Socialist Party presidential candidate, Stewart Alexander (left), and vice presidential candidate, Alex Mendoza (right).

What matters? I mean really matters?

Amassing wealth? To seek to become gods at any price?

Or do all people matter? Their needs and aspirations, their full realization as human beings, their planet?

I was leaving for the national convention of the Socialist Party USA being held October 14-16 in Los Angeles. I had just read The Independent article about our failed health care system [“Drugs, Dollars, and Death,” 10/13/11,], particularly the systemic, outrageous misconduct of the pharmaceutical industry.

Edwin Laing

I was angry because I knew this was just another nasty example of the common failure of our economic system — capitalism.

People are in the streets by the hundreds of thousands. In their very bones, they know systemic failure.

At the convention, I met young people, folks of all races and walks of life, older people like myself who know it too. Capitalism cannot be reformed. We know we need a movement to inform and formulate a democratic society that really does serve everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

The meeting was mainly for housekeeping purposes: refresh our party’s vision, elect our party officers, fine tune our structure.

But it was also to name our top federal candidates, a longstanding Socialist Party practice to acquaint people with socialist ideas.

A working people’s slate emerged: Stewart Alexander of California for President of the United States, Alex Mendoza of Texas for Vice President of the United States.

Any convention needs at least one parliamentary dust up! Ours was over Cindy Sheehan, a non-member who has come to an anti-capitalist viewpoint. Last minute, a member reported her willingness to serve as our vice-presidential candidate. (She was not at the convention.) Because members sign an agreement with our Statement of Principles (see our web site) and she had not, her candidacy was not placed on the ballot.

The Socialist Party USA is open, transparent, feminist, multi-tendency, and democratic, not a vanguard or democratic centralist organization.

At the top of this article I asked about what really matters. The top of our web site answers: “Our aim is the creation of a new social order, a society in which the commanding value is the infinite preciousness of every woman, man and child.”

Visit it for more convention information at There you can also download for free my primer on democratic socialism, “You Don’t Have to be a Saint to be a Socialist.” You can also find a link to a free expanded audio version of the primer on radio4all.


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