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Don’t Bank on Her

The presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation won’t get many votes, but she’s trying to help build a movement

by Stephen Leon on October 17, 2012


While most political junkies have been occupied this past week with the feisty VP and presidential debates and the ensuing clash of the pundits, another presidential candidate made a campaign stop in Albany Monday with virtually no fanfare.

If you’ve never heard of Peta Lindsay, the candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, it’s no surprise: She and running mate Yari Osorio are running a grassroots campaign on a shoestring budget, and their positions are generally too far left to be taken seriously by the mainstream media.

Peta Lindsay photographed by Ben Huff

“We’re activists,” Lindsay said in a brief interview at the Daily Grind on Lark Street before heading over to an event at the Social Justice Center. “We’re primarily concerned with building a movement.”

Lindsay is a 2008 graduate of Howard University who became politically active during her middle school years in Philadelphia, joining an organization that fought against racism and for education rights. She has participated in several international antiwar forums, and she is studying for a masters and planning to become a public school teacher.

Asked why she is running for president, Lindsay said, “The reason we’re running is to challenge the electoral process. Big banks and corporations donate to both sides, so no matter who wins, banks and corporations win.”

The party’s platform includes making free health care, free education, affordable housing, and jobs each a consitutional right; shut down all U.S. military bases around the world; defend unions; achieve full equality for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and abolish anti-immigration laws. If one plank stands out as particularly confrontational—and also dovetails with the Occupy Wall Street movement—it’s “Seize the banks.”

While that might sound like too much socialism for even mildly liberal Americans to digest, Lindsay said many people she has talked to have reacted favorably to the idea of taking the profit motive out of the nation’s credit system. For the most part, she said, people say “Yeah”—“because they’ve been hurt by banks.”

Asked what a real socialist thinks of the right-wing media’s attempts to portray President Barack Obama as a socialist, Lindsay smiled.

“Whenever people say that, I always ask them, ‘Name one socialist thing he’s done.’ ”

And with the bank bailouts, she argued, Obama presided over “the largest transfer of public money to private hands in history.

“Obama is the CEO of the capitalist class right now.”