CAPITALIST CAMPAIGNS are picking up cool millions at $40,000 per plate dinners. The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) Durham-López campaign, on the other hand, is blazing its trail and attracting solid interest and donations at potlucks and open houses, protest rallies and picket lines, and street fairs and conferences.
While presidential candidate and New Yorker Stephen Durham toured California (see adjacent story), his vice-presidential running mate, Seattle Radical Women (RW) President Christina López, was making her mark in the Pacific Northwest.
THE CHICANO STUDENT group MEChA invited López, a former member, to keynote its regional conference at Evergreen State College in Washington. Participants showed they took her candidacy seriously, asking specific questions about her platform. Wouldn’t legalizing drugs create more drug addicts, for example? López responded with direct answers — in this case, explaining the need to establish community control of legalized drugs and take the profits out of the industry.
López fosters give-and-take wherever she goes, whether speaking at a Trayvon Martin rally, a community college, or an Occupy protest. She’s happily fielding questions about what socialism is and getting a highly favorable response to her anti-war positions. “People aren’t surprised that we’re running as radicals in a national campaign, they expect it,” she reports, a little surprised herself.
She found interest and support at a state meeting of El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social to plan May Day events for immigrant rights. Over soup and salad, López and a campaign volunteer from Guatemala talked with Latin American immigrants about the prospects for socialism in the U.S.
López spoke in April to the Occupy National Transit Day picket line in Seattle organized by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587. And she made the FSP platform shine in several interviews with media, including area FM station KCBS.
Her humor and fire inspired laughing, clapping crowds to donate much-needed funds at a campaign kickoff party. Likewise at a chili feast to help a Seattle FSP and RW delegation join the May protests of the NATO summit in Chicago, just ahead as of this writing. There, they will be part of a team including Durham and a campaign representative from Louisville, Ky.
IN NEW YORK CITY, where Durham is the FSP organizer, spaghetti was the entrée of choice for a raucous fundraiser to welcome him home. The Unite Left! Web site gave it a rave review and said the crowd was “engaged and excited for the socialist feminist alternative to capitalism, war, and inequality.”
The New York campaign committee has been spreading the word at Occupy and May Day events, and looks forward to doing the same at summer festivals for the Puerto Rican and queer communities.
And Web masters with the New York team are designing a project that will feature photos of people explaining exactly why they will be writing in for Durham and López.
Folks in Portland, Ore., will also march and table in June at their city’s LGBTQ festival, where López, conveniently just a few hours north, hopes to join them. She’s making summer plans for Port Angeles, Wash., too.
Two Portlanders accompanied López and Seattleites to an anti-nuke rally in Richland, Wash., where she spoke as part of a roster that included leading anti-nuclear expert Dr. Helen Caldicott and dynamic musician and campaign endorser Laura Love. Portland and San Francisco volunteers also traveled to the May Labor Notes conference in Chicago, where they were heartened to find a number of people raising the need for an independent political voice for labor.
Baltimore area campaign coordinator Steven Strauss has been bringing the news of the campaign to Occupy gatherings and events called by education activists in Washington, D.C., as well as closer to home. He’ll be taking the message quite a bit farther away during an upcoming trip to Brazil!
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Durham-López proponents are working to get out the vote and plan election watch parties for the June 5 presidential primary, at which registrants with the Peace and Freedom Party will be able to cast a ballot for Durham.
ANYONE WHO WANTS to outreach for the campaign will find a treasure-trove of literature at votesocialism.com.
There you will find links to some of the over two dozen interviews given so far, including a Black Agenda Radio exchange with Durham. The site also includes the downloadable platform and candidate biographies plus savvy and articulate statements on the most important issues of the day: healthcare, education, women’s rights, jobs, ethnic studies, and ballot access reform, with more being written all the time.
New endorsers are coming in on an almost daily basis, and the feminist, race-liberationist, and working-class positions represented in this material are the reason why (notwithstanding the magnetic personalities of the candidates).
People of all ages and races, from every social movement, are backing the campaign: endorsing, attending events, volunteering their time and talents. From their fervent remarks, animated talk and good humor, one thing is abundantly clear: this campaign is an energizing tonic both for veteran activists and for newcomers. Durham-López supporters are eager to take part in an authentic struggle for abiding change.
You can be a part of this fight, and distance is no obstacle — not even borders! Check out these pages and visit votesocialism.com for information about how to get involved.