Who Is Peta Lindsay?
Meet the black woman running for president on a platform of socialist revolution.
She began volunteering with the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and co-chaired the organization's first national anti-war rally in 2001. She continued to organize with the group while studying history and African-American studies at Howard, chairing and speaking at all of its anti-war rallies and representing ANSWER in global anti-war forums in France and Switzerland.
Lindsay's belief in socialism was cemented during a 2002 trip to Cuba with Pastors for Peace, where she marveled at the free education, housing and health care. During a tour of a bioengineering plant, she was struck by the scientists explaining their country's food production -- all Afro-Cuban women. "Could you imagine in the United States walking into a building and seeing all black women scientists?" she said. "It's not something that happens here, and it shows how far Cuba has come in educating all of their public."
Rating the Obama Presidency
As Lindsay fights for socialism by day -- and attends the University of Southern California by night, where she is pursuing a master's degree in teaching -- she laughs at the idea espoused by some on the political right that President Obama is a socialist. "Obama presided over the largest transfer of wealth to the banking sector in our country's history," she deadpanned. "That's not something that a socialist would do. Giving the public's money to private capitalists is the opposite of socialism."
She's equally dismissive of criticism from some on the left that her candidacy would take votes away from the president and serve only to help the Republican nominee. "Neither candidate is good for working people," she said plainly. "The elections are a forum for the extremely wealthy to maintain their rule of society. It gives the appearance of choice, but it doesn't actually give people a choice."
As Lindsay sees it, Obama is beholden to the same corporate and financial interests as any other candidate, pointing out that Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Google and Citigroup were among the top contributors to his 2008 campaign. Her campaign is funded through donations from individuals, she says.
"Think about when Obama first won, and thousands of people were in the streets excited about it. Democrats were controlling both houses of Congress. Obama could have done anything," she said. "He could have passed [a universal] health care bill. He could have withdrawn the troops. People would have supported him, but he didn't do it. That's not because the people didn't want that. He didn't do it because he has a responsibility that's not to the people, but in fact to greater profits for the big banks and corporations."
Despite the financial sector's role in politics, Lindsay remains optimistic about a socialist revolution. "The United States has a long, rich history of struggle," she said. "From the 1930s, there was a strong labor movement, and in the '50s and '60s, there was a movement for civil rights. I feel like this is just a next phase of the movement in the U.S."
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.