The 2016 presidential election is, if nothing else, an anomaly. “I would rather vote for something I want and not get it, than vote for something I don’t want and get it,” said early twentieth century presidential candidate Eugene Victor Debs.
This quote from over 100 years ago seems to resonate with people as much today as it did then, and the words echo louder as the general election approaches. Faced with electing what some might consider one of the two least popular candidates in electoral history, many Americans now look towards third party candidates as options in the election.
For some, the Libertarian party has a serious draw, combining the economic policy of Neoliberalism with a social policy focused on non-interventionism and personal freedom. For others, the Green party represents a chance at a progressive movement – a potential haven for Social Democrats unwilling to vote for Clinton. However, for those Americans who identify as members of the radical left, there are few parties that share their ambitions for a genuinely socialist movement in politics and economics.
For genuine socialist voters, the party that has most ambitiously pursued a position in the 2016 election is the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) who nominated Gloria La Riva as their presidential candidate.
Founded in 2004 after a split with the World Workers Party, the PSL is one of the handful of Socialist parties in America that nominates candidates for presidency. Founded on modern adaptations of socialist theory, the PSL maintains a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist platform, with their beliefs centered around the eventual toppling, through democratic means, of the current United States economy and government.
The party outlines that all leaders should be democratically elected and fully recallable, with freedom of speech and expression being absolute rights of the working class, excluding speech that is considered bigotry or poses a serious counter-revolutionary threat.
Economically, the PSL believes in instituting centralized working control of the economy, with the concept that labor is entitled to all it creates as a central element of the labor economy. In order to eradicate poverty, the PSL believes in establishing, amongst other policies, a basic guaranteed income for all citizens, following the long standing Marxist ideology, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
Central to their Leninist tendencies, the PSL believes in the principle of national self-determination, upholding the idea that individual nations and their people have a right to decide their own policies and practices. Amongst their national policies, the PSL believes in providing national autonomy to Native American populations, and the release of Guam, American Samoa, The Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Mariana Islands from U.S. control.
In 2008 and 2016, the party nominated Gloria La Riva as their presidential candidate, with Eugene Puryear as Vice President both times. A lifelong activist, Gloria La Riva first appeared as a political candidate in a 1983 run for mayor of Albuquerque, NM, in which she garnered six percent of the total vote.
La Riva later ran as the vice presidential candidate for the Workers World Party in 1984, running as the WWP’s VP four times and presidential candidate once. La Riva, the only Hispanic female running for president as a candidate or primary nominee, is on the ballot in Vermont, New Mexico, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, and California.