Howie Hawkins of New York, a socialist organizer and union worker for nearly 50 years, is seeking the U.S. presidential nomination of several socialist, leftist and eco-conscious parties – including Peace and Freedom Party as well as the national Green Party.
Earlier this week, Howie Hawkins posted a response to a statement from Richard Becker, a member of both PFP and PSL. Becker’s statement, released through the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s official website, suggested that socialist-minded voters who are only able to participate in the Democratic Party primary cast their votes for Bernie Sanders in that primary and, should he get the Democratic nomination, that voters in swing states should support Sanders. We run Howie's statement in full below.
In 1964, as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area, I watched Ronald Reagan and the Republicans lead a successful referendum to repeal the recently-adopted Rumford Fair Housing Act. I saw the Democratic convention seat the Mississippi segregationists instead of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The “lesser evil” Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, won and immediately escalated the war in Vietnam.
With racists and militarists in charge of both major parties, I asked, “Where is my party?” My party emerged in 1968: the Peace and Freedom Party. Even though I was still too young to vote for it, I rooted for it. I concluded then what I still believe today: that we need a major independent working-class party committed to a democratic, socialist, and ecological society.
I am running in the Peace and Freedom Party presidential primary with that same commitment today. I intend to be on the ballot in all 50 states and D.C., mostly on Green Party lines because they already have over 20 ballot lines, but I am also seeking the ballot lines of other progressive parties where presidential ballot-line fusion is possible in states like California, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont.
An important objective of our campaign is to build solidarity across the independent progressive and socialist left for a mass party based in the working-class majority and for all people who love peace, justice, freedom and the environment.
Unlike my opponent in the Peace and Freedom primary, whose Party for Socialism and Liberation supports a “safe strategy” of supporting Bernie Sanders in the “battleground” states, I believe every state is a battleground for the independent left where we must fight for ballot access and the right to raise our demands in elections. In every state, we are fighting the Democrats as well as the Republicans who are on the opposite side from us on so many issues, from Medicare for All to a ban on fracking to rent control to dismantling the US global military empire.
Sanders is campaigning for many good reforms such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, but Sanders’s “democratic socialism” is really a program of an old-fashioned liberalism. It depends on taxing capitalists to pay for his programs instead of replacing capitalist rule with a socialist economic democracy. Without economic democracy, we can’t have real political democracy. The capitalists will still have the power to resist and roll back progressive social programs.
Nor is Sanders calling for electoral reforms like proportional representation in Congress and presidential elections by a national popular vote with ranked-choice voting. Those reforms would end the problem for progressives of being forced to choose between a positive vote for what they really want and a negative vote for the lesser evil to stop the greater evil.
Nor is Sanders building an independent movement and party for socialism. He is leading socialists and progressives into a capitalist party that has been the graveyard of progressive social movements for generations.
My campaign intends to contest for votes in every state. In many states, securing a ballot line for the left for the next election cycle depends on the presidential vote. We want to use those ballot lines as we go into the 2020s to build a major party of the left from the bottom up. We want to begin electing thousands to municipal and county offices and then state legislative and congressional seats and replace the rule of giant corporations and their representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties.
I am asking for your vote in the presidential primary to support this goal, which has been the tradition of the Peace and Freedom Party since its inception. Inside the Democratic Party, socialists lose their independent identity and voice. Because so much of the progressive left has been relying on the lesser-evil Democrats for generations, the socialist left has disappeared as a major force in American politics. We need to advance our politics in our own name with our own independent movement and party.
We are running out of time on the life-or-death issues of the climate crisis, the new nuclear arms race, and growing inequality, which is an immediate life-or-death issue for so many working-class people as the life-expectancy gap grows between the rich and the rest of us. We need to advance socialist solutions to the these pressing problems. Real solutions can’t wait.