She is an activist involved in affirmative action, antiwar, and farm worker relief campaigns and a member of the antiwar group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Her running mate, Eugene Puryear, is a student and antiwar community organizer involved in campaigns to free the Jena 6.
In response to Real Change's questionnaire, La Riva explained that she sees the government as working to "facilitate the interests of the ruling class" and that this situation can "ultimately only be maintained by force and violence... through a number of methods that are undeniably racist in character and oppress the working class, such as the courts, laws, prisons, police and military." Racial disparities in the prison system are "intimately tied to the particularly racist nature of U.S. capitalism."
While La Riva's campaign sees the "capitalist electoral system" as "without a doubt... a sham," they hope by participating to "be a catalyst to raise working-class consciousness" and "spread the ideas of revolution." Nonetheless, they provide detailed plans for what they would do in office, including withdrawing all foreign soldiers from Iraq, repealing the Patriot Act, providing universal health care, offering full equality to LGBT people, legalizing undocumented workers, and eliminating the prison-industrial complex.
The campaign sees capitalism as the cause of homelessness, as it "produces for profits alone, not to meet people's needs." They see housing as a basic human right, which could be guaranteed by "the capitalist managers with their multi-trillion dollar budget." It is because of the profit motive that they do not do so. A La Riva presidency would stop all foreclosures and evictions.
More generally, the campaign sees capitalism as a "corrupt and destructive system" and would replace it with a system based on "human solidarity, sustainability, and socialist planning" that would redirect military expenditures to "people's needs," aggressively tax the stock market, eliminate unemployment, and prosecute CEOs who benefited from the "foreclosure crisis." La Riva sees U.S. foreign policy as a tool to "gain control of resources and markets for unlimited exploitation." She would support "relations with all nations and peoples based on equality, mutual respect, friendship, cooperation and solidarity.".
What is the role of the government?
Under capitalism, the most fundamental role of government is to facilitate the interests of the ruling class--the capitalists.
The capitalists, while small in number, are the ruling class. The workers, while being the overwhelming majority of society, are the exploited class. This lopsided situation can ultimately only be maintained by force and violence.
This is done through a number of methods that are undeniably racist in character and oppress the working class, such as the courts, laws, prisons, police and military.
What is the role of the president?
The role of all elected officials in the U.S. is to represent the interests of the capitalist class. Politicians' campaigns are financed by the ruling class. Their role is to manage the affairs of state for the capitalists. This is particularly true of the president.
What issue or issues are so compelling, and able to be addressed only by becoming president, that you feel you must become president to address them? Why is the presidency the best way to do so?
We do not want to win the presidential elections, nor will we. Without a doubt, the capitalist electoral system is a sham. It is a rigged system to ensure the domination of the tiny ruling class of Wall Street bankers, corporations and big-business owners over the vast majority of people in the United States--the working class.
The electoral system is not the final arena of struggle for the working class. But it is where the attention of workers will be drawn this year.
Well over 100 million workers, students and organizers participate in the capitalist elections every four years. Those who do not directly participate are forced to listen closely, because the corporate media focuses on the elections many months before they take place. This year is no exception.
But the elections will sorely disappoint anyone longing for real change. Those who want a better life, a better world, an immediate end to the imperialist war on Iraq, better wages for workers, free health care, and full economic and social equality for everyone will not get any of those things from the big-business candidates currently on parade.
We want to speak to the tens of millions of working-class and oppressed people who desire real change but will not get it through the capitalist electoral process. We want to fight shoulder to shoulder with our class--the working class--in every struggle against the profit system. We want to be a catalyst to raise working-class consciousness in every arena.
Most importantly, we want to spread the ideas of revolution, of true change. We know that change is possible; we know that it will happen. We also know that it takes an energetic struggle.
The PSL's 2008 campaign is meant to inspire more working-class organizing, agitation and revolutionary consciousness. We will take the ideas of socialism--a better, more just society; the way forward for humanity--to the workers and poor people in the United States. The PSL's campaign will open a much-needed avenue for workers to wage political combat against the capitalist establishment and their corrupt representatives.
What qualifies a person to be the president?
Under capitalism, the president must represent the interests of the capitalist class. The president must support the war-without-end agenda of the Pentagon and the overall foreign policies of imperialism. The president must put the interests of corporations, banks and Wall Street over basic human needs.
If homelessness can be said to be someone's fault, whose fault is it?
Between 2.3 and 3.5 million people are homeless in the United States, the richest country in the world. This translates to approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population. Across the country, the foreclosure rate has increased 94 percent since last year, and more and more homeowners are falling behind on their payments. Two million homeowners with subprime mortgages are directly at risk of losing their homes in 2008.
At the same time, new "ghost towns" are sprinkled around the country as a result of overbuilding and reckless builder lending. In cities, new luxury housing complexes and condominiums are built seemingly overnight as part of massive gentrification schemes, and they remain uninhabited because they are out of the financial reach for most working-class people. Public housing in New Orleans is being demolished, although 18,000 people are on the waiting list.
These sorts of contradictions are the essence of capitalism. Even though the capitalist managers with their multi-trillion dollar budget could stop the foreclosures and ensure housing for all people, they refuse to do so. Landlords and investors have incentive to keep houses empty and evict families if they cannot turn a profit.
The real root of the housing crisis lies in the capitalist system--an economic and social system that produces for profits alone, not to meet people's needs.
What part, if any, should the federal government play in addressing homelessness?
The La Riva/Puryear PSL presidential campaign believes that housing is a basic human need and right. The foreclosures and evictions must end now.
Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness have sprung up around the country. They aim to eliminate homelessness essentially by doing more outreach and providing more services. Can these plans really solve homelessness or do they amount to little more than window-dressing?
The real root of the social problem of homelessness lies in the capitalist system--an economic and social system that produces for profits alone, not to meet people's needs.
While millions of families, veterans, and people lack the basic necessity of shelter, the U.S. government spends $5,000 a second on the illegal occupation of Iraq.
If they wanted to, the capitalist managers in control of the multi-trillion dollar budget could solve homelessness in an instant, just by redirecting those resources to human needs.
Socialists consider housing to be a basic human need and right. Everyone has an absolute right to adequate housing.
Have we found an appropriate balance between regulation and laissez-faire capitalism in managing our economy?
The U.S. economy, which continues to plummet more and more with every passing day, clearly demonstrates the absurdity of a capitalist economy. Regardless of what measures are taken by the government to bail out the banks and corporations that created this crisis, an economy that is driven by maximizing profits and speculation rather than providing basic human needs for each and every person is doomed to collapse over and over again.
Working people didn't make this crisis, why should we be the ones who have to suffer? We didn't create the housing bubble, create predatory lending practices, gamble away billions of dollars in the Wall St. casino. Now the government is creating a fund with our money to take over the bad debts of the bankers and corporate capitalists. For the rich, it's "heads we win tails you lose," showing once again that the "free enterprise system" is nothing more than a myth.
The system works for the capitalists, not for the people. The bailout plan is so thoroughly undemocratic that even the head of Senate Banking Committee, Christopher Dodd. said of the Wall Street bailout on Sept. 19: "None of us have any idea what the details are."
It's time to fight back. We have unemployment insurance because we fought for it. We won the right to unionize because we fought for it. Now we have to fight against mass layoffs and for a moratorium on foreclosures. Make the greedy capitalists who created the crisis pay. Their vast fortunes should be expropriated and used to provide jobs, housing and healthcare for the people who go to work every day, who make this country run.
In the end what is needed is to do away with this corrupt and destructive system. The capitalist system itself must be abolished and replaced with one based on human solidarity, sustainability and socialist planning. If we act together, the workers--not the banks--can win. A united, working-class movement would truly be "too big to fail."
The PSL La Riva/Puryear campaign demands:
* An immediate moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and rent hikes.
* No layoffs--jobs for all.
* Extend unemployment benefits at full pay for everyone without a job.
* Open the books of the banks for a workers' inspection
* Criminal prosecution of banking, finance, insurance and all other executives whose companies have benefited from the foreclosure crisis.
* Take the $430 million spent everyday on the occupation of Iraq to fund people's needs. Hurricane and flood victims must have a government guarantee that they will receive all necessary assistance.
* An aggressive sales tax on the stock market.
* Creation and funding of jobs programs throughout the country to eliminate unemployment.
America's response to the events of September 11th was to declare a global war on terror, to overthrow two governments, and to conduct operations in many others. Is the over-arching theory underlying this - that the appropriate response is one of military force - a valid theory?
We stand for the immediate removal of all U.S. and foreign forces from Iraq. All U.S. bases and the gigantic U.S. embassy in Baghdad should be shut down immediately. Reparations should be paid to the Iraqi people for the vast destruction inflicted on their land by the launching of an unprovoked war of aggression.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other officials who carried out this criminal war should stand trial for their actions.
The human cost of the war has been horrific. More than a million Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion on March 19, 2003. Over a million more died due to U.S.-led sanctions from 1990-2003. Since 2003, more than 4.5 million Iraqis have become refugees and hundreds of thousands more have been wounded.
Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in the war. More than 60,000 have been wounded, injured or suffered serious illness. The war has officially cost over half a trillion dollars--a figure that is rising at a rate of $450 million per day, $5,000 per second.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to get out of Iraq. They view the country as an incredibly valuable prize of war. Iraq is home to more than 10 percent of the world's oil reserves. The La Riva/Puryear PSL presidential campaign calls for the right of the Iraqi people to control their country and calls for an immediate end to the colonial occupation.
Outside of the realm of terrorism, but on a similar note, much of America's power in the world is predicated on military might and domination of other countries. Does this seem to you a good or a bad way to interact with the world?
U.S. foreign policy has only one purpose: global domination through military, economic, political and diplomatic means. Washington uses war and the threat of war, economic blockades, sanctions and bribery to force other countries--particularly those in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East--to accept its dictates. There are over 700 U.S. military bases in over 130 countries. Governments that refuse to go along with the U.S. imperialists' agenda are targeted for "regime change." Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Sudan, Bolivia, Zimbabwe and others are currently on their list.
U.S. imperialism serves the interests of the capitalists in corporate America, not working-class people. This expansionist, profit-based system seeks to gain control of resources and markets for unlimited exploitation. Imperialist leaders and their media lapdogs whip up racist campaigns against targeted countries to gain popular support for wars of aggression.
In place of chauvinist imperialist domination, the La Riva/Puryear PSL presidential campaign stands for relations with all nations and peoples based on equality, mutual respect, friendship, cooperation and solidarity. This policy could only be implemented by a government that was no longer beholden to the interests of transnational corporations and banks.
What does it say about America and the American people that we incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation? (751 per 100000)
Socialists understand that the components of the U.S. criminal "justice" system--the prisons, the jails and the courts--are integral parts of the capitalist state apparatus. The state serves as a means of ruling-class repression against the working class. Under capitalism, prisons are concentration camps for the poor and the unemployed. The ruling class uses incarceration to control the increasing number of working poor and unemployed following the high-tech revolution and decline of U.S. industry.
But in the end, the mass imprisonment of the most oppressed will lead to unity of purpose, tactics and training behind prison walls.
The La Riva/Puryear PSL Presidential Campaign demands the elimination of the racist criminal "justice" system and the prison-industrial complex. We also demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Cuban Five, the Angola 3, the San Francisco 8 and all political prisoners.
What does it mean that 12% of Americans are black but 36% of prisoners are black?
Oppressed communities of color bear the brunt of the racist criminal "justice" system. The fundamentally racist core of U.S. capitalism focuses its imprisonment binge on African American and other oppressed workers. This becomes a tool to create a divide between white and other nationally oppressed workers, particularly now that they are working more closely together.
The U.S. prison system is intimately tied to the particularly racist nature of U.S. capitalism. It is primarily a form of state repression aimed particularly at the most oppressed sectors of the working class with the goal of eroding class solidarity and extinguishing militant struggle.
How are we faring in the War on Drugs? What is our next move in this nearly 40-year campaign against illegal substances?
Indeed, huge numbers of poor people are in jails or prisons due to drug-related crimes. Between 1988 and 1994 the number of drug-related incarcerations rose 155.5 percent. African Americans, while having a similar drug use rate as whites, represent 75 percent of those convicted on drug charges. Women's incarceration rates in the last 25 years have risen 600 percent, twice that of males, mostly due to drug-related convictions.
But to focus on drug use is to mistake a symptom for a cause. It ignores, for example, the fact that while street-level drug users and small-time dealers are routinely arrested, the drug kingpins and financiers go unpunished. After all, the drug trade produces billions of dollars in profits around the world. This money is handled by the some of the biggest U.S. banks, the only places where large amounts of cash can be kept. Few other businesses can provide more money capital for the "legal" economy today.
It also ignores the role of the U.S. government in bringing drugs into the urban centers of the United States. For example, in 1996, Rep. Maxine Waters launched an investigation into evidence that showed that the U.S. government brought tons of cocaine into Los Angeles in order to pay for its proxy war in Nicaragua.
True, millions are in the system due to drug-related offenses. But the drug crisis and the corresponding "war on drugs" are themselves creations of the very banks and government that benefits most from the mass incarceration of the country's poor and working people.
Conveniently enough for the capitalist bosses, the drug epidemic allowed them to imprison huge numbers of poor people.
Why has the USA been so ineffective in addressing climate change? What should the Federal government do?
Today, so much carbon dioxide has already built up in the environment that it endangers islands, coastlines and one-fifth to two-thirds of the world's species due to rising global temperatures. Yet, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans offer any real solution to the crisis our planet is facing. The Democrats all call for emissions reductions, but generally advocate market-based "cap and trade" programs, which involve selling emissions credits. Emissions credits systems allow polluters to buy the "right" to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gas. If the corporation does not use up the credit, it can sell the credit to someone else, allowing that company to emit more gases.
Of course, nowhere in this system are the workers and oppressed of the world given a voice in determining how much pollution is acceptable, even though climate change will disproportionately affect working-class people and poor countries.
The major candidates also explicitly or implicitly support the expansion of bio-fuels. These are fuels made out of biological sources such as corn, soy or palm oil. While these sources are all renewable, they are also food sources. Diverting food to fuel has resulted in rising food prices in many countries. In addition, the production and use of bio-fuels does not result in lower carbon emissions than the equivalent amount of fossil fuels.
All these factors point to the fact that capitalism is the greatest threat to our environment. As long as we live in a society where profits are prioritized over people's needs, our planet will continue to be destroyed as corporations are allowed to continue polluting to cut costs and make more profit.
The La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign believes that the only true and lasting solution for our environment is the socialist reorganization of the economy. Socialism is a system based on centralized, ecologically sustainable planning where the profit motive has been taken out of the picture. Eliminating the tyranny of private corporate profit as the dominant feature controlling economic development opens the door to true working-class democracy. That is what we mean by "people over profits." Rational social and economic planning, rather than production for the "market," is the only method for the implementation of scientifically supported solutions to global warming.
Subsidies to certain farmers in America and other developed countries artificially deflate the price of grains. This leads to poverty among farmers in developing countries who do not receive subsidies. In what way, if any, should the federal government respond?
A major underlying factor in the rise in food prices and poverty among farmers is "free" grade. In today's capitalist-dominated world, capital is increasingly free to roam the planet in search of ever-greater profits. So-called free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, the FTAA and other agreements negotiated through the World Trade Organization or bilaterally, serve the interests of the big capitalists. Unions and other organizations representing the interests of working people in industry and agriculture are excluded. Countries like Mexico have suffered severe economic destruction due to "free trade," forcing millions of Mexican workers and farmers to emigrate to the U.S. for reasons of survival.
The La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign calls for the immediate repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA and all other unequal regional and bilateral "free trade" agreements. We call for abolishing the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and all other institutions that enforce the Washington-led global neoliberal regime. We stand for a world based on truly fair and equal trade relations between countries, something that will only be possible when capitalism is eliminated and replaced by socialism.
Will you or your Mr. Puryear be in Washington state during October?
Gloria La Riva will be in Washington state on the following dates:
Sunday, Oct. 19
6:00-8:00 pm, Seattle, WA
1423 10th Ave (near E. Pike in basement), Seattle, WA 98122
Monday, Oct. 20
5:00-6:00pm, Olympia, WA
Lacey Timberland Library, 500 College St SE Lacey, WA 98503
Tuesday, Oct. 21
7:00 pm, Port Townsend
Port Townsend Community Center, Corner of Lawrence St. and Tyler St., Port Townsend, WA 98368
Wednesday, Oct. 22
Yakima Valley Community College
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
Eugene Puryear, your vice presidential candidate, appears from other media reports to be 21 or 22 years old. How old is he? Doesn't this make him ineligible for the office of president?
The PSL's vice-presidential candidate is Eugene Puryear, a student and community organizer from Washington, D.C. Eugene does not meet the age requirement to run for office, and thus his name cannot be placed on the ballot in several states.
We stand against the marginalization and disenfranchisement of youth. If our youth can work, pay taxes, sign up for military service and are often treated as adults in criminal courts, they should be able to vote and participate in the political process at all levels.
We believe in full equality for all people, especially those who are shut out from the political process including undocumented workers, legal residents, ex-felons, prisoners and youth.
We know that the elections will sorely disappoint anyone longing for real change. During these elections, we are speaking to the tens of millions of working-class and oppressed people who desire real change but will not get it through the capitalist electoral process. We are spreading the ideas of revolution, of true change.