The focus of The Socialist, Issue 3, will likely spark speculation among socialist activists, organizers, and political candidates. Among them are those who will be planning election campaigns over the next couple of years. These folks will likely puzzle over lessons learned from the 2016 season, and whether the results were worth the effort. Analysis can illuminate opportunities for improvements. Input from voters identifies resonant issues, decrypts political “buzz” words (e.g. “thug,” “immigrant,” “terrorist”), and identifies linguistic narrative “framing” and political branding. Canvassing improves the understanding the logic of voters and opponent’s narratives about issues.
In recent years, SPUSA candidates offer socialist reflections on elections and identify opportunities for future success. Mimi Soltysik, 2016 SPUSA Presidential candidate, stresses relationships, open minds, and compassion.
“How will this campaign be able to contribute toward the revolutionary movement? We can start by listening. We will do our best to soothe fears. As those new to the ideas seek guidance in finding movement work to plug into locally, we can use our resources to help them find a home. We can help to connect those currently involved in the revolutionary struggle, working to build new working relationships that sustain. We can offer compassion to the aching backs of the movement. We will not mince words as we attack capitalism. Our goal is not reform. Our goal is not a kinder, gentler, greener oppression.”
Pat Noble was elected in 2015 to the Red Bank Regional High School Board of Education. He is currently the Co-Chair and National Treasurer of the Socialist Party USA, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Socialist Party of New Jersey, and the Chair of the Central New Jersey Socialist Party. For Pat, a factual political branding is important.
“I think the greatest challenge a socialist can face in electoral politics is that of public misconception. Our beliefs and principles, while radical in their own right as an alternative to capitalism, are also radically different than the beliefs and principles that are falsely associated with us by corporate media and the right-wing Democratic and Republican parties. We are painted as authoritarians that only seek massive government control and centralization, which of course is very far from reality. Since we do not have regular access to media in the same way that the capitalist parties do, our largest challenge is continuing to change the public perception of what socialism actually is. When presented as individual ideas or proposals, socialist positions carry the support of a significant amount of the working class. Our task is to not only put forward socialist ideas to our communities and through our activist work, but to also connect those ideas to a larger need for systematic change.”
Michael Anderson, a socialist State Representative from Michigan’s 70th district, targets the disease, not the host.
“I am not running against the republicans, or the democrats… I’m not running against the capitalist candidate in blue or the capitalist candidate in red. I’m running against the capitalist system. The systemic issues inherent in the capitalist system such as racism, trans/homophobia, misogyny, these ills of society will remain intact and untouched unless we deconstruct the very structure which promises, by design economic, political and ecological, conflict, crisis, and poverty.”
Jarrod Williams, candidate for US Senate from Nevada, also fights for systemic revolution.
“With your help we can begin the Political Revolution to take back our government from the wealthy, the special interests, and the bureaucrats who are strangling Human progress with their regressive ideas and policies.”
Seth Baker, candidate for Maine State Senate District 27, connects that revolution to its higher moral arc.
“We need to talk about big ideas, which America is about … I’ve considered myself a socialist my whole adult life. Bernie Sanders proved that’s not really a dirty word anymore … I think specifically we have the leader of the state [Maine Gov. LePage] declaring people of color the enemy … He has a long track record of xenophobic, homophobic and racist statements.”
If history is any indication, the SPUSA will continue to vigorously pursue its election efforts, which serve to celebrate the Party’s heritage in the campaigns of Eugene V. Debs.
“By fielding Socialist candidates in elections at all levels of office, Socialists educate the public about socialism, agitate for radical reforms and socialist solutions, and promote the politically independent organization of working people in direct opposition to the twin capitalist parties.”