Search Howie's website and previous campaign archives here:
Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America - Howie Hawkins
Howie Hawkins answers to questionnaire from the Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America
Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America
-What is your name and what position are you running for?
Howie Hawkins, Governor of New York
-Why are you running for this position?
My campaign slogan is Demand More! We may not win the office, but, as we did in 2014, we expect to win enough votes to leverage reforms from politicians who will have to compete for our progressive votes by conceding some of our demands.
Demand More means first of all progressives should raise our expectations of state government and insist on Clean Government. Cuomo sells his office to the highest bidder, relentlessly extracting massive donations from the real estate industry, Wall Street, lawyers, and insurance firms. We need to replace pay-to-playcorruptionwith full public campaign financing.
Demand More means winning more reforms. Topping my list of winnable reforms in the next governor’s term are single-payer health care, fully-funded public schools, a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure, 100% clean renewable energy 2030, and homes for all through statewide rent control with all the loopholes closed and a massive expansion of high-quality public housing to meet the demand for affordable rental housing.
My 5% of the vote in 2014 forced Cuomo to compete for progressive voters by adopting a number of Green demands, including the ban of fracking and paid family leave and partial movement toward the $15 minimum wage, tuition/debt-free public college, and severalcriminal justice reforms.
Demand More also means more than piecemeal reforms. I am campaigning as an eco-socialist and demanding system change. Capitalism's blind, ceaseless growth is devouring the environment. As long as workers are bound to a fixed wage and capitalists take the remaining value that labor creates as profit, the rich get richer and the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. We need widespreadsocial ownership and democratic planning to provide a decent standard of living for all that is ecologically sustainable.
-Why do you want the support and/or endorsement of the Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America?
I want the support andendorsement of the Hudson Valley DSA because I want socialists to support the only socialist campaign for Governor of New York and I value the work DSA is doing to promote socialism and fight for immediate reforms.
-How would you relate to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) if elected?
I would publicize the Hudson Valley DSA endorsement.
I would coordinate events and voter canvassing in the Hudson Valley with DSA.
I want Hudson Valley DSA’s consultation on the issues in the Hudson Valleythatthe campaign should address and on policies thatwe should promote in New York State.
-How would you mobilize DSA once in office to win on campaign issues?
A socialist governor can do little without a socialist movement backing him or her up. It will take a movement to win the election. Keeping the movement engaged after the election will be the key to what we can accomplish in office.
-What does democratic socialism mean to you, and do you consider yourself a democratic socialist?
Yes, I identify as a democratic socialist.
I have been a member of the Socialist Party USA since it was established in 1973 by the Debs Caucus of the old Socialist Party of America, which changed its name to Social Democrats USA at its 1972 convention and immediately split three ways. The Debs Caucus was committed to independent politics and immediate withdrawal from Vietnam. Another wing led by Michael Harrington focused on reforming the Democratic Party in a realignment strategy toward the two-party system. That wing eventually became today’s Democratic Socialists of America.
I am also a member of the socialist organization Solidarity.
I have published many articles in socialist publications like Against the Current,Democracy and Nature,The Guardiannewspaper, International Socialist Review,Our Generation,Socialist Worker, and The Socialist.
To me, socialism means the movement for self-emancipationby working class and oppressed people.
Socialism means democracy. Rosa Luxemburg: “There is no democracy without socialism, and no socialism without democracy.” Capitalism’s concentrated private control of the economy translates into concentrated political power as well. We can’t have political democracy without economic democracy and we can’t have economic democracy without political democracy.
Socialism means economic democracy through social ownershipof the major means of production and distribution.
Socialism means freedom. Capitalism is a dictatorship over economic resources, working people, and work itself. We are are not free if we are subject to the will ofaboss working for profit-seeking owners. Socialist freedom embraces both the “negative freedoms from” oppression by the state and the “positive freedoms to” develop our capacities and pursue our idea of happiness. Socialism ensures the material necessities to every individual so they are free to develop themselves and pursue their dreams. Recognizing that economic production is inherently social, socialism extends democracy into the economy so that individuals are freeto participate in the important economic decisions that affect their lives.
Socialism means independent political actionby the exploited and oppressed speaking and acting for themselves from below through their own political party. The socialist movement needs its own distinct message and identity as an alternative that is opposed to the capitalist parties, which in New York State means the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the ballot-qualified minor parties that routinely cross-endorse the candidates of the capitalist parties.
Socialism means uprooting racism and all other forms of oppression, discrimination, and segregation based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, disability, and other invidious distinctions. We can’t have working class solidarity and power without uprooting oppression based on various statuses within our class. The capitalist and professional/managerial classes have repeatedly promoted racism in particular throughout American history to divide working people and protect their own unearned income and other special privileges. The failure to prioritize anti-racist perspectives and practices, including respecting and supporting freedom movements initiated by racial minorities and other oppressed groups, has been the Achilles’ heel of American progressive reform movements throughout our history because it has divided and weakened our movements.
Socialism means internationalism. International solidarity by the working class and oppressed people across borders is essential because the capitalist system is global and the fight for freedom, equality, peace, and the environment is worldwide and indivisible.
-What sets you apart from the other candidates in your race? What do you feel makes you best suited to represent the people in your district?
I am the only socialist running for Governor of New York.
I am the only working-class candidate. I’veworked for five decades in construction and Teamster warehouse jobs. Iknowwhat working people have beengoing through with stagnant wages while the rent and health carecosts are going through the roof and we’re having trouble paying our bills andstaying in our homes.
I am the only candidate supporting the NY Off Fossil Fuels (NY OFF) bill for 100% clean energy by 2030, which is the time frame industrial economies like New York’s must meet if we are to avert runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. Nixon supports the Community and Climate Protection Act for 100% clean energy by 2050, which is a much weaker bill in many respects as I have laid out in this media release. The other candidates have no plans for 100% clean energy.
I am the only candidate calling for social ownership in key areas, including a public energy system, public broadband, public banking with an division to foster worker co-ops, much expanded public housing to address the affordability crisis, and a state-owned Social Wealth Fund to progressively socializecorporatewealth and share the returns – rent, interest, profit – across the population.
-What are the issues you plan to devote the most time to?
Socialist solutions to pressing problems that see social ownership and democratic administration as necessary conditions for realsolutions.
Thus on particular issues:
- NY OFF (Off Fossil Fuels) Act for 100% clean energy by 2030 (not 2050 like the Democratic bill passed by the Assembly, which is is too little, too late for the climate emergency). In addition, we call for public ownership of power and gas generation and distribution.
- NY Health Act for a universal public healthcare plan.
- Good Public Schools for All – Fully-funded, desegregated, and providing universal access to gifted-quality education and vocational training for all without tracking, from pre-K to college.
- Homes for All – Statewide rent control and new public housing that is high quality, human scale, scatter site, mixed income, and powered by clean energy.
- Public Broadband for affordable universal access with net neutrality and privacy protections.
- Public Banking to lower the costs of credit for public investment and private business and consumer loans and support the development of worker cooperatives.
- Progressive Taxation to pay for this Green New Deal, including graduated income tax brackets for multi-millionaires, stock transfer tax, land value tax, and cuts on taxes on the earned incomes of low- and middle-income working people.
-How will you maintain connections with the district?
I will strive for good communication with the public and regular media availability to stay in touch with a district with a population of 19 million.
Constituent services are important. I will build a staff that is good at helping people navigate the state bureaucracy to resolve issues.
Supporting and listening to the movement that got me elected is also important. That means making a priority to help progressive movements with information, access to resources, and public support on the issues.
-IF RUNNING ON DEMOCRATIC LINE: How do you plan to interact with party leadership if elected? Will you caucus with other Democrats? What will other Democrats have to do to earn your vote?
-DSA is campaigning for a single payer healthcare system - not a patchwork - that provides full, comprehensive coverage, free at the point of service to all residents regardless of immigration status, and which provides jobs for workers affected by the transition to a public health system. Do you support this vision of health coverage?
-How would you use state-level office to advocate for federal single payer healthcare legislation which meets the criteria in question 1?
Upon passage of the New York Health Act (see next question), the state will have to seek waivers from the Affordable Care Act from the federal Health and Human Services Department to bring federal health funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program into New York’s single public payer program. That will likely be a fight, particularly as long as the Trump/Republican administration stays in office, and that will give the Governor of New York a national platform to advocate for a federal single-payer health care program.
-Do you support the New York Health Act? If so, why? How can it be improved?
I support the NY Health Act to provide universal publicly-funded health care for all because we can provide all medically necessary services to all New York residents at less cost than our current multi-payer mixed public and private insurance system.
I want to improve the program by (1) providing for long-term care immediately, not in two years after enactment, (2) democratizing its administration, with locally-elected health care district boards that coordinate planning statewide as a federation, and (3) incentivizing and investing in publicly-owned healthcare providers to move from socialized healthcare insurance toward a fully socialized healthcare service.
-Have you taken campaign contributions from private industry groups, including those representing health insurance, pharmaceuticals, fossil fuels, or financial services? Would you accept these contributions if offered?
The Rules of the Green Party of New York State on whose ballot line I am running require that Green candidates refuse contributions from for-profit entities. I helped draft those rules. Their purpose is to require that the Green Party maintains its political independence from the capitalists and their political representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties.
The Hawkins for Governor contribution rules on my website donation page goes further to limit the size of individual and PAC contributions to the federal limits because the state limits are so high ($44,000) that theyencourage huge pay-to-play contributions that function as legalized bribery even when an illegal quid pro quo cannot be proven in court.
-DSA believes in a model of “health justice” that recognizes the intersection of people’s health with other issues and/or systems of oppression. For instance, it is clear that poverty contributes to our country’s addiction crisis, and it is also clear that universal healthcare which would make treatment and recovery options available to all--regardless of ability to pay--would save lives. How do you understand “health justice?”
A publicly-funded healthcare system providing all medically necessary services to all people with no cost at the point of delivery isnecessary but not sufficient for health justice.
The administration of the public healthcare system should be democratic and decentralized, so every community can make its local delivery system responsive and hold it accountable.
The right to full reproductive services, including the right to abortion, must be ensured.
The healthcare system must be take affirmative action to end racial,gender, and sexual discrimination in service delivery, which is well-documented, due to implicit biases in providers as well as institutionalized discrimination,and adverselyaffectshealth outcomes.
Finally, health is adversely affected by economic hardship and high economic inequality. Health justice cannot be fully realized without ending poverty and reducing economic inequality.
-Do you support women’s right to choose with respect to abortion? Do you support the full, unconditional funding of reproductive healthcare?
Yes and Yes.
In New York State, I favor passage of the Reproductive Health Act to decriminalize abortion in the New York penal code and codify the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade into state law.
I also support the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, which mandates that all state insurers cover any FDA approved birth control.
I want full reproductive freedom, including abortion procedures, covered by a publicly-funded healthcare system, which includes rejection of the Hyde Amendment that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion through Medicaid except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.
-DSA is committed to the fight to end mass incarceration. What are your thoughts about how you could use your campaign and the position you are running for to further this goal?
I am using my campaign and will use the office of governor to advocate for the following changes:
- End the war on drugs, which is the largest contributor to mass incarceration. Treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal problem.
- Appointa Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission and charge itwith addressing the impact of the war on drugs and mass incarceration, particularly on communities of color, holdinghearings to hear from the people and communities negatively affected, and recommendingpolicies to repair the damages.
- Use the governors pardon powers to provide freedom and amnesty for all drug war prisoners who have been convicted for non-violent drug offenses with the savings from reduced incarceration invested into re-entry support for former prisoners and reparations for the communities most damaged by mass incarceration.
- Abolish cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
- Pass "Kalief's Law" to provide speedy trials and eliminate unjustified trial delays by prosecutors.
- Make prosecutors' files open to defendants, with exceptions only when a judge rules turning over certain evidence might endanger a witness.
- Establish a Statewide Public Defenders Office with full funding for public defenders across the state and administered by an independent public defense commission in order to guarantee the right to quality counsel.
- No asset forfeitures without proceedings after a conviction is obtained.
- Enact the Safe Parole Act to shift the focus from punishment to incentives that help parolees reintegrate into society by establishing a transparent and accountable parole system that enables inmates to earn parole by successfully completing rehabilitative and educational programs.
- Provide educational opportunities for all incarcerated individuals, from basic literacy and numeracy to GED to college courses and vocational courses.
- Re-establish Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) eligibility for prisoners and include prisoners in free tuition at SUNY, CUNY, and community colleges.
- Ban Solitary Confinement by enacting the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement bill to establish residential rehabilitation units (RRUs) as an alternative to isolated confinement.
- Ensure the Right to a Trial by a Jury of Peers by changing state law so that defendants in cities have the same right as defendants in towns to a jury of their peers from the same municipal jurisdiction.
- Provide Alternatives to Incarceration, including probation or work release in order to pay fines, or victim restitution, or do community service.
-Do you support an end to private prisons?
Yes. New York outlaws using private prisons as state correctional facilities, but the federal government still utilizes private prisons in New York. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli recently announced thedivestment of state pension funds from private prisons, which I support.
-Do you support ending cash bail in New York?
-Do you support the decriminalization of all drugs?
I want to fully legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
For the possession of other illicit drugs for personal use, I want to adapt to New York the successful drug decriminalization policy of Portugal. It would eliminate criminal penalties for low-level possession and consumption of all illicit drugs and treat these activities as violations. A person found in possession of personal-use amounts of hard drugs will no longer be arrested, but instead given a ticket to appear before a local "dissuasion commission" -- comprised of a lawyer, a doctor, and a social worker -- who take a health-centered approach. They will determine whether and to what extent the person is addicted and refer that person to a voluntary treatment program or order payment of a fine or other administrative sanctions.
Drug trafficking offenses should remain illegal and processed through the criminal justice system.
-Do you believe that people have a right to access certain basic goods and services regardless of ability to pay? If so, which goods and services?
- A Guaranteed Minimum Income Above Poverty
- Food Security
- A Decent Home
- Basic Utilities: Water, Sewerage, Power, Heat, Broadband
- Comprehensive Health Care
- A Quality Education
- Child Care
- Protective Services: Civil and CriminalJustice; Fire, Consumer, andEnvironmentalProtection
-Do you support a $15 minimum wage? Would you support allowing localities to raise their own minimum wage?
The $15 minimum wage was one of my top demands in the 2014 campaign. I also called for the right of local governments to set a higher minimum wage than the state’s minimum wage.
The rising minimum wage adopted in 2016 rises doesn’t rise to $15 until the end of this year in New York City, until the end of 2021 in Westchester and Long Island, and only reaches $12.50 in the rest of the state at the end of 2020, when the Department of Labor then schedulesa rise to $15 in the future. These are still poverty wages.
This year I am campaigning for $20 by 2020 and $30 by 2030 -- indexed to inflation and productivity. I would accelerate and increase the scheduled rise in the minimum wage so that by 2030 it reaches the equivalent of $30 an hour in today's dollars with adjustments forinflation and productivity through 2030. It would reach $20 an hour by 2020.
If the inflation-adjusted minimum wage of 50 years ago in 1968 had kept pace with the 242% increase in productivity (real output per hour of work), the minimum wage would be $28.46 today.
Meanwhile, the share of all income going to the top 1% from 1980 to 2014 increased from 12% to 30% in New York State and from 12% to 41% in New York City.
-Would you advocate for funding schools based on per-student need? What would you do for schools that are financially strained due to uneven funding via local property taxes?
As governor, I would propose a budget that closes the $4.2 billion cumulative gap in Foundation Aid that was supposed to satisfy the ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case in 2006.
I would instruct the Attorney General to stop defending the state’s underfunding and settle the lawsuits from the New York City/Syracuse parents and from the Small Cities for full funding of their schools in accordance with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case.
I would also seek to improve the Foundation Aid Formula, which is still not equitable and adequate for high-poverty school districts.
I would seek tax and budget reforms to shift the burden of school funding from the regressivetax on unequally distributed property to the progressive state income tax.
-Any candidates we support must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that this class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population. How will you use your office to challenge the capitalist class and the wealthy?
I will continue to talk about this conflict in office as I am during the campaign to better educate the public on how the power structure works.
I will use the office to promote the social movements whose support I will need to fight the extra-governmental powers that capitalists have due to their concentrated ownership of productive assets and financial resources.
With the support of public discussion and social movements, I will fight for structural reforms that move us toward a classless democratic society based on social ownership and democratic management of the major means of production.
-Do you support the Green Light NY bill that will allow undocumented New Yorkers to get a driver’s license?
-Will you work for the decriminalization of all immigrants and refugees?
-Will you support legislation that prevents local authorities from sharing information with DHS/ICE?
Yes. I also support legislation prevent local law enforcement authorities from detaining people when requested by DHS/ICE unless accompanied by a judicial warrant.
-Do you support legal representation and financial assistance for those facing deportation?
Yes.I support increasing funding for the Liberty Defense Project from $10 million to $20 million to provide all immigrants who need it with legal services and process.
-Will you call for an adherence to international law regarding refugees and asylum seekers?
-The worst refugee crisis since World War II is taking place in the Middle East and southern Europe right now. Will you work to make it possible for refugees to be resettled in your district/area?
Yes.New York should use itsstatus as host tothe Statue of Liberty to call onthe whole nation to live up to the words of the poemon the plaque atthe statue:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
-It’s important to us that women and people-of-color be represented at all levels of your campaign. Tell us how you have accomplished this.
I have recruited and encouraged women and people of color to join the campaign at every level. My running mate for Lt. Governor, Jia Lee, is a Korean American. My treasurer, Baritta DeShields, is an African American. I have two other staff, Irish American males, for campaign manager and fundraiser. I am in the process of hiring three more staff and we are asking women and people of color we know of to apply. We are prioritizing organizing in low-income black and Latino communities, where about half of our mostreliable volunteers are comefrom.
-How will you encourage others (and then support them) to seek positions of leadership?
We recruit from our ranks for positions of leadership in the Green Party, in the campaign, and as future candidates. We support them as they take on new responsibilities with mentors to help them and upon whom they can call for help or advice.
-Will you employ women and people-of-color on your staff?
-Will you implement policies with the understanding that, currently, not all labor is a)paid, b)recognized, c)afforded legal protections/status? How will you address this?
The work of family support in the home falls disproportionately on women. To relieve this burden means providing a stronger social wage, e.g., free child care, and education on why men should do their fair share of the work of childrearing and housekeeping.
We also have to expand workers’ rights tosectors of the labor force that do not have equal protection under the law. Specifically:
Labor Law Protections for Home Care Workers. Prohibit 24-Hour workdays and unpaid labor on 24-Hour Shifts. Following three state appellate court rulings in 2016 and 2017 requiring healthcare agencies to pay home care workers for all their hours on 24-hour shifts, Governor Cuomo’s Department of Labor issued “emergency regulations” in October consistent with contrary federal court rulings allowing payment for only 13 hours. Unpaid labor is slavery. Repeal the NYS Department of Labor regulation allowing no pay for 11 hours of 24-hour shifts by home care workers. Replace 24-Hour shifts in the home care industry with split shifts and require overtime pay after 40 hours in a week.
Labor Law Protections for Farmworkers: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
Labor Law Protections for Prisoners: Enact legislation to end the super-exploitation of prison labor at pennies per hour, which undercuts the wages of workers and earnings of businesses outside the prison system. The prison labor system as it exists now is akin to slavery and the prison labor camps in other authoritarian countries. Work done by prisoners can be part of rehabilitation and enable prisoners to acquire job skills, support their families, and have savings upon release. Work done by prisoners for private contractors and for public goods and services should be paid prevailing wages. Prison workers should have all the protections of labor law, including the right to organize unions.