The Overlooked Candidates - An Interview With Activist: Mimi Soltysik
Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik is a political activist and ranking member of the Social Party USA, a third party within the United States. He has been nominated to be the party’s candidate along with running mate Angela Walker for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential elections. This is part one of a three part series of interviews with third party candidates.
1. What is your campaign's central message or goal?
I think this is all about doing whatever we can to make a contribution to the
revolutionary movement in the U.S. The Socialist Party USA is a radical organization, and as such, mainstream media isn't burning up our phone lines. That is, unless it's the general election. And in this particular general election, for obvious reasons, there is a heightened interest in all things socialism. So, we thought we'd use that exposure to put forth a revolutionary message, and as folks respond, we do what we can to help connect them to movement work wherever they might be in the country. We've also been using the Campaign as a forum for organizers to share their stories and their feelings. Ideally, this helps to humanize this work, perhaps putting folks who otherwise might be somewhat fearful of engaging in radical projects at ease.
2. Can you give a little background on yourself? Upbringing, work, experience, etc?
I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and was a skateboarding, punk rock kid who had a pretty hard time staying out of trouble. And I'm not talking about flicking boogers at the teacher trouble. From the ages of about seventeen to thirty-two, I played music professionally. I had a great time, but I still got into a lot of trouble and I also picked up a pretty hefty substance abuse problem, doing a real number to my health in the process. Things sort of came crashing down for me in my early-thirties. My head was a mess, I was really disconnected from any sense of community, and I had real difficulty learning. I don't necessarily want to say I had an epiphany, which might sound positive. This was a pretty rough time for me. To be honest, I found myself crying easily, confused and frustrated. But, eventually, I did find myself learning how to learn again. And I was able to put one foot in front of the other, taking small steps forward. And, perhaps most importantly, I started to listen. I think that, when you really start to take the concept of listening seriously, socialism isn't too far around the corner.
3. Can you give readers a bit of a history of your party?
The Socialist Party USA has its roots in the Socialist Party of America, which was the party of Eugene V. Debs. In 1972, the Socialist Party of America split. One group decided to work within the Democratic Party. That's not us. The other group, which wanted to operate independently of the capitalist parties, and was staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War (the other group was not), became the Socialist Party USA. That's us!
4. What is your take on the job President Obama has done and what do you think he could have done better?
Obama, like his predecessors, is a war criminal. I hope that resonates with your readers. To a large degree, however, it matters little who sits in the Oval Office. The capitalist system is inherently racist, sexist, imperialist, on and on. You or I could win the election and we'd be war criminals on day one.
5. Do you think President Obama lived up to his campaign promises enough?
Like closing Guantanamo or revisiting NAFTA? No, I'd say he hasn't.
6. Why do you think more and more Americans are starting to look at anti-establishment candidates?
One reason is because the capitalist parties have so completely failed the people. Now, some might argue that capitalism is broken, or is failing. No. What we're seeing is capitalism working properly. Sooner than later, we're going to have to make a major shift from investing time and money into D.C. politics, even where "anti-establishment" candidates are concerned, and putting that energy into bottom-up efforts. We're really out of time when we consider climate change to continue lending credence to reform-based approaches to our problems. We can reform capitalism, yes. But in doing so, we're essentially saying we're okay with a kinder, gentler racism, sexism, imperialism. That doesn't cut it. And, our planet's carrying capacity simply can not handle a reformed capitalism. We need radical change, and we need it now.
7. What do you think about the Bernie Sanders campaign and do you think it's fair when people call him a "socialist"?
I think that it's great that we're having a broader discussion about socialism, and I think the opportunity is there for the U.S. left to step up and engage and participate in that broader dialogue. Whether or not he's socialist, I don't know. It appears he refers to himself as a socialist. When I think "socialist", I think worker control of the means of production, community control, real democracy. What he appears to advocate is for an expanded social safety net. I don't see his support for the apartheid state of Israel and his support for war as being part of any sort of responsible socialist program.
8. Can you give voters a few reasons to start looking at third party candidates?
I guess it depends on which third parties they are looking at? I wouldn't be suggesting that folks start looking at the Constitution Party or some of the others out there. I would, however, suggest that folks start taking a peek at parties that are explicitly anti-capitalist, and parties that have some sort of vision for the future. The overthrow of capitalism is going to take an incredible amount of work (an understatement). I'd suggest that people take a good look at the science behind climate change, and the relationship of capitalism to climate change. I think that might make support for anti-capitalist alternatives something of an easy choice. I'd also ask that, when folks see a report about a family killed by a drone strike, or (yet another) report about the police slaughtering our communities, they put themselves in the place of the victims' families. What might that feel like? This violence is systemic and it's unacceptable.
9. Do you believe a third party will eventually emerge and really challenge the two-party
establishment? If so, how long do you think it will be until we see that happen?
I don't necessarily think that the two-party system is going to be challenged by another party. I think it's going to be challenged, and overthrown, by the people. How long this might take? That's hard to say. I know that there are many folks out there committed to revolutionary change, and that always has me hopeful.
10. What do you think the best case scenario for the 2016 election cycle is? Whether that be
congressional races or the presidential race.
That we'll see more folks join the revolutionary movement.
11. Best case scenario for your campaign? Realistically.
The overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist United States.
12. What do you hope to achieve with your campaign?
As I mentioned earlier, we just want to make a contribution. We aren't out here for the
votes. We're out here for revolution.
13. One last question, a softball for you: Describe Donald Trump in three words.
Brawndo has electrolytes.