7 April 2014
By Jen McClellan
"JEN MCCLELLAN: What does it mean to be running as a socialist? (What do you hope to accomplish?)
MIMI SOLTYSIK: Initially we (as in the L.A. Local and
the Ventura Local folks that frequently participate in the L.A. Local
affairs) wanted to use the campaign as another way to talk to the
community about democratic socialism. We’re using the campaign to bring
new members into the local and to help with local projects. We initially
had to consider “can we even get on the ballot?” And now that we’re on
the ballot, it gives us another round of opportunities to get down with
the community about democratic socialism, to hear from them about what
they face, what their feelings are about their working conditions,
education, the environment, and things like that. It has enabled us to
broaden a dialog with the community, and we are learning a lot.
JEN MCCLELLAN: Have you ever done anything like this before?
MIMI SOLTYSIK: I worked with the Socialist Party’s
presidential campaign in 2012 but I wasn’t the candidate. That
experience was more about looking at things on a macro level because
that was a national campaign. This feels a bit more intimate because the
people that we have these discussions with, engage with, and establish
these relationships with, tend to be neighbors; so it is a bit
JEN MCCLELLAN: So this campaign is more about the experience and less focused on winning?
MIMI SOLTYSIK: We’re just trying to add another
contribution toward the advance of the socialist movement. We try to use
every tool we can to do that, and that can include an electoral
campaign. We understand that we’re not going to fight toe-to-toe with
our big-moneyed Democratic Party and GOP challengers who are going to
outspend us 200 to 1. We may use some more unorthodox tactics, perhaps
guerrilla tactics to narrow the gap. We are certainly being realistic
about what we’re up against and who the challengers are. I was really
inspired by Pat Noble’s campaign in 2012, and at the end of the day, if
we can learn some new things locally, and develop closer relationships
with the community, that’s fantastic!
JEN MCCLELLAN: I’ve noticed since I have begun telling people
(co-workers, professors, fellow students, members of other leftist
groups) the SPUSA is running a candidate it seems they’ve begun taking
us more seriously. Why do you think that is?
MIMI SOLTYSIK: So many people have a familiarity with
the electoral process, and this is another reason we chose to run an
electoral campaign. This is a language that is widely understood, in my
opinion. So part of it is involving ourselves in a relationship that
people are already comfortable and familiar with. Flatly rejecting
electoral politics is, to me, somewhat like saying, “I don’t care about
going to where people are at.” It would be like choosing to pull
yourself out of touch with what people know. So it makes sense to me
that people would take socialism or the SPUSA more seriously when we
talk about something they’re more familiar with. There’s a built in
dialogue because they understand the language of an election. . . ."