Green Party co-founder, presidential candidate rallies local supporters

  • Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins speaks to local Green-Rainbow Party members in Northampton on Sunday night. Staff Photo/Chris Goudreau

  • More than a dozen members of the Pioneer Valley’s Green-Rainbow chapter attended Howie Hawkins’ speech in Northampton on Sunday. Staff Photo/Chris Goudreau

  • Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins speaks in Northampton on Sunday. Staff Photo/Chris Goudreau

  • Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins speaks to local Green-Rainbow Party members in Northampton on Sunday night. Staff Photo/Chris Goudreau

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2020 9:08:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Green Party 2020 presidential contender and party co-founder Howie Hawkins spent Sunday evening meeting with more than a dozen members of the Pioneer Valley chapter of the Green-Rainbow Party in Northampton in the community room of the Lumber Yard Apartments.

Hawkins, who was one of the co-founders of the party in 1984, told local party members that prior to late May, when he announced his Green Party bid for U.S. president, he’d been working 12-hour shifts for his job at a post office in his home state of New York.

At that time, he was retired from running for any public office as a member of the Green Party, but when he was approached by members of the party encouraging him to run, he decided to come out of retirement.

“There was nobody willing to run who was capable of running a real campaign,” said Hawkins, who previously ran as the Green Party’s candidate for governor of New York in 2010, 2014, and 2018.

The Green Party will select its presidential nominee in July. The five other candidates running for the party’s nomination for U.S president are 36-year-old California lawyer and rabbi Dario Hunter, Massachusetts anti-imperialist and anti-war activist David Rolde, Tennessee activist Chad Wilson, Ohio documentary filmmaker Dennis Lambert and California activist Sedinam Moyowasifza-Curry.

In 2016, physician Jill Stein, of Lexington, was the party’s presidential nominee. She is not a candidate this year.

For Lois Gagnon, a 67-year-old resident of Belchertown and co-chair of the local chapter of the Green-Rainbow Party, her 30 years of support for the Democratic Party ended in 2016 after Hillary Clinton received the party’s nomination instead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate

“After what happened to Bernie in the primary, I said, ‘I’m done. It’s time for me to make a switch.’ And I did,” she said of her decision to join the Green-Rainbow Party more than two years ago.

Manny Pintado, a 56-year-old Sunderland resident and co-chair of the local Green-Rainbow chapter, became a member of the party in 2015 and, like Gagnon, also decided to unenroll from the Democratic Party.

“I think the Republicans and the lesser evils haven’t done anything for this country in the last 25 years,” he explained. “They haven’t done anything for poor people. They haven’t done anything for health care or against police brutality and all this oppression that has been going on in the lower wards of cities. It’s just terrible.”

Hawkins explained that it’s not uncommon to see former Democrats join the Greens after becoming disillusioned with the Democratic Party.

“The Greens survived because we have a grassroots base and because we’re really needed,” he explained. “Most Greens are really angry former Democrats who got mad over the Iraq War or an environmental fight or public campaign financing and found out the Democrats were on the other side. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’ve got a foothold. We have over 100 elected officials, but we should be electing thousands from a base of local and county offices building to state legislatures and Congress.”

Historically, third parties in the United States have put forth issues into debate that were otherwise ignored, such as the Liberty Party in the 1840s, which sought to end slavery, he said.

But Hawkins said he hopes his Green Party candidacy for president might spur more people to join the party.

“This is a movement-building thing as much as a raising issues campaign,” he added.

In 2010, he said, he was one of the first few candidates to run on a platform of promoting the Green New Deal as a candidate for governor of New York. The Green Party’s Green New Deal would include an economic bill of rights to address income inequality.

“The life expectancy gap between the rich and the rest of us has been growing with growing income inequality,” he noted. “And the third issue is the new nuclear arms race, which has taken off and nobody’s talking about it.”

Hawkins said he thinks the problem with the Democratic version of the Green New Deal is that it’s a diluted version of the Green Party’s proposal.

“In our Green New Deal, we wanted to get zero greenhouse emissions by 2030,” he said. “That’s based on carbon budgets from climate science. Rich countries have got to do it if we’re going to have a chance. (The Democrats) extended the deadline to 2050.”

The only other presidential candidate that Hawkins believes is serious about creating Green New Deal policies is Sanders.

“Sanders is, but he’s on a slower timetable,” Hawkins said. “He calls for $16.3 trillion over 10 years. We’ve done a budget that gets to where we want to go by 2030, which we figure is $27 trillion over 10 years. We say we’re eco-socialist because it’s too late to just do it with tax incentives like the carbon tax and regulations and subsidies.”

To combat climate change, Hawkins said the United States needs to create public energy utilities, manufacturing and railroads to rebuild transportation, energy systems and manufacturing for clean-powered technology.

If Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee, Hawkins hopes “he crushes (President Donald) Trump,” but believes an independent leftist party is still needed in the country.

“We need a party on the left that gives progressives an option when they go to vote, because a lot of these Democrats are still corporate Democrats,” Hawkins said. “I think the progressive Democrats should see us as allies, not competitors.”


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