Perspectives and Policies for a Green Presidential Campaign
Howie is clear that the only way to create a just society and to save our environment is for us to build toward ecosocialism. Here, Howie lays out some of the issues that he would be addressing during a campaign.
Perspectives and policies for a Green Presidential campaign
Jump to a topic: Money | Big Banks | Power Utilities | Healthcare | Big Pharma | Arms Industry | Broadband | Online Platforms | Racial Justice | LGBTQIA Justice | Urban Policy | Rural Reconstruction | Peace Policies | Immigration Reform | Civil Liberties | Democracy Reform | Media Reform | Why vote Green
The Ecosocialist Case Against Capitalism
Under a capitalist system, we cannot solve the central problems of our time.
We will never reverse pending planetary environmental collapse as long as we have a capitalist economy where competition for profits drives the blind, relentless growth that is consuming the environment, heating up the planet, and destroying ecological foundations of human civilization.
We will never have a secure peace as long as capitalism’s competitive economic structure generates international conflicts and wars. Nuclear-armed capitalist states—including the US, Russia, and China—compete for resources, markets, cheap labor, and geopolitical military positioning. If we don’t replace capitalism’s nationalistic competition with socialism’s international cooperation, sooner or later these conflicts will end in nuclear annihilation.
We will never reverse extreme and growing economic inequality as long as capitalists exploit workers for profit and extract more unearned income from the economy as rent and interest. Capitalists pay workers a fixed wage and take the rest of the value workers’ labor creates as profit. Capitalists take more unearned income as rent and interest in excess of the costs of production due to their exclusive ownership of access to resources, such as land sites, natural resources, intellectual property, and monopolies.
The central problem of American democracy is that public preferences do not become public policy. The people are way ahead of the politicians, who represent their corporate paymasters more than their voters. We can’t have political democracy without economic democracy.
Democracy needs socialism. Progressive reforms will never be secure as long as the major means of production are in the hands of a super-rich oligarchy whose concentrated economic power translates into concentrated political power. The failure to face this reality is how the managed capitalism advanced by Democratic Party “socialists” comes up short. As Bernie Sanders said in his 2015 speech on democratic socialism, “I don’t believe government should own the means of production.” We should join with these progressives in fighting for reforms, but we should not be politically naive. Progressive reforms are not secure as long as the property-based power structure of the capitalist oligarchy remains intact.
Key Economic Sectors to Socialize
If I run, my campaign would call for the socialization of key economic sectors, including:
The national currency is a vital common resource that should be managed in the public interest. We must nationalize the Federal Reserve System as a Monetary Authority in the Treasury Department. The Monetary Authority will create all national currency (cash and electronic) free of any associated debt. New money will be credited to the account of the federal government as additional revenue to be spent into circulation in the economy in accordance with the federal budget. Banks will be prohibited from creating new money as loans. Banks will borrow or raise money for lending from savers and investors, including the Monetary Authority. People and businesses will borrow from funds in the banks’ accounts.
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Socialize the big banks. The allocation of investments according to an economic plan requires a significant sector of public banks.
Big Oil and Gas. ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, Koch Industries, and the rest will never reinvest their fossil fuel earnings in renewables instead of more oil and gas.
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100% clean energy means electrified transportation, manufacturing, and heat pumps for buildings. A rapid transition to clean power requires public power for lower costs and effective planning without obstruction by incumbent generators and distributors.
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A community-controlled national health service, delivering services largely through publicly owned clinics and hospitals employing salaried staff, and governed by a federation of locally-elected boards, will provide better accountability and cost control than a top-down Medicare-like national health insurance system paying mostly private providers to deliver health services.
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Big pharma has failed to serve the public interest as a profit-oriented industry. It has gouged consumers with monopolistic pricing. Its business model is centered on pushing addictive opioids and patent-protected medicines for chronic conditions. It has abandoned research and development of less lucrative short-term treatments, notably for antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
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The arms monopolies are characterized by influential warmongering and corresponding war profits, as well as price gouging and systemic corruption. They should be converted to nonprofit public enterprises.
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Establish a public broadband service as a not-for-profit public utility in order to provide universal access to a high-speed phone, TV, and internet service at lower costs and with net neutrality.
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Online platforms like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Uber tend toward monopoly because people gravitate to the platforms that have the most users and information. These monopolies are abusing data collection and privacy, censoring content, and eliminating competitors through predatory pricing and buyouts. The remedy is a combination of antitrust action to divest tech conglomerates of multiple platforms and the conversion of some platforms to public utilities that serve the public interest.
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Ending racial oppression requires both race-specific remedies and universal economic rights that are guaranteed by government in a race-conscious way. We must strengthen and enforce antidiscrimination laws in the political, employment, education, housing, immigration, and criminal justice systems. We must take affirmative action to reverse the growing race and class resegregation of housing and schools. We must enact HR 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, to consider appropriate remedies for the impact of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination on living African Americans. We must empower racially oppressed communities to practice self-determination through collective community ownership and control of public housing, schools, police, and businesses.
Racist attitudes can be deeply ingrained and slow to change. But we can disempower the racists by empowering oppressed communities so they are no longer subject to the decisions of the racists among employers, bankers, landlords, real estate agents, union business agents, lawyers, judges, police, and assorted professional-managerial gatekeepers, including politicians. Empowerment means democratic community control so that the masses of racially oppressed people benefit, not merely a more “representative” professional-managerial class that simply replaces the white professional-managerial class in soaking up most of the funding in salaries, grants, and contracts. Our goal is equality, not “diversity” within the unequal social hierarchies of capitalism.
We must enact an Economic Bill of Rights to provide universal programs for economic security in a race-conscious way. Government would guarantee all people the rights of a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, a good education, and freedom from
discrimination. That is what the socialist leaders of the black freedom movement—A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., and others—demanded as they moved “from civil rights to human rights.” With the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 1966 Freedom Budget, and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, they demanded the implementation of FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights in a way that ended racial discrimination in education, employment, and housing. By linking racial justice to economic justice for all, we can build a majoritarian interracial movement of working people that can win these reforms. The Democrats have failed to do it for 65 years. The Greens will do it.
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The movement has made some impressive gains, but work for equal rights remains. When the US Supreme Court ruled in the Obergefell v. Hodges case in June 2015 that marriages of same-sex couples will be the same legally as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, the LGBTQIA community made an important step towards full equality and represents an achievement that shows the growing political power of the movement.
True equal rights for all will recognize human rights across the LGBTQIA spectrum. Society should not require assimilation or denial of self in order to have civil rights. Each person should be free to live in whichever way seems right to them.
The Howie Hawkins 2020 campaign stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA people and follows the lead of that community. What is needed now are federal and state laws that provide protection from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation under the Equality Act and equivalent state and federal laws. Too often, members of the LGBTQIA community might celebrate a marriage over the weekend, only to be fired on Monday, as can occur in 20 states that do not provide employment protection.
Basic social and economic benefits should not be tied to marriage, even while LGBTQIA citizens deserve full access to the currently legally enshrined system in this country. However, equivalent protections need to be expanded to people who are partners and have chosen not to formally marry. Legal protections must be provided to undocumented LGBTQIA people, just as they are provided to other immigrants recognized under the law.
The epidemic of violence against transgender people must be confronted, and those who commit violence and murder should be prosecuted and charged with hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign reports at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the US due to fatal violence in 2018, the majority of whom were Black transgender women. HRC also reports that 2019 has already seen at least ten transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. They report that transgender people are at risk in other ways including unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work as a result of discrimination in our society. (read our full statement here)
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The ecosocialist Green New Deal will rebuild and restructure our cities around egalitarian and ecological principles. Skyrocketing rents are driving working people out of their homes and communities. Sprawl development is a social and ecological disaster. Segregation by race and class has been increasing for decades, isolating the poor away from resources and opportunities and isolating the rich away in their gated communities.
We will campaign for an urban policy that will reintegrate urban amenities with the natural environment. It would promote walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, convenient and affordable mass transit, clean energy, urban agriculture, green manufacturing, and a massive public housing program that is high quality, mixed income, carbon negative, and scattered site across the city/suburbs divide. It will be a jobs program, a desegregation program, and a clean energy program as well as an affordable housing program.
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Agriculture and Rural Reconstruction
Like the original New Deal, the ecosocialist Green New Deal will have a strong agricultural program. Chemicalized and industrialized corporate agribusiness is driving family farmers off the land, rural America into depression, and ecosystems to collapse while failing to end hunger and malnutrition. It is depleting water aquifers and soils and driving insects to extinction, all leading to the collapse of ecosystems and food production itself. We will campaign for a rural reconstruction program that revitalizes and reintegrates town and country. It will center around a Just Transition to Organic Agriculture and Green Manufacturing. Its elements will include:
- a rapid phase out of biocides, chemical fertilizers, land grabbing, and corporate farms;
- technical and financial assistance for converting to organic agriculture;
- parity pricing and supply management programs that guarantee working farmers a decent income above production costs;
- living wages and fair labor standards for farmworkers and other food workers;
- land reform and a new homesteading program to give new farmers access to land and farming resources;
- diversified green manufacturing in rural towns based on biodegradable agricultural feedstocks;
- access to health services, high-speed internet, and mass transit;
- the regeneration of living soils to draw planet-heating carbon out of the atmosphere and into the biosphere.
Most Green New Deal discussions have focused on only two of the top problems of our time: the climate emergency and economic insecurity. If I run, I will also center our ecosocialist Green New Deal on the third existential threat: nuclear war. Capitalism’s competitive economic structure yields a conflict-ridden international system that generates endless wars. Sooner or later, wars will lead to nuclear annihilation if we don’t change the system and abolish nuclear weapons.
An enduring peace requires replacing capitalism with ecosocialism—capitalism’s nationalistic competitive militarism with ecosocialism’s international cooperative security. We will call for deep US military spending cuts and converting to a defensive military posture from today’s global military empire of over 800 foreign military bases. The savings will be a peace dividend to reinvest in a Global Green New Deal for economic human rights, clean energy, and regenerative agriculture around the world. The United States can make friends instead of enemies by using its wealth to be the world’s humanitarian superpower instead of its imperialist superpower. We will call for a recommitment to the recently abandoned arms treaties and to vigorous new negotiations for further reductions toward complete nuclear disarmament and for scaling back the world’s militaries to strictly defensive forces. We will oppose US military intervention for regime change and speak up for human rights wherever they are violated.
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The inhumanity of US immigration policy came to broad public attention in 2018 with the news coverage of forced separations of young children from their families on the southern US border. These crimes against humanity only underscored the long-standing brutality of US immigration policy, which has treated people from Mexico and Central America in particular as cheap labor to be imported or deported based on US labor demand, like apartheid South Africa once used Bantustans.
We will demand open borders where movement between nations is free, like it is in the European Union. International borders should be authentic fair-trade zones where people are free to travel across borders for work, shopping, or recreation. The status of undocumented immigrants should be legalized and provide a timely path to citizenship. People crossing international borders would be required to present their identification at a border crossing. Only people wanted for criminal charges or terrorist organization affiliation would be detained. People who cross without checking in at a border crossing would also be detained and checked at an official border crossing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (BPE) should be abolished and replaced with a new immigration agency with personnel committed to the open borders policy.
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Our civil liberties and political rights are under assault by an expanding carceral surveillance state. The US has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Mass surveillance by the National Security Agency captures our electronic communications, including text messages, web browsing, emails, and international phone calls. Whistleblowers are bullied into silence by prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act. National Defense Authorization Acts since 2012 have included provisions to disappear US citizens into indefinite detention without charge or trial.
If I run, I will prioritize a freedom and democracy agenda, including an end to the war on drugs and the over-policing of minority communities, funding public defenders and legal services, bail abolition, speedy trial, open file discovery, ending warrantless surveillance, ending the persecution of whistleblowers, and ending preventive detention.
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We do not have real political democracy, let alone economic democracy. To have a democratic society, we need to restructure government and elections. Voter suppression policies need to be reversed, starting with restoring the pre-clearance provisions of the Civil Rights Act. We would put in place automatic voter registration, same-day registration, extended voting days, Election Day as a National Holiday, and other reforms, including mandatory voting (vote or pay a moderate fine) as practiced in Australia, Belgium, and much of Latin America, with a None of the Above option that would trigger a new election if it wins.
Ordinary people have little power over the government decisions that affect their lives. They are reduced to begging representatives who are elected in an undemocratic electoral system. In addition to improving the elections to representative offices, we will campaign for a participatory direct democracy at the base of society. We will campaign for a grassroots democracy based on community assemblies open to all citizens like New England Town Meetings. Community assemblies would have legislative power over local affairs and the power to instruct and recall representative selected to larger scales of government. The federal government will promote community assemblies with a grant program for organizing and maintaining community assemblies.
In every district, the single-member-district plurality-wins system of elections denies political minorities legislative representation. It imposes the logic of lesser-evil voting, so people often vote against the candidate they fear most instead of for the candidate they prefer most. We will campaign for proportional representation in Congress and instant-runoff voting for president so the president is elected by a majority in a national popular vote.
The undemocratic US Senate violates the principle of one person, one vote and dilutes the voting power of people of color. We will campaign for a constitutional amendment to abolish the US Senate. In two of the last five presidential elections, the Electoral College has given us presidents who lost the popular vote. We will call for a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College.
A relative handful of rich private donors dominate campaign financing. The Democrats’ proposal for partial public campaign financing on the matching funds model is a reform that doesn’t reform. It just adds some public money to provide cover for a system still dominated by private financing from wealthy contributors. We will campaign for full public campaign financing on the Clean Money model.
Big banks and corporations not only dominate elections with private financing, but they also have veto power over public policy because they can use a capital strike—withholding credit from government or offshoring jobs and money and blaming government—until the government capitulates. We will campaign for House Joint Resolution 48, the We the People Amendment, an amendment to the US Constitution to end corporate personhood by establishing that only natural human beings, not artificial corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights and by establishing that money is property, not protected speech. This amendment would undo the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC decisions and enable we the people through our elected representatives to publicly and fully regulate and finance public elections, as well as better regulate corporations.
We will campaign for a federal law for fair ballot access that requires each state to qualify a new party or any independent candidate for the ballot through a petition of no greater than 1/10th of 1% of the total vote cast in the district in the last gubernatorial election, with a 10,000 signature maximum.
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Freedom and democracy depend on a well-informed population. Our First Amendment freedoms of speech and press have eroded under the growing concentration of ownership of both the traditional mass media and the new social media. These giant media and tech conglomerates are replacing hard news with gossipy infotainment, corporate indoctrination, and state propaganda. If I run, I will campaign for reforms to create a vital, democratic, and diverse media system, able to present a wide range of news, issues, and ideas in their full complexity, free from censorship by government or big business. Reforms should include a decentralized, democratic system of public funding of a diverse nonprofit, noncommercial media, including decommercialized, fully funded, and community-controlled public radio and television stations.
We must repeal the pro-conglomeration provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, restore cross-ownership restrictions to reestablish media diversity in local media markets, and take antitrust action to break up the media monopolies. The Internet must be regulated as a public good and a basic right, open and accessible to all with net neutrality and personal privacy and data protected.
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A vote for the Green ticket is a vote for:
An Economic Bill of Rights
- A Job Guarantee
- A Guaranteed Income Above Poverty
- Homes for All through Public Housing and Universal Rent Control
- Medicare for All
- Free Public Education from Pre-K Child Care through College
- Appoint Public Defenders to the Federal Judiciary
- Fully Fund the Legal Services Corporation
- Empower Racially Oppressed Communities and Disempower Institutional Racism through Community Control of Police, Schools, Housing, and Businesses
- Open Borders—Fair Trade Zones with Free Travel for Work, Shopping, and Recreation
- Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants with a Timely Path to Citizenship
- Abolish Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Replace with a New Agency Committed to Open Borders Administration
- No First Strike
- Nukes Off Hair-Trigger Alert
- Negotiations Toward Complete Nuclear Disarmament
- Deep Cuts in Military Spending on the order of 50%
- Transition from Forward-Based Imperialism to Home-Based Defense
- A Global Green New Deal—Invest the Peace Dividend from Military Spending Cuts in Clean Energy, Regenerative Agriculture, and Basic Human Needs Around the World
- Instant-Runoff Voting for President
- Abolish the Electoral College
- Proportional Representation in Congress
- Abolish the US Senate
- End Voter Suppression—Restore Pre-clearance to the Civil Rights Act
- Promote Community Assemblies with a Federal Grant Program
- Full Public Campaign Financing
- Adopt the We the People Amendment—End the Corporate Personhood and the Money Is Speech Doctrines
- lncome and Wealth Taxes
- More Progressive Personal Income Taxes
- Higher Corporate Income Taxes
- A Graduated Wealth Tax
- A Graduated Estate Tax
- A Progressive Carbon Tax with Rebates to Low-to-Moderate Income People
- A Land Value Tax on Unearned Appreciation of Land Site Values Due to Social Investments
- Severance Taxes on the Extraction of Natural Resources including Fossil Fuels, Minerals, and Timber
- Steering Taxes on Emissions, Effluents, Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste, and other Pollution