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A Green challenge to Hillary Clinton

June 16, 2006 | Page 2

DANNY KATCH reports on an alternative to the status quo in New York.

A RECENT poll about this year's Senate election asked New Yorkers whether they would prefer incumbent Hillary Clinton or "an unnamed antiwar candidate." The nameless candidate barely lost to the spineless one--38 percent to 32 percent.

"I'm here today to say the antiwar candidate has a name," declared Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins at a June 1 press conference. "If the majority of New Yorkers vote for what they want in November, I'll be the next senator from New York."

Hear Howie Hawkins speak at Socialism 2006, a political conference scheduled for June 22-25 at Columbia Univerisy in New York City. For more information, go to the Socialism 2006 Web site at socialismconference.org.
Hawkins was speaking in front of the Times Square military recruiting center alongside the other candidates on the Green slate: Malachy McCourt for governor, Allison Duncan for lieutenant governor, Rachel Treichler for attorney general, and Julia Willebrand for comptroller.

The Hawkins campaign says it hopes to tap into growing frustration among those who voted for Clinton in 2000 in the belief that she was a feisty liberal. Six years later, few people are under that illusion. She voted for Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and she has been one of the loudest voices urging Bush to "keep all options on the table" regarding Iran.

Clinton has been no better on domestic issues. She recently introduced an absurd bill to ban flag burning. And it was Clinton who called for building a wall on the Mexican border back in late April, helping fellow Democrats and "moderate" Republicans to heap more injustices into the Senate's rotten "compromise" bill on immigration.

Even on the few issues where she disagrees with Bush, Clinton has helped move the debate to the right. While she opposes Bush's constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, she makes it clear that she is also against equal marriage rights.

And although her campaign Web site describes her as "a strong supporter of...Roe v Wade," she has lately spent more time seeking "common ground" with right wingers who want to overturn it.

As the New York media has reported widely, Clinton's support is rising among Republicans--so much so that the GOP is unsure whether to even run a serious candidate against her. Even right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and Rupert Murdoch have become Hillary backers.

The conventional wisdom is that this "centrist strategy" makes Clinton a leading Democratic presidential candidate--a sure indication that the Democrats have no plans to abandon their Republican Lite strategy in 2008.

While Clinton has made new friends on the right, she has alienated many people who welcomed her 2000 campaign.

Some progressives are supporting the antiwar campaign of Jonathan Tasini in the Democratic primary. Tasini is a former president of the National Writers Union who has received the support of Cindy Sheehan, and his campaign is a healthy sign of dissent among Democrats, but given the profoundly undemocratic nature of the party, he has no chance of unseating Clinton, leaving supporters with no choice but the lesser evil in November.

By then, Hawkins will be the main progressive alternative to Clinton. He is running on three main issues: immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, national single-payer health care, and a massive public works program to convert the economy to renewable energy.

As his campaign Web site notes, Hawkins has been an activist around peace, justice and environmental issues for over three decades, dating back to his involvement in Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He currently works as a loader at UPS and is active in both Teamsters for a Democratic Union and U.S. Labor Against the War.

Hawkins is also a national leader within the Green Party. He was a co-founder of the Greens in 1984, currently serves on the Green National Committee, and is the editor of a new book, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate.

Hawkins has little chance of winning, but a strong showing against Hillary Clinton and her tens of millions of dollars will be a powerful message that will get national attention. Activists should get involved in the Hawkins campaign to make sure New Yorkers know this candidate's name.

For more information about the Hawkins campaign, go to www.hawkinsforsenate.org on the Web, or call 518-364-2968. Volunteer meetings are being held at the Green Party office in Manhattan at 139 Fulton St., Suite 215.

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