By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Do you remember in school how it felt to have to right answer to a question only to see someone else called upon and who then gives the wrong answer? This is my impression of how Howie Hawkins must feel every single day.
Since 1984 when he was one of the founders of what is known as the Green Party, Hawkins has found in himself a calling as a leader; as a barometer of our collective conscience. He has always spoken up for the poor, the impoverished, and the ignored. To our mainstream, Hawkins is seen as a nut … a lefty libby … a wacked out social activist. He is ‘Green” and thus gets no respect … none at all. That is a shame for Hawkins’ ideals are the same as preached by the God of Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammed.
Whatever may be your personal feelings toward Mr. Hawkins, he has earned a right to be heard as we debate who should replace Congressman James Walsh. There is much that Hawkins brings to the table; ideas and ideals that this region would be proud to endorse. Ignoring Hawkins or his message because he refuses the label of ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’ would be the epitome of arrogance and a knife in the heart of true political debate.
“Malaise” is the disease that has infected the heart and soul of upstate New York. Whether it is economic, social, educational, or political; the community’s energy has come to a complete standstill. It matters not whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge. Each is little but the Pied Pipers of Yawn. For 22 years that I have lived here, our representatives at all levels of local, state, and national government have strived for mediocrity. So far, so good.
Until I sat down and spoke with Mr. Hawkins, I was convinced this upcoming election was going to be another exercise as to which group of insiders was going to be in charge. The Democrat’s candidate only claim to fame was his ability to rally almost enough votes to remove the incumbent. Never running on his own record, he captured many a voter by “hey, we ain’t the other guys.” The Republicans offer little better. How long has it been since anybody has heard one new productive idea out of the Republican camp. This is most important given issues about Iraq, Iran, FISA, and the Republican ten trillion dollar national debt.
Hawkins offers a viable alternative. He has great ideas; plans beyond the mediocrity of a mega mall. To him, a mall would be secondary to something larger. You should listen to him and hear what he has to say. Make his ideas part of the discussion and demand a response from the two major party candidates. There is no requirement that you be Green. Many people say that they “do not vote party, but vote the person”. Prove it.
Taxes, jobs, health care, schools, and reputation are all vital issues concerning all of us. Nothing new is being brought to the table – at least not by either established party. Hawkins is the only candidate thus far I have heard mention cutting taxes. My personal concern is more about spending cuts than tax cuts.
Howie Hawkins seems to have a different vision. His are great dreams for a world class city. When he talks of schools or community or jobs, you can see in his eyes and hear in his words, his true commitment to building something more than just more of the same.
One of the lessons I learned as Onondaga County Chairperson of the Ross Perot campaign back in 1992 is that there is a general feeling of disgust and frustration in the general population. I am pretty sure that we had more people who signed our lists and petitions than all the registered Republicans and Democrats combined. People came up to me everyday and said, “I support your guy, though I can’t say so publicly.” The rationale they gave was not that they were great Perot fans, but rather that Perot represented the disenfranchised and forgotten voters. His fight was not about a small group of elite continuing in place. The general population wants back in the game. People want options and neither party is responding to them anymore.
Mr. Hawkins deserves to be part of the discussion. With him do not come the usual gang but new ideas, fresh faces, and people whose lifelong careers are not as politicians but as regular citizens. America was never intended to have career politicians. Each of us was expected to serve and then leave. Over 200 years, that concept has changed and now the only real issue in each election is “hey, we aint the other guys”. We see all around us the results of that. Instead of being so linear in our thinking, we need to expand our ideas and dare again to dream.
Few of us want to be Green; though many of us are. Whether it is an environmental issue or a social equality issue, there is a part of our private self that I believe each of us has which pleas for compassion for fellow human beings. Even that fat pill popper Rush Limbaugh would vote Green if promised a Burger King and McDonalds on every street corner.
In the upcoming election, do not vote your party. Vote your conscience and vote for the person you think is best fit to lead Syracuse out of the doldrums and onto the world stage. You cannot vote for the best person until you hear what they all have to say. Avoid the stereotypes and focus on the details. The legacy you will leave for your children demands nothing less than the best.
It is not easy being Green. It is not much better being a lumbering elephant or an incompetent jackass.