A socialist voice in difficult times

Submitted by AWL on 23 September, 2020 - 9:49 Author: Keith Road
Howie Hawkins

• See here for other articles debating the US election, Trump, etc.

Workers' Liberty backs the Green Party US campaign of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, as the only campaign in the US presidential election to raise explicit socialist demands and have a labour movement orientation.

There are other socialists of some stripes running, but on a purely sect-building basis. Hawkins is a member of the revolutionary socialist group Solidarity, and has been a long term activist in the third camp socialist tradition. In some ways, his is the best socialist Presidential campaign for many years.

But it also faces great difficulties.

His choice to run as a Green Party candidate comes with both advantages and disadvantages. The Green Party already has ballot access in a number of states and groups across the US. But the Green Party is not a socialist party, and there are a lot of conspiracy theorists, kitsch anti-imperialists and anti-vaccination campaigners within it.

It is a federal organisation, and different states have vastly different Green Parties. Many Green activists consider themselves to be socialists, and Hawkins won the Green primaries with a manifesto in favour of an "eco-socialist Green New Deal". Walker is also a prominent rank and file trade unionist and socialist campaigner.

Their campaign video is explicit that workers generate a surplus that goes to the owners of capital, and that capitalism is an unsustainable system that will destroy the planet. Possibly because of the explicit socialist turn, some local Green Parties have chosen to ignore his nomination and instead campaign for other candidates. Some have even denounced Hawkins for his "third-camp" opposition to imperialisms which clash with the US.

Hawkins does not have the name recognition that Jill Stein, the Green candidate in 2016 had. He has lost access to ballots in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both states where Stein picked up a sizeable vote.

The issue of ballot access dominates third party campaigns in the US. As Hawkins said in an interview with The Atlantic (19 September), if the Democrats were really serious about democracy they would challenge the electoral college system and would make ballot access much easier. In no other "western democracy" does the governing party control election procedures in the way they do in the US.

Hawkins lost access in Wisconsin, for example, the state that Angela Walker is from, just because she changed address (in South Carolina, where she now lives) during the signature-gathering process. All signatures collected for her at her previous address were deemed invalid.

Hawkins has said he believes this campaign is the most devoid of policies any he has experienced. All the constitutional wranglings distract from the issues Hawkins and Walker raise. The death of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to make the Presidential campaigns even more focused on these wrangles. If Trump rushes in a right-wing judge to replace Ginsburg with his preferred right-wing candidate before the election, that will help him in court rulings over election disputes.

That is why Google trends shows Hawkins with 0% of searches for presidential candidates. Biden has 50%, Trump 48%, and the (right-wing) Libertarian Party candidate, Jo Jorgensen, 2%.

Hawkins has the endorsement of the Socialist Party USA, Socialist Alternative, two branches of the Democratic Socialist Alliance, the Independent Socialist Group, and the Legal Marijuana Now Party of Minnesota.

However, Solidarity, the organisation where Hawkins is still listed as a member, has withdrawn its endorsement. It polled its members. The option of support for Hawkins/Walker in every state received the highest vote (47%) but lost out to a combined 48% for voting Hawkins/Walker only in states where Biden is sure to win the electoral college mandate (27%) and "Stop Trump, Fight Biden" (meaning vote Biden) (21%).

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