With all the accusations of socialism flying around, it seemed like a good time to check in with Brian Moore, the Socialist Party USA presidential nominee. As Moore himself observed, socialism has been in the news more in the past few weeks “than anytime since 1932.” Over the course of two recent afternoons, I conducted a hard-hitting phone interview with the 65-year-old candidate who spoke to me from his home in Tampa, Florida, and from the Fox News green room, where he was preparing to tape one of his recent Neil Cavuto interviews. What follows is a condensed version of our conversations.
The New Republic: You’ve appeared twice over the past month on Fox News. Wouldn’t it be more socialist to appear on a viewer-funded station like PBS?
By all means! But Fox is the only one that’s offered. You know why I went to Cuba [in 2006]? Because NPR sponsored a debate between Bill Nelson and Katherine Harris. I said, “Wait a minute, I’m a candidate, why can’t I participate?” I decided I’d go to Cuba and get my freedom of press there. I held a press conference. CBS and the AP covered it. Ralph Nader loves that story. He talks about it to this day.
Well, on Fox, Neil Cavuto has leveled some really nasty charges against you and your organization. How does it feel to be called Swedish?
Ironically, a few days before the interview, the head of the new left national party in Sweden endorsed me.
So Cavuto really called you out?
He was right on!
Are you distressed that the word "socialist" is being taken away from you and your party, and that the big, capitalist parties are now being called socialists, too?
Well, of course. It's just not true. Barack Obama is not a socialist. His party is a capitalist party. They voted for the bailout. They're both capitalist parties.
Do you think socialism is going to become less of a dirty word over the course of the recession/depression?
Yes. This is a watershed moment. There will be systemic change because of the collapse of capitalism. My job is to remind the public of the rich tradition that socialism has--the 40 hour work week, women's rights. We were stung temporarily by the Cold War and Stalinism, but we need to get back in the mindset of educating people that it's okay to be a socialist.
You need to start with Neil Cavuto.
I think he's moving. During my last interview, he said, “Brian, I think you're right. The ship has sailed.”
Let’s talk about pie. Obama wants to divide it into smaller slices, McCain wants to grow it. What is the socialist party’s view on pie?
If I understand your question correctly, it’s the redistribution of wealth. Let everyone share in the wealth.
How much pie would Joe the Plumber get under your system?
Joe the Plumber will benefit by having his own company, but he would have to make sure that he’d make no more than a five-to-one ratio over his workers. If Joe wants $250,000, he’ll have to pay his employees a minimum of $50,000.
The socialist presidential ticket combines an older white guy and a black guy (Stewart Alexander for veep). Would you say your ticket offers the best of both John McCain and Barack Obama?
Why not! I’m 65 going on 40. I’m a jock. I played three sports in college. I swam this morning--we have a pool. I play on a baseball team--hardball, hardball--I play with all these kids in their 20s.
So you’d say you’re more hale and hearty than John McCain?
I’m more hale and hearty than Barack Obama! He smokes. I’ve never touched a cigarette. Compare me to Barack. I will not concede youth.
Your vice presidential pick Stewart Alexander versus Sarah Palin. On experience and charisma, who wins in a debate and why?
Sarah Palin has charisma. But Stewart is a very friendly guy and articulate when it comes to socialism. He’s politically more experienced than her. She’s had administrative jobs, but he’s been an entrepreneur his whole life. He sells cars, has his own radio program, things of that nature.
Barack Obama says we should stop thinking of ourselves as red and blue America, but as one America. What color do you think that America should think of itself as?
Purple sounds pretty good. It combines brown, reds, blacks, and whites. You need a color with some kind of darkness to it. Hunter green?
Barack Obama raised a record $150 million in campaign contributions in September. How should he spend that money?
Campaigning around the country is really expensive. I spent $1,000 to attend the alternative candidate debate in Tennessee and to protest outside Belmont University. I have $25,000 for my campaign. He wants to share the wealth, right?
What kind of first lady would your wife, Peggy, make?
She’d be really different. During the primary, she said if Hillary loses, she’ll vote for me.
You didn’t automatically get her vote?
She’s very independent minded. She was a banker for 25 years.
But you’re a socialist?!
She doesn’t agree with me. She’s a capitalist. I’m a stay at home dad. My wife works. I do a lot of work around the house.
Katherine Marsh is managing editor of The New Republic.
By Katherine Marsh