Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Spoon

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

Bastardizing the lyrics of Paul McCartney’s former band, I look today in utter astonishment and shame at my alma mater and its’ deliberate effort to quash a fair free balanced and open debate. The holy rollers with the silver spoons hammered out a debate for Congress that only included the democratic and republican nominees. Notwithstanding his name being on the ballot, Syracuse University’s Maxwell House has completely ground Howie Hawkins out of the public discussion.

On Friday September 12th, it was announced that there were going to be five debates amongst the candidates for James Walsh’s current seat. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins was deliberately denied the right to participate. "Our objective - Channel 5's and Maxwell's - is to provide voters with the kind of information, and in as much depth or detail as possible, to allow them to evaluate the two candidates, one of which will be their congressman," (Maxwell School professor Robert) McClure explained. Hawkins - who has been on the ballot in 13 prior elections without winning - has no chance of being elected, McClure said.

Well boo hoo to you too, Herr Perfesser. Ralph Nader has run more times and lost more elections that Hawkins but I bet McClure’s fat pension that he would roll over and bark if Nader was the candidate instead of Hawkins.

So far in this election, Dan Maffei and the Democratic machine have built up a head of steam sufficient to keep Hawkins out of the discussion. First, the perennial democratic operative files objections to all or nearly all of Hawkins’ nominating petitions. It takes hundreds of man hours to disprove the false allegations summarily tossed about. It could easily be argued that the democratic machine in this county has an interest in keeping the discussion away from the issues. It makes no sense why Democrats are always trying to disenfranchise any voters. Dare we survey the surnames of those so challenged.

(Kudos to the Sweetland campaign for demanding Hawkins be part of the debate. Query why they will appear if Hawkins is barred? Would not the better posture be to refuse to participate in another Syracuse University official quashing of free speech?)

Yet Hawkins survives. In the interim, nobody gets to hear his positions on energy, war, the supreme court, taxes or any of the zillion matters faced daily by our elected representatives. I personally do not agree with Hawkins on certain matters. But I will be damned before I will stand mum while local gossip channel 5 and Syracuse University skip merrily down the path to the death of free debate.

Howie Hawkins today must be carrying a heavy heart in his chest. Peter Camejo died. Peter, along with Howie and a couple others were the founders of what is nationally known as the Green Party. Agree or not with their politics, they are a national party and command national attention. Their goals are lofty and at times, weird. But, who are we to just slam the door and deny them access to the discussion. Everybody’s opinions advance the discussion. It is the lack of variety of opinion that brings about the most damage. This type of anti American homogenized behavior is unacceptable as being the standard for Citizenship. The House of Maxwell should reconsider its name and stated goals.

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 ain’t 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.

The national discussion in which we are engaged is not about “party”. It is about conscience and the person best fit to represent us and show us a way 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. As for me, the Fools on the Hill have brought down their silver hammer. Maxwell needs to smarten up. I remember not too long ago how Syracuse University shut down the student run television station. Now they demand limits on political discourse.

Who next, dear Martin? Me?

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