Jen: I’m here with Mimi Soltysik who has recently been nominated as the presidential candidate of the SPUSA. Mimi, would you say a few words before we get started.
Mimi: Yes, I would. First, I want to thank The Socialist for the chance to participate in this interview. Again, I wanted to express my gratitude to the folks at the convention for nominating Angela, for vice president, and myself. Also, I want to thank everybody for the questions they submitted for this interview. Thanks and solidarity with all.
“Would you consider yourself leaning more towards left libertarianism or more towards Marxist-Leninism?” — Noah Toth from Marlborough, Connecticut
Mimi: I’m generally not really the biggest fan of binding myself to one specific label. Perhaps where I might feel the most comfortable is a bit more with anarchism/libertarian socialism, but there’s so much to learn from, and there are so many things that you can throw into the mix to guide you on your way. I also think in addition to Marx, or Kropotkin, or Subcomandante Marcos, or bell hooks, or Emma Goldman; I learn just as much if not more from the people that I do this kind of work with, like the LA local folks or the Ventura local folks, that we see all the time. So, I’m not necessarily comfortable saying, “I am this one thing.” You know? Sure, I’m a Marxist, but sure, I’m also a Jen McClellanist.
“What do you think socialists, your campaign, and the SPUSA can do to educate, energize, and include working class people who currently see no point in political participation?” — Travis Dicken from Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Mimi: One of the first things that we do, and this is one of the things we talk a lot about locally; is treating people with respect, compassion [and] kindness. [We don’t treat them as] an audience and we’re somehow righteously qualified to be delivering a sermon to the people. [I’d] rather approach the people with love and with a willingness to listen and to share stories, to share laughter and to actually care about the relationships with the people. I think frequently there can be sort of a trap where we feel like we know the answer and we’re in this position where we need to be teaching all the time, and as a result we feel like the people need to be listening. I think that’s often a failure. I myself have been on the receiving ends of those sorts of situations where I have felt like, “This feels condescending to me and I want to leave.” People are already dealing with an intimidation about being involved with this sort of thing, or a fear, or whatever it might be. Why would we want to make it harder by obnoxiously preaching?
“Which social issues are your campaign going to prioritize in addressing?” — Emily Marshall from Moorpark, California
Mimi: I don’t think we’re going to soften the message about the need to destroy capitalism. Any approach we take with this campaign is not going to be a reform-based message. The goal here is ultimately revolution. There are more than enough folks working on reform-based stuff. At the top is a no-holds-barred approach to destroying capitalism, knowing that inherent to capitalism [are] all these forms of oppression: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Also inherent to capitalism is climate change. So by moving forward in a direct, revolutionary way, we’re attacking those other issues that are inherent to capitalism.