By: Sydney O’Shaughnessy
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor of New York, spoke Sept. 12 at Ithaca College about the need to unify people to make positive political change.
The event focused on Hawkins’ progressive ideals as well as on the fundamentals of the Green Party: environmentalism and community building.
Hawkins contacted sophomore Joshua Kelly, chairperson of IC Greens, to ask if his campaign could come and speak with the students. Kelly said he believes students need to remain informed about local and national politics, so he agreed to host Hawkins.
“Politicians are representing the people so they help students understand local politics,” Kelly said. “Direct interaction is very important to understanding.”
Throughout his presentation, Hawkins listed the four main pillars of the Green Party. The Greens believe in having a grassroots democracy, maintaining social justice, establishing ecological wisdom and practicing nonviolence.
Hawkins said that the Greens are the only political party that does not depend on corporate funding.
“The Greens won’t take corporate money,” Hawkins said. “We are trying to represent regular people.”
Hawkins went on to discuss his economic plan, called the Green New Deal. If elected, Hawkins said that he would implement this plan to improve the lives of the residents of New York State by addressing the living wage, health care and basic human rights.
Hawkins wants to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour and create a health care system that is funded through a progressive tax system. He stressed the importance of repairing the current political system by improving equality.
“We need a whole new construction of the economic and political system,” Hawkins said. “Parents and teachers need to work together so that there is no more prejudice.”
He said he believes change is in the hands of the consumer and urges them to make more sustainable choices. According to Hawkins, consumers are the leaders in political change.
“We have to make a consumer change through better choices,” Hawkins said. “We have to get the leaders of the world to take serious action for divestment.”
Although only 21 students came to the event, Hawkins said he was pleased.
“Students are young with a lot of energy and are not in a routine,” Hawkins said. “The youth are the spearheads of change and I receive most of my votes from students. Students are important.”
Kyle Stewart, a freshman member of the Ithaca College Conservatives, said it was interesting to hear the political views of an opposing party.
“He [Hawkins] had a lot of good points on the political system,” Stewart said. “I think all of the parties should come together to create new solutions because everyone is a part of the environment.”
Hawkins said he believes sustainable improvements can be achieved if more people get together to organize and mobilize change.
“Organizing is important,” Hawkins said. “It’s not just me out here. It needs to be a ‘we.’ We need to get lots of people talking to create change.”