On the behalf of The International Magazine, Debojit Banerjee spoke to Ms. Cathy Rojas, candidate who preached socialism for the New York City Mayor Election, member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Here are all the questions and answers.
Debojit Banerjee : You are running for the mayor post as a socialist candidate. How difficult is it to preach your ideas in a country like the US?
Cathy Rojas: It is difficult to run as a socialist because we have limited resources and I am also a worker (teacher) and have to continue to work while I campaign in order to pay bills. At the same time most New Yorkers are working class people that just lived through the COVID-19 pandemic where they witnessed workers putting their lives on the line and the elite reaped billions of dollars in profit. Most NYC residents are working class people who would greatly benefit from a socialist platform. I think our platform is very thorough and clearly outlines how socialism is possible within our lifetime. Our platform makes it easy for people to support us.
DB: What reactions are you getting from the people of the United States?
CR: We mostly do outreach in working class neighborhoods throughout NYC, therefore most of the people we speak to understand how our platform would greatly benefit them. Overall we have received overwhelming support for our platform. It is very rare to meet people that outright disagree with us. Most of the time we are able to gain people’s support by answering their questions and clarifying any misconceptions about socialism.
The following questions are all answered below:
DB: I know it is not a very comfortable question to ask, but we need this answer to present to our audience. Your winning chances would've been much better if you would choose the Democrats. But you chose PSL. Why?
DB: How do you see the democratic system in the United States?
DB: What is your stand on the Biden government?
CR: The Democratic party is a party fully in control of a particular section of the USA elite, a party fully in control of billionaires and millionaires. This fact is easily illustrated by all the conniving things they did to Bernie Sanders' campaign, which has huge popular support, in the last two presidential elections.
CR: The Democratic party's ideology is squarely U.S. centric nationalism. They have supported coup attempts and bombing campaigns across the Global South, which we militantly oppose.
CR: We see the Democratic party for what it truly is: a party controlled by capitalists and imperialists. I am not interested in being another Bernie Sanders, though we respect the struggles he has engaged with on behalf of poor and working people.
CR: We have formed our own party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation. We have members across the country from all walks of life, and our relatively young party has grown immensely just over the last few years. Our party is working class and internationalist. We are under control of no one but the poorest and hardest working people in the world. That is what Marxism means to us. Our constituents are the souls under the gun of policies being enacted by both Democrats and Republicans, like war, austerity and brutal repression. We are choosing to stand up united for a better world.
CR: We are very proud to prove to our class that we can actually build a political structure outside of the main two parties in the U.S.
CR: We are not concerned with increasing our "chances of winning" by however many percentage points if we run under the Democratic party. Running in the elections for us is another way we can counter the propaganda that claims striking, protesting and revolution are unnecessary because we have the "right to vote".
CR: According to establishment politicians, voting is how we can get rid of homelessness, hunger, lack of healthcare, and crime. We think at best this is a total misunderstanding of power in this country and at worst an overt attempt to confuse and hide the situation our people find themselves in.
CR: We understand these crucial problems in our city and our country can only be solved by a true reorientation of society not by some benevolent well-meaning figurehead in this or that office, Biden included.
CR: This reorientation can only happen once our people stop being atomized and instead unite to get rid of the tyrants controlling our economic system. The billionaires who control our healthcare system, who control the warehouses, the cell phones, the food supply, and all the important parts of our life.
CR: Voting for me on Nov. 2nd is only a small part of the battle needed in order to secure peace and prosperity for our class.
DB: As a marxist what is your standpoint on the electoral system, especially the system the US has?
CR: We are running in this mayoral election to engage people who are looking towards the elections as a vehicle for change. We want to talk to them and say yes you can vote for someone who believes in what you believe in on Nov 2nd. Someone who believes in universal healthcare, full employment, full rights for all workers, and an end to repression and war. But we also make sure to tell them that voting alone is not enough. That we need a revolution. A socialist revolution. We need militant unions, tenant associations, and grass root organizations. We need protest. We need to get organized and fight. That is how we can finally solve the pressing issues of our time.
DB: How would you like to address the questions of job loss and wage cut in the US?
CR: We aim to make a job a right as important as any other right. We can't say we live in a democracy when half of us barely have the basics to survive and are forced to view anything besides securing rent and groceries as a distraction. We also think every workplace should have a union in order to stop abuses and hoarding from the bosses.