FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Now It’s Time for a Hard Left

Sometimes it feels as if Sarah Palin won the last two presidential elections. We’re not quite living in “Drill Baby Drill” America, but by co-opting the other Republican energy slogan, a meaningless plan literally called “All-of-the-Above”, President Obama has opened up vast new areas to offshore drilling and pushed hydrofracking for oil and gas onshore. Even as the president says that “we are closer to energy independence than we’ve ever been before”, sometimes it seems like the US is becoming a repressive petrostate.

And then some days, like the day after the midterm elections, it feels like a complete victory for Palinite politics. The Republicans took back the US Senate, and the only Democrats who won major races were those like Andrew Cuomo, who defeated my Green Party campaign for governor of New York with a $45m campaign war chest provided by a few hundred super-rich donors – Democratic and Republican ones.

But there were real victories this week for progressive alternatives on clean energy, economic security and social justice. The extremist blood bath may have painted the country more red, but there were more than a few important – and extremely promising – tea leaves of green. It was even enough to suggest a new, independent, hard-left turn in American politics is still very much possible.

Fracking bans just passed in cities from California to Ohio and even in Denton, Texas – the town at the heart of America’s oil-and-gas boom. In Richmond, California, progressives beat back a multi-million dollar campaign funded by Chevron to defeat Green and allied candidates. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC joined Washington State and Colorado in legalizing marijuana, adding to the growing momentum to call off the failed “war on drugs” that has given the US the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Republicans like Mitch McConnell have already warned that “we will be voting on things the administration is not fond of” – citing a sure-to-be-caustic conservative energy agenda of which the Keystone XL pipeline is “only part”. But true progressives will be using our local political leverage in a continuing campaign for a Green New Deal. We are putting back on the public agenda the economic promises that President Franklin Roosevelt called for back in 1944 but which the Democrats have long since abandoned. Those rights provide the foundations for what FDR called “the true individual freedom [that] cannot exist without economic security and independence” – rights like a useful job, a living wage for doing it, plus affordable housing, healthcare and education.

The US needs to revive a New Deal-style public jobs program to put unused labor to work, meeting unmet community needs – like the repair of a crumbling infrastructure for water, sewage, roads and bridges. But the centerpiece of the Green New Deal – to ban fracking and build a 100% renewable energy system by 2030 – is itself a program for full employment. A peer-reviewed study by Cornell and Stanford researchers found that the 15-year clean energy buildout would create 4.5m middle-income jobs in construction and manufacturing – in New York state alone.

As Greens educate, demonstrate and lobby during the next legislative session here in New York, we will be preparing to run more progressive candidates across the country. And if Cuomo opens New York to hydrofracking, as we expect he will, we’ll demand that legislatures everywhere keep pushing fracking bans and running new and bolder clean-energy candidates against legislators in 2016.

With Democrats repealing the New Deal and Republicans more or less repealing the Enlightenment with their anti-science stands on climate change and teaching evolution, the independent left is certain to mount a third-party presidential campaign beginning next year. I recently joined Kshama Sawant, the independent socialist elected to the Seattle city council last year, in calling for meetings across the country to begin laying the foundation for a strong left challenge to both parties of big business in 2016.

It may be disruptive – but disruption is exactly what progressive America is asking for right now.

Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans support social, economic and energy policies that veer left if not all the way green. The well-documented problem of American politics is that these progressive values do not get turned into progressive policies. It will take a party independent of corporate money and influence to change that. Or else we will be stuck with the Palinites.

Howie Hawkins was the candidate for New York governor of the US Green Party, which he co-founded. Follow him on Twitter: @HowieHawkins

This column originally ran in the Guardian.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 21, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Warmonger Cotton Accuses Antiwar Think Tank of Anti-Semitism
John Feffer
Trump Makes Space Great Again
Patrick Cockburn
The US and Iran’s Perpetual Almost-War is Unsustainable – and Will End Badly
James C. Nelson
Another Date That Will Live in Infamy: 10 Years After Citizens United
Robert Fisk
Iran Will be Changed Forever by Admitting Its Great Mistake, Unlike the West Which Ignores Its Own Misdeeds
Dean Baker
Did Shareholders’ Benefit by Paying Boeing’s Fired CEO $62 Million?
Susan Roberts
The Demise of the Labour Party and the Future For UK Socialism
Binoy Kampmark
Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision
David Levin
The Teamster Revolt Against the Hoffa Era
Victor Grossman
Defender and Spearheads
Russell Mokhiber
BS Public Editor and the Disease of Contempt
Tiffany Muller
Get the Money Out of Politics: 10 Years After Citizens United
Laura Flanders
Iowa is Not the Twitterverse
Graham Peebles
Education: Expanding Purpose
Elliot Sperber
Handball in Brooklyn 
January 20, 2020
Paul Street
Trump Showed Us Who He Was Before He Became President
Eric Mann
Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Ipek S. Burnett
MLK and the Ghost of an Untrue Dream
Mark Harris
Better Living Through Glyphosate? Spray Now, Ask Questions Later
Katie Fite
Owyhee Initiative Wilderness and Public Lands Deal Critique: Ten Years After
Thomas Knapp
A Loophole for the Lawless: “Qualified Immunity” Must Go
REZA FIYOUZAT
Best Enemies Forever: The Iran-U.S. Kabuki Show
Jeff Mackler
Worldwide Furor Sparked by U.S. Assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani
William deBuys
The Humanitarian and Environmental Disaster of Trump’s Border Wall
Binoy Kampmark
A Matter of Quality: Air Pollution, Tennis and Sporting Officialdom
James Haught
GOP Albatross
Jill Richardson
Why Do We Have School Lunch Debt at All?
Robert Koehler
Nuclear Hubris
Patrick T. Hiller
Instead of Real-Time Commentary, Eight Common-Sense Reason for Not Going to War with Iran
Charles Andrews
A Note on Carlos Ghosn and Global Capitalism
Jeffrey St. Clair
Some Trees: Los Angeles
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
Frank Joyce
Will the Constitution Fail Again?
Andrew Levine
Biden Daze
Pete Dolack
Claims that the ‘NAFTA 2’ Agreement is Better are a Macabre Joke
Vijay Prashad
Not an Inch: Indian Students Stand Against the Far Right
Ramzy Baroud
Sealed Off and Forgotten: What You Should Know about Israel’s ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank
Norman Solomon
Not Bernie, Us. Not Warren, Us. Their Clash Underscores the Need for Grassroots Wisdom
Ted Rall
America’s Long History of Meddling in Russia
David Rosen
The Irregulators vs. FCC: the Trial Begins
Jennifer Matsui
The Krown
Joseph Natoli
Resolutions and Obstacles/2020
Sarah Anderson
War Profiteering is Real
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail