Howie Hawkins (born 1952) is an American politician and activist running for US Congress in New York's 25th congressional district. He co-founded the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 and the Green Party in the United States in 1984. He was New York's Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in the State of New York in 2006, and for Syracuse City Council At-Large in 2007. During the 2008 Green Party primaries Hawkins served as a placeholder candidate for Ralph Nader on some 2008 Green Party primary ballots, until Nader announced his intentions for the 2008 election.
Early life and careerEdit
Born in San Francisco, California in 1952, Hawkins became politically active as a teenager, protesting against the Vietnam War, the military draft, and racial discrimination. After attending Dartmouth College, Hawkins worked as a carpenter, logger, and cooperative business developer. He was a co-developer and co-owner of a construction workers cooperative that specialized in solar and wind energy systems.
Hawkins came to Syracuse in 1991 to be Director of CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives working for a cooperatively owned and ecologically sustainable economy. Hawkins also works as a truck unloader at UPS, where he a member of Teamsters Local 317 and active in the national Teamster rank-and-file reform caucus, Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
His articles on social theory, cooperative economics, and independent politics have appeared in many publications, including Against the Current, Green Politics, Green Perspectives, The Guardian, In These Times, Independent Politics News, International Socialist Review, Left Green Notes, Liberation, Left Turn, New Politics, Our Generation, Peace and Democracy News, Peaceworks, Resist, The Socialist, Society and Nature, Synthesis/Regeneration, Win, and Z Magazine.
Early political activismEdit
Hawkins knew he wanted a third party to support by age 11 in 1964, decrying both major parties as racist; the Republicans, with Ronald Reagan as their spokesman, campaigned to repeal California’s Rumsford fair housing law, while the Democratic National Convention seated as voting delegates the segregationist Dixiecrats from Mississippi instead of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
The Democrats’ Lyndon Johnson won as the "peace candidate" in 1964, but then escalated the war in Vietnam. Though federal civil rights and voting rights acts passed in 1964 and 1965, Hawkins felt Johnson’s "Great Society" policies were sacrificed to the war. So when the Peace and Freedom Party was formed in late 1967 to end US intervention in Vietnam and fight poverty and racism, Hawkins supported the registration drive to put it on the ballot; Ironically, Hawkins himself, then 15, wouldn’t be able to vote for another six years because the law then stated one had to be 21 in order to vote.
Hawkins also participated in the peace, justice, and environmental movements and demonstrations in the Bay Area in his high school years, including Stop the Draft Week in October 1967, the San Francisco State Strike in 1968-69, People’s Park in Berkeley in 1969, the first Earth Day and the nationwide anti-war student strike in 1970, and Black Panther Party proposal for community control of the police in Berkeley, California in 1971.
During his first year at Dartmouth, college draft deferments were eliminated, and his draft number was called in July 1972. He immediately enlisted in an off-campus Marine officer-training program before the Army’s draft letter reached him so he could continue his studies. But after a summer of officer training at Quantico in 1974, Hawkins informed the Marines that he did not have the funds for his last year of college, but since he could meet the college degree requirement needed to take an officer‘s commission upon graduation, he was ready to serve as a regular enlistee the two years of active duty that he was obligated to serve under his enlistment contract. The Marines never ordered him to active duty, however.
While waiting for orders to report to active duty, Hawkins remained active in the anti-war movement, and became active in the anti-nuclear and the anti-apartheid movements as well. He helped form the People’s Energy Project New Hampshire in 1974 to fight the proposed Seabrook nuclear power plant, and then the New England-wide Clamshell Alliance in 1976 to organize occupations of the Seabrook nuclear plant site.
After the Soweto riots in South Africa in 1976, he co-founded the Upper Valley Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa, helped to form the Northeast Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa in 1978, and represented New England on the national anti-apartheid Call to Conscience coordinating committee in the early 1980s.
Hawkins led several campaigns to link corporate exploitation in South Africa and the US, including domestic redlining by banks lending to South Africa and labor abuse by Phelps Dodge in Namibia and Arizona.
In 1984, Hawkins organized fellow carpenters to put up a pre-fabricated shanty town in minutes on the central square at Dartmouth despite promised resistance from security. Students then occupied the shanty-town, instigating a nationwide wave of similar protests that led to many college portfolio divestments of Apartheid-linked securities.
In 1978, Hawkins co-founded a construction workers cooperative that specialized in energy efficiency and solar and wind installations. He also worked with students at Dartmouth to form a New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group in 1975. In 1976-77, Hawkins returned to Dartmouth for his last year of studies, where he completed all the requirements for graduation except learning a foreign language. He speaks the Polynesian language of Tonga, where he lived for three months in 1973, but it was not recognized by Dartmouth.
In the 1980s, Hawkins decided to prioritize his political activity on building an independent progressive political party. He believed that progressive issue campaigns would be more effective if there was an independent "people’s party."
Hawkins has been active in every non-sectarian effort to build independent politics. These include local independent parties where he lived:
- Peace and Freedom Party of California, 1968–1971;
- Liberty Union of Vermont, 1972–1978;
- Granite State Alliance of New Hampshire, 1974–1978
He was also involved in national independent parties:
- People's Party, 1971–1976;
- Socialist Party, 1973-present;
- Citizens Party, 1979–1984;
- Green Party, 1984-present;
- Labor Party, 1996-present;
Furthermore, he was active in a series of national coalitions committed to independent politics:
- People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, 1971–1974;
- Mass Party Organizing Committee, 1974–1978;
- Peoples Alliance, 1978–1981;
- National Committee for Independent Political Action, 1981–1995;
- Independent Progressive Politics Network, 1995-present.
The Green PartyEdit
In 1984, Hawkins was one of the co-founders of the Green Party in the United States, in which he advocated a more grassroots organizing approach than earlier attempts at building a new progressive party. Instead of trying to build the national party from the top down through a presidential campaign as the Peace and Freedom, Peoples, and Citizens parties had done, the Greens would build local organizations and contest local elections until they had enough of a base to launch a presidential campaign, which the Greens finally did 12 years later when they drafted Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke as their presidential ticket in 1996.
As an activist in these parties, Hawkins worked on many electoral campaigns, including the Cleaver/Dowd ‘68, Spock/Hobson ‘72, and Commoner/Harris ’80 presidential campaigns, the 1970s Liberty Union campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Michael Parenti, and several Green campaigns in Vermont and New Hampshire between 1985 and 1990. Howie also gained experience by volunteering in the New Hampshire primaries for major party candidates, namely, Pete McCloskey, the anti-war Republican challenger to Richard Nixon in 1972, and Fred Harris, the populist Democratic candidate in 1976.
Political roles in SyracuseEdit
Since coming to Syracuse in 1991, Hawkins has been nominated by the Greens to run for city council, mayor, county executive, state comptroller, and the US House of Representatives. He has been the Upstate New York Field Coordinator for Nader/LaDuke 2000 and Nader/Camejo 2004. He is also the co-founder and past president of The Green Alliance, a national federation of local Green Party clubs.
2006 campaign for SenateEdit
His signature campaign issue was the Iraq War. Hawkins criticized incumbent Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's endorsement of the Iraq war resolution, and continued support for an American troop presence in Iraq. Hawkins pledged to implement what he describes as a modern-day version of the Hatfield-Kennedy Amendment — a proposed Senate resolution intended to cut off funding for the Vietnam War — which would defund military operations for the U.S. Armed Forces unless and until they were redeployed out of theater, and possibly replaced by an international peacekeeping force.
Hawkins received 55,469 votes in the November 2006 election (during which Clinton was re-elected), for 1.2% of the total votes cast.
2008 Campaign for HouseEdit
Hawkins is currently running for US Congress in New York's 25th congressional district. Among his campaign issues is opposition to the proposed bailout of United States financial system. He has characterized the Senate version of the bill with an additional $100 billion in tax breaks, including tax breaks for alternative energy use, as putting "Lipstick on a pig".
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- State co-coordinator for Nader Campaign for New York 2008 (http://www.votenader.org/action/new-york/)
- Co-Chair of the Draft Nader Committee 2007-2008 
- Candidate for Syracuse City Council At-Large, Green Party, 2007
- Candidate for U.S. Senate, New York, Green Party, 2006
- Candidate for Mayor, Syracuse, NY, Green Party, 2005
- Candidate for U.S. House, 25th District, NY, Peace and Justice Party, 2004
- Field Coordinator for Upstate New York, Nader/Camejo 2004
- Candidate for New York State Comptroller, Green Party, 2002
- Candidate for Syracuse Common Council, 4th District, Green Party 2001
- Field Coordinator for Upstate New York, Nader/LaDuke 2000
- Candidate for U.S. House, 25th District, NY, Green Party, 2000
- Candidate for Onondaga County Executive, Green Party, 1999
- Candidate for New York State Comptroller, Green Party, 1998
- Candidate for Syracuse Mayor, Green Party , 1997
- Candidate for Syracuse Common Council, At-Large, Green Party, 1995
- Candidate for Syracuse Common Council, At-Large, Green Party, 1994
- Candidate for Syracuse Common Council, At-Large, Green Party (on Liberal Party line), 1993
- Volunteer, New Hampshire Green Party gubernatorial campaign, Guy Chichester, 1990
- Volunteer, Burlington Greens municipal campaigns, 1987, 1987, 1989
- Volunteer, Bernie Sanders for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, 1981
- Volunteer, Citizen’s Party Presidential Campaign, Commoner/Harris, 1980
- Volunteer, Bernie Sanders for Governor, Liberty Union Party, 1976
- Volunteer, Fred Harris for President, New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary, 1976
- Volunteer, Bernie Sanders for US Senate, Michael Parenti for US Congress, Liberty Union Party of Vermont, 1974
- Volunteer, People’s Party Presidential Campaign, Spock/Hobson, 1972
- Volunteer, Pete McCloskey for President, New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary, 1972
- Volunteer, Peace and Freedom Presidential Campaign, Cleaver/Dowd, 1968
- Howie Hawkins for Congress 2008 Campaign Website
- Howie Hawkins for Syracuse Councilor At-Large 2007 Campaign Website
- Hawkins For Senate, 2006 Official campaign website
- Howie Hawkins for Mayor 2005 Campaign Website
- Hawkins For Senate, 2006 on MySpace
- Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate
- Howie Hawkins On The Issues
- Howie Hawkins News archive from official Green Party website
- Mr. Hawkins Biography at Project Vote Smart
- Hawkins interviewed by WBAI radio
- Hawkins interviewed by WKVR radio