Tampa Bay DSA Candidate Survey
1. Do you identify as a socialist? How do you feel about democratic socialism?
Yes, I identify as a socialist. I have been a member of the Socialist Party USA since it was established in 1973 by the Debs Caucus of the old Socialist Party of America. I am also a member of Solidarity, a socialist feminist anti-racist organization.
To me, socialism means the movement for self-emancipation by working class and oppressed people.
Socialism means democracy. Rosa Luxemburg: “There is no democracy without socialism, and no socialism without democracy.”
Socialism means economic democracy through social ownership and democratic administration of the major means of production and distribution.
Socialism means independent political action by the exploited and oppressed speaking and acting for themselves from below through their own political party. The socialist movement needs its own distinct message and identity as an alternative and opposed to the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties.
Socialism means uprooting racism and all other forms of oppression, discrimination, and segregation based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, disability, and other invidious distinctions. We can’t have working class solidarity and power without uprooting oppression based on various statuses within the working class.
Socialism means internationalism. International solidarity by the working class and oppressed people across borders is essential because the capitalist system is global and the fight for freedom, equality, peace, and the environment is worldwide and indivisible.
2. Does your campaign accept any money from PACs, large donors, or real estate investors?
3. What will you do to fight corporate interests and get money out of politics?
I support the We The People Amendment to the US Constitution to abolish the doctrines of corporate personhood and of money equals political speech. That amendment will trump previous the court decisions that prevent full public regulation of public elections. With full public regulation, we can eliminate the role of private money and corporations in elections.
I support the Clean Money model of full public campaign financing where ballot-qualified candidates receive equal campaign funding grants and receive and spend no private money. Arizona and Maine have adopted this system for their state elections. For federal elections, the Clean Money model also requires federally-licensed broadcasters to provide equal time for messaging to all candidates.
I oppose the matching funds systems of partial public campaign finance because the public money is just added on top of private money, which then still dominates campaign funding. The matching funds also magnify the funding disparities between candidates with greater and lesser amounts of private money to match. The matching funds system is a reform that doesn’t really reform.
4. What are the top 3 local campaigns that you’re most invested in?
Since I am a candidate for President of the United States, I am most invested in solutions to three life-or-death issues that we face nationally and internationally.
1. Climate Crisis
I advance a 10-year, $27.5 trillion budget and plan an Ecosocialist Green New Deal to get to zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It features public enterprise and planning in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors in order to rapidly rebuild all productive systems for zero-waste and clean energy, not just in the energy sector but also in the transportation, buildings, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors.
2. Economic Inequality
Inequality kills. Working class life expectancies have begun declining in the US after 45 years of wage stagnation and growing inequality. The Green New Deal I advocate has always included an Economic Bill of Rights to a living-wage job, an income above poverty, affordable housing, comprehensive health care, lifelong tuition-free public education from child care and preK through college and trade schools, and a secure retirement funded by doubled Social Security benefits.
3. Nuclear Arms Race
I call for a 75% cut in military spending, US troops home from foreign deployments, a pledge of No First Use of nuclear weapons, disarming to a minimum credible nuclear deterrent, and, on the basis of those tension-reducing initiatives, going to the eight other nuclear powers to negotiate mutual and complete nuclear disarmament with the support of the 122 non-nuclear nations who agreed three years ago to the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. None of the capitalist party candidates have addressed the new nuclear arms race crisis, which should be a top campaign issue.
5. Do you believe humans affect climate change? If so, what would you do to combat climate change?
I have been convinced that human burning of fossil fuels was heating the planet to a dangerous degree since 1968 when I came across Murray Bookchin’s description of that science and warning in his 1964 pamphlet, “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought.” I have been active in the safe energy movement ever since, from being one of the co-founders of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 to being the first candidate in the US to call for a Green New Deal while campaigning for New York governor in 2010.
As president on Day One, I would declare declare a Climate Emergency, which will give the president extra powers to act rapidly and decisively to confront the climate crisis.
On Day One, I would also create a cabinet-level Office of Climate Mobilization for the coordination of all federal agencies in mobilizing the nation’s resources to achieve zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. The analogy here would be the Office of War Mobilization during World War II. The federal government nationalized or built a quarter of all U.S. manufacturing capacity during the war in order to turn industry on a dime into the Arsenal of Democracy to defeat the fascist Axis powers. We need to do nothing less through the public sector to defeat climate change.
6. Do you support universal healthcare? If so, how do we get there as a country?
Health care should not be a buy-or-die commodity. It should be a pubic service and a human right.
Medicare for All as national health insurance is not enough. In addition to replacing private health insurance companies with a single public payer, I call for replacing the for-profit drug companies, and the healthcare delivery institutions that maximize fees for service to the detriment of quality care and cost control, with a fully socialized medial system.
I call for Medicare for All as a Community-Controlled National Health Service. In the first year, national health insurance would pay for all medically necessary services, including abortion and other reproductive health services, through a single public payer and free at the point of service for consumers. Over the next ten years, we would socialize delivery as well as payment of health care. Hospitals, clinics, and drug and medical supply companies will be publicly owned. Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers will be salaried public employees. The whole system will be governed by locally-elected health boards that federate at the state and national level for overall planning and coordination.
7. How do you feel about nationalizing utilities?
I have supported a public energy system since the mid 1970s when proposals were put forth by Len Rodberg, James Ridgeway, Lee Webb, Geoff Faux, and others associated with the Institute for Policy Studies for public ownership and democratic administration of the fossil fuel industry as well as the power utilities generating and distributing gas and electricity. The system would be based on locally-elected public energy district boards that federate at the state and national levels for overall planning and coordination. A public energy system is absolutely necessary to plan a rapid transition to zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy. It is part of my Ecosocialist Green New Deal.
8. What would you do to support transportation alternatives and mass transit?
I would create a national public transportation corporation incorporating the rail, air, and road vehicle industries to plan and administer the construction of electrified rail systems (light-rail mass transit urban areas, high-speed rail between cities, expanded freight rail networks) and electrified road vehicles. It would maximize the movement of people and freight on electrified rails, reduce air travel to long distance trips, and coordinate transportation planning with urban and regional planning to integrate transportation with housing and industry to create walkable communities. My Ecosocialist Green New Deal plan develops this vision.
9. Do you think our education standards are up to par in this country? If not, what would you do to change that?
Standards and performance have been reduced in the US by underfunding public schools, diverting resources to privately-managed charter schools, the high-stakes standardized testing regime, and growing school resegregation by race and class. As these trends have developed, US students scores on standardized tests have declined on average. Other qualities and knowledge that a good education should impart—including intellectual self-confidence, leadership skills, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, team work and collaboration, history and civics, and respect and understanding across ethnic, gender, and socio-economic differences—have been increasingly de-emphasized and discarded.
For equitable and sufficient funding, I favor funding public school through progressive federal income and wealth taxes instead of unevenly distributed and regressive local property taxes.
High-stakes testing and charter school privatization should be replaced with fully-funded public schools that offer gifted-quality academic and vocational curricula for all without segregation by intra-school tracking and inter-school district lines that impose race and class segregation.
To reduce inter-school race and class segregation, I support federal desegregation legislation and programs to break down Jim Crow school district lines that impose segregation and to promote racially and economically diverse and balanced public schools.
10. What problems do you see in the criminal justice system and how will you address them?
The carceral police state we have was designed that way to exploit and contain the oppressed, particularly communities of color, and to protect the privileges and profits of the power structure’s elites.
We need a completely new system of public safety based on decriminalizing drugs and sex work, providing appropriate services instead of police for most social problems (housing for the homeless, medical treatment for the addicted and mentally ill, etc.), and community control of police who are limited to solving violent and serious property crimes, apprehending those who commit them, and held accountable without special shielding for crimes they may commit.
Achieving that new system of public safety requires replacing the capitalist economy—where the power elite’s profits and privileges depend on maintaining the intersection of racial oppression and class exploitation—with a socialist economy where everyone receives the full fruits of their labor and nobody can get rich off the labor of others.
11. What rights should we extend to immigrants in this country?
Every immigrant should be granted legal status with a path to citizenship. The detention camps should be closed, families reunited, and social services provided to help immigrants find housing, health care, and employment. The migrants waiting to enter on the Mexican side of the border should be let in. In the midst of the world’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, the US should re-open immigration to provide sanctuary for refugees from war, repression, and environmental calamities.
I favor an open borders policy similar to that within the European Union. People should be free to travel back and forth across US borders to work, shop, vacation, and reside. ICE and the Border Patrol should be abolished due to their terrible record of racism and abuse. A new border agency should be established to administer the open borders policy, where people check in when they cross the border and are only detained when there are warrants for their arrest.
12. How do you feel about the issue of houselessness in this country?
The for-profit housing industry has never and can never provide decent affordable housing for all because it can make more money catering to upscale clientele. My ecosocialist Green New Deal budget calls for a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million new units of public housing to provide affordable housing for all who need it. It sets aside 40% of new units, 10 million units, for low-income people. That would more than cover the 7.8 million unit shortfall of affordable housing for low-income people in the US. Some homeless people need more than a home. They need and should be provided mental health and/or drug treatment and counseling.
13. Do you support raising the minimum wage? If so, what do you feel would be a fair wage for workers?
I support ramping up the federal minimum wage over a few years to $20 and indexing it to both inflation and productivity.
The movement for $15 took hold in 2012. $15 in 2012 will be worth $20 by 2025. If the 1968 minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth, it would be close to $21 in 2020. Working full-time today at $20 would bring a family of three to 200% of the federal poverty line, which would be a more realistic poverty line than the official line. People who work full time should be able to pay for their basic needs.
14. Do you believe women should have total bodily autonomy and control of reproductive choices?
Yes. Abortion and other reproductive health services should be free at the point of service through a publicly-funded health care system. The Hyde Amendment should be repealed. Abortion rights hould be taken out of the Supreme Court’s hands by codifying Roe v. Wade in federal legislation.
15. Should LGBTQ+ people be covered by anti-discrimination/employment protection laws? If so, how?
Yes. The Equality Act, which has passed the House, must be pushed into law. It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected under all federal civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. It covers employment, housing, credit, education, jury service, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and goods and services sold in public markets, including retail stores, banks, legal services, and transportation services. Getting the law passed is the first step. Then we must make sure it is enforced.