United States: Democrats move to suppress Green Party vote

September 29, 2020
US Greens Party 2020 Presidential candidate Howie Hawkins (right) and Vice Presidential candidate Angela Walker (left). Photo: Green Party US/Twitter

Voter suppression has become a real issue in recent years. The major discussion has been centred on Democrats correctly accusing the Republicans of disenfranchising people of colour and working-class people.

But now the Democrats are actively seeking to keep the Green Party's presidential and vice presidential candidates, socialists Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, off the ballot in a number of states.

They have been backed in this effort by the liberal media. A case in point was a September 23 front page article in the New York Times titled “The Green Party’s Biggest Fan? It’s Often the Republican Party”.

Slander, sabotage, intimidation

“In Wisconsin,” the article said, “a GOP [Republican] elections commissioner and lawyers with ties to the Republican Party tried to aid attempts by Howie Hawkins, the current Green Party presidential candidate, to get on the ballot there, which were ultimately unsuccessful.”

First of all, the Greens were on the ballot in Wisconsin in 2016. This year, the Democrats knocked the party off the ballot.

This is what happened.

The Greens submitted more than enough petitions to get on the ballot this year. During the petitioning period, Angela Walker changed her address. The Greens notified the Wisconsin Elections Commission of this.

The commission required the campaign to include a notarised statement of Walker’s candidacy, with her new address, when the petitions were submitted. This was done.

After the petitions were submitted, a Democratic Party spokesperson filed a challenge, claiming Walker’s change of address invalidated some of the petitions.

The hearing on the challenge before the Elections Commission had all the trappings of a kangaroo court. The Democratic challenger huddled with the Democratic chair of the commission to successfully plot to greatly restrict the Greens attorney’s testimony.

The commission upheld the challenge, and the petitions in question were invalidated, so the signatures on those petitions were also invalidated – conveniently enough to keep the socialists off the ballot.

The Greens filed a suit in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where Democrat-aligned judges hold a slim majority. The Greens lost: 4 votes to 3.

Democrats openly celebrated. “Progressives” joined in.

The hypocrisy of the Democrats is obvious.

The national Green Party issued a statement: “By kicking Howie and Angela off the ballot in Wisconsin and then celebrating this naked act of self-serving disenfranchisement, the Democrats have made plain their intention to ‘save Democracy from Trump’ by killing it themselves first and then dancing on the grave.”

Democrat hypocrisy

The NYT article did not mention the Democrats, falsifying by omission what really happened.

The Greens have nothing to do with Republican electoral shenanigans, however, the NYT continued its smear.

“In Montana,” wrote the NYT, “State regulators found the GOP violated campaign finance laws as part of an effort to aid the Greens in five down-ballot races, including for senator and governor.”

This is what really happened.

The Montana Supreme Court removed the Greens from the ballot five months after the Secretary of State determined that the Greens had qualified.

Somehow, the Democrats got copies of the the Greens’ petitions. They then went to people who had signed up to put the Greens on the ballot and demanded they repudiate their signatures. On this pretext, the Democrats sued to reverse the Secretary of State’s decision.

The Greens were not a party to the suit – it was between the Democrats and the Secretary of State. Consequently, the Greens had no opportunity to defend themselves before the court, which upheld the Democrats’ challenge.

The Secretary of State appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court in a 5–2 vote.

In Pennsylvania, the Democrats went to the state’s Supreme Court to remove the Hawkins/Walker ticket from the ballot. They were victorious on a flimsy technicality that the Greens did not submit signed filing papers in person, but mailed them.

In Texas, the Democrats sued to remove the Greens congressional and state office candidates for not paying filing fees, in spite of a state court having ruled the fees unconstitutional. The candidates were knocked off the ballot.

In New York, Hawkins has run for various offices. In 2014, he ran for governor, and won 5% of the vote. That is very high for any candidate running to the left of the Democrats.

The Greens are automatically on the New York ballot, because the party has maintained enough votes to comply with a state rule that kept the party on the ballot.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill earlier this year, greatly increasing the number of votes needed for third parties to stay on the ballot. While not affecting this year’s ballot, it is likely that the Greens will lose ballot status for future elections. The bill also raised the number of signatures needed for third parties to win a place on the ballot in future.

The NYT article also raised the Democrats' time-honoured arguments – used against earlier socialist parties and now the Greens. These arguments boil down to the charge that votes for these parties are actually votes for the Republicans, because these votes – they claim – rightfully belong to the Democrats.

The historical background to this is former Soviet-era leader Joseph Stalin’s “popular front” strategy of the 1930s. In most countries, this meant that Soviet-aligned communist parties would form alliances with capitalist parties that were more left, and even join capitalist governments led by such parties.

‘Lesser evil’?

In the US, the popular front strategy led the Communist Party to support the Democrats. The Socialist Party followed suit, both parties abandoning their historical position of never voting for capitalist parties.

Most socialist organisations in the US have continued to support the Democrats since. For 80 years, they have often made the argument that the Democrats are the “lesser evil” to the Republicans. The broader left takes the same position.

Socialists who run independently of both capitalist parties, such as the Greens today, are swimming against the current. People who vote for the Greens today do so with their eyes wide open to the fact that they are opposing both the Democrats and Republicans. Most would not vote Democrat if the Greens were not on the ballot.

The Democrats often claim that Green candidate Ralph Nader was the key factor in their loss to George W Bush in 2000. In that election, a high point for the Greens, Nader won a bit less than three million votes, or 2.7%.

In 2000, there was a major worldwide movement against capitalist globalisation, kicked off by the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. The Nader campaign gave electoral expression to this movement.

Mass rallies for Nader drew thousands across the country. One in Oakland, California, filled a large auditorium. The mainly young people who came cheered loudly for everything Nader said, and even more loudly when he raised anti-capitalist themes. Emboldened by this response, Nader went further.

The idea that Nader supporters were even considering voting Democrat is nonsense.

So why are the Democrats so intent in denying ballot status to the Greens? Part of the reason is that Joe Biden is not mobilising many young people to vigorously campaign for him. In 2008, Barack Obama, as the first Black candidate of a major party to run for president, inspired Blacks, young people and others with hope for real change ‒ his “army” as some called it.

But Obama in power did not deliver on the hopes he aroused. Many young Blacks, whites and others in the Black Lives Matter movement have expressed disillusionment with voting Democrat with not much to show for it.

The same is true for the many young people who are gravitating toward socialism on a scale not seen since the 1960s.

What does Biden say regarding the issues raised by BLM? He promises to increase spending on police. He often says he will bring “both sides” together, so he proposes to convene a commission composed of police chiefs and police “unions” (which fully support police who murder) on one side and “civil rights leaders” of his choosing on the other, with a sprinkling of politicians from the two major parties, to find a compromise “solution”.

Concerning climate change, Biden champions fossil fuels, especially fracking, even while the west coast is in flames, tropical storms and hurricanes grow in the Atlantic, creating huge floods when they hit land. He is even opposed to the watered-down Green New Deal languishing in Congress.

On healthcare, Biden wants to retain the employer-backed private insurance of Obamacare. Right now, with the massive layoffs resulting from the pandemic, tens of millions have lost their employer-backed plans.

Biden is on the right wing of the Democratic Party and doesn’t have a vision beyond not being Trump.

The Democrats want to suppress Green Party candidates as much as possible, lest the Greens begin to win over the awakening forces to the left of the Democrats.

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