Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik
Why run for president now?
Mimi: As a revolutionary organization in the United States, it’s not as if the media is regularly banging down our door for interview requests. That changes a bit during the general election. And, for obvious reasons, there’s an added interest in the socialist/radical perspective this time around. So, why not use that interest and the media coverage we might receive to offer a bottom-up, community-focused, revolutionary perspective? Why not use that interest and coverage to support an effort that seeks to facilitate community/local involvement in movement-oriented work throughout the country? We understand and acknowledge that it might look and sound a bit different from what folks expect, and we think that’s okay.
Has your campaign done any outreach with Bernie supporters? What’s that like?
Mimi: In the sense that there are Bernie supporters who are our neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, yes. Frequently. And in those environments, the outreach has been pretty positive and there is reason to think that outreach will lead to relationships that extend beyond November. It’s a bit different than working to intervene within the Sanders campaign, to steer it in a particular direction. To us, this is about the dialog and the relationships that might develop throughout and beyond the election.
What is your assessment of the position of the SPusa currently holds within the American Left?
Mimi: We are one organization among many. We have a statement of principles and we have a platform that differentiates us, to varying degrees, from many of the other organizations. That doesn’t mean we feel as though we’re “better than” the others or that we have any interest in seeing the sectarianism continue among the U.S. Left. We enjoy the collaboration with many of the other orgs on the U.S. Left. Of course, there are reasons why I choose the Socialist Party USA, but someone else might feel another organization is a better fit, and that’s cool. I think that folks who are following the Campaign will see that we not only enjoy the discussion with folks from across the U.S. Left, we also enjoy the friendship.
Where do you see left-wing politics heading?
Mimi: My opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that the floor is opening up for so many voices that have been oppressed, and those voices refuse to be stifled, censored, and marginalized. I do believe that those voices will be leading the way. While I think that might be uncomfortable for folks who have held the mic for an awfully long time, I think it’s freaking wonderful.
Where is the the SPusa heading?
Mimi: I think that we are here to contribute to the revolutionary movement in the U.S. And, I think that our folks do a really good job of creating an inclusive environment that helps to make those who are curious about involvement feel a bit more at ease. I mean, we like to dance, we like to have a good time, we like to laugh. A lot. I think that’s really important. I’ve seen a few posts here and there about the “tattooed” punks, “adolescents”, etc. in the SPUSA. While posts like that may have meant to be condescending, I think it’s rather complimentary. We are a working class organization, and that’s going to look and sound like the working class. Good.
Is a broad coalition or united front of left parties doable?
Mimi: While I think that some of the theoretical and strategic differences among some of the organizations may necessitate different organizations, I do think that we’ll see more and more coalition work as we move forward. In my experience, folks seem more and more willing to work together on projects and more and more willing to support another, regardless of their organizational affiliation. That’s badass.
What’s the one thing you would like people to take away from this campaign?
Mimi: It would be amazing to see folks feel like they can do this, like they can contribute locally, like it’s okay to take a step forward. Empowerment!
Do you believe socialism at the ballot box is attainable? If not, what role do you see for campaigns like yours?
Mimi: Well, for a campaign like ours, it’s what happens before and after election day that’s important. We know we aren’t going to win, we know we’re not going to be on the ballot in many states, and we also don’t believe that socialism should be imposed from the top-down. Socialism is about the people, not about a candidate. The people will lead, not a candidate.
Mimi poses with Angela Nicole Walker, his 2016 running mate.