(The following was originally published on Green Party Watch.)
he Summer 2014 issue of Green Pages features an interview with Howie Hawkins (now running for Governor of New York) on his unique perspective on the Green Party as a founding member. From the article:
What got you into being part of the start of the Green Party?
I have been committed to a third party of the people vs. the corporate rulers since 1964 when as a youth in California I witnessed the Republicans, led by spokesperson Ronald Reagan, conduct a successful referendum to repeal a fair housing law, and the Democrats seat the segregationist Dixiecrat delegation instead of the integrated civil rights Freedom Democrats delegation from Mississippi at the Democratic National Convention. The Democrats won in 1964 and escalated the war in Vietnam. So I campaigned for the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, the People’s Party in 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party in 1980. In 1984, I was invited to participate in the first national Green Party organizing meeting in St. Paul, Minn. as a representative of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance and I think Patch Adams, now Assistant Secretary of Health for Holistic Health in the Green Shadow Cabinet, and I are the only two left attending that meeting who are still alive and active in the Green Party.
What was it like in those early years?
It was sorting out process. Are we an independent party or a lobby on the major parties? How do we organize: as a grassroots confederation of local Green groups, as a staff-run NGO [non-governmental organization] funded by subscribers, or as a federation of strictly electoral state parties? What should be the relation of the Green movement to the Green Party? Are we an extension of the 60′s New Left into politics, bringing the issues the Old Left had neglected in its focus on class exploitation and economic justice back into the Left’s PROGRAM: participatory democracy; oppression based on race, gender, and sexual orientation; the transclass issues of peace and ecology? Or were we beyond Left and Right, a completely new politics that history had nothing to teach? We had New Lefties, ecological anarchists, democratic socialists, bioregionalists, Georgist single taxers, libertarians, and non-ideological single-issue activists from peace, justice, and environmental movements? The arguments were sometimes acrimonious.