The bosses have two parties. We need one of our own!

Posted February 7, 2010

Howie HawkinsHowie Hawkins, a longtime Socialist Party member, Green Party leader and friend of Solidarity recently got a 41% showing in the Syracuse, New York city council race.

Howie’s latest results indicate that hard campaigning, developing and refining strategy, and the ability to engage in movement activity and direct action simultaneously with electoral action is a recipe for building a movement for independent political action:

A Little Disappointed, Not Discouraged At All by Howie Hawkins

Thank you to all the volunteers and contributors to my campaign. You are Greens, Socialists, independents, some die-hard progressive Republicans, and a growing “Democratic Underground” in the district supporting the Green policy agenda.

41 percent is a higher vote than a Green candidate has ever received in Syracuse. We’ve never done the kind of doorstep and phone canvassing, voter ID, and GOTV that we did this time. Our street presence on Election Day surpassed every other campaign in the city.

From what I’ve seen of the Campaign Finance Reports posted at the state Board of Election, our broad base of small individual contributors far surpassed that of any other campaign in the city. We raised more money that way than any other district council candidate, unless they spent a lot more in the last 10 days that has not yet been reported.

The major party candidates relied on a small number of big contributions from wealthy individuals and the PACs of landlords, developers, and other business interests, and, unfortunately, the unions. About the only evidence my opponent had a campaign was two mailers to voters sent on his behalf from 1199 SEIU in the last five days.

The unions continue to naively believe they can buy friends for workers in the parties of big business, whose campaign contributions dwarf labor’s. Memo to the unions from a rank-and-file Teamster: The bosses have two parties. We need one of our own.

I am only a little disappointed that we did not win the office this time. We needed to bring about 10 percent more of the voters off the Democratic line at the top and down to the bottom line to vote Green. In the end we were beaten by the “Zombie Democrats” who vote their brand loyalty without knowing who the candidates are. They would vote for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney if they were on the Democratic line as they automatically click every lever across the Democratic row on the machines.

But I am encouraged about the future. The platform on which we campaigned—living wages, community hiring hall, public power, municipal broadband, municipal development bank, sustainability plan, progressive tax reform, full funding for schools and youth programs—is popular with the voters we were able to reach. The 41 percent vote gives us a stronger voice to push for these reforms between now and the next election, when the Greens will be back to challenge the corporate rulers’ two-party duopoly again.