Due to the significant bipolarization between the two main presidential candidates, Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins anticipated that the U.S. 2020 presidential election would produce disappointing results for third party candidates. Accordingly, the Green Party received 0.2% of votes nationwide, a decline in support since 2016 when they received 1.07% of the popular vote. In order to follow up with Hawkins on the election results, Global Green News interviewed him on Biden’s presidency and his plans for 2024.
Much of the 2020 presidential election revolved around strategic voting, and therefore, Hawkins attributes the Green Party’s losses in part to the unwavering commitment among progressive voters to remove Trump from office. The strategic voting that led many of his would-be voters to elect Biden, according to Hawkins, will let many of them down.
We asked Hawkins what he would tell tentative voters who would have liked to support the Green movement, but felt as though they should vote for “the lesser of two evils.” Hawkins responded by clarifying that the Green Party supports “a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and ending the endless wars.” On the other hand, Trump and Biden oppose these policies. Therefore, if you vote for Biden as the lesser evil, you “silence your support for these policies.” A wasted vote is a vote for what you don’t support, Hawkins said.
“A wasted vote is a vote for what you don’t support. If you support the Green policy platform, vote for it. That is your voice and your power.”
Regarding the media, Hawkins said that the Green Party was “blanked out” in the mainstream and progressive media as the election was approaching. Progressive opinion leaders, according to Hawkins, centred their messaging against the Green Party, rather than making policy demands on Biden. This, Hawkins claimed, Biden will take for granted. With Biden now in office, the Green Party needs to take part in “building a progressive opposition to the austerity at home, militarism abroad, and environmental destruction of the US two-corporate-party state.”
Biden’s moderate stance on many of these policy issues, according to Hawkins, will disappoint many progressive voters. In order to understand the policy reform that Hawkins supports, we asked him a few questions regarding policy demands and how the Green Party would address them.
Q: How would you plan on repairing the damage that Trump has done while in office with regard to relations with immigrants and racial minorities?
A: Close the detention camps. Reunite the families. Provide documents and services to immigrants. On racism, the tone from the top has to change, the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws should be strengthened, the federal government prioritize investment in jobs, housing, schools, and health care in racially-oppressed communities, and the self policing by police departments should be replaced by community control of the police.
Q: In terms of the climate, you have supported an ecosocialist Green New Deal. Can you elaborate what this climate action program entails?
A: It emphasizes public enterprise and planning in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors in order to transform on a rapid timeline all productive systems in all sectors — energy, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and buildings — to zero-to-negative carbon emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. Our budget for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal is the only fully developed climate action plan in the US.
Q: One of your key campaign issues surrounds nuclear disarmament and reducing the military budget in order to end the seemingly never-ending arms race. What are your thoughts on maintaining nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence in the international arena?
A: Nuclear war would be the end of all of us. The goal should be complete and mutual nuclear disarmament under the terms of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As a peace initiative to reduce tensions and open the door for serious nuclear disarmament agreements, I support the US unilateral reducing its nuclear arms to a minimum credible deterrent.
Q: As mentioned in your interview with Chris Hedges, both Trump and Biden’s platforms fail to provide support for students suffering from large amounts of student debt. In your campaign, how do you plan on supporting students, who make up a lot of the support for climate action?
A: Forgive all federally held student debt. Going forward, reform the federal student loan program to be interest-free with payments progressive scaled to income.
Q: You also mentioned in your interview with Chris Hedges that we are currently entering a deep economic depression. How would your plan, over others, prevent us from entering this depression?
A: The Ecosocialist Green New Deal is an economic recovery as well as a climate safety program. The trickle-down corporate welfare incentives of Trump and Biden in the form of tax cuts and subsidies for the super-rich and the giant corporations are mostly used not for job-creating investments in the real economy, but for financial investments in stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate that rearranges and further concentrates ownership of the productive assets we already have. They don’t trickle down to the rest of us as living-wage jobs. Our plan makes its public investments have the government directly employ people and make things to protect the people and the planet.
Following the presidential election, the Green Party plans to “get back to its roots” by organizing local party chapters and electing local officials, on the foundation, to state legislatures and the House. According to Hawkins, until the Green Party has a much stronger foothold in local governments and the state and national legislatures, its presidential campaigns will continue to be marginalized.