Interview with Socialist Party USA 2012 Vice Presidential Candidate Alex Mendoza

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1 comments
In a nutshell, what is your platform?

I believe in the democratic transformation of capitalism through the creation of a democratic socialist society. I believe in the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully assemble, and protecting those freedoms. I believe that people have a right to a good job with a living wage, quality health care, quality education, and affordable housing. I oppose the US’s occupation of other countries and I call for an immediate end of all wars that we are currently engaged in. I oppose loopholes in the tax code that only benefits the large corporations and wealthy individuals. I believe in a comprehensive policy to protect our environment from fossil fuels and man-made pollutants that are damaging our planet. I believe in investing in our infrastructure and investing in sustainable and renewable energy. I believe in creating banks that do the job banks should do. A public bank operated as a highly regulated public utility with comprehensive regulations to protect the consumers is sorely needed.

Why Socialism? Can you explain for those who aren't familiar with the platform you are running on?

Personally, I think that a democratic socialist society will provide the basic needs for everyone to have the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life, including basic health care and a job that pays a living wage are unattainable for millions of Americans. Healthcare should be a human right provided to every human being as a part of a socialized medical system. The national healthcare system should be publicly owned in the same manner as Fire Departments, Post Offices and Sanitation Departments currently are. Private health insurance companies would no longer be necessary. We need an increase to the federal minimum wage would provide workers with a living wage and a national program that guarantees safe affordable housing. A first step would be an immediate moratorium on all housing foreclosures. Community land trusts which move housing away from the market and towards the idea of housing as a human right should also be well financed and encouraged at the Federal level. These are just a few of the points in the SP-USA program. Overall, I believe that socialism is fair, equal, compassionate, and sustainable ... whereas capitalism is tailored to benefit the privileged few – the 1% in society; capitalism promotes deregulation to benefit the corporations; capitalism promotes worker exploitation by allowing profits to be the sole motivator; and capitalism breeds inequality between people, cultures, religions and races. Socialism would encourage compassion, solidarity and just among all the people of the world.

What specifically makes your campaign unique?

I think timing makes this campaign unique. In recent history, and especially since the first George W. Bush presidency in 2000, we have seen policies implemented that only benefit the wealthy such as massive tax breaks, the doling out of sweetheart military contracts and the corporations, and little has been done to benefit working people. Unfortunately, our current president, Barack Obama, has continued to implement policies that are not designed for a society that is coming out of a recession. People have seen, day after day, that the current administration – and the government as a whole – is not looking out for us, but instead is concentrating on enriching the same financial sector that funded his campaign. Obama’s various jobs bills, including the most recent proposal, have amounted to little more than public relations stunts that will do little alleviate the lingering crisis of mass unemployment. The emergence of social movements such as Occupy Wall Street demonstrate that Americans are waking up to the reality that a capitalist system – especially the capitalist system here in America – is in a downward spiral. Americans are asking themselves, why has the average salary of a CEO increased between 200% and 300% since the 1980s and the average salary of a worker has only increased a few percentage points? What American voters will find in the Alexander/Mendoza campaign is candidates that seek to address the issues of unemployment, the lack of adequate housing and the lack of healthcare in a positive way that uses democracy as a means to end the corporate control of our everyday lives. We are presenting some “concrete utopias” to the usual two-party dead end.

What drew you to the Socialist Party?

What primarily drew me to the party was the SP-USA’s message of equality and compassion. I agreed with the basic stance that the party took on many issues – human rights, the economy, foreign policy, education – and the more involved I became and the more I educated myself, I found that I wholeheartedly believed and supported the platform of the Socialist Party USA. I recall being impressed by how welcoming everyone was and the party made me feel as if I wasn’t just another name on their member list, but that I was part of something tangible, that I was part of the struggle along with every other American.

Why should people vote for your ticket instead of that of President Barack Obama or whomever wins the GOP nomination?

President Barack Obama and the GOP nominee will continue to represent the wealthy and the corporations. Even a quick glance at the 2008 campaign finance reports will tell us the names of these corporations – Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and J.P. Morgan. Their message may differ slightly from each other, but it is evident for whom they ultimately represent and fight. In 2008, Americans were fed up with the eight years of the Bush administration … our economy was in the gutter, we were still fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, people were losing their homes at an alarming rate, and jobs were very scarce. For many, then-candidate Barack Obama represented “hope” and “change.” Here we are almost four years later and not much has changed: President Obama has continued the failed policies of George W. Bush and we have seen him be influenced and manipulated by the special interest groups. What happened to the Employee Free Choice Act? Where is the Federal Jobs Program? Where is Immigration Reform? What happened to supposed pro-Environment initiatives? Not only did Obama not deliver on his promises of change, but many people lost hope … lost hope in what seemed like an opportunity for change. Americans now see that true change does not come in the form of a rich businessman from Texas or a Harvard-educated, corporate-backed politician from Chicago. True change comes from poor and working class people standing up and demanding change from the ground up. One part of the larger struggle against the politics of the 1% is electing individuals who understand the struggle, who have lived the struggle, and who represent a party who is truly by the people, for the people. This is what we hope to offer in 2012.

What would you say most influenced your personal politics?

It’s hard to say what influenced me the most in my personal politics. I think it was just growing up the way that I did, the struggles I’ve experienced, and trying to survive along the way is what got me to where I am today. I did not have a privileged upbringing. So many issues that I see many Americans facing today, I either saw my family struggle with and face those issues or I’ve experienced them myself. I was born in the US, but my family moved to Mexico when I was very young. I recall that we had a comfortable life in Mexico. We were definitely not rich (from a money standpoint), but we owned a home, had a car, we went to a private school, my parent owned and operated a small neighborhood store, we were involved in the community, and had lots of family friends that constantly saw in the neighborhood, church, or school … so life seemed enjoyable and fulfilling. I never felt that we were missing anything, never felt hungry, never felt sad, and never saw my parents fight or argue. Even though we would visit family in the US and would see the big houses, the nice toys, the big malls, I never felt that we were missing anything. It wasn’t until my family immigrated to California that I started to see my family struggle. We lived in a tiny apartment, did not know anyone, did not know the language, and both of my parents worked. My father worked the graveyard shift, so we hardly saw him except on weekends. And my mother, who didn’t work before, now worked a full-time job. Before, my parents were involved in our daily lives, and now they didn’t have time to take us to school, help us with homework, or even have a family dinner sometimes. It was very clear that we were struggling. Even at a young age, I felt like we were struggling. I always wondered, why did my parents leave their life of comfort in their own country and come to America where they were struggling from day one? The only answer I ever received from my parents was that they did it for us; they felt that we had more opportunities in America than anywhere else. Though I agree, I also know that those opportunities come at a very high cost if you don’t have your basic needs met. For example, I don’t recall ever having health insurance growing up; either it was never offered to my parents where they worked or it was too expensive to afford. I recall my father losing his job and my parents struggling to put food on the table. I recall going to a church on Wednesday nights to pick up food that they would give away. I recall both of my parents working full-time but still struggle to provide for the family, always living paycheck to paycheck. Today I wonder how our lives could have been different if my parents had universal health care for them and the family, or if my father had a full-time job that actually paid a living wage. I know that millions and millions of families and individuals are living paycheck to paycheck in a country that is bound with opportunities, but those same people are unable to live comfortably in their pursuit of happiness. Instead, they are struggling. America is better than that – we as Americans are better than that.

As the Vice Presidential candidate on the 2012 Socialist Party ticket, how would you explain the role of the Vice President and what you would do in the job?

There is an exceedingly simple reason that I am running for the office of Vice-President. I hope to be one of the public voices of a growing anti-capitalist movement. I hope to speak for the person reading this interview who doesn’t have healthcare. I hope to speak for the unemployed, those who have lost hope in the future and those who are struggle just to meet their bills. I hope that the legislation and initiatives we propose would bring some financial and psychological relief to people suffering under the chains of student debt. I taking my cue from the old Socialist candidate Eugene Debs who once said, “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” This is what I hope to accomplish as Vice-President.

What do you think are the three most important problems facing American's today?

First and foremost, we’re in the midst of an unemployment crisis, which includes “underemployment.” Americans need good paying jobs – not jobs to barely get by on. Second, our economy is suffering, which translates to the loss of jobs, a rising number of foreclosures, the increased loss of benefits and general hopelessness. Our campaign would call for an immediate Moratorium on all housing foreclosures. Meanwhile, corporations are making record profits and the wealthy are getting wealthier. We, as Americans, cannot and should not accept this. And third, we need to end the wars and bring our troops home – bring those tax dollars home. In one way or another all these problems, or issues, all relate to each other; you can’t address one without address another or address and fix one in a vacuum.

What do you plan to do to fix those issues?

To address the unemployment crisis, we would put unemployed and underemployed people to work immediately through an emergency federal jobs program. This isn’t just about implementing a short-term relief program; it’s about setting the foundation for a fully employed economy that is based on the principle that every human being has the right to work. Next, we would address the economy by developing new sectors – sectors that are owned and managed by the workers. We see this happening already: the local bike shop or coffee shop is an example of what the future of employment could be in the U.S. We would use this kind of creative thinking to encourage, protect and fund new, cooperative sectors in areas like environmental cleanup and the educational system – sectors that we can develop right away. Lastly, we would call for an immediate cut of 50% to military spending. This can easily be accomplished by ending the war in Afghanistan, closing Guantanamo and military aid to other countries.

We need to make a significant investment in our depleting and deteriorating infrastructure. Investing in our own infrastructure is a win-win. Throughout history we have seen nations pull themselves out of a recession by investing in their infrastructure. For example, Italy has invested billions – I think it’s over 10 billion dollars – into their infrastructure because they understand that by investing in infrastructure, jobs are created. People want those jobs; they make money, and then they spend the money. The same principle applies here in the US. If Americans have jobs, and they have the money, they will spend money; this will stimulate the economy, and manufacturers will hire workers to supply the demand, which will create more jobs … it’s a wonderful cycle. Americans have jobs, and our economy will only improve. But like I said, you can’t address one without addressing the others. It’ll be great if we can stimulate the economy from the ground up, but there must be regulations in place that protect the consumer, that does not allow employers to exploit workers, that jobs are kept here in America instead of exploiting workers and natural resources in other countries. The party’s platform calls for an immediate cut of 50% to military spending – this can easily be accomplished by ending the war in Afghanistan, closing Guantanamo, military aid to other countries, and many other things – and instead, allocate those funds to stimulating our own economy.

What would you most like potential voters to know about you?

I would like voters to know that I am a patriot and a proud American. I served in the military because I have a strong sense of patriotism, and almost 20 years ago, I felt that I could do my part by enlisting in the Marines. Still today, I feel that I have an obligation to do absolutely everything I can to ensure that everyone in this country has the opportunity to live a happy and productive life. I have a family and I want my children to have a better life than I did growing up. I believe in a constant effort to improve and grow… I try to improve as an individual, as a husband, as a father, as a humble public servant … I try to improve as a small business owner, I try to improve the party, I try to improve my community, I try to improve my home state of Texas … and I will never stop trying to improve my country.


Anonymous said...

It's a shame there aren't any comments. I'm new to the SP-USA, and catching up on my reading. A former U.S. Army Infantryman, a teacher, and a father, I am exasperated regarding the loss of our rights and the extension of our military. We do not present ourselves as the bastion of liberty, rather, we appear to be hypocrites who are clamoring for world domination. Our representatives should listen to the calls to de-militarize. Our nation has always, and would continue to rise up and defend itself when necessary. We do not need to bankrupt our treasury and our ideology through our needless military excursions outside of the political boundaries of the United States of America.

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