Results for: Questionnaire for Prospective 2020 Socialist Party USA Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates

Questionnaire for Prospective 2020 Socialist Party USA Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates

 

This questionnaire is for individuals interested in seeking the Socialist Party USA's 2020 election nomination for President or Vice President of the United States at the party's National Convention being held October 25-27, 2019.
1)   Full Name
Responses (1)
Stephanie Cholensky

2)   Current Mailing Address (will not be published):
Responses (1)
[redacted]

3)   Telephone Number (will not be published):
Responses (1)
[redacted]

4)   Email Address:
Responses (1)
cholensky.s@gmail.com

5)   Campaign Website URL (if applicable):
Responses (1)
http://elijahmanley.com/

6)   Campaign Facebook Page (if applicable):
Responses (1)
https://www.facebook.com/ManleyforUSA/

7)   I am Interested in Seeking the Socialist Party's 2020 Nomination for the Office of:
Response (%) Responses
President of the United States 0.00 0
Vice President of the United States 100.00 1
Either President or Vice President of the United States 0.00 0
Currently Undecided 0.00 0
8)   Will you personally be attending the October 25-27, 2019 SP National Convention in Newark, NJ?
Response (%) Responses
Yes 100.00 1
No 0.00 0
Uncertain at this Time 0.00 0
9)   Introductory Statement Please write a brief statement introducing yourself. Your statement should not exceed two paragraphs.
Responses (1)
I first became active in the Socialist Party USA through YPSL (Young People’s Socialist League, the independent youth wing of the party), and joined the party proper in 2001. I am a revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist, anarcho-communist, trans-inclusive feminist and ecosocialist. I am staunchly in support of the Socialist Party USA being a multi-tendency, revolutionary party. I am a Wobbly (IWW member) and recently joined the Green Party of North Carolina. My pronouns are she/her. I have been happily married to for 6 years to my wonderful and supportive husband, Daniel. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and currently work in a cancer research laboratory at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I would be happy to answer any further questions via email: cholensky.s@gmail.com

10)   Question 1 How do you personally define socialism?
Responses (1)
Socialism is, simply put: economic democracy. It is community control of the means of production. It is an alternative to capitalism, not a way to reform capitalism, more regulated capitalism, or a welfare state. Socialism is a transitional state necessary to achieve full communism. If humanity is to survive, we need to abandon the unsustainable model of capitalism: a model that concentrates wealth and power into the hands a few people, requires and encourages infinite growth, exploits workers, and consumes natural resources for profit.

11)   Question 2 How long have you been a socialist, and how did you come to adopt a socialist perspective?
Responses (1)
I was radicalized by a few events in my late teens. Working in a luxury hotel, I caught my first glimpse of how the wealthy and powerful lived, their personal lives, and how they saw the working class. Around the same time, I was denied medical care for a life-threatening condition at a local emergency room. At the time, I was struggling with homelessness and hunger, struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, harassment by the police, and unemployment. Even when I was working full time, I often failed to make ends meet and found myself unable to afford the basic necessities of life. Many years later, I still struggle to pay my bills, afford health care, and student loan payments. Although I was drawn to socialism by personal experiences, my resolve has been strengthened and I have been further radicalized by hearing the struggles of fellow workers and marginalized people.

12)   Question 3 (a) Do you intend to run on the Socialist Party Platform and Statement of Principles (including systemic change based on social ownership, worker control, and production for use rather than profit)?
Responses (1)
I am an a proud wobbly (IWW member) and support the elimination of the wage labor system entirely-in favor of worker control of the means of production.

13)   (b) Is there any position taken in the Socialist Party Platform and/or Statement of Principles with which you directly or potentially disagree? If so, please specify each such position and how it differs from your own.
Responses (1)
There are very few ways my positions differ from the party’s platform. I avoid speaking about these issues as a party representative if someone who agrees fully with the platform is available. When this was not possible, I have voiced my objections but made what our platform states incredibly clear. I don’t believe in compulsory labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms, as GMOs do not pose any unique health risk not also present in their non-GMO counterparts. My educational background and experience working in biotechnology has informed my view that GMOs are a tool that can be used and abused but are not inherently bad in and of themselves. I am also pro-vaccination, though our platform doesn’t take a stance on the issue. Lastly, I am opposed to any privatized power plants, including nuclear plants. However, I am not completely opposed to the use of nuclear power. I believe that our current climate crisis requires that we stop using all fossil fuels immediately, and nuclear power, especially Thorium reactors, could be a useful bridge between fossil fuels and renewable energy production.

14)   (c) If you take any positions that differ from those of the Socialist Party, are you willing to make clear at all times that the Party’s position differs from your own?
Responses (1)
I take this very seriously, and this is exemplified the amendments to our platform I proposed at the 2015 convention. I suggested several additions and changes to the agriculture platform, but the proposal was ultimately tabled, and the decision delegated to the National Committee. However, I decided to wait until the next National Convention to propose these changes again, as I wanted to be sure that the changes represented what membership believed on the issue, and that members had the opportunity to discuss the issue. Most of my proposed changes were eventually adopted into the platform at the 2017 Convention.

15)   Question 4 What, in your view, should be the primary goals or objectives of a Socialist Presidential/Vice Presidential campaign?
Responses (1)
Running a presidential candidate has been one of the primary ways we reach and recruit workers to join the party, and running candidates dedicated to this mission is vital if the party is to grow and prosper. How do we do this? In three words, and the meaning of the three arrows of YPSL: Educate! Agitate! Organize! We will not change the world through the ballot box alone. Historically, changes benefiting workers and civil rights have come through union organizing and agitation through direct action. Education is key to making the prior a reality. My plan for revolutionary socialist change in the world does not require converting billions of people to every aspect my ideology, or tearing down other anti-capitalist groups, but spreading class conciseness and uniting the working class behind common goals.

16)   Question 5 To what extent do you feel that you can be an effective voice for bridging the connection between the struggle against capitalism and the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, national chauvinism, and other such systemic oppression?
Responses (1)
Learning more about the oppression faced by and listening to the experiences of those more marginalized than myself has opened my eyes to how twisted and unjust the world is and how much privilege I truly have. And I am fairly privileged: although I have experienced poverty, the stigma of mental illness, and the sexism and misogyny of patriarchy first hand, I have the privilege of being white, cis, straight, and from a middle-class background. Ultimately, I have a lot of learning and listening to do from more marginalized groups. I believe in a party where marginalized groups can organize freely to overthrow their own oppressors. This is why groups like the Women’s Commission are important to the party, and why I worked to re-charter this Commission many years ago. I am utterly opposed to class essentialism, or any delusion that the struggles the most marginalized people are a distraction from or impede class consciousness. I reject the term ‘identity politics’, but if that is what we’re calling simply admitting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of bigotry are a huge problem and should be a centerpiece of our struggle, so be it. Bigotry is encouraged and used by the powerful to maintain the status quo. But eliminating capitalism will not, in and of itself, get rid of these prejudices. If that were the case, these same prejudices wouldn’t be common in anti-capitalist spaces. Bigotry existed long before capitalism, and will exist in a post-capitalist world unless we put in the work to make things different and follow the lead of marginalized people.

17)   Question 6 The Socialist Party’s Statement of Principles states that “[t]he working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future – to a real radical democracy from below.” In what ways will your campaign take on a working class orientation?
Responses (1)
I feel I would be repeating myself, as I have answered this in the prior questions, but I will elaborate. I am a working-class person, as all candidates in the SP-USA should be. I am skeptical of wealthy and powerful people and well-funded campaigns claiming to be socialist. Much of what they say may sound good on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you will find they are simply advocating for a kinder, gentler form of capitalism: one where the means of production of still privatized, and a welfare state softens the grim reality of wealth inequality. This is not nor should it be what the Socialist Party USA is about, we need revolution, not reform, and this will only come about by an organized working class.

18)   Question 7 Have you ever before run as candidate for public office? If so, please list the election year, office sought, and party affiliation/label (if any) of each prior political candidacy that you have pursued. Include any instance in which you have entered a party primary election or otherwise sought to obtain a political party’s candidacy nomination.  
Responses (1)
I have worked on many political campaigns, but never as the candidate for public office.

19)   Question 8 Do you intend to seek the nomination of any other political party for your 2020 Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidacy? If so, please specify.
Responses (1)
No. I recently became a member of the Green Party of North Carolina because I was impressed with their ecosocialist platform, rejection of so-called ‘green capitalism’, and other anti-capitalist stances, but this has not been my experience with the Green Party as a whole. The Socialist Party USA, and ONLY the SP-USA is the party my campaign would be representing. I believe in cooperation with other anti-capitalist groups, if and when it is beneficial to both sides, if we are treated as equals, and only if the candidate takes pains to represent the SP-USA as fully as they would another party or group. SP-USA members deserve to have presidential candidates dedicated to fully and openly representing the SP-USA’s platform and ensuring the SP-USA remains in the public eye.

20)   Question 9 Do you satisfy the U.S. constitutional requirements for being elected president of the United States (i.e. are you a natural-born U.S. citizen, with at least 14 years of U.S. residency, who will be at least 35 years old on January 20, 2021)?
Responses (1)
I do. Additionally, I do not believe Elijah Manley should be disqualified from running as the Presidential candidate for the SP-USA, and that his campaign makes an important statement about ageism and systemic bias in our government, issues he has been fighting against for several years.

21)   Question 10 To what extent are you willing and able to travel during the campaign? Do you have any personal commitments that would significantly limit the amount of time you can dedicate to campaigning (i.e., family, school, work, etc.)?
Responses (1)
As I am a worker, I must work full time to make ends meet. However, my schedule is relatively flexible. Other than my job, and potential future responsibilities in the SP-USA unrelated to this campaign, I don’t have any commitments that would limit the amount of time I can dedicate to campaigning.

22)   Question 11 What strategies and/or methods do you think would be most effective in promoting your campaign?
Responses (1)
The rich and powerful have already done a lot of the work for us: denying working people the true value of their labor, affordable housing, healthcare, education, and other basic necessities of life. They have proven capitalism is incapable of providing a basic standard of living for working people, no matter how much wealth we create or how productive we are. Increased wealth inequality, civil unrest, and the potential of ecological destruction in the near future: all these things and more have made an environment that is ripe for change. Our duty is to promote an alternative to systemic oppression and ecoside. There are a variety of ways to do this: running a presidential campaign is one of the best ways to get media attention we wouldn’t otherwise receive. There is no magic formula to this: but I believe we can change the world with a handful of dedicated people working to reach workers where they are at, listening to their concerns, helping in any way they can, and providing education that fosters class consciousness.

23)   Question 12 Are you comfortable writing campaign statements, speaking to large audiences (including the media), and participating in debates when opportunities arise? Please elaborate on any experience.
Responses (1)
I am fortunate to have spent more than half my life in service to the Socialist Party USA and its membership. Renewing my membership in 2020 marks 19 years of membership, and a long history of collaboration and leadership roles, including many opportunities to represent the Socialist Party USA. I am well-versed in the principles and platform, and having attended many National Conventions, I have witnessed not only the principles our party stands for, but the reasons members hold these principles. I’ve been able to serve the membership in a variety of ways and contribute to the cause of democratic socialism, including: -Vice chair of YPSL -Editorial board member of the Torch (YPSL’s official publication) -Helped organize and was a charter member of 3 different SP-USA locals (Denver, Twin Cities, and Northern Piedmont Locals) -Served on the LEC of aforementioned locals -National Committee member -Co-Chair of the party -National Action Committee member -Editorial board of Socialist Women -Convener of the Women’s Commission -Co-organized workshops at the several National Organizing Committees -Tabled for and represented the party at various protests and events -Represented the party in the US and abroad at public events, debates, panels, protests, interviews, local television, and in committees of local activist groups -Organized a variety of local projects and events, including the 5th annual Socialist Cookout -Served a variety of political campaigns, including several Presidential campaigns and as treasurer the 2019 Joshua Bradley for Raleigh City Council campaign -written a variety of press releases, statements, pamphlets, and articles on the subject of politics, activism, feminism, and socialism

24)   Question 13 Have you developed any plan or strategies at this point for campaign fundraising?
Responses (1)
I’ve learned a few things about fundraising for radical causes in the SP-USA over the years. The most successful campaigns have: -been as personalized and as possible, with people reaching out to individuals, informing them about the campaign/fund drive, and following up with them when appropriate -offered a small token of thanks for donating: such as pamphlets, stickers, or acknowledgement and thanks in an upcoming publication -involved many forms of promotion in order to reach diverse audience -kept in contact with donors and help to show them the results of their donations A more detailed fundraising plan will be discussed at the National Convention

25)   Question 14 What do you see as being the role of the party in the functioning of your campaign?
Responses (1)
That is truly up the national leadership, commissions, locals, and members. I would prefer the party use this campaign as an opportunity to promote the party and teach workers about the platform of the SP-USA.

26)   Question 15 What resources (financial, skills, contacts, etc.) do you bring to the Socialist Party's Presidential campaign? And what resources would you request or need from the Party?  
Responses (1)
As an National Committee member, I am aware of the party’s financial situation, and the necessity of doing our own fundraising for the campaign. Our members are our most important resource, and I would ask for their support of our members, locals, and national leadership in communicating the message of the campaign and the party itself. This could be as easy as liking or sharing a post or as involved as collecting signatures for ballot access, answering phones, writing press releases, or canvassing door to door. Thank you for your time and consideration. Workers of the World, Unite!