Open Letter to NYC-DSA

To the Members of the NYC-DSA,

We in the Green Party are happy to see that you are taking up the question of endorsing our candidates Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee for the 2018 New York gubernatorial race.

We share with you the common goal of building an independent working class political force in the United States, even if we have chosen different strategies. We are pleased to see your continued commitment to that goal as expressed in your statement of September 28th, 2018 stating "we reject the illusion that the Democratic Party is, or will become, an institution serving the interests of the U.S. working class."

We also appreciate your clarification of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's statement endorsing Andrew Cuomo. The Democratic Party is a bourgeois party, and Andrew Cuomo is a bourgeois candidate. Endorsing him asks working class voters to tie themselves to big capital's representative in Albany, and the head of a thuggish machine politics connected to graft and corruption.

We urge you to support Howie Hawkins. Hawkins is a longtime socialist and Teamster, endorsed by the Socialist Party and many independent socialists are active in the campaign alongside unions like the Buffalo Teachers Federation, and has committed radical union activist and DSA member Jia Lee as his running mate. His 2014 race had the best vote total for an independent left campaign in New York in nearly a century, and it helped push Cuomo to ban fracking. Hawkins has long made worker-control and democratic control of the economy a centerpiece of his campaigns, and was willing to openly proclaim himself a socialist long before its recent popularity.

By endorsing Hawkins, NYC-DSA could openly support a socialist candidate in the last few weeks of a race and continue to energize a base hungry to take on the neoliberal Democratic Party. This is an opportunity to build a socialist culture and educate workers about what socialism is and why it is important to vote for socialist candidates. It will build ties and connections towards the possibility of a large, open, socialist mass party in New York.

Two historical examples from the socialist movement speak to this point: Marx’s 1850 Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League, and the debate between Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg over the role of the party during the mass strike debate in Germany.

Marx wrote:

“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.”

Like Eugene V Debs’ campaigns a century ago, a campaign can build socialism even if it does not end in victory on election night. We have an opportunity in the coming election to pose a real alternative by supporting Hawkins for governor.

This is why I urge NYC-DSA to endorse the Hawkins/Lee ticket in the final three weeks of the campaign. It is time to build a broad socialist movement in New York State.

Peter A. LaVenia, Jr., Co-Chair, Green Party of New York

Gloria Mattera, Co-Chair, Green Party of New York