Evaluation of the 2020 Green Party presidential campaign
To the extent that Howie Hawkins has always been a “best builder” of the Green Party, I’ve been a consistent supporter of his campaigns. I was among the largest donors to his presidential campaign.
To the extent that Howie keeps trying to re-orient the party toward becoming more Red, ideologically, I’ve been a consistent critic.
In regard to Howie’s low vote totals, there were extenuating circumstances this particular year. Covid made it hard to petition to get on the ballot and then hard to campaign. Plus the “Dump Trump” mania made a left-of-Dem alternative anathema for progressives.
Nonetheless, we still ought to have done better than we did. It was inevitable that ninety percent of Bernie supporters were going to wind up voting for Biden. But that other ten percent constitutes a lot of people. We should have gotten more of their votes.
Greens need to learn how to formulate the distinctive Green paradigm into effective electoral campaigns. In the absence of that capability, the resultant vacuum can get filled by non-Green ideological orientations like liberalism or socialism. In saying that I don’t mean to advocate sectarianism. If left-of-Dem liberals want to join the Green Party, welcome them. If social democratic Berniecrats want to join the Green Party, great. If Red socialists want to join with us, wonderful. Allies are fine and Red-Green coalitions can be beneficial. But let’s show the way forward. Not only does the Green worldview constitute the wave of the future . . . it also has the potential to resonate more widely than any of the old ideologies.
Howie ran as an eco-socialist, and I’m fine with that. But there are variants of eco-socialism — and I think his Red-leftist workerist orientation is misguided. There’s a Green orientation (well-expressed by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute) that emphasizes cultivating ecological responsibility by living more lightly and undermining the concentrations of wealth/power of the corporations and states via re-localization.
Howie thinks there can be left unity around the idea of a “Working Class Party.” The concept is retrograde and marginalizing. What the Green Party should be doing is embracing a deep green ideology and encouraging the left to transition from Red to Green. Beyond that (and we should be thinking beyond that) we ought to be able to appeal to a substantial constituency, a significant segment of the electorate, with a broad-based presentation of our message. Millions understand the imperative to “go green.” We should be encouraging them to also vote Green.