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What I learned from the Peace & Freedom Party Convention

by Alex Mendoza, Socialist Party USA VP Cand. Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2012 at 12:27 PM

I quickly realized that I needed to use this experience to motivate me and to understand that our movement will be challenged from those outside the movement and from within. We will not be deterred, and our fight towards socialism will continue. We will continue to build our party and build our cause. We will continue to build coalitions. We will continue to embrace other socialist organizations and work closer with each other. And personally, I will continue to work diligently with the Stewart Alexander campaign, with my Local and others, and hopefully work closer with the FSP and other organizations that truly embrace socialist values.

I learned that if you are a B-list celebrity who wants to enhance your “political” resume, you can simply announce a newfound epiphany towards socialism to a supposedly radical socialist party in the most populous state in the country, and you will win that party’s presidential nomination!

This is exactly what I witnessed this past weekend at the Peace & Freedom Party Convention in Los Angeles. On Friday, attendees (delegates and observers) had the opportunity to visit, socialize, and ask questions to the presidential candidates. All presidential candidates were present -- except Roseanne Barr -- who apparently did not feel her presence was required since her nomination and votes had already been bought and secured.

I also learned that there were two parties -- the Peace & Freedom Party (PFP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) -- that stated emphatically and repeatedly throughout the weekend, in their loudest voices possible, they were the parties of anti-capitalism, the parties of true revolutionaries, the parties who represented the 99%. What I saw was not revolutionary. Instead, the PFP and PSL joined the convention-turned-circus, standing up and cheering when Roseanne’s limo pulled up at the convention and her body guards exited their cars, escorted her and her entourage inside the building, and walked her to the microphone where she spoke for 15, uninterrupted minutes. There were no opportunities to ask her questions, which, to me, was completely undemocratic.

Roseanne’s comedy routine included mentions of Romney and Obama, followed by her signature (and annoying) fake laugh that resonated throughout the convention. This was the point when the convention turned from a productive convention into a total circus, which the PFP and PSL clearly enjoyed. In fact, the PSL enjoyed the circus so much, that their self-professed, anti-capitalist, revolutionary, activist, socialist candidate ended her pursuit of the PFP nomination and endorsed Roseanne Barr. It should have probably been an indication of what the PSL was willing to do when their presidential candidate talked about “anti-capitalism” and fighting the large global corporations, while in the same breath, sipping a soda from a 32 oz. Subway cup.

Another thing I learned is that the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) and the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA) were the only true socialist parties in attendance at the convention. After hearing Steve Durham and Christina Lopez speak a few times, it was easy to understand why the Steve Durham Campaign has wide-range support and continues to establish itself as a legitimate socialist campaign. My respect for Steve Durham, and my Chicana sister, Christina Lopez grew exponentially as the convention progressed. Their passion, dedication, and devotion to the movement were evident in their words. Additionally, my support and respect for Stewart Alexander continues to grow and he continues to reassure me of the reasons to support him and the SPUSA.

Initially, I was unsure if what I felt was disappointment, disgust, sadness, or all these feelings all at once. I quickly realized that I needed to use this experience to motivate me and to understand that our movement will be challenged from those outside the movement and from within. We will not be deterred, and our fight towards socialism will continue. We will continue to build our party and build our cause. We will continue to build coalitions. We will continue to embrace other socialist organizations and work closer with each other. And personally, I will continue to work diligently with the Stewart Alexander campaign, with my Local and others, and hopefully work closer with the FSP and other organizations that truly embrace socialist values.
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What Irony

by Steve Sears Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2012 at 4:34 PM
me@steve-sears.net

I can hardly stop laughing when I read this. Just a few short months ago at the SPUSA convention the NY and CA locals violated Robert's Rules and the agreed upon convention rules to block any attempt to nominate Cindy Sheehan for the VP spot. Why, because the Stewart Alexander people did not like her and would not work with her. The deal made by NY and CA were to name Stewart the Presidential nomination in return for backing Billy Wharton's second time as Co-Chair. And to hear them cry over a similar deal here.

As for sipping a soda from Subway, I would guess it's better than booking the SPUSA convention in a Non Union hotel in LA. This is what their now Nominee did when he set things up.

What Irony .......................

And lets not forget the labor department taking Stewart and his wife to court for failing to pay their housekeeper back in 2004. A judgment he did not pay until 2 years after getting the SPUSA VP nomination in 2007. You can see the document for your self:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/1O2zOnxpoLwabnojcyjqGwOeCiG70BG6YSkUUbQrPWUK8d7e3tXc4hi57WOw7/edit

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A biased and inaccurate view

by Kevin Akin Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Mendoza's comments are reflective, mainly, of almost complete ignorance of the Peace and Freedom Party, how it works, and how our conventions are normally run.
If a campaign wants the PFP nomination, it is necessary to run people for our Central Committee in the June election. The SP simply failed to do this. Nevertheless, some uncommitted SCC members voted for Stewart Alexander on the first ballot. (I was one of them, my wife was another.) We like Stewart, we like his politics, we think he is an effective campaigner. Unfortunately, the campaign team for the SP nationally has not done the needed work, and so there was no way Stewart was going to get the nomination.
It is objectionable to slander Barr by saying that she just didn't bother to show up Friday night. She was working. (Yes, comedians often work on Friday nights.) She was working on Saturday too, and this is why she was only able to attend (and speak) for 15 minutes. It took literally a week of struggling with her employer to get that much time. Her running mate, Cindy Sheehan, spoke for her Friday night, and answered questions. We are a working-class party, and we understand having to work.
Besides the fact that Barr has been a very public socialist for over 18 months, since the publication of her book in which she tells us she is and always has been a socialist, and her family was socialist from way back, she has been enthusiastically baited as a socialist by all the right-wing media since then. She did not suddenly claim to be a socialist.
The principal reason why Barr ended up with the nomination is Cindy Sheehan. Cindy is a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, unquestionably a socialist, and very popular with party activists. Some party officers tried to convince her last year that she should run for president. When Cindy accepted Roseanne Barr's suggestion that she run for Vice President with Barr, about a week before the convention, support built every day.
After the first vote, even though no one was going to be excluded from the vote until after the third round, it was obvious that Stewart Alexander had the smallest vote, and would soon be eliminated. Rather than drag through an unneeded two extra rounds, 8 people who had voted for Stewart or for Stephen Durham switched their votes to Barr, and she won by a good margin on the second vote. I was one of those who did this, after consulting with my wife. I talked to several of the others afterwards, and they all gave the same reason - why beat a dead horse? Stewart could not get the nomination, might as well get it over, and Barr was our second choice. In large part due to Cindy Sheehan, she was a solid second choice even for many who voted for Alexander or Durham on the second ballot,. They did not demonstrate it, because there was no third ballot.
I am amazed at the implied criticism of Peta Lindsay for her taste in soda. Her actual given reason for withdrawing should be stated. She recognized that the Secretary of State was not going to put her on the November ballot (as she is under 35), and she didn't want to leave a blank on the ballot where the Peace and Freedom Party nominees should be. For her supporters, too, Roseanne Barr was the second choice.
Peace and Freedom Party SCC members are each individually elected by the voters in the June primary. They do not answer to anyone. They vote as they think fit. If Mendoza disagrees with them, he should do so in a comradely manner, not with gratuitous insults and falsehoods.
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GPUS SC member

by Susan Chunco Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2012 at 8:40 PM
ukapole@att.net

Be grateful you aren't Green. Upon losing the GP nomination, and the VP spot, Roseanne delivered an extremely toxic concession speech via her campaign manager. She accused the Greens of being sexist, racist, classist, etc. and zeroed in on one particular Green who tried to prevent her from being on the CA GP ballot. It was embarrassing, to say the least.
Good luck to the Peace & Freedom Party.
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