sat in front of the audience on stage, watching the wheel land on student loan debt, and asked, “This is crazy— I don’t understand. Have you seen this thing online talking about whether or not we would go to jail for a week to pay them off? Who would do that?”
Everyone in the audience raised their hands.
“This is sad. This is the point I’m trying to make. I feel like people are trying to get their education, and we can’t even do that.” Hightower said, shaking her head. “We’re looking to get a job to just pay off this for the rest of our lives.”
Leaving Hawkins baffled at the large amount of positive responses, he began to discuss other issues such as affordable housing and single-payer healthcare. His aim is to maximize costs on patients single problems, rather than the services that hospitals provide.
He also wants to address the increase of college tuition and the segregation education agenda. His aim is to create affordable housing, create more job opportunities and lessen the amount of tuition required of getting an education.
“All public education should be funded and tuition should be free at a micro level,” Hawkins said. “We need to get out of standardized testing and maximize education.”
A large motivator of his campaign is reaching as many youth as possible to get the message of the importance of non-segregated and free education out. Although, impeaching President Donald Trump is one of his biggest campaign motivators. Hawkins wishes to pardon whistleblowers.
“Trump blatantly breaks laws,” Hawkins said. “We’re supposed to be a nation ruled by laws, not men.”
If the democrats lose to Trump again, they will be unable to do anything, Hawkins said. Hillary defended part of her campaign by saying ‘I’m not Trump’ but not being Trump simply isn’t enough. The main problem lies within Democrat’s caring about the issues that matter and making a change.
“If you start now, your kids will continue it,” Speaker Tenzin Dorjee said.
By working with oppressed classes now, Hawkins goal is for full political and economic democracy as a way to build a society of freedom, solidarity, peace and ecological sustainability. One of this main goals is also to address the inequality crisis, and the declining life expectancy rate. He wants to create a better economic Bill of Rights, and address the nuclear arms race in countries like Russia and China.
Hawkins is a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and an alumni from Dartmouth College. He has previously helped organize a worker cooperative that specialized in energy efficiency and solar and wind installations. He is against imperialism and wants to promote socialism from below, following his 1980’s leadership role in South Africa regarding the combat against U.S. corporate investment in the racist system of oppression and labor exploitation.
Currently active in the Syracuse community, he is also currently the Secretary for the Eat to Live Food Cooperative and treasurer for the Southside Community Coalition. He is a supporter of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, U.S. Labor Against the War, the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, and the Labor Notes Network.
Playing several games throughout the forum like “Headache Headlines” and the debate “Hat game,” the panelists were able to engage the audience and strike a lively debate of the issues that fully matter and must be dealt with first hand. Hawkins biggest push is that the Green New Deal is the pathway to combating issues within the social and economic factors in the US.
The first step is communicating properly close to home.
“In a city like Plattsburgh, the best thing to get to know people is to knock on their door,” Hawkins said. “And just listen to them.”
Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins is getting ready for a leap from Trump’s political rule to a more democratic representative socialist movement, in hopes of seeing a dramatic change in the U.S. from imperialism and government corruption.