Socialist Party USA

Socialist Party of the United States of America
Presidential nominee Mimi Soltysik (CA)
Vice Presidential nominee Angela Nicole Walker (WI)
Vice Chair
  • Jen McClellan (CA)
  • AJ Segneri (IL)
National Secretary Greg Pason (NJ)
Founded May 30, 1973 (1973-05-30)
Preceded by Socialist Party of America
Headquarters 168 Canal Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013
Ideology Multi-tendency,
Democratic socialism,
Socialist feminism
Political position Left-wing
International affiliation None
Colors      Red
Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper House Seats
0 / 1,972
State Lower House Seats
0 / 5,411
Other elected offices 1 (2016)[1]

The Socialist Party of the United States of America[2] (SPUSA), usually simplified as Socialist Party USA or Socialist Party, is a multi-tendency democratic socialist party in the United States. The SPUSA was founded in 1973 as a successor to the Socialist Party of America, which had been renamed Social Democrats, USA a year before.

The party is officially committed to multi-tendency democratic socialism. The Socialist Party USA, along with its predecessor, has received varying degrees of support when its candidates have competed against those from the Republican and Democratic parties. The SPUSA advocates for complete independence from the Democratic Party.

The SPUSA self-describes as opposing all forms of oppression, specifically capitalism and authoritarian forms of communism, the Party advocates for the creation of a "radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control—a non-racist, classless, feminist socialist society [...] where working people own and control the means of production and distribution through democratically-controlled public agencies, cooperatives, or other collective groups; where full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work; where workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions; and where the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few".[3]

The SPUSA's National Office is located at 168 Canal Street in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City. It had been headquartered at the AJ Muste Institute, also in New York City, but the party and all other tenants were forced to move when the building was sold in 2016. The party has four chartered state organizations in California, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, as well as eighteen chartered locals throughout the country.[4]

In October 2015, the Socialist Party USA nominated Mimi Soltysik for President and Angela Nicole Walker for Vice President.[5]



In 1958, the Independent Socialist League led by Max Shachtman dissolved to join the Socialist Party of America. Shachtman[6] had written that Soviet communism was a new form of class society, bureaucratic collectivism, in which the ruling class exploited and oppressed the population, and therefore he opposed the spread of communism.[7][8] Shachtman also argued that democratic socialists should work with activists from labor unions and civil-rights organizations to help build a social-democratic "realignment" of the Democratic Party. Though he died on 4 November 1972 and had little involvement with the Socialist Party in the year proceeding his death, his followers, identitified as "Shachmanites", exercised a tremendous amount of influence on the party.[7]

In its 1972 Convention, the Socialist Party changed its name to "Social Democrats, USA" by a vote of 73 to 34.[9] The change of name was supported by the two co-chairmen, Bayard Rustin and Charles S. Zimmerman (of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union, ILGWU),[10] and by the First National Vice Chairman, James S. Glaser; these three were re-elected by acclamation.[9]

Renaming the party as SDUSA was meant to be "realistic". The New York Times observed that the Socialist Party had last sponsored Darlington Hoopes as its candidate for President in the 1956 election, who received only 2,121 votes, which were cast in only six states. Because the party no longer sponsored candidates in presidential elections, the name "party" had been "misleading"; "party" had hindered the recruiting of activists who participated in the Democratic Party, according to the majority report. The name "Socialist" was replaced by "Social Democrats" because many American associated the word "socialism" with Soviet communism.[9] Also, the Party wished to distinguish itself from two small Marxist parties.[11]

The Convention elected a national committee of 33 members, with 22 seats for the majority caucus, 8 seats for Harrington's coalition caucus, 2 for the Debs caucus, and one for the "independent" Samuel H. Friedman,[12] who also had opposed the name change.[9]

The convention voted on and adopted proposals for its program by a two-one vote, with the majority caucus winning every vote.[12] On foreign policy, the program called for "firmness toward Communist aggression". However, on the Vietnam War, the program opposed "any efforts to bomb Hanoi into submission" and to work for a peace agreement that would protect Communist political cadres in South Vietnam from further military or police reprisals. Harrington's proposal for an immediate cease fire and an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces was defeated.[12] Harrington complained that, after its previous convention, the Socialist Party had endorsed George McGovern with a statement of "constructive criticism" and had not mobilized enough support for McGovern.[11]

After their defeat at the Convention, members of two minority caucuses helped to found new socialist organizations. At most 200 members of the Coalition Caucus joined Michael Harrington in forming the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee,[13] which later became the Democratic Socialists of America.[14][15] At its start, DSOC had 840 members, of which 2 percent served on its national board in 1973 when SDUSA stated its membership at 1,800, according to a 1973 profile of Harrington.[13] Second, many members of the Debs Caucus joined David McReynolds in reconstituting the Socialist Party USA also in 1973.[16]


The Debs Caucus formed the Union for Democratic Socialism, and, on May 30, 1973, incorporated the Socialist Party of the United States of America,[16] (Socialist Party USA).[17] Many activists from the local and state branches of the old Socialist Party, including the party's Wisconsin, California, Illinois, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. organizations, participated in the reconstitution of the Socialist Party USA.[15]

After its founding, the party promoted itself as the legitimate heir of the Socialist Party of America.[18] Former Mayor of Milwaukee, Frank Zeidler, was elected the first national chairperson of the party. Zeidler also helped re-organizing the party structure during its early years. He was later nominated as the party's candidacy for the presidential office, with Zeidler believing the party would be able to collaborate with other socialist parties nationwide to spread the message of socialism.[19]

Subsequent History

Since 1936, a member of the party was elected to the city council of Iowa City and several members have won tens of thousands of votes when losing elections for statewide offices. In 1992, Socialist Iowa City Councilwoman Karen Kubby won her re-election with the highest vote in a contested election in the history of the Iowa City Council, and was re-elected until retiring from the Council in 2000.[20] In 2000, Socialist Wendell Harris received 19% of the vote for Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the primary.[21] In 2008, Socialist Jon Osborne pulled in 22% of the vote for Rhode Island's 34th District State Senate seat, while listed on the ballot under the Socialist Party USA label.[22] During the 2010 United States Senate elections Dan La Botz of the Socialist Party of Ohio received 25,368 (0.68%) votes in Ohio.[23] In 2011, Socialist Matt Erard was elected to a three-year term on the city of Detroit’s Downtown District Citizens’ District Council.[24] In 2012, Socialist Pat Noble unseated his incumbent opponent in winning election to the Red Bank Regional High School Board of Education,[25] Socialist John Strinka received 10% of the vote while running with the party's ballot label for Indiana's 39th district State House seat,[26] and Socialist Troy Thompson received 27% of the vote for Mayor of Floodwood, Minnesota.[27] Also in 2012, candidate Mary Alice Herbert received 13.1% of the vote for Vermont Secretary of State while running with the dual nomination of both the Socialist and Vermont Liberty Union parties.[28][29]

2016 candidates

For the 2016 general election, the Socialist Party nominated Mimi Soltysik and Angela Nicole Walker to be its presidential ticket. Other party members ran for office as well, including Jarrold Williams for United States Senate in Nevada, Seth Baker for Maine Senate and Michael Anderson for the Michigan House of Representatives.[30]


According to the party's first chairman, Frank Zeidler, the party had around 500 members nationwide in 1975.[19] The Socialist Party experienced substantial growth during the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, expanding from only around 600 dues-paying members to around 1,700.[31] In 2008, WMNF claimed that the party had around 3,000 paying members.[32] However, in 2010 a CommonDreams article suggested that the organization had only 1,000 members with party members claiming it to be an increase in the amount of members.[33] A New York Times article in May 2011 stated that the party has "about 1,000 members nationally".[34] In February 2012, an article from The Root stated that the Party had a "membership around 1,500".[35]

Pat Noble, SPUSA co-chair and the party's only member holding elected public office.
Stephanie Cholensky, female co-chair of the Socialist Party.

Current Elected Officials

Local Boards of Education



While some SP members favor a more gradual approach to socialism, most others envision a more sweeping or revolutionary transformation of society from capitalist to socialist through the decisive victory of the working class in the class struggle.[36] Some SP members also advocate revolutionary nonviolence or pacifism, while some consider armed struggle a possible necessity. The Party's Statement of Principles rejects equating socialism with a "welfare state" and calls for democratic social revolution from below.[36] The party is strongly committed to principles of socialist feminism and strives to further embody such commitment in its organizational structure. Its national constitution requires gender parity among its national co-chairs and co-vice chairs, its national committee members and alternates, and seated members of its branch- and region-elected delegations to the Party's biennial national conventions.[36][37][38] The Socialist Party also rejected the new healthcare reform law of 2010 approved by the Obama administration, with SP National Co-Chair Billy Wharton claiming it to be "a corporate restructuring of the health insurance industry created to protect the profit margins of private insurance companies".[39]

During his campaign, the Socialist Party candidate for president, Brian Moore, was very vocal against the idea that Barack Obama was a socialist of any kind.[40] He further commented on the issue, saying it was "misleading of the Republicans" to spread that message.[41] In a later statement about Obama's policies, Wharton called Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address a "public relations ploy". He concluded with; "The time for slick public relations campaigns has ended—the time for building our grassroots movements is more urgent than ever. The Socialist Party USA stands ready to join in such a political revitalization".[42]

International affairs

The Party's National Action Committee condemned the Israeli actions during the Gaza War. The party demands that the Federal government of the United States cease providing military aid to the State of Israel as a precondition for peace. The party also seeks to begin an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.[43] During the 2008 presidential election, the Socialist Party continued to place a strong emphasis on its full-scale opposition to U.S. wars abroad, with Brian Moore, the presidential candidate, claiming the war was destroying small communities throughout the country. He also criticized what he called "pressure on the local governments" by the Bush administration.[44] The Socialist Party of Connecticut denounced Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan, claiming that the president was throwing away much needed resources the country needed to get pulled out of the financial crisis. After denouncing him, the state affiliate organized a protest in front of the federal building in Hartford.[45]


Greg Pason has run for office on the Socialist Party ticket many times starting in 1994.

SP candidates, such as New Jersey gubernatorial and senate candidate Greg Pason, have also emphasized immediate public service demands; these reforms include socializing the U.S. health care system, a steeply graduated income tax, universal rent control, and the elimination of all educational debts and tuition fees.[46] In 1997, Pason called auto insurance "a regressive tax against working people".[47] Moore was also vocal of his support for public healthcare and socialized medicine.[48] Moore believes that capitalism is a system based on both exploitation and selfishness, which operates to serve the interests of corporations and the ruling class, at the expense of workers and the poor. During his presidential campaign he claimed that the lack of available remedy to collapsing economic conditions stems from the capitalist system's foundation upon "greed", and advocated its replacement with a new system founded upon economic democracy through social ownership and workers' control of our reigning industrial and financial institutions.[40]

Presidential tickets

David McReynolds was twice the nominee for President
Soltysik-Walker 2016
Year Results Candidates Ballot
Votes Percent for President for Vice President
1976 6,038 0.01% Frank Zeidler J. Quinn Brisben 7 [49][50]
1980 6,898 0.01% David McReynolds Diane Drufenbrock 10 [51][52]
1984[‡] 72,161 0.08% Sonia Johnson Richard Walton 19 [53][54]
1988 3,882 0.0% Willa Kenoyer Ron Ehrenreich 6 [55][56]
1992 3,057 0.0% J. Quinn Brisben Barbara Garson 4 [57][58]
1996 4,764 0.0% Mary Cal Hollis Eric Chester 5 [59][60]
2000 5,602 0.01% David McReynolds Mary Cal Hollis 7 [61][62]
2004 10,822 0.01% Walt Brown Mary Alice Herbert 8 [63][64]
2008 6,581 0.01% Brian Moore Stewart Alexander 8 [65][66]
2012 4,430 0.0% Stewart Alexander Alejandro Mendoza 3 [67][68]
2016 2,601 0.0% Mimi Soltysik Angela Nicole Walker 2 [69]

† In each line the first note refers to candidates and results, the second (if any) to ballot access
(the number of state + D.C. ballots, out of 51, on which the Socialist Party candidates appeared)
^ Endorsed the Citizens Party's candidates in 1984.

See also

State affiliates:


  1. "Socialist WebZine: Green Shoots of Red Electoralism". Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  2. "The article of this organization shall be the Socialist Party of the United States of America, hereinafter called 'the Party.'"  Art. I of the Constitution of the Socialist Party USA.
  3. "Principles". Socialist Party USA. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  4. "States & Locals". Socialist Party USA. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  5. Winger, Richard (2015-10-17). "Socialist Party National Ticket Nominated". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  6. 2008, pp. 63.
  7. 1 2 Drucker (1994):
    Drucker, Peter (1994). Max Shachtman and his left: A socialist's odyssey through the "American Century". Humanities Press. ISBN 0-391-03816-8.
  8. Beichman, Arnold (July 28, 2002). "Communism to anti-communism in lives of two rival editors (review two ISI books, James Burnham and the struggle for the world: A life by Daniel Kelly and Principles and heresies: Frank S. Meyer and the shaping of the American conservative movement by Kevin J. Smant)". The Washington Times. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  9. 1 2 3 4 The New York Times reported on the Convention for other days, e.g.,
  10. Gerald Sorin, The Prophetic Minority: American Jewish Immigrant Radicals, 1880-1920. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985; pg. 155.
  11. 1 2 Anonymous (December 27, 1972). "Young Socialists open parley; to weigh 'New Politics' split" (PDF). New York Times. p. 25. Archived from the original on ?. Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  12. 1 2 3 Anonymous (January 1, 1973). "'Firmness' urged on Communists: Social Democrats reach end of U.S. Convention here" (PDF). New York Times. p. 11.
  13. 1 2 O'Rourke (1993, pp. 195–196):
    O'Rourke, William (1993). "L: Michael Harrington". Signs of the literary times: Essays, reviews, profiles, 1970-1992'. The Margins of Literature (SUNY Series). SUNY Press. pp. 192–196. ISBN 0-7914-1681-X. ISBN 9780791416815.
    Originally: O'Rourke, William (November 13, 1973). "Michael Harrington: Beyond Watergate, Sixties, and reform". SoHo Weekly News. 3 (2): 6–7.
  14. Mitgang, Herbert (August 2, 1989). "Michael Harrington, Socialist and Author, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  15. 1 2 Busky 2000, pp. 164.
  16. 1 2 "Constitution of the Socialist Party of the United States of America".
  17. Busky 2000, pp. 165.
  18. "Socialists Pick '76 candidate". St. Petersburg Times. September 3, 1975. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  19. 1 2 "Socialists pick ex-mayor for presidency". The Modesto Bee. September 2, 1975. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  20. Lowenstein, Adam (May 26, 1999). "Kubby won't run again for City Council". The Gazette. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  21. "Norquist, Watts Win Mayoral Primary Election in Milwaukee" St. Paul Pioneer Press February 16, 2000; p. 2B
  22. "2008 General Election Results - Senator in General Assembly District 34". State of Rhode Island: Board of Election. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  23. "State of Ohio 2010 General Election November 2, 2010 Unofficial Results". Ohio Secretary of State. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  24. "Socialist Candidate Elected To City Of Detroit Downtown Citizens District Council". Detroit's Downtown District Citizens’ District Council. April 16, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  25. "New Jersey Socialist Party Secretary Elected to Regional High School Board of Education". Ballot Access News. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  26. "Election Results". Courier Journal. November 12, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  27. "MN Election Results". November 8, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  28. "Official Report of the Canvassing Committee United States and Vermont Statewide Offices General Election, November 6, 2012" (PDF). Vermont Secretary of State Elections Division. November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  29. "Support a skatepark in Home Depot". The Commons. July 18, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  30. "2016 Elections". Socialist Party USA. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  31. Herbst, Moira (May 22, 2009). "Socialism? Hardly, Say Socialists". Business Week. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  32. Kinane, Sean (June 13, 2008). "Brian Moore – Socialist Party USA Presidential Candidate". WMNF. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  33. Kenning, Chris (March 1, 2010). "Socialists Get Newfound Attention as 'Red-Baiting' Draws Interest From Youth". Common Dreams NewsCenter. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
  34. Berger, Joseph (May 22, 2011). "Workers of the world, please see our web site" (membership 1,500). New York Times.
  35. Gordy ,Cynthia (February 28, 2012). "Stewart Alexander Wants Your Vote". The Root. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
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  40. 1 2 Harrington, Elizabeth (October 29, 2008). "Socialist Party Candidate Visits U. Tampa". CBS News. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  41. Frank, John (October 23, 2008). "Top of Socialist Party ticket says Obama's not a believer". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  42. Altimari, Daniela (January 28, 2010). "Socialist Party response to Obama's state of the union speech". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  43. "End the Massacre in Gaza – No Solution Through Violence". January 1, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  44. Jackson, Tom (September 4, 2007). "Likeable Guy Brandishes Loony Ideas". The Tampa Tribune.
  45. Altimari, Daniela (December 1, 2009). "If Obama's a socialist, his comrades aren't happy". Hartford Courant.
  46. "Voter Guide / Other third-party candidates for governor". The Press of Atlantic City. November 1, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  47. Preston, Jennifer (September 14, 1997). "On Politics; Hearing From the Seven Who Are Seldom Heard". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  48. Kinane, Sean (June 13, 2008). "Brian Moore – Socialist Party USA Presidential Candidate". WMNF. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
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  50. 1991, pp. 150.
  51. "1980 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  52. Smallwood 1983, pp. 56.
  53. "1984 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
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  59. "1996 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  60. "President - U.S. - 1996". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  61. "2000 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
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  63. "2004 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  64. Richardson, Darcy G. (October 14, 2004). "The Other Progressive Candidate: The Lonely Crusade of Walt Brown". CounterPunch. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  65. "2008 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  66. "Election 2008: Primary, Caucus, and Convention Phase". The Green Papers. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  67. "2012 Presidential Election by State Stewart Alexis Alexander". The Green Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  68. "2012 Presidential General Election Results". US Election Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  69. "Socialist Party USA". Twitter. Retrieved 30 January 2016.


Further reading

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