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Commentary :: Politics
U.S. Socialist Stewart Alexander Leaves the PFP
08 Aug 2012
I have met many wonderful and dedicated activists throughout my experience with the Peace and Freedom Party, and hope to maintain many of those friendships in the upcoming years.
While my position with regard to this past weekend's PFP Convention may be unpopular, I feel obliged to express the motivation behind my resignation. My commitment to the Peace and Freedom Party extends as far as the Party's commitment to socialism.
Open Letter to the Peace and Freedom Party State Executive Committee

I am formally resigning my position of State Central Committee member with the Peace and Freedom Party.

I have met many wonderful and dedicated activists throughout my experience with the Peace and Freedom Party, and hope to maintain many of those friendships in the upcoming years.
While my position with regard to this past weekend's PFP Convention may be unpopular, I feel obliged to express the motivation behind my resignation. My commitment to the Peace and Freedom Party extends as far as the Party's commitment to socialism.

While the Nader nomination of 2008 may have been difficult to accept considering the fact that Nader was not a socialist candidate, I was willing to reconcile the choice believing that the nomination would heavily contribute to a substantial increase in new registered Peace and Freedom Party voters. When the registrations failed to meet what I considered to be a worthwhile sacrifice after the Nader nomination, I began to place a progressively greater hope that in 2012, the Party would make the nomination of a socialist candidate a priority.
Some might say if that was a priority, why didn't you do more to secure delegates to win the nomination, therefore ensuring the nomination of a socialist candidate? That's a valid question that I am happy to address.

We began the effort to reorganize the Socialist Party in California, which had been dormant for roughly a decade, in December of 2010. At the time, we had a very small handful of youngsters tasked with the challenge. The group marched forward, eventually establishing a Local in Los Angeles in February of 2011. Finally, on June 25th of 2011, the Socialist Party USA chartered the state of California, and we began to put our focus on the next year's election. The reality for me was, the overwhelming majority of the SPUSA membership in California had only joined the Party subsequent to February 2011, and very few had registered to the Peace and Freedom Party at the time.

This group in California, largely youngsters, fresh out of high school (and some still in high school) were just beginning their foray into the fight for socialism. Do I criticize them for not having been registered to vote Peace and Freedom Party prior to February of 2011? I do not. Was there encouragement provided to register Peace and Freedom Party after joining the Socialist Party USA? You bet, and many have, believing that Peace and Freedom Party was a party committed to socialism. Do I criticize them for their place on the learning curve with regard to electoral politics? No. I have tried to provide support and encouragement and assistance in their path toward establishing an active Socialist Party USA presence in California.

Knowing that I was able to play a vital role in where the SPUSA now stands in CA is something that I take great pride. (And for the record and for those who like to compare the number of registered Peace and Freedom Party voters versus the number of Socialist Party USA members, the SPUSA is a membership organization and does not measure its success in terms of registered voters. In 2010, Dan LaBotz of the Socialist Party USA ran for Senate in Ohio and received over 25,000 votes. Are all of those voters dues-paying members of the SPUSA? They are not.

In addition, a spirited effort was made to run a small slate of write-in candidates to serve as delegates for my campaign during the PFP Convention. Ultimately, that effort was unsuccessful, but I admired the effort and sacrifice made to go through the process required to run as write-ins during the California primary.

So I just want to clear the air on the issue of effort with regard to delegates. Had the SPUSA been one year earlier in reorganizing California, the situation may have been a bit different. Levying blame at the feet of those in California working on my campaign is not only inappropriate, in my opinion, but irresponsible if we place any premium on encouraging our youth to carry the torch in the fight for socialism.

Considering what we had to work with in California and the commitment to the Peace and Freedom Party over the years, the Alexander/Mendoza Campaign thought that making an appeal to the undecided Peace and Freedom Party delegates was a reasonable direction to travel. I am hopeful that many were aware of the fact that, in the numerous media opportunities I have had during my campaign; I have always done whatever I could to promote the Peace and Freedom Party, regardless of where my interview was being held.

I recently took a trip to the Socialist Party USA's National Organizing Conference (NOC) in Memphis, TN, where I explained my history with both Peace and Freedom Party and the Socialist Party USA to a group of nearly 100 activists who convened for the session. I felt some confidence that my history and loyalty to the Peace and Freedom Party, coupled with my commitment to socialism, would yield some measure of support to fill the gap created by the youth of the SPUSA. Never in a million years would I have expected what I witnessed during the Peace and Freedom Convention. To be frank, I am sorry that the youngsters, Alex Mendoza and the FSP Campaign endured the actions of a Party I so proudly supported for the last 14 years.

I have had time to reflect since the Convention, and while I have many questions: Where was the Q&A period for Roseanne Barr? Where was the skepticism that putting our faith that Barr would be able to deliver the voter registrations that Nader wasn't able to accomplish? Where was the concern that a Party that labels itself a socialist party on its website might nominate a candidate who just months ago claimed that she favored Regulated Capitalism? My prevailing feelings are of sorrow. Sorrow for those within and without the Peace and Freedom Party who put their trust and faith into those who could contribute to providing a socialist alternative in California, many of who have reached out to the campaign in the past few days; sorrow and frustration when I think about my loyalty to the Peace and Freedom Party. Sorrow and frustration at the complete lack of support that the socialist candidates received in the way of delegate votes at the Convention.

As I always have, I will continue my fight to build a better future for the working class. I will continue to cherish the time I spend educating young people on the value of socialism. I can only hope to inspire them as they inspire me.

Comradely,
Stewart Alexander
Socialist Party USA Presidential Candidate

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Response to Stewart Alexander
10 Aug 2012
This letter is a response to Stewart Alexander's resignation letter posted here:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/215652/index.php

Stewart,

Are we supposed to feel sorry for you? You basically call Roseanne Barr a liar -- assuming that she is not really a socialist because she hasn't publicly called herself that as long as you. You talk as if you're being so noble in not blaming your *supporters* for not getting you the nomination, because of course you must have deserved it -- after all, you met Kevin Akin a long time ago.

Stewart, I never had anything against you (until now), but you lost this nomination *yourself*. If *any* of the other candidates had talked up the Peace & Freedom Party and pledged to make the CA voter registration drive a priority, Roseanne Barr & Cindy Sheehan would not have had a chance of winning the nomination. They ran ZERO people for delegate. You guys had committed delegates. Roseanne knew no one in the party; you had the long-time loyalty of many party members.

But none of you did. You took that loyalty for granted. You say yourself that the Socialist Party doesn't care that much about voter registration. Well, members of the PFP *care* whether we fall off the ballot in 2014.

Before Roseanne came along, I was just *bored* with the Presidential race. I even wondered whether I could get myself to attend the convention; what was the point? None of you were saying anything about the PFP or saving our ballot line. Every time I've heard you speak, you ramble on and on about how you met Kevin at a cafe years ago, blah blah blah. Occasional passion, but no focus, no preparation. This is supposed to convince us to nominate you for President? I'm sure you're capable of better, but you don't bring it when you speak publicly. Or at least none of the times I've heard you. From what I've heard from others, your "I've known Kevin a long time" speech has been a standard of yours for quite a while now.

About Nader in 2008, no he does not call himself a socialist, but he *did* help the party. He campaigned with our candidates so that they spoke about socialism to audiences of many hundreds instead of a couple dozen. (I was one of those whose path to socialism began with hearing Marsha Feinland's speech about nationalizing the banks since we already paid for them with the Wall Street bailout -- at a Nader event.) He had the Peace & Freedom Party logo on campaign literature which *actually* reached lots of *actual* people. He provided offices from which the PFP ran all its campaigns. The voter registration issue was not the same in 2008. The Top Two primary didn't pass until 2010. *That* is why we're in danger of falling off the ballot. You didn't know that? Do you care about *this* party (the PFP) or not?

Face it, Stewart: you thought you had this nomination in the bag and took your support for granted. I'm not sure why you were so surprised. If you'd called delegates, you'd have known you didn't have it in the bag. I certainly knew you weren't going to win it, and I only called a fraction of the delegates. My main fear was a complete breakdown where Roseanne got eliminated early and no one got a majority. I knew she was the "consensus" candidate if she could make it to the later rounds. I knew she had tons of later round support from your and Durham's supporters. You apparently didn't even bother to find that out.

Yeah, you shouldn't blame your own supporters. And it's completely pathetic that you're trying to blame the party for nominating someone who immediately grasped that this party was in danger and offered to help us, who immediately started putting the Peace & Freedom Party name into the *national* media, and who jumped at the opportunity to "come out" as a socialist and promote socialism. Almost as if she believed in socialism *more* than these people whining about not getting a nomination that they didn't bother to win.

The PFP is a multi-tendency party. You therefore do not get to define Roseanne and Cindy's socialism out of existence simply because you've called yourself a socialist longer and met Kevin Akin so many years ago.

The SP attends meetings of the National Organizing Committee. The hopes behind that committee include a strong hope among many of creating a *JOINT* national nominating process by 2016. My passion is to create a truly democratic process -- a direct national primary with ranked voting and one person one vote. But really it's no hope at all if the SP can't even accept when it loses the CA ballot line fair and square. An essential requirement of democracy is being willing to accept loss in order to have a fair process.

The person at a disadvantage here was Roseanne -- she didn't know the party's culture or the inner workings of our nomination process, she had no delegates, her celebrity was counted as a strike *against* her by a lot of party members, and she only had 3 weeks to win them over. But she brought it big time and won. Man up and deal with it.

-Cat Woods
Tell the Truth Stewart
10 Aug 2012
Tell the truth Stewart. I joined your campaign and ran the operations (successfully) for 6 weeks at the end of 2011. You allowed your campaign manager Mimi Soltysik (who did nothing to progress the campaign) to fire me when he became jealous of the work I was doing and the advances I was making in your campaign.

In early December I sent a letter signed by you to all SPUSA CA registrants asking for their help in joining the State Central Committee (SCC) of the Peace and Freedom Party. Both Cindy Henderson and Frank Boeheim of P&F attended an SPUSA meeting to teach Soltysik and others the importance of, and how to become SCC members. Frank even left one page of easy instructions for members to follow.

When I learned from Cindy that the deadline for potention SCC members to register P&F was coming in the next few days, I phoned the 100 SPUSA members who had received the letter and urged them to go to the post office and re-register P&F. Many said they would support you in this way. Soltysik was also given this information several days before the deadline.

Then Soltysik and his girlfriend Lynn had a drunken tyrade at one of our meetings, yelling and screaming abuse at you and at me and then Soltysik dumped me. Everything I was working on came to a grinding halt, including ballot access and the P&F nomination. After all the hard work I had done for you, you did nothing to protect me from your bullying campaign manager.

You attempt to blame the “youth” who are running your campaign for your failure to get the P&F nomination. I am 56 years of age. Obviously your “youth” needed help from someone like me who has years of experience in building successful entities but you allowed them to dump me. The truth is that your campaign manager, his girlfriend and everyone else on your campaign are just plain lazy. Your treasurer has missed 2 deadlines for filing legally required reports with the FEC. They didn’t even bother to get on the P&F SCC so they could vote for you. Yet, here I am a non-citizen who managed to became a voting delegate.

Good luck Stewart.
We both the truth.
Response to Marilyn Peters
12 Aug 2012
Generally we spend some time and effort in responding to feedback like Marilyn's to ensure that perception does not create reality. Given the tone that Marilyn has taken, we feel that readers will reasonably be able to see motive in her response.

One thing we would like to establish. Marilyn mentions that she had successfully run the Campaign for a small period of time. What she fails to mention is that she was somehow, perhaps remarkably, to create an environment where nearly every member of the Alexander/Mendoza 2012 Campaign had considered quitting had she continued in her position.

In addition, the Alexander/Mendoza Campaign was able to run and eventually see the appointment of a Central Committee member under the same bylaws that allowed Marilyn the appointment. (A bylaw allowing non-citizens and those under 18 to run for Central Committee.)

Marilyn and others may have attended SP of CA meetings outlining the requirements necessary to run for Peace and Freedom Central Committee. What she does not mention is the fact that, in order to run for Peace and Freedom Party Central Committee, one needed to be a registered Peace and Freedom Party voter no later than February 2011. The Socialist Party USA's CA chapter was established on June 25th of 2011, and the overwhelming majority of Socialist Party USA members had not been registered Peace and Freedom prior to February 2011. Much effort was placed in the early part of 2011 to establish 1. a Los Angeles and Riverside Local of the Socialist Party in CA and 2. creating a foundation for growth in CA. We achieved those objectives and have since seen the addition of a Bay Area Local with Ventura and Orange Counties at the ready to charter.

Marilyn can choose to present herself publicly any way she sees fit. If that happens to include insults (as inane and untrue as they might be), that's her choice. Anyone who has worked closely with the folks in the SPUSA affiliated with the Alexander/Mendoza Campaign knows that malaise has not been a problem.

As stated from the beginning, this would be a Campaign intended to spread the message of socialism. This is a Campaign that enjoys working with another, and despite its lack of experience, is doing its best to provide the SPUSA with an effort that Party members will be pleased with.

All the best,

Mimi Soltysik
Response to Mimi Soltysik
13 Aug 2012
Modified: 03:51:13 PM
Mimi Soltysik is wrong in his claim that California election laws prevented the Socialist Party USA from running candidates for Peace and Freedom Party Central Committees to vote for Stewart Alexander.

I wasn't involved in any of the discussions last year among Marilyn Peters, Mimi Soltysik, Frank Boeheim and others in the Peace and Freedom Party and/or the Socialist Party USA, so I can't say who knew what when and who was told what.

However, I can say that the restrictions in the California Elections Code would not have prevented supporters of the Socialist Party USA who weren't already Peace and Freedom Party registrants before June 2011 from running for P&F Central Committees to be able to vote for Stewart Alexander at the August 2012 convention.

There are two restrictions on candidates for P&F Central Committees whose names are to appear on the primary election ballot (or be declared elected by county election officials without the race actually being on the ballot). One is that the candidate can't have been registered in another ballot-qualified party in California for 12 months before filing a declaration of candidacy, and the candidate must have been registered in the Peace and Freedom Party for 3 months before filing a declaration of candidacy. The deadline for filing the declaration of candidacy (at the end, not the beginning, of the filing process, with a deadline this year of March 9th). Thus prospective candidates for P&F Central Committees had to have been registered P&F by 9 December 2011 and not have been registered Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, American Independent or Americans Elect at any time on or after 9 March 2011. They did not have to have been registered Peace and Freedom since February of 2011.

Further, even if a prospective Central Committees candidate had been ineligible to appear on the ballot, he or she could have run as a write-in simply by getting 25 signatures of P&F registrants in the relevant jurisdiction (county, county supervisorial district, or Assembly district, depending on the county) asking that the primary election for Central Committees not be cancelled to allow for write-in candidates (and then getting nominated as a write-in by getting nominating signatures during an eight-week period in the spring).

Getting the needed signatures wouldn't have been a trivial task, but it wasn't something that would have been horrendously difficult for anyone who had more than half a clue regarding election procedures.
To Dave
13 Aug 2012
Modified: 07:23:46 PM
Dave,

We took a stack of forms from SPUSA members to the voter registration office, and of that stack, very few (perhaps 2) met the requirements you outlined. We also ran a few candidates as write-ins, collecting the requisite signatures necessary for ballot eligibility.

I will repeat once more as I have many times elsewhere. We entered the Peace and Freedom Party Convention on the back of a newly formed chapter of the SPUSA, one that we worked very hard to build. Our expectations on winning the nomination were minimal. I do not believe that Stewart's decision is based at all in the fact that he and Alex did not win the nomination, nor have I seen him state as much.

Our focus in early 2011 throughout the bulk of the 2011 year was on chartering a CA chapter of the SPUSA, establishing locals, hosting the the SPUSA National Convention (which we did), and providing resources for those interested in building the Party throughout the state. Regardless what anyone might believe, there was also a considerable effort to run delegates for the PFP Convention. As I mentioned in my earlier paragraph, that did not happen, and with the rebuilding of the SPUSA in CA as context, we were simply not at a position at the moment where winning the Convention on the basis of delegate count was a remote possibility at best.

In any case, Stewart has made a personal choice and we will continue our efforts to spread the message of socialism.

Mimi