By Clayton Crocket | LSU Student
Neither white nor male, Republican nor Democrat — she's not even 35 years old — the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) presidential candidate, Peta Lindsay, is running a campaign with "no illusions."
"They say anyone can run for president until you try to do it."
The PSL candidate's tentative campaign schedule saw her passing through numerous Louisiana cities in the final days of October, from an open-house meeting in Hammond to classroom presentations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
LSU mass communication student from Natchitoches, Isabelle Schicketanz, reacted to her talk to a class at the Manship School of Mass Communication Tuesday: "She (Lindsay) has great intentions, but the ideas are so radical she has no chance. However, she does get people thinking, and that's what is important."
And Lindsay, cheerily aware of the odds facing her and vice presidential candidate Yari Osorio, agreed. "It's not about getting votes. This puts the name of the party out there, and that's all we want.
"Consciousness changes and it can change fast. There would have been a point in the Constitution when I couldn't be president because I'm a woman, or because I'm African American, [but] the leaders have always been young people."
Lindsay traces her alignment with Socialist ideology back to her early youth, from a 2,000-student walkout she assisted in 1996 — when she was 12 — to the social injustice she heard from local politicians in Philadelphia, Pa., her hometown.
"I've been an activist and an organizer for a long time," she said, and the experience "developed a lot of the principles that would lead me to the party."
The political dialogue regarding Philadelphia's lower income neighborhoods and the disproportionate allocation of money in the school districts particularly stuck out to Lindsay.
"Because we were born to poorer families, we didn't deserve as much money," she said, calling that system, along with the current national political system, one of "structural inequality."
The notion of equality is almost as crucial to the PSL platform as the concept of "struggle," which, as Lindsay described, takes on many meanings and forms, including the Occupy movement, the protests following the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and the Arab Spring.
"The extent to which any African American has received equality in this country is the extent to which they've fought for it," she said, prescribing the higher concentrations of unemployment in African American communities with the ascription of employment as a constitutional right. "Wasted potential — it affects entire cities and towns. It's an epidemic."
As for President Obama being labeled a socialist by some conservatives, Lindsay laughed. "I don't think he is a socialist at all. He is as much a representative of the ruling class as any other politician." She particularly criticized his bailout of banks and Wall Street, putting herself in the same chorus as members of the conservative Tea Party movement.
She said the Tea Party represents the frustrations from the perspective of the right while the Party of Socialism and Liberation speaks for the frustrated people from the left.
Along with labeling jobs as constitutional rights, Lindsay and Osorio's 10-Point Program also includes constitutional rights to free healthcare and education and affordable housing. The Plan also calls for the need to end police racism and brutality and grant full equality to the LGBT community, particularly in regard to marriage rights.
Among the core actions detailed in the PSL's plan include shutting down all foreign military bases, granting full rights to all immigrants, seizing America's banks and ending its capitalist economy, to name a few.
Lindsay said she has been pleased with the reception her platform has received despite the generally negative connotation Socialism carries in the United States.
"Some people have an immediate visceral reaction, but when they hear our platform point-by-point, they begin to understand," she said, noting "anti-Communism is like a religion in this country."
She acknowledged using "communism" and "socialism" interchangeably. "We are a revolutionary socialist party," she said, adding the party does not cower from the term communist.
The students she spoke to in a mass media writing class at LSU were not as convinced.
"The candidate seemed to realize the party's purpose now is to raise awareness, which at this point seems like the only thing they can hope to achieve," said Hannah McClain from Baton Rouge. "The gap between their ideals and actually enacting them seems too great to breach."
Many of the students referenced the platform's lack of specificity and practicality, although while commending Lindsay's intentions and enthusiasm. "Let's just make everything free, we can work out the details later," joked Joshua Jackson of New Orleans.