That said, after last night (see this hour-long video of last night if you're so inclined), if Hawkins does win the Green presidential nomination, I plan to campaign for him as hard as I did for Jill Stein in 2012 and 2016, and possibly as hard as I remember promoting Ralph Nader in 2000. This is especially true if the Democratic Party nominates yet another triangulating centrist.
I am willing to overlook recent missteps in which Hawkins echoed the establishment narrative about Russia interfering with US elections, because no candidate is going to get everything right. Folks who accuse Greens of imposing "purity tests" on candidates because we can't abide voting for centrist Democrats can stick those accusations where the proverbial sun don't shine.
More importantly, however, I have enormous respect for some of the progressive luminaries lining up to support him, including the late Bruce A. Dixon and 2016 VP nominee Ajamu Baraka of Black Agenda Report. Plus, yesterday former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, briefly a presidential candidate in this cycle, urged his supporters to back...no, not Bernie; no, not Tulsi; Howie.
The two Palmer children in the photo above were in fact the motivating factor for Don and Laura getting active with the Greens. A little over a decade ago, they saw that neither major party was working to insure that our children would inherit a livable planet, or indeed a way to make a living on it. In a sense, ensuring that future is the very center of the Green Platform.
What the multi-time candidate for Governor of New York revealed most vividly last night were his knowledge and understanding of the history of popular movements, particularly in the US. He discussed successes in union and workers' movements from the past 150 years, as well as the Black Panthers' community organizing in Oakland, the way the protests against the Seabrook Nuclear Plant in the 1970s (in which he participated) won over even New Hampshire Republicans, and several others.
Such knowledge by itself does not make someone a good candidate, but Hawkins effectively connects that knowledge with his policy proposals. He also communicates those proposals quite well, better than Stein in some ways.
Since the Green New Deal that Hawkins first articulated in 2010 has been misappropriated and watered down by a few progressive Democrats in Congress, Hawkins has updated the name, now calling it the Ecosocialist Green New Deal. Ill-informed liberal Twitterites—likely including thousands who watched Stein on CNN on 2016 and heard her say "Green New Deal" multiple times—will probably still accuse him of stealing the GND because those Democrats have mostly refused to give the Hawkins and Stein credit for crafting it. Neoliberal columnist Thomas Friedman may have coined the phrase, but Hawkins and Stein converted that coin into political currency.
Seriously, read it. A big part of the GND is an Economic Bill of Rights. Last night Hawkins referred to his version of the Economic Bill or Rights, an update of one that FDR was working on when he died, as a down payment for reparations for oppressed minorities.
The other major portion of the talk was devoted to stopping an existential threat that is not climate-related: nuclear weapons. Hawkins favors decommissioning all warheads, with the US starting the process unilaterally if necessary.
Another favorite moment for me was the pithy way he responds to those who accuse him of spoiling the election: "I'm not spoiling anything, I'm improving the election." As Stein has said innumerable times, American voters are clambering/clamoring for more voices and choices. Having ecosocialist candidates on the ballot will be especially important if the Democratic Party insists on replaying 2016.
Even if the Sandernista revolution succeeds, having a Green presidential nominee will still be important in light of the hundreds of "safe" legislative districts nationwide that one of the corporate parties will deem unworthy of contesting. One-party rule in any jurisdiction is not just undemocratic, but anti-democratic. In too many states, those down-ballot Greens will not have a ballot line without a candidate at the top of the ticket.