La Riva for president campaign makes major strides for socialist movement

La Riva campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama

The Party for Socialism and Liberation congratulates all our members and supporters who worked so hard to carry out the far-reaching socialist campaign of Gloria La Riva for President and Sunil Freeman for Vice President.

Our campaign appeared on 15 state ballots — 13 states for the PSL, in California for the Peace and Freedom Party, and in Vermont for the Liberty Union Party.

It was a historic achievement. Despite the sparse presence of people in the streets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our members engaged in person with more than 120,000 people, while safely distancing. We collected 29,500 signatures of people who agreed with our right to appear on the ballot.

La Riva’s running mate in 13 states was longtime PSL member Sunil Freeman. Leonard Peltier, Native activist still wrongly imprisoned more than 44 years after he was framed by the government, remained on the PSL ticket in Minnesota and Illinois despite having to withdraw earlier for health reasons.

Total vote counts are yet to be finalized, but preliminary results show that La Riva finished sixth in a national field of 36 presidential candidates.

So far, La Riva has received more than 83,000 votes, not including the yet-to-be-counted write-in votes in 13 states. That surpasses the 74,027 votes she received in 2016. It is a remarkable vote, especially with total censorship of third-party candidates by the media monopolies. Not one third-party candidate received significant national coverage. It is the highest total for any revolutionary socialist candidate for president in over 40 years.

There was a palpable fear of a Trump re-election among many voters who would normally reject both Democratic and Republican candidates and vote for a socialist candidate. This year many opted for Biden.

Yet despite the obstacles and challenges, our socialist campaign was successful in injecting a revolutionary working-class program into the electoral arena. We reached many hundreds of thousands of people with this truth: Only a socialist, sustainable society can truly resolve the inherent problems that capitalism creates: poverty, racism, war and climate change.

Gloria La Riva traveled to 47 cities in 32 states this year, from Pine Ridge Reservation and Rapid City, South Dakota to Birmingham, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida. Since 2016, the presence of the PSL has grown to include all the places we campaigned.

With the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, the PSL participated in and led many demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder by police. The historic movement against racism saw the largest number of protests in U.S. history. From Portland to Rochester to Albuquerque to Philadelphia to Nashville to New York City to Los Angeles, the PSL and La Riva marched alongside thousands of activists.

In early September, after Hurricane Laura devastated Lake Charles, Louisiana, La Riva and PSL members from Louisiana and Georgia took part in direct material aid, delivering water and food to stranded families. Days later, Florida and Missouri comrades joined in to help build a protest march with evacuees in New Orleans to demand federal aid to help people rebuild their lives.

Throughout the year, many people signed up to join the PSL after attending a campaign event or learning of the La Riva/Freeman campaign through literature, posters or online.

The PSL’s 10-Point Program highlighted solutions for the multiple crises that the working class and all people are experiencing, including canceling rents and mortgages, banning evictions; carrying out massive COVID testing, providing PPE for all along with hazard pay; instituting a $20/hour minimum wage; jailing killer cops; paying reparations to Black and Native communities; guaranteeing a job or income to all; making housing, healthcare and education as constitutional rights; ending all U.S. wars, blockades or sanctions. The two imperialist nominees, Trump and Biden, never uttered a word in favor of these essential measures. The system they defend is the cause of these crises.

While deeply appreciating every vote, the PSL fights for the whole working class, regardless of ability to vote, including prisoners and ex-prisoners, the youth, and more than 10 million undocumented people.

Undocumented immigrants suffer staggering levels of poverty, are denied legal rights and are never able to receive Social Security or unemployment benefits despite paying taxes. The PSL takes immigrant rights seriously. Our campaign began in McFarland early this year, in the heart of California’s Central Valley, visiting farmworkers to express our solidarity and hear their concerns. Immigrants from California to Chicago were very open to our program that prioritizes life, stability and dignity.

Gloria La Riva and Sunil Freeman conveyed a special message: “We were honored to represent the socialist program of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Peace and Freedom Party and Liberty Union Party. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who made our La Riva/Freeman campaign an historic success. The struggle continues!”

Our members — most of whom were petitioning and campaigning for the first time — experienced first-hand the highly anti-democratic nature of the U.S. electoral system that helps keep the capitalists in power. They went out with determination and perseverance to reach out to the people, to learn of their lives and struggles, to build the movement and the struggle for socialism.