The “Other” Socialist In the Presidential Race: An Introduction to Gloria la Riva

Presidential nominee for the Party for Socialism and Liberation Gloria la Riva discusses her campaign

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JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome everyone back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore.

With so much focus among the nominal left on the campaign run of Bernie Sanders it may surprise some that there is another socialist option for those intending to vote in this country’s 2016 presidential elections. The Party for Socialism and Liberation has entered the mix with activist and organizer Eugene Puryear as its vice presidential nominee, and our next guest, Gloria La Riva, as nominee for president. La Riva is a labor, community, and anti-war activist based in San Francisco, California with a long track record of activism around labor, the rights of the LGBTQ community, progressive movements in Latin America, and developing a movement for socialism here in the United States.

Welcome, Gloria, to the Real News Network.

GLORIA LA RIVA: Thank you, Jared. Thanks for having us.

BALL: So Gloria, let me start by asking, how does it feel to be in fact the second, or only the second, socialist in the 2016 presidential elections?

LA RIVA: Well, Eugene Puryear and I are very excited on behalf of the PSL to be running in these elections. It’s early but we thought it’s important with all the attention being paid now to the national elections that we also engage immediately to bring forth a program of fighting for rights for all people in this country instead of for the billionaires and millionaires who are the candidates right now.

BALL: Well as I sort of alluded to, many will argue that Bernie Sanders already represents a more viable and socialist option for the 2016 elections. So if you would, tell us what is in fact a little bit–tell us just a little bit what is in fact the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and please elaborate on anything that distinguishes your group and your organization from that of the Democratic party or the Bernie Sanders campaign, and then let’s talk a little bit about your ten point platform.

LA RIVA: Well, first, I think we do recognize that the Bernie Sanders phenomenon is important and interesting because of his numbers that are increasing in support, even though Hillary Clinton was the one who is getting so much attention in the media and was seen as the frontrunner for the Democrat party. His program of saying tax big business, of healthcare for people and other progressive ideas, are capturing a big part of the U.S. public. However, the reason that the PSL, Party for Socialism and Liberation, is running in the elections for 2016 is we think that the fundamental problem is the problem of capitalism, which needs to be completely overturned to really meet the needs of the people, to save the planet from environmental destruction.

And so our program, for example, to really provide healthcare for all and not just for people with documentation, but for the undocumented as well, is for example abolish the insurance companies. We call for the seizure of the banks instead of bailing them out to the tune of almost $1 trillion. Cancel the student debt so that students can go to school and be able to provide for their future instead of having a load of debt on their shoulders. We say shut all the U.S. bases down abroad and bring the troops home. We call for jobs or income for all.

And it’s possible. Even under capitalism at this point there are many things that can be attained, but it will require the movement of the people in struggle and motion.

BALL: But again, so I know you’ve heard this already and you’ll hear this a lot over the next year, why should we support your campaign? Why should anyone support your campaign when in fact there is the Bernie Sanders option, or as others will argue, this will only–any attention drawn to your campaign would likely hurt the positive potential of what is the lesser of two evils in the Democratic option, or particularly the Bernie Sanders campaign. How do you all address that particular question? Particularly around the question of the likelihood that you cannot win?

LA RIVA: Well, I think we should bring ourselves back to 2008 when Barack Obama ran for president, and he captured really the great attention and support of the people who were fed up with the politics of war, of racism, of George Bush. And yet after Obama’s victory we saw much of the same. More deportations, more police brutality, more troops abroad. And the extremely repressive nature of his surveillance by the NSA and other agencies. So the same thing will take place with Bernie Sanders or whoever becomes president, because the system is very much entrenched. And we see the elections, really, in the United States as a way of a panacea, as a way of making people believe that the system does work, that we have our say by voting once every four years.

And our message in the election campaign of the Party for Socialism and Liberation is that the only way things change in history, in society, is when the people mobilize and fight for our own rights instead of waiting for a politician to make empty promises that will always be canceled out by the lobbyists that fill the halls of Congress and make the real laws. When people fight back–for example, this year, last year, we saw the phenomenon of Ferguson which woke everybody up in this country, which drew attention to every police killing that’s taken place, or virtually every one, because people fought back in Ferguson. Protested for months demanding justice for Mike Brown. And now we see that Black Lives Matter is a recognized struggle in this country of people who are demanding an end to police brutality. It’s the movement that will make change.

BALL: Speaking of which, have you, like the DNC, endorsed the Black Lives Matter call, or platform?

LA RIVA: We are not only supportive of Black Lives Matter and the demands that also are a part of the movement. Eugene Puryear has been leading in many of the struggles since Mike Brown’s murder and before that, in Washington, DC. And our members have been across the country in every town where there’s been police brutality, been actively in the street, organizing and mobilizing against the police murders. I was myself in Ferguson the week after and two weeks after Mike Brown was murdered, and was part of the great, great demonstrations that were taking place, especially the night that the police brutally attacked us. In fact, I was shot by a rubber bullet.

But overall, we think that the phenomenon of police brutality is deeply entrenched in this country, and it’s getting worse. And what it will take is continued demonstration. We defend the rebellions that have arisen in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elsewhere because people just can’t take it anymore. And we think it will be much more needed to bring real justice against police murderers. For example, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There have been almost 30 murders by cops in about four years. And so it’s nationwide, this struggle against police brutality.

BALL: Well, Gloria La Riva, thank you very much for joining us here at the Real News. We’ll certainly be back in touch as we continue here to continue the campaign and the election cycle for the 2016 presidential elections. Thanks again for joining us.

LA RIVA: Thank you, Jared.

BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News Network. For all involved, again, I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore. And as always, as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace if you’re willing to fight for it. So peace, everybody, and we’ll catch you in the whirlwind.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.