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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Thinking really different(ly): a socialist for President

While the Republicans argue over which of their candidates can be the most bellicose and vociferously pro-war, and the Democrats try to decide which of their three candidates can be the "kinder, gentler" face of imperialism (or at least pretend to be), and the Green Party debates running either Cynthia McKinney or a series of more-or-less unknown but no doubt equally progressive candidates, today the Party for Socialism and Liberation announced that my good friend Gloria La Riva will be its candidate for President of the United States in the 2008 election.

As an activist attending rallies and such in the Bay Area, I've known of (and heard) La Riva for many years, and have mentioned her here (and here) on more than a dozen occasions. I've come to know her in the last few years because we work closely together in the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Gloria is a tireless (and I mean that literally, not figuratively) activist on behalf of many causes (brief bio here), and may well be the only American who has ever spoken before the giant (million plus) May Day rallies in Havana not once but twice.

Why do socialists run election campaigns? In the United States, anyway, it's clearly not to win. Here's the PSL take on the subject, but my own spin (and perhaps condensed version of that article) is simple - it's a great way to get out the message. And here I speak from personal experience. In 1972, I was walking through Harvard Square and came across a Socialist Workers Party campaign table handing out literature for their Presidential candidate, Linda Jenness. Since I was already a committed feminist and active in the women's movement (yes, that's right), the focus on abortion rights caught my eye. That was the very first contact I ever had with a socialist, much less the socialist movement, and I've been a socialist ever since.

As an interesting side note, here's Gloria's Wikipedia entry, which notes that she was the Workers World Party candidate for Vice-President in 2000 (as well as in other elections). Why is that interesting? Because she and her running mate, Monica Moorehead, got 1804 votes in Florida that year. Fortunately most people were busy blaming Ralph Nader for Al Gore's loss (rather than blaming Al Gore himself or Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, and ChoicePoint, the real source of Gore's loss in Florida), so Gloria's role got overlooked. :-)

The campaign video:

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