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The Greens turn red

Howie Hawkins’s nomination has moved his party further towards the fringe

August 9, 2020

11:35 AM

9 August 2020

11:35 AM

The Green party has nominated Howie Hawkins to the presidency of the United States. But Hawkins’s victory has seemed preordained since he began his campaign. And it has pushed America’s second largest third party further towards the political fringe.

A former perennial candidate for New York governor, Hawkins is one of the founders of the Green party, which has only existed since 2001. Previously, the Green party was a decentralized network of state-based parties that would convene to nominate a presidential candidate, such as Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000.

I reported in November that several candidates for the Green nomination protested how the party was tipping the scales in Hawkins’s favor. For example, the party recently refused to tolerate the prospective candidacy of former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. With his personal celebrity, Ventura appeared as the biggest threat to Howie’s hegemony.

With his privileged status as one of the few candidates recognized by the party apparatus, itself dominated by his loyalists, Hawkins was the eco-socialist heir apparent. His eventual coronation in July 2020 reasonably disturbed quite a few Green party members, including his primary challenger Dario Hunter, who took to Twitter to denounce the ‘rigged’ primaries.


In September 2019, Green party co-chair Gloria Mattera — a Hawkins confidante who was his ticket-mate for the New York governorship in 2010 — had promised me ‘an exciting and a radically-democratic primary process’. That promise now seems unfulfilled.

But perhaps Mattera meant ‘democratic’ in the ‘People’s Republic of Korea’ sense. That would seem to more closely align with the Green party’s turn under Howie’s benevolent secretariat. 

In violation of pre-existing Green party rules about electoral fusion, Hawkins sought and accepted the nomination of the Socialist Party USA in October 2019. Conveniently, the party looked the other way. Now, Hawkins’s current vice-presidential nominee, Angela Walker, who was the SPUSA’s VP pick in 2016, enjoys both Green and SPUSA support.

Boasting around 1,000 members at last count, the SPUSA is one of the many fractious cliques on the margins of the American far left. It must never be confused with the Socialist Alternative, Socialist Equality, Socialist Action, or Socialist Labor parties. Nor has it any affiliation with the larger organization of the Democratic Socialists of America.

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So, the Green alliance with the SPUSA seems like an efficient way to shove the Green party into the obscurity it seems to have relished before Jill Stein’s disruptive bid in 2016.

By enabling Hawkins’s ballot fusion, the Greens alienated many of their own members and would-be voters. A condemnatory hashtag ‘#CleanTheGreens’ appeared around eco-leftist Twitter for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Hunter has vowed to run as an independent, while a movement to draft the popular Jesse Ventura has also gained traction. 

These countervailing efforts are likely to cost the Greens far more votes than they picked up from the crucial SPUSA bloc.


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