Somewhat buried inside this New Republic piece by Emily Atkin on the Green New Deal are some interesting reveals about the US Green Party's 2020 presidential aspirations. I'll break up the excerpts quite a bit, so if you want to read the full piece but get stopped by NR's subscription wall, there's an easy workaround. If you can't figure it out then ask me how in the comments.
Howie Hawkins, a 66-year-old Green Party member from New York, says he was the first American political candidate to run on the promise of a Green New Deal. During his run for governor in 2010, he proposed a plan to fight climate change “with the same urgency, speed, and commitment of resources that our country demonstrated in converting to war production for the mobilization for World War II.”
“It’s a little frustrating to not have a dialogue between those of us who have been working on the Green New Deal for quite some time, and people who want to keep it solely in the realm of the Democratic Party,” said Ian Schlakman, a Baltimore-based Green Party member who’s running for president.“There are some Democrats who acknowledge the existence of third parties and independents. Congresswoman Cortez is not one of those people.”
Hawkins -- who told me he’s launching a presidential exploratory committee in the coming weeks -- also thinks the Green New Deal is being unfairly co-opted. But he’s happy that it’s become mainstream, because now the Green Party can expose the Democrats for the corporatists they truly are. “It’s our opportunity to explain how the Democratic establishment ... chopped away the pieces,” he said.
Pause for news update/explainer: AOC's GND proposal, co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey, is just a resolution, not a bill, and Mitch McConnell's power play to put petroleum-soaked Democrats on the spot about it is producing some breathless pearl-clutching from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Protests outside McConnell's office earlier this week had no effect. Schumer has already countered McConnell with a milquetoast Senate resolution.
Back to the central point of this post.
Stein has suggested she won’t seek the party’s nomination in 2020, so there’s potential for a new Green voice. But it’s not yet clear who that will be. Aside from Hawkins and Schlakman, only 12 people have officially declared their candidacy for the Green Party nomination. It’s hard to tell which are serious. Kanye Deez Nutz West most likely is not. But Dario Hunter is, and he’s about as diverse as candidates come: black, gay, Iranian, and Jewish. He’s also an ordained rabbi, a former environmental attorney, and a school board member in Youngstown, Ohio. These qualities all make him an ideal new voice for the party, he said. “If we want to cut through the lack of attention given [to Greens], we need someone who has a loud and clear voice and a tough skin,” he said. “It takes a tough skin to be an openly gay black son-of-an immigrant Jewish rabbi.”
Why should there be attention given to Greens, though, now that Democrats have embraced the Green New Deal? Simple, said Hunter: “This Democratic version of the Green New Deal is watered down. It pales in comparison to ours.”
I'm leaving out some good parts, but the following is the best of the entire article, IMO.
This is why some Greens say the 2020 presidential race is not a challenge so much as an opportunity to expose Democrats. “There is this growing cafeteria socialism where Democrats pick and choose elements here and there and put them on a platter because they sound conducive to running a progressive-sounding campaign,” Hunter said. “If you are espousing Medicare for All and free college for everyone, but ultimately still allowing for capitalist interests to run amok … then you are not a socialist. You’re just running on a platform that draws people in falsely.”
Calling Ocasio-Cortez a fake progressive is a risky game, given that she’s one of the most popular Democrats in America. But it does seem like the natural place for the Green Party to go in 2020. Third parties, after all, are historically for people who not only dislike the two major parties, but don’t believe the major parties will ever change. “I think if you work within the Democratic system, you have to be incredibly honest about who the Democrats are, which is that they are pro-capitalism, very moderate, and don’t want to move very far left to tackle the challenges we see worldwide,” Schlakman said. “Sure there’s an avenue for socialists to upend the Democratic Party from the inside, but they’d really have to be at war with their own party. And I don’t see that in Congresswoman Cortez.”
The chances of a socialist revolution within the Democratic Party is unlikely. Only one of its presidential candidates even uses that term to refer to himself, with the modifier “democratic” -- and Bernie Sanders isn’t even a member of the party. So the Green Party surely still appeals to those who want the American economy to become fully eco-socialist; an inconsequential niche of voters, electorally speaking. But that’s not to say the party is without political influence. The Greens’ history as a spoiler threat might keep the Democrats honest, ensuring they don’t nominate a moderate who won’t at least entertain Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Then again, leftist voters may be so motivated to remove Trump from office that they’d hold their noses and vote for, say, Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden.
So while I read a few mischaracterizations and "mal-assumptions" in there, nevertheless some kernels of thought were germinated about how Dems see Greens, Greens view Dems, and each see -- and fail to see -- themselves.
I would wish that Ajamu Baraka, the 2016 vice-presidential nominee, would be willing to stand for Green Party president in 2020, but Kevin Zeese at Independent Political Report -- who has some extended thoughts on this topic as well -- says he has 'decided not to run'. And that Texans most likely will not have a GP candidate to vote for on their ballot next year anyway makes this conversation from a Lone Star perspective unfortunately moot.
That's why I'm #BernieorBust. Again.