More than 6 million Americans voted for someone other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race, but from the media covering the election, you will never know it.
However, in 2020, candidates neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump are both hoping to change that and win more votes than ever before – and get some tough recognition for it.
Howie Hawkins, a former UPS employee and longtime political activist, is a Green party candidate for the presidency, and is working to overcome the media buzz between Republicans and Democrats to theorize. Americans have options other than the two dominant parties.
He doesn’t find it easy.
An immediate difficulty was that the coronavirus prevented Hawkins, who lives in Syracuse, New York, from organizing events and traveling around the country. Instead, he relied on virtual events, even though it didn’t go too badly: “I might actually be talking to more people than before,” Hawkins told the Guardian.
An even bigger problem, and perhaps persistent even in the absence of a pandemic, is drawing media attention into his campaign.
“The challenge is trying to get our message to the main story,” Hawkins said. “We are sending newsletters, we are tweeting, we are on social media and we present stories.”
When CNN held a “town hall for climate crisis” in September 2019, Hawkins and the party watched their opportunity.
The Green Party initially formed the Green New Agreement – a broad climate package that was endorsed by progressive Democrats like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez – in 2010, and Hawkins said he introduced himself to Introduced to manufacturers as “The original green new business”.
It failed and the Green Party, which has the most extensive climate change policies of all the parties, was absent from the stage.
The Green Party may be best known for its climate policies, but its focus goes beyond the environment and on progressive politics in general. Hawkins will offer a $ 20 minimum wage – Democrats in favor of a $ 15 minimum – universal home rent control, Medicare For All and free college tuition.
In the unlikely event they can win the election, the party has also outlined extensive proposals for police reform, outlined in an online 8,000-word essay.
It’s a platform that shares similarities with the views of left-wing Democrats like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but it looks like it will never get more central leadership approval. of the party. Hawkins said he had drawn in some disillusioned Democrats about the party.
“We are continuing to be replenished by really angry Democrats,” Hawkins said. “Radical Democrats were disappointed and went to the Green Party.”
However, for all its detailed background and likely to appeal to Hawkins’ Democrats, the party has little chance of winning in November, a fact that doesn’t just put Hawkins and his team off. hope.
In 2018, a Gallup poll found that 57% of Americans believed there was a need for a third-largest political party – a belief that has more or less held in place over the past 10 years.
Part of the Green Party’s mission is to change that. The party favors a ranked selective national popular vote for the president, where voters rank candidates according to preference. The system will allow people to vote for more progressive candidates – like Hawkins – without fear that their vote will win, in this case Trump.
Left-wing fears that a vote for anyone other than Democrats could win Trump is another issue facing Hawkins.
In 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein faced heavy criticism after Clinton lost to Trump. Nationwide 1,449,370 people voted for Stein, but importantly she has received substantial votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – each where Trump has won narrowly. If Hillary Clinton had won those three states, she would have become president.
It means that Stein becomes the scapegoat for some – although there is little evidence that Stein does not run in favor of Clinton’s election.
In Pennsylvania, Stein won 49,678 votes, meaning most of her voters would have to lean toward Clinton to close her 46,765 gap with Trump – which is highly unlikely. Poll experts at the political website FiveThirtyEight unanimously felt Stein’s election was used as a scapegoat for Clinton’s loss, rather than a good cause.
Some third-party presidential candidates insist they have the chance to win the presidency, despite all odds. However, Hawkins was very honest when asked about his realistic goals.
“What a real big win if we get 5% of the vote,” Hawkins said.
“That qualifies us for the 2024 general election campaign funding for the president. If we hit 5%, at least there will be about 20 million US dollars waiting for the presidential ticket by 2024, which will be a leap. So 5% is the benchmark ”.
It may not sound like much, but given the Green Party’s previous best performance being Ralph Nader’s 2.7% win in 2000, it’s an ambitious goal.
“It would be a huge leap for us,” Hawkins said. “But with Trump falling, and Biden not making great progress, perhaps that is within our reach.”