Terry Sanford's defeat is responsible for Brian Moore's split from the Democratic Party. In 1976, Moore was the New Mexico state coordinator for Sanford, who was competing against Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination. Sanford lost, and Moore lost faith in the Democrats.
"That moment catapulted me from being a Democrat to an independent," Moore said by phone from the campaign trail in Nashville, Tenn. "That the Democrats threw over this liberal, progressive guy."
Earlier this year, Moore won the Socialist Party USA nomination by just four votes, and qualified for write-in status on the North Carolina ballot by collecting and delivering at least 500 valid signatures to the State Board of Elections by the deadline.
Moore, who lives in Florida, is a write-in candidate in four states, and is listed on the ballot in an additional eight.
Although Moore has fluctuated between volunteering on campaigns for independents (John Anderson in 1980; Ralph Nader in 2004) and Democrats (George McGovern in 1972), he supported Pat Buchanan as the Reform Party candidate in 2000. "I did because he was for fair trade over free trade. He had some progressive positions that I thought would be helpful to the common man. It's bitten me now. People have been critical of me for being in the Reform Party."
Parts of the Socialist Party USA platform are similar to that of other parties or ideologies: abolition of the death penalty, repeal of the PATRIOT Act, opposition to the war in Iraq, environmentally sound energy policy and an end to corporate subsidies. But the party's most radical departure from mainstream politics is the abolition of the for-profit system, transferring power from corporations to workers and citizens. (See the party platform at sp-usa.org and Moore's campaign site at votebrianmoore.com.)
Moore's politics were influence by his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America and a Catholic seminarian. The grandson of Irish immigrants, Moore said, "We were always taught a sense of fairness for the underdog."
Why are you running as a member of the Socialist Party USA?
After I ran in '06 against Bill Nelson [and lost], my campaign manager sat me down and said, 'You're really a socialist.' I said, 'A socialist?' We studied the platform for several months, and my positions were similar to the socialists. From a practical standpoint, it would enable me to run in the presidential race without it being overwhelming. If you run as an independent, you have no resources or infrastructure and states make it impossible to get on ballot.
I don't think I would make it in the Green Party. They have a tendency to nominate nationally known candidates, minority candidates, either by gender or race. I'm an Irish-Catholic white guy. It wasn't easy in the Socialist party. They are similar in the sense that white males have controlled the system. I was swimming against the stream in a non-conformist party.
What do you think about your fellow third-party presidential candidates?
I respect Cynthia McKinney. I admire Ralph Nader and respect him deeply; he endorsed me for U.S. Senate in '06. But he wants to reform a system that can't be reformed. I want a radical systemic change. They're still saying Wall Street can stay there, we just need to regulate it. Corporate America can still make their profits, but we need to take away their rights, which are the same as individual's. I'm saying we need to get rid of the for-profit system. A small amount of people make money on the backs of Americans. It's not a Democratic system, capitalism: Decisions are made top-down, to outsource, take away pensions.
On Wall Street, we need a socially owned democratic authority of economists, experts and consumers who are not part of corporate America, to oversee these banks, to form credit unions, state banks.
How would you pay for the social programs, free education, health care and so on?
We could pay for it by ending the wars, closing military bases, getting rid of nuclear plants. There would be no $1 billion stealth fighters. There is enough money to feed, clothe and house the entire population; it just needs reapportioned.
[About] $1.6 trillion is spent on health care annually in the U.S. Six hundred billion is for the private companies: profits, advertising and paperwork. If you eliminate the $600 billion for profit and turn it over to government, which runs a 3 to 4 percent administrative cost, as opposed to 35 percent, we'll free up 32 percent for health care. This system runs well in other countries. People live longer. Only the rich live longer here.
Socialism is a democratically functioning system, with a decentralized, lightweight government. The workers are owners. It is an economy and foreign policy that respects mankind, not allowing corporations to outsource and use slave labor overseas.
How do you counter the argument that limiting earnings curbs ambition and growth?
There will be some people who make more money. We want a 10-to-1 ratio—the best-paid can't earn more than 10 times what the average worker is paid. We would allow Bill Gates to make $5 billion, not $500 billion. Alex Rodriguez, you can make a couple million dollars, but not millions and millions.
And what greater incentive than to create and work and develop products that will benefit the community, the human race?
There is the Socialist Party USA, and thenseveral parties with the word "socialist" in them. Tell me about the distinctions.
The Socialist Worker and Socialism and Liberation parties are more authoritarian, advocating for a centralized government, a strong top-down structure for the betterment of society. It's dogmatic. It's not as democratic as we want. That's the biggest separation.
How long would it take to go from a capitalist to socialist society? There were times in the early to mid-20th century during which socialism had some traction, but then lost it.
Under normal circumstances, 25 to 50 years. Our party doesn't believe in the electoral process; it will have to be won by workers overtaking the companies physically and violently because it will get to the point where it's unbearable. It will happen sooner, though, because the bailout won't work. There will be a collapse and fuel and food wars. And with all these guns in this country, there will be social chaos. If we're not prepared for it, we'll have a dictator, left- or right-wing.
Here is where I fault Congress and the think tanks: There is no alternative economic system. Even the Socialist Party hasn't worked out the transition. I don't want to advocate revolution through the gun. We advocate fairness and peace.
I admit these are pie-in-the-sky, Don Quixote things to go for. But there are nobler ways to have a society. We're just trying to have a fairer world.