David McReynolds statement

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Nov 8 18:10:47 MST 2000

Election Eve Statement / November 7, 2000

Before the polls have closed and the pundits have projected winners and
losers, and before I make my own statement at the close of this year-long
campaign, I want to take a moment to thank those who have helped make this
an extraordinary year for me and for those who have been involved in this

Let me start by giving special credit to Shaun Richman, whose idea it was
to start the "Draft McReynolds" campaign, and ended up managing it. I'm
sure I've disappointed him in many ways, since I am not by nature a man
given to plunging into crowds or restaurants or market places, hand
outstretched, introducing myself and pleading for votes. I've done my best,
but I know someone else could have done better. I think of all that was not
done, but our funds were few, our staff small, and without the help of
those I want now to name, nothing could have been achieved. In giving these
thanks, I know names are being omitted - under the stress of a long
campaign errors are made and forgive me for any names omitted.

First, there is Madeline VanHaaften-Schick, who has served as intern in the
office. To Anthony Giacchino whose video camera got us some of our best TV
coverage. Greg Pason, the long-suffering national secretary, Dylan Shubitz,
who helped get us in three states - New Jersey, New York, and
Massachusetts. To Bill Shakalis, for tireless letter-writing and
organization. To Rick  Van Wie  and Stacey Gottlieb for work in Rhode
Island and Vermont. To Eric Chester and Susan Dorazio for work in
Massachusetts and Vermont, to Eric Schuster for the constant coverage in
our magazine, to Garland Williams for help in Oregon, Washington, and for
the wonderful campaign web site. To Mary Cal Hollis, for agreeing to run.

To Josh Raufman, Peter and Doris Diamondstone and Will Miller for work in
Vermont. To Paul McNeil for help in Rhode Island. To Matt Andrews for work
in Massachusetts, To Kevin Dean, Jeff Rabinovici, Bill Kohnlein, Ruth Benn,
Judith Pasternak, Wendy Schwartz and Mark Harris and many many others in
New York. To Rob Tucker and Bruce Cronin for Pennsylvania. To Steve Cooper
and Tino Rozzo in New Jersey. To Bob Kaufman in Maryland. To Vernon Kelley,
Katherine Nicewander and Melvin Little in North Carolina. To Mark Allen,
Ben Markeson, Paul Werner, Steve Sears and M. P. Bigenho in Florida. To
Meredith Garmon in Tennessee, to Tim Vining in Louisiana. To Steve
Rossingnol, Mark Heisy, Ethan Jones, Mavis Belisle, Tom Wakely,  and many
many others in Texas. To Mark Damron, Mark Weber and Stewart Robinson in
Ohio. To Jim Hurd in Indiana. To Caleb Jennings, Quinn Brisben, Lauren
Compton (who officially nominated me), Bill Pelz, Jim Senyszen in Illinois.
To James South, Robert Kimbrough, Dave Schall, Linda Randolph, Nan Pefferle
and Frank Zeidler in Wisconsin. To Solomon O'Lunigh, Dwight Welch, and Kari
Fisher in Minnesota. To Micah Bales in Kansas. And in Iowa to so very many,
led by Rebbeca Rosenbaum. To William Stodden in South Dakota. To David
Frazier and Mary Cal in Colorado. To Richard Cooke, Maggie Phair, Steve
Hatch, David Gardner, Shannon Hammock and Sean Guillory in California. To
Garland Williams, Seamus Lmulryan, Karl Sorg, and Michael Marino in Oregon.
And in Washington State to Ivan King, Jay Powell, David Hedglin and Scott
Rhodes. And many many others whose names will come to me five minutes after
I finish.

This is not a concession speech, but rather a statement of protest and a
celebration of victory. I am weary of those who asked me "why are you
running when you know you can't win", as if I had entered this campaign as
an act of private ego. Or as if you and I, in working on this campaign,
were indulging in some bizarre ritual that holds no real meaning. The fact
is that if this election had been held in Belgrade, then NATO would be
considering bombing that city. In common with every other opposition party
in this country, left or right, we have faced almost insurmountable
problems of ballot access. If either of the two "major parties" had to go
through the same problems facing us in order to gain ballot access they
would not be on the ballot in more than a handful of states. The system
under which we operate is designed to prevent citizens from making any
choice "outside the box". In addition to the thicket of legal barriers to
ballot access, there is a carefully designed media effort to black out
opposition parties, or to chose those that will be the focus of attention.

There is, to take one example, a catch 22 to the Presidential debates,
which worked under rules that disqualified any opposition candidate unless
that candidate got 15% in three different national polls! In 1992 Ross
Perot was admitted to the debates because his polling figures were about
20%. But those figures reflected the millions of dollars he had spent from
his own pocket - the catch 22 being that unless you score high in the polls
you can't get into the debates, and unless you have millions in cash you
can't score high in the polls. There is also a degree to which the media,
if it were to make an honest critique, does choose which candidates it
thinks makes good copy. Perot was in some ways a media creation in 1992,
benefiting from media hype before he spent a dime, even before he declared
his candidacy. Ralph Nader similarly charmed the media this year, although
he did not receive the same media interest until he proved himself a threat
to Gore and threatened the two party system. The media is not impartial, it
chooses and shapes the race and invents the criteria later. (Note that the
Libertarian Party, on the ballot in more states than the Greens, and with a
longer history, was virtually ignored by the media - Harry Browne lacked
the media charisma of Ralph Nader).

We protest because the election is rigged to make sure there will be no
serious opposition to the two corporate parties. We protest not only for
ourselves but for every party which sought to use the peaceful, legal
approach to social change which is represented by the ballot. We will
continue to pursue peaceful change, and continue to use the ballot, but
with no illusions that the corporate parties will play fair. We have a
benevolent dictatorship under which we are permitted to run, we will not be
beaten and jailed, but neither will our campaigns be fairly covered, or our
access to the ballot be applied evenly. If this is a federal election, then
opposition parties should be able to appear on every ballot in every one of
the fifty states. What we have now is a con game run by the corporate media
and the corporate parties - we do not have fair and free elections.

Let me now turn to a statement of victory  - not victory in a narrow sense
for the Socialist Party, something to which I will return in a moment, but
to the remarkable upsurge in a citizen's revolt against politics as usual
that we saw in the campaign of Ralph Nader. I congratulate him on a
campaign well and vigorously run, and salute those in the Green Party who
helped shake up American politics. As we find ourselves deep in the season
of autumn, it is appropriate to remember, as we watch the leaves, how green
can turn to red. I look forward to cooperation in the future and rejoice at
having benefited from it in this campaign.

Our own campaign, which was noted by the New York Times yesterday on page
32 with precisely six words, proving them the paper of record if not of
perception, (indeed, that minimal coverage confirmed that the New York
Times, for all its virtues, is the Pravda of the corporate state), achieved
a goal that I don't think we believed possible when we began. We received
fraternal support not only from individual members of the Committees of
Correspondence, Democratic Socialists of America, and Solidarity, but in
their official statements. For this I am deeply grateful.

We re-established the Socialist Party as the electoral force of the broader
democratic socialist movement, not simply one among several groups
contending to be thought of as "the" Socialist party. Where we go with this
remains for those now in the Socialist Party, and those who are coming in,
to determine. If we think of ourselves as the only socialist group, we
shall fail. If we think of electoral action as the only method of changing
society, we shall fail. But if we realize we are part of a broader
socialist community, respected and respecting, we will have won.

We have dared to imagine a future in which trade unions are not shackled by
laws imposed by the corporate state, a future in which poverty will be a
painful memory, not a daily reality for close to a fifth of our people, a
future where we shall have dismantled the machinery of war and destruction,
of sanctions and embargoes, which brought unspeakable suffering to those in
distant lands.

We have dared to dream of a world where our military funds will go to feed
the hungry of the world, to rebuild a rail system so that every town in
this country is once again connected, and we can turn away from the
relentless consumption of non-renewable resources. We are working toward
the day when the Pentagon will have to hold a bake sale to raise funds to
pay its Admirals and Generals. We reach out to every enlisted man and woman
and say their honest labor is needed not in policing the world for the huge
corporations, but in transforming our nation through the rebuilding of old
housing, and the construction of new schools. Let me say that while we have
a military, it will be open to all Americans, regardless of race, of creed,
or of sexual orientation. We want a world without arms, but so long as
there are men and women in uniform, there shall be no line drawn against
gays and lesbians, and the shadows of secrecy will be ended. Indeed, those
shadows of secrecy, fear and shame will be ended throughout the nation.

We have dared to believe it is possible for society as a whole to own the
natural resources, so that gas, oil, iron, timber, and energy are used for
the common good and not for private profit.

We have dared to conceive of an America where every person will have health
care, paid for from general tax funds. While Bush and Gore debated whether
and how our senior citizens might get prescription drugs, the Socialist
Party is concerned that working men and women not fear illness or
hospitalization. We need health care for all those who are in need,
regardless of their age group, and a greater stress on preventive care to
ward off disease. One good place to begin is to place the avaricious
pharmaceutical industry under public ownership. We have insisted on the
right of women to make the final choice on the issue of abortion, with
medical coverage if they make that choice, and medical coverage if they
choose to have the child.

We have dared to challenge the criminal nature of the war on drugs, which
has filled our nation's prisons,  has caused our military to interfere in
the sovereign nations of Central and Latin America, and involved this
nation in support of right wing death squads. Marijuana should be
legalized, heroin should be returned to the medical profession. The genuine
and tragic problems of addiction, whether to heroin or to alcohol or
tobacco, should be dealt with by education not by prison.

We have dared to speak on behalf of the two million men and women in our
state and federal prisons who cannot speak for themselves, who cannot vote,
who are almost invariably drawn from the ranks of the poor, and too often
those of color. Let us release those whose crimes are nonviolent. Let us
focus on rehabilitation, not on punishment. Let us have the sense to
involve former felons in programs of self-help, as recovering alcoholics,
in AA, have been able to change the lives of so many. We know that
government does not have all the answers, and that prison is one of the
worst answers.

We have dared to insist that, if given a chance, most Americans would want
to say of the world in which we live, and the land upon which we dwell,
"this is not ours, we have borrowed it from our grandchildren, let us
return it to them in better shape than it came into our hands".

We have dared to scold our fellow citizens for failing to attend to their
own most urgent business, for being too easily swayed into voting for Gore
or Bush. We are not proud, and our nation should not be proud, that we
twice elected a man who was probably a psychopath and certainly a criminal
- Richard Nixon. And we have had other war criminals at the head of State,
from Ronald Reagan and his infamous Iran/Contra record, to George Bush and
his invasion of Panama and his Gulf War to Bill Clinton and his illegal
foreign actions in Serbia and in Sudan and Afghanistan.  It is not enough
to blame the media, not enough to argue we were misled. For Americans to be
a free people, whose survival does not depend on the oppression of others,
either within our borders or beyond it, we must take responsibility for our
actions and recognize our failures. One of those failures is that in this
election we have been offered a choice between two men, one clearly
incompetent for high office, and the other no less in debt to the Corporate
State. It is not only that too many Americans decline to vote, or that too
many vote against their own best interests, but that the choices we have
made have brought death to those at a distance, whether in Iraq, where
hundreds of thousands of died from sanctions, or from the now-distant war
in Indochina, where millions died. Americans must do better. There have
always been two Americas, one seduced into complacency by a ruling elite,
and one in rebellion against it; one satisfied with material goods, and one
wanting a culture and a way of life which speaks to our best instincts.

Most of all, we challenge the existing Corporate State and its two ruling
parties. The major parties have power but no real constituency beyond their
corporate lords and masters. Small the Socialist Party may be, and unknown
our candidates, but at least we chose our own candidates, they were not
chosen for us. And we have spoken as best we can for the interests of the
working class, not those of the Fortune 500.

In the months to come the Socialist Party will, I hope, help lead a
campaign to dissolve the Presidential Debates Commission, to open up ballot
access in every state.

Finally, three closing points.

First, the student, environmental, and trade union actions in Seattle and
elsewhere have shown there is a deep unrest with the Corporate State, the
Garrison State, which has brought enormous wealth to a handful, and has
left at least a fourth of our population poorer than they were before. The
capitalist system has not broken down. For those at the top, it works very
well. But it has been shown to a wide public to place profits over human
lives and values, and to be immune to moral appeals. It has sent the jobs
of the American working class to the four corners of the earth. It has
placed all human life - and the environment which sustains that life - on
the market place. It has taken our lives, our dreams, our loves, and made
them things of profit and loss. Socialism, in its desire to place the great
corporations under social ownership, decentralized, and run by communities
and by workers, seeks to put humanity in the saddle of this industrial and
technological machinery.

We do not oppose small business, small farms, or any of the religious and
political freedoms Americans enjoy today. We would extend those freedoms
into the right to make decisions about economic matters.

Second, we know that socialist thought itself must evolve, just as our
world has evolved. The simplicity of our visions of a century ago do not
match the complexity of our current situation. So while we maintain the
vision of a socialist society, we know we must also re-examine it, and
search for how best to apply our values to this society here and now. We
know that socialism in this country will reflect the history and the
culture of America, an exceptional nation in so many ways. We can draw on
examples and histories from Europe, Africa, and Asia, from Karl Marx to
Mohandas Gandhi, but the final pattern will be hammered out here, in our
communities. We know that as America is unique, so too are some of the
problems we confront, chief of which is racism, a matter unsettled, a crime
which continues to haunt us. The socialist movement must reflect in its own
membership the cultural, racial and ethnic range of our nation.

Third, the Socialist Party is not the solution to the problems of America -
it is part of the solution. It is part of a community of socialists which
must find ways of working together, of reshaping a genuine socialist
movement. This campaign has earned us a right to sit at the table, but it
has not made us, nor any other group, the Chair. We need among ourselves to
remember we seek to build a sense of the beloved community. We will not
achieve it by sectarianism. There are always some who would draw a line
around us to keep others at a distance. I have sought, and will continue to
seek, to draw a line around a broader community of dissent and struggle to
bring them into the circle.

We can be proud of what we have done. We can hope, all of us, for the
chance to do much more. This campaign has opened a door through which our
members need to move, to build locals, to educate ourselves in basic
socialism, to reach out to those close to us in common struggles in
schools, churches, trade unions, community groups..

It has been an honor to be your candidate. I expect to see many of you in
the months and years ahead. It has been a good fight and it has only just
begun. We do not look back to glories of the past, but forward, to glories
yet to come.

McReynolds/Hollis 2000 Information List

Louis Proyect
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