Alternative Presidential Candidate Forum by Carol L. Kennedy
Democracy Unplugged Presents Alternative Presidential Candidate Forum
By Carol L. Kennedy
On Wednesday, October 24, Democracy Unplugged hosted the Alternative Presidential Candidate Forum at Swarthmore’s Borough Hall. The evening consisted of a panel discussion featuring representatives of the presidential campaigns of five alternative parties, followed by questions from the audience. The parties represented were the Constitution Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party. The Justice Party was unable to send a representative. In addition, Jim Babb of the Vote for Nobody campaign spoke on the panel.
The evening began with statements from all the panelists. Leading off was Roy Minet of the Libertarian Party, which is on the ballot in Pennsylvania with presidential candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico. Minet began by stating that the Libertarian Party’s credo can be summed up in four words: “Live and let live”. Johnson’s campaign embraces a non-interventionist foreign policy, a balanced budget and reduced spending, the elimination of most taxes (substituting a simple federal sales tax instead), rights for the LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transgendered) community, gun rights, and the elimination of the national debt.
Next to speak was Walter Smolarek, representing the presidential campaign of Peta Lindsay of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, or PSL. Smolarek said Lindsay is “not a politician, but a revolutionary” who grew up in Philadelphia and was an activist in the Philadelphia Student Union, fighting for economic justice and student and workers’ rights. He spoke of two economic classes, the capitalists and the workers, the former profiting from the labor of the latter, and said that true change will only come with a workers’ revolution that will change the power relations in this country.
Jim Clymer of the Constitution Party spoke next, representing the candidacy of Virgil Goode (rhymes with “food”) for president. Clymer himself is the party’s vice presidential candidate. Goode has served as a congressman and a senator in the past, and has belonged to both the Democratic and Republican parties, but has broken with both to join the Constitution Party, which favors a return to the American Constitution as the fundamental guide for our government. Goode favors immediately balancing the federal budget, curtailing immigration, stopping unconstitutional wars, cutting the military budget, and eliminating the PACs.
Next up was Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick, speaking for the Green Party campaign of Dr. Jill Stein for president and Cheri Honkala for vice president. (The Green Party will be on the ballot in November.) She outlined Stein’s platform, which includes the creation of a government-funded full-employment program to improve infrastructures and support sustainable agriculture, programs to keep wealth in local communities, workers’ rights to union representation, a raise of the minimum wage, cutting military spending, lifting restrictions on immigration, ending foreign military interventions, imposing regulations that would control global warming, and breaking up the big banks.
Osborne Hart spoke for James Harris, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president. (Hart himself is running for the U. S. Senate from Pennsylvania.) He explained that the Socialist Workers Party is a working-class party, and that the capitalist system, which is in crisis, is punishing the working class as a result, politically, socially, and economically. He spoke of the American Revolution and the Civil War as revolutions that were necessary in the past, and said that a new revolution led by the working class will be necessary to make the kind of change that is needed now. Harris’s platform includes an end to foreign wars, the establishment of a public works system, the end of “stop-and-frisk” and support for a woman’s right to reproductive choice.
The last speaker was Jim Babb of the Vote for Nobody campaign. Babb contends that the elections, which are staged by the two major parties and exclude other parties from participation, serve as a hoax on the American public, encouraging them to believe they have a say in politics and to keep them from questioning the lack of democracy in our government. His solution to this hoax is that the public should refuse to participate in the elections at all, and instead join movements for social change outside of the electoral system.
Following the initial presentations by the six speakers, there was a very lively question-and-answer period involving the audience of fifty people. It was noted that, despite their differences regarding immigration and class politics, all of the speakers favored an end to American intervention in foreign wars, contrary to both Obama and Romney, and that they all oppose the stranglehold that the two parties have on the electoral process, which is enforced through undemocratic ballot laws, exclusion from nationally-televised debates, and being ignored by the media. It was also noted that many topics that neither Obama nor Romney addressed during their debates, including women’s reproductive rights, poverty, immigration, global warming, LGBT rights, electoral rights for third parties, and questioning America’s role as an imperial power in the world, were discussed at this event.
Democracy Unplugged can be contacted at www.democracyunplugged.net, or email@example.com
Thanks Bob and Democracy Unplugged. Good job!