“People should also control the means of production and distribution, as the collective owners and managers of worksites in their communities,” said Alexander. He argues that instead of a few executives and stockholders wielding control over industry and manufacturing, the people who work at the facilities should run them as cooperatives.
“It’s the difference between being gainfully employed while taking care of the needs of society, versus only accommodating big corporations who are making huge profits,” he said.
The Socialist Party USA also emphasizes public rights to social services, such as a single-payer health care system and free college education, both of which Alexander says he would be committed to if elected president. “But the top thing on my agenda, as it should be for any person who’s running for president, is the economy,” he said, proposing a public-works program that would invest public funds into businesses, owned and managed by working people, to directly create jobs in infrastructure and high-speed rail. “The economy under capitalism is in shambles.”
Black Views on Socialism: Higher Than Average
One of the reasons that Alexander remains confident about at least some of his views taking hold eventually is the growing numbers of Americans who are open to socialist ideas. Among those with the sunniest perception of socialism: African Americans.
According to a December 2011 Pew Research Center poll, 55 percent of African Americans view socialism favorably, significantly higher than their views of capitalism, while only 36 percent of blacks respond negatively. Among Americans overall, 31 percent view socialism positively, and 60 percent have a negative reaction.
Other groups with more approving views on socialism in the recent poll — which broke down its findings by race, income, age and political affiliation — were half of young people ages 18-29, and 59 percent of liberal Democrats.
“People are starting to realize that capitalism is not working for them,” said Alexander, citing the Occupy Wall Street movement as an example of public disenchantment. “They can understand that when they don’t have a job, when they’re only a couple of paychecks away, or one crisis away, from being homeless. When they hear the message that socialists are talking about, such as single-payer health care and not supporting cutbacks in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, they hear things that relate to their own circumstances. It may have been unheard of 25 years ago, but people are starting to look at socialism as an alternative now.”