Will our state government be for the people, or continue to serve the super-rich and the giant corporations? Nothing of real substance changes when Democrats replace Republicans in the state legislature, the Governor’s mansion, Congress, or the White House. Both of these parties serve the corporations that fund them. Instead we need a party that really is responsible to the voters, that takes no corporate money, and will therefore take action on balancing the budget, job creation, housing, public transit, a plan for sustainable, renewable, non-polluting energy, and similar issues. This year, you have the chance to cast a vote that counts and help initiate real solutions. Even if we do not win, a significant vote for the Green candidates sends the kind of message that politicians in Albany and Washington can understand, and will remember. Don’t waste your vote, vote Green in 2010.
This year we have a slate of statewide candidates standing up for a Green New Deal. This slate is in fact more representative of New York and America than any of the Democrats or Republicans running for office this year. They are Howie Hawkins for Governor, Gloria Mattera for Lieutenant Governor, Colia Clark and Cecile Lawrence for U.S. Senate, and Julia Willebrand for Comptroller. Howie Hawkins has been an organizer for peace, justice, labor, the environment, and independent politics since 1967. He is not a career politician, but a Teamster who believes democratic government should serve working people, not corporate special interests. A public health worker in the New York City hospital system, Gloria Mattera is a single-payer healthcare activist. She has been engaged with labor, environmental, and community issues in Brooklyn for decades. Colia Clark is a former lecturer on Africana and American Studies at the University Of Albany. She campaigned for civil rights and peace with the late Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. and is presently active on issues such as immigrant rights, criminal injustice, and Haiti relief. Cecile Lawrence has worked on healthcare reform, with refugees and immigrants, and towards a ban on hydrofracking. She has taught college courses in philosophy and has also been a college and non-profit administrator. She is now a writer. Julia Willebrand is a lifetime activist in education, peace, labor, environmental protection, and social justice. She has a doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University and was UFT delegate while teaching at PS 84 in New York City. They are all part of us, and will reflect our values rather than the values of corporations and Wall Street.
The issues advocated by the Green Party this year are all interrelated in order to have a better statewide community for all New Yorkers. First and foremost, the dilemma of the budget deficit must be dealt with in order to do anything proactive. The current situation for New York is one where the tax system is bottom loaded to such a degree that the poor and working class are paying more through property taxes and sales taxes than the rich. By enforcing the stock transfer tax, initiating a banker’s bonus tax, and going back to the far more fair income tax system we had in the 1970’s New York can have a budget surplus of $25 billion and cut taxes for 95% of taxpayers. Howie Hawkins is the only one talking about this approach, and with this surplus local communities can be given real property tax relief. Some Republican and Democratic candidates have proposed giving property tax relief through cutting essential spending, but this method is patently impossible since cuts in state spending will shift the burden of paying for services to the local level which would require raises in local property taxes. With the surplus generated by the rich paying their fair share, property tax relief can occur alongside authentic job creation. Each community can have an employment office instead of an unemployment office that would provide public sector jobs when the private sector is unable to provide jobs, and a state bank can be created that would invest in local businesses and cooperatives. North Dakota has had a state bank since 1918 and was the only state to not only survive the economic meltdown of 2008, but to have a budget surplus. This model demonstrates that the idea that cutting taxes for the rich will create jobs is nothing but a myth to perpetuate the power of those who have wealth. Cutting taxes does not create jobs, but investment and credit to businesses that are directly tied to their community is guaranteed to create new jobs with real stability for people who try to make ends meet. The new jobs that especially must be created statewide are those that involve renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. New York has the chance to transition to a post-carbon infrastructure and energy system, and the jobs needed for the task are ones that can never be outsourced. This direction toward job creation is the better alternative to securing stable incomes than the dangerous and toxic hydrofracking of the Marcellus Shale. The only people who would benefit from this process of gas drilling that uses many toxic chemicals are the energy corporations such as Halliburton who are deceiving landowners in desperate economic straits. We as a state can do better without poisoning our water and environment and destroying the ecological life support system of our communities. The Green Party has the better option in the direct relationship between fiscal fairness, job creation, and environmental stewardship.
The Green Party offers a new vision that the two-party system opposes because the political establishment does not want people to be empowered through grassroots democracy, community economics, real ecology, and social justice. On the other hand, the Tea Party does not offer any political alternative either since it is a creation of the status quo to deliberately marginalize real populist and progressive change. This rightwing movement redirects valid anger toward the perpetuation of those who are already in power, ignoring the real sources of people’s dissatisfaction. The Tea Party, with the financial support of large corporations such as Koch Industries, uses the rhetoric of freedom to purposely attack the working class and poor in this country. For them, freedom is defined as a scarce resource that is under threat by “the other” which in most cases includes the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, and the working class who have been hit hardest by this economic crisis. The Green Party understands that there is a direct relationship between political freedom and economic equality, and that democracy is the best solution to both the centralized state and corporate power. Income inequality has steadily increased since the 1950’s, from the highest earner having 30% more than the lowest earner at that time to the highest earner having 300% more than the lowest earner now. This fact can not be ignored when one discusses the economy, and how it affects the actual ability to exercise freedom in this nation. The Democrats and Republicans have consistently played good cop and bad cop with New Yorkers and Americans overall, and the Tea Party only serves to generate votes for Republicans and keep the system moving in its process of exploitation and hierarchy. The Green Party in general, and this campaign in particular, is a citizen’s movement in that we seek systemic change in order to solve the problems of today while fulfilling a future for all Americans. This is the future that is at stake and that must start with the first step of voting Green. We are all in this together.
A vote for the Green Party, and for Howie Hawkins for Governor, is important despite what the media and pundits will say. If an artificial common knowledge states that voting outside of the two-party system is wasting one’s vote, then people will be discouraged from actually voting for these candidates even though they may agree on the issues in their platform. This results in low voter support regardless of the fact that polls show there should be more choices on the ballot. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy that serves to maintain the status quo. And the status quo means a breakdown of what we hope the public realm to be, as a servant of the people to further the cause of freedom, justice, and equality. Your votes matter, and they are vital because this year we do not need an absolute victory to win. We gathered petition signatures to get our statewide candidates on the ballot, much more than was gathered by Democrats or Republicans. The work done on getting our candidates on the ballot is in order to get 50,000 votes for Governor. When we get 50,000 votes for Governor we will get ballot status back in New York. Getting ballot status back means that we can run for local office more easily, and when we run for local office we do so to get Greens elected. And most importantly, we get Greens elected locally to change our communities in order to serve the people’s interests. This is what democracy looks like, and this is why the Green Party campaign of Howie Hawkins for Governor is a real citizen’s movement. If you don’t vote for Greens this year, then you are truly wasting your vote. It is up to you.