The Lindsay/Osorio presidential campaign was a major achievement by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and advance in the struggle for socialism in the United States.
From Burlington, Vermont to Denver, Colorado, from Madison, Wisconsin to Tampa, Florida, and many cities and towns in between, presidential candidate Peta Lindsay, her running mate Yari Osorio and hundreds of supporters carried out a dynamic and unique campaign.
Although the presidential election is national, all 50 states and the District of Colombia have different and wildly varying requirements for candidates to achieve ballot status inside their borders. Despite the maze of obstacles confronting “third parties,” the PSL was able to attain ballot status in 13 states covering every major region of the country: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Through a tremendous all-volunteer effort that gathered nearly 30,000 signatures in five weeks, the PSL was able to qualify for the New York state ballot. The PSL was the only socialist party on the ballot there and in five other states.
The PSL and the other third-party candidates were denied access to the debates and, with a few notable exceptions, to any television coverage.
But despite the problem of undemocratic exclusion and lacking the billions of dollars in corporate and SuperPAC funding, the Lindsay/Osorio PSL Campaign nonetheless reached millions of people.
At least 160 radio stations carried interviews with the PSL candidates. Dozens of daily, weekly and campus newspapers covered the campaign, as did many on-line websites, some of which are viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Click here to see more than 50 newspaper articles, TV shows and radio broadcasts featuring the PSL campaign. The campaign also produced its own media, with 14 videos made to highlight various components of the campaign's program.
The candidates and supporters campaigned in all 13 states where the PSL was on the ballot, and many more, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Mexico and California, distributing over 170,000 palm cards, brochures, flyers, newspapers and statements. They made presentations to more than 80 community events and classes, and met thousands of people, with hundreds signing up to join in the struggle with the PSL after November 6. You can read complete reports about Peta Lindsay's two-month, nationwide speaking tour that began in California, and took her to the Northwest and Southwest, the Midwest, New England, Upstate New York, the South, and finally to New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City.
The PSL campaign received over 9,000 votes nationwide—a modest figure, but still a significant 25 percent increase from 2008. The largest tallies were in New York and Arkansas, where the PSL vote went up 29 and 51 percent respectively. In Iowa, Wisconsin and Vermont, the PSL vote more than doubled. (Figures updated 11/10/12; Source: Politico.com)
Our 10-Point Program
The campaign popularized a 10-Point Program, which included the message that a job be a Constitutional right along with health care, education and housing. It raised the program that all student loans be canceled, and a moratorium be declared on all foreclosures and evictions.
In terms of foreign policy, the campaign said that instead of spending $1 trillion a year on the Pentagon to invade and occupy and intimidate other countries, the military machine should be dismantled.
Racist police brutality and mass incarceration must end, and so, too, the attack on women’s rights. There must be full rights for all immigrants and full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The program insisted that to save the planet requires ending capitalism.
A central theme of the campaign was “Seize the Banks,” which together with dismantling the Pentagon would provide the funds to meet people’s needs and provide reparations to the nations whose wealth has been systematically extracted by Wall Street.
A campaign of action
As they crisscrossed the country, the candidates and campaigners joined with demonstrations against war, racism, police murders, in defense of women’s rights and more.
In the final week of the campaign, Lindsay, Osorio and many supporters joined in the relief efforts in New Jersey and New York for victims of Hurricane Sandy and the policies of a government that put the interests of the Stock Exchange and banks ahead of the needs of the people.
Everywhere that the candidates went, they exposed the sham character of the capitalist elections, that Wall Street wins regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans win. In every speech and interview, Lindsay and Osorio stressed that it is the mass movement—the struggle in the streets, workplaces, campuses and communities—that brings real change, not the elections.
At the same time, they explained that the capitalist elections—especially in a presidential race—pull in tens of millions of poor and working people. Participating offers a unique opportunity to reach them with a different message, an honest message, a socialist message, in contrast to the politics of mass deception that dominate bourgeois politics.
For a workers’ party, sitting out the elections and simply abstaining from support for any candidate, is both unprincipled and a wasted opportunity. As Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, the founders of modern socialism wrote in 1850:
“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled."
The PSL is proud of our 2012 campaign, our hardworking and eloquent candidates, and every member and supporter who joined in this tremendous effort. The end of the elections is not the end of our organizing—we will continue to prepare for the many struggles ahead.