I am Stewart A. Alexander of Murrieta, California, a life-long civil rights activist and an active member of the Peace and Freedom Party for the last nine years. Last year I ran a statewide campaign for Lieutenant Governor, and I was pleased with how well the socialist message of the Peace and Freedom Party resonated with the people and groups I spoke with during the campaign. These are times of crisis, and people are looking for answers. I am offering myself as a candidate for the Presidential nomination of the Socialist Party and the Peace and Freedom Party in order to bring to the country a message of peace, human rights, prosperity for workers, and socialism. I think people are ready to listen. I hope to help build a united Left campaign, bringing people together to work in the people's interest.
1. How do you personally define socialism?
Socialism is the common ownership of the means of production, but I like to be more specific. There are, have been, and can be many forms of socialism, but I believe that the best, strongest and most beneficial form of socialism, the kind of socialism I personally work for, is common ownership of the economy coupled with its democratic control by working people. This is "democratic socialism," but please note the small "d" and small "s." I am not specifically affiliated with any group that uses that name. Socialism should be the extension of democracy into the economy, the realization of the ages-old dream of peace and prosperity for all.
2. Do you plan on running on the Socialist Party platform and the principles embodied in Socialism as Radical Democracy (including social ownership, worker control, and production for use -- not profit)? Is there anything in the Socialist Party Platform or Statement of Principles with which you disagree?
For all human needs to be met, we need socialism. I find the Socialist Party Platform quite in tune with my own thinking, and I am actually unable to find anything in it with which I disagree. Some of the issues are not really my issues, and I would probably not spend a lot of time emphasizing a few that are usually considered local issues with little connection with national politics, but even there I have no real disagreement with any of it. It would be a pleasure to bring this Platform to the voters. In the Statement of Principles is one portion that bothers me, and that I understand bothers some SP members as well. The references to "Communist" states, with apparent calls for their overthrow, are not words I would use. Specifically, it seems that joining the Republicans and Democrats in calling for the overthrow of the Cuban government would be something the Socialist Party should avoid, especially today, when Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" is so effectively spreading the word about how much better the Cuban socialized medical system is than the "system" we have in the United States. Despite Cuba's different approach to democracy, one largely forced on them by a very real foreign threat, we have a lot more to learn from their successes. Of course, we need to learn from their failures as well, and I certainly would not propose copying those!
3. If you take any positions that differ from those of the Socialist Party, are you willing to make clear at all times that your views differ from those of the Party?
I certainly am willing to do so. This is the basic ground rule for Peace and Freedom Party candidates, as well, though I have not had to worry about it as my positions have been those of the Peace and Freedom Party (which appear to differ mainly in phrasing from those of the Socialist Party). My views are rooted in socialism, and when expressing my views I make this plain. The SP platform, like the PFP platform, is quite helpful in expressing a socialist viewpoint.
4. In what way will your campaign take a working-class orientation? How will it differ from mainstream appeals to the working class?
I am reaching out to the 298 million people in the USA who are really unrepresented. My campaign is about addressing human needs, not protecting the interests and profits of the wealthy few. My mission is to share the hope of socialism, and help working people learn that capitalism only benefits the rich. My family background and my own life of hard work have helped prepare me as a representative of the many who give, rather than the few who take. The "mainstream" big-money parties appeal to workers to vote for their enemies, promising one or another small benefit and usually failing to deliver on the promises, because the big profiteers are really in charge. I would like to run as the candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party, the Socialist Party, and I hope of other independent forces in various states, in order to mobilize workers and their families to organize and vote in their own interest, not be fooled once again into voting for one of the bosses' candidates.
5. What would be the top three issues you would address in your campaign and why?
First, end the war NOW. Not only the brutal and failed occupation of Iraq, but the occupation of Afghanistan as well, which has left the women as oppressed as under the Taliban but enriched the opium wholesalers. Over a million have died in these wars, and none of the claimed goals have been met, as Afghans still starve under brutal warlords, and Iraqis die or flee while the US military enforces Saddam's old anti-labor laws. While the Democrats equivocate about how many months or years will be required to withdraw troops, I say "OUT NOW," and I say it should not even take a month to get every soldier back across the border. Second, millions of people cannot afford any health care in the United States, and many millions more cannot afford good health care. 46 million lack any coverage at all. Health care must be recognized as a human right. I support a universal healthcare program, with, as a start, the immediate formation of a single-payer system covering everyone in the United States. Third, to alleviate suffering and give hope and pride to all, we need a living wage and full employment. Not a promise, not an empty bill with no financing, but a genuine full-employment program, with livable wages, and a guaranteed dignified income for those unable to work. Our country's immediate and long-term needs certainly require enough work to employ everyone, and only rule by the wealthy stands in the way.
6. Please describe your position on the following issues.
6a. Do you support a woman's right to choose?
Yes, I am pro-choice.
6b. Do you support Affirmative Action?
Yes. I personally benefited from Affirmative Action 30 years ago, and we need it today. Eliminating it is another way the wealthy clamp down on workers, to create more misery and force people to do worse jobs for less.
6c. Do you support equal rights for non-heterosexuals?
Yes, equal rights in every way.
6d. Do you support equal rights for non-citizens?
Yes, everyone in the working class is a citizen of this world, and all have the same basic needs and are entitled to the same rights.
6e. To what extent do you support establishing a socialized healthcare system?
I favor a fully socialized medical care system, with as a first step a single-payer system similar to Medicare, but covering people of all ages. I favor eliminating the "co-pays" that are such a burden, and keep people from seeking needed care. We should take the profit out of the health-care system, and fully fund it. (The money now spent on health care in the USA is about twice as much per person as is spent in Western Europe, with less effective delivery of care. No additional money would actually be needed, but taxes on the wealthy few should be used initially to help fund improvements.) Eventually, I favor a fully-socialized system, funded from the surplus of the socialized economy, with an emphasis on prevention and public health.
6f. How do you envision a socialist solution to the most common problems in the public school system (i.e., funding, assessment, and integration)?
First, the privatization and profiteering must be stopped. Counterproductive programs like "No Child Left Behind" should be ended, with their cruel cuts in funds to the most needy schools. To increase funding at this point, increased taxes on the wealthy who benefit most from a trained labor force would be fair and helpful. In the long run, the basic role of effective education in a socialist society needs to be recognized through firm funding guarantees that enable the schools to help all students build good lives for themselves. Assessments based on rote tests are counterproductive, as they take class time away from real learning and force students to learn instead how to take a particular test. If more teachers, fewer administrators, and absolutely no corporate representatives are involved in the development of standards and assessments, the schools will be able to improve the level of education. But the basic needs are smaller classes, decent wages for teachers across the country, quality textbooks written by experienced teachers and published by state school systems rather than by corporations, full funding for classroom supplies, including the latest high-tech educational needs in working-class neighborhoods as well as in prosperous areas, and safe and comfortable school facilities. Integration of schools is needed, now as much as any time in the last 50 years. So-called "de-facto" segregation, that the reactionaries want to legalize, reinforces housing segregation, and helps the wealthy divide our society. As a child, during the days of segregation in Newport News, Virginia, I had to travel ten miles to attend an all Black school. When integration came in, the trip was cut by 7 miles, and I was able to attend a school that offered me a more equal opportunity. We must not go backward to the days of segregation. Real integration of the schools is essential.
6g. How do you intend to address living wages and affordable housing?
We need to double the minimum wage, and index it to the cost of living. (I am speaking of the minimum wage level in California - doubling it would result in a minimum wage of about $15 per hour.) Further, we need to ensure that all jobs pay a living wage, which in many areas is higher than $15 per hour. Our goal must be an organized workforce that makes decent union wages, with all workers having the right to organize, to strike if they need to, and with the use of scabs, of "replacement workers," outlawed. Affordable housing is but a dream in much of my own state, California. The same is true of many cities and states across the country. One of our highest national priorities, as we put the unemployed and underemployed to work improving our country, must be the provision of decent affordable housing for all, and the elimination of the modern phenomenon of homelessness that emerged in the 1980s. The wage and housing situations are linked, of course, and a livable wage needs to allow everyone to live in good housing.
6h. How do you propose to address the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
I propose to withdraw all troops immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan. The false claims that logistic difficulties require months or years to do this are just excuses for further intervention and bloodshed. Both countries certainly will have continuing problems, but it is certain that those problems will be worse with the continued presence of US troops. The Iraqi and Afghan people need help, but any help our country provides should not be military aid. We do owe reparations for the terrible harm our military forces have done, under orders from the White House and using funds voted by Congress. I find that people are very receptive to this message, and I hope that my campaign will help build the groundswell of resistance to war that is needed to end it.
7. Do you have any experience running for and/or holding public office? For what office(s) have you run? Have you ever run before as a Socialist?
While I have never held public office, I have run for Mayor of Los Angeles (a non-partisan office) in 1989, and more recently for California Lieutenant Governor in 2006 as the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. The Peace and Freedom Party stands for socialism, and I emphasized the need for socialism in my campaign.
8. Do you satisfy the Constitutional requirements for being elected president of the United States (e.g., you are a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years of age, and have at least 14 years of U.S. residency [foreign military service notwithstanding])?
Yes, I meet all the Constitutional requirements for President of the United States.
9. To what extent are you willing/able to travel while campaigning? Do you have any personal commitments that would significantly limit the amount of time you can dedicate to campaigning (i.e., family, school, work, etc.)?
I would need to continue working to meet my financial obligations, but I would have considerable flexibility for brief trips, and I am willing to miss some work despite some loss of money. Last year I was able to visit much of California during the campaign, and California is the most populous state. I would expect to visit many other states in 2008. I have the support of my wife, and no direct family responsibilities at this time that would cut into time available for campaigning. In addition to personal appearances, I expect to spend considerable time at the computer, campaigning over the internet. As I did last year, I would also expect to make use of video-campaigning opportunities. As is true of most working-class candidates, my own finances are limited, so I will need to raise money to pay for travel.
10. What strategies and/or methods do you think would be most effective in promoting your campaign? Do you have access to any community resources that might aid in publicizing your candidacy?
I think the internet is the most vital campaign resource today. Networking on the internet provides opportunities old-time organizers never even dreamed of. I would seek endorsements and assistance from independent community and political groups, including the thousands of progressive bloggers and listserv operators, and from local Peace and Freedom Party, Socialist Party and other political groups to push my campaign nationwide. Even if I were able to speak in two cities a day for the next year, most people would never hear of me or my positions, without the use of available media. With a proper internet/media operation, many millions can be reached with very few dollars.
11. Are you comfortable writing campaign statements, speaking to large audiences (including the media), and participating in debates when opportunities arise?
I am very comfortable with public speaking. I have done many television interviews, and when I lived in Los Angeles I was a radio talk show host for three years. I am very comfortable writing campaign statements, and I have knowledgeable and helpful friends who support me with research when needed. I know how to keep cool under fire, and get my views across.
12. What resources (financial, skills, etc.) do you bring to the SP Presidential campaign? And what resources would you request or need from the Socialist Party USA?
Financially, I am one with the working class I seek to represent. I bring essentially no money to the campaign. But I do have fund-raising skills, and I am presently the State Fundraiser of the Peace and Freedom Party in California. What I offer is the ability to speak for the working class, as the candidate who believes in socialism as the key answer to the problems of working people. I am willing and eager to share with people, in person and through every medium available, what socialism has to offer. I am well aware that the Socialist Party, like the Peace and Freedom Party and most socialist groups, cannot provide much money compared to the presidential campaigns of the two big capitalist parties. But by intelligently using our resources to maximum effect, we can make the connections that can put together a powerful campaign in 2008, and build for future victories.