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Make Your Vote Count for Socialism
Posted on Feb 28, 2012
In 1986, Alexander moved back to Los Angeles and immediately got involved with local organizations. For more than three years he hosted a weekly radio talk show on KTYM-AM in Inglewood, discussing crime, gangs, drugs and redevelopment issues. Working with Delores Daniels and other community activists, Alexander brought public attention to local communities that were losing billions of tax increment dollars, while redevelopment tax revenues were funneled to well-connected capitalists and to big projects in downtown Los Angeles.
In 1988, Alexander moderated a public forum in Los Angeles that gave more than 200 community groups and activists the opportunity to meet with elected officials and to address redevelopment issues. At the same time, Alexander launched a campaign to become mayor of Los Angeles and knocked on more than 14,000 doors to get the minimum 1,000 signatures needed to qualify for the citywide ballot. Alexander’s campaign dealt with reducing crime, creating jobs for communities of color and the economic redevelopment of Los Angeles. The social and economic divisions Alexander had warned about for years finally erupted in riots and arson on April 29, 1992.
Alexander began looking and thinking beyond an electoral system dominated by two big corporate parties. He was briefly inspired by the campaign of Ross Perot, and in 1991 he attended a rally in Orange County, Calif., where Perot spoke to a crowd of about 5,000. But his political life then grew less active for several years. In the life of individuals and in the history of nations, there are times when still waters run deep. In 1998, Alexander met Kevin Akin of the Peace and Freedom Party, and Alexander’s class conscious politics became explicitly socialist. In 2005, Alexander ran as the Peace and Freedom Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor of California. Shortly after, Alexander was elected to the state executive committee of the Peace and Freedom Party.
Alexander has worked with the Socialist Party since 2007, and was its vice presidential nominee in 2008. At the National Convention for the Socialist Party USA in October 2011, Alexander was nominated for president of the United States. Alejandro “Alex” Mendoza, his vice presidential running mate, was born in Riverside, Calif., to parents who emigrated from Mexico. Mendoza served in the Marine Corps for four years and now lives in Texas where he owns a sustainable lawn care business and is pursuing a master’s degree in geosciences at the University of Texas.
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I am a member of both the Socialist and Green parties of the United States, and I have met Alexander several times at meetings of the Los Angeles chapter of the Socialist Party. That is considerably more disclosure than most readers get from the regular columnists in major newspapers, or than most viewers get from the expensively groomed anchors of TV broadcast networks. The price of journalistic “access” to many career politicians is quite simply the professional prostitution of journalists. For this Truthdig article, I addressed five questions to Alexander.
Scott Tucker: As many jobs have been shipped offshore in the corporate chase for the lowest wages, the percentage of United States workers who belong to labor unions has fallen to roughly 12 percent. What are your views about rebuilding a base of manufacturing jobs in this country, beyond the sector of military industries?
Stewart Alexander: I am running this campaign in order to offer a democratic socialist alternative to American voters. What this means in real terms is that I believe that we can make real on the great possibilities offered by this society. For instance, I believe that we can rebuild the manufacturing sector in the United States and, even better, I believe that it is possible to do so in a democratic way that allows us to build a society based on solidarity and justice. Yet, since the 1970s, Democrats and Republicans have been firmly committed to the plans of their benefactors in the corporate world who have sought to destroy the manufacturing sector and ship production sites overseas.
This plan worked quite well for the 1 percent in society. Manufacturing overseas allowed them to avoid the environmental, civil rights and labor laws that have been built up by social movements in the United States. Capital restored its profitability by globalizing itself. However, the production sites and communities it left behind, especially in the Rust Belt of the U.S., have now been reduced to Third World level standards with deep unemployment, decaying infrastructure and rampant drug use.
One of the reasons that the Alexander/Mendoza 2012 campaign exists is to say that another way is possible. We believe in the creation of an independent worker owned and operated cooperative sector that can be used to rebuild the manufacturing capacity of the United States. Public funds should be used to initiate this kind of project, instead of being poured into the financial sector through bank bailouts or into the expansion of the prison-industrial complex.
A vibrant cooperative network means that Americans will no longer have to be held hostage by multinational corporations. Democratically run cooperatives are rooted in local communities—they depend on local people to be their customers, they are supplied by other local cooperatives and they are not beholden to CEOs or boards of directors. Such enterprises also have a built-in incentive to care for the environment and enforce workers’ rights since the workers are owners, and they likely live in the same community they work in.
We think that an independent democratically run cooperative sector is a viable alternative to both multinational capitalism and the military-industrial complex. This is at the heart of our campaign.
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