Lt. Gov. candidate Brian Jones on 2014 Green campaign in NY: ‘Building a strong, independent political movement is the hard work that lies before us’

Brian Jones was the Green Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor in New York in 2014.  Together with gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, Jones received almost 5 percent of the vote, in one of the most well-organized and visible Green Party campaigns in 2014.  In a post on the leftist website The Jacobin, Jones reflects on running an openly socialist campaign that sought to create an independent, working class alternative to the two major parties.

Everything about this election points to widespread dissatisfaction with a rightward-moving Democratic Party. Democratic voters stayed home. The turnout was a record low in New York State, with Cuomo receiving nearly a million fewer votes than he did in 2010. The Working Families Party (WFP) deployed all their resources to maintain their ballot line, but their campaign literature didn’t mention their candidate for governor: Cuomo. Only the Green Party significantly increased their vote.

Our gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, got 5 percent and 175,000 votes — nearly triple the number that voted for him in 2010 and quadruple the percentage. Instead of just voting against the Republicans or for a lesser evil, countless people expressed glee at the prospect of voting for someone running on a progressive platform…

Still, unprecedented endorsements for Hawkins had trickled in.

Six local teacher unions — from the small but spirited Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association to the Buffalo Teachers Federation —endorsed the Green Party for the first time. We also got endorsements from a significant array of public-education advocates, including the Badass Teachers Association of NY, the Coalition for Public Education, the Independent Commission on Public Education, the United Federation of Teachers’ Movement of Rank and File Educators, and former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch.

These organizations and individuals took a bold leap in backing the Green Party. It’s unfortunate that more union leaders didn’t do the same.

Building a strong, independent political movement is the hard work that lies before us. Many of our allies this time around will no doubt be looking for a progressive alternative within the Democratic Party in 2018. But in the meantime, thousands of people inspired by this campaign need to be encouraged to participate in Green Party activism and chapter-building statewide…

Whether socialists can — as socialists — fill the electoral space to the left of the Democratic Party remains to be seen. Perhaps a red-green alliance will be a model for future collaborations, or perhaps some other model will work better. Regardless of the specific form, we need a stronger socialist movement and a stronger labor movement and an independent political movement — those things need each other to succeed.

A truly independent political movement will have to sink deeper roots in a diverse range of communities — from those that are challenging mass incarceration to those fighting to stop hydrofracking.

Read the full piece at the Jacobin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *