BY RACHEL BRUNE
A history major and socialist activist at UAlbany is standing up for his beliefs and entering New York States political fray as a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Running on the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) ticket, 20-year-old junior Ben OShaughnessy is campaigning on a platform of supporting workers rights, immediate legalization of undocumented workers and the internationalization of the working class.
Our campaign doesnt necessarily start with New York state, OShaughnessy said. He and fellow members of the Young Socialists have distributed copies of the socialist newsweekly The Militant in the coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky in addition to raising awareness of socialism on college campuses.
The Young Socialists are the youth auxiliary to the SWP which offers a working-class alternative to the capitalist political parties according to OShaughnessy, who explained that achieving a spot on the gubernatorial ballot was not easy.
It was a massive effort that we launched in the summer, he said. Although 15,000 signatures are needed for petitioning to be included on the ballot, the SWP made sure to collect at least 30,000.
Its a pretty undemocratic process, said OShaughnessy. The young candidate also spoke against undemocratic laws that limit young peoples participation in the democratic process.
However, the general trend of voting participation shows young adults of voting age to be one of the smallest voting demographics.
Young people dont see that theres anything offered for them in mainstream politics, OShaughnessy said.
The socioeconomic structure, according to socialists, is of a class of billionaires who own and produce the wealth of the world while exploiting the working class, which includes farm, factory, and service workers.
Were there on the front lines of the class struggle, he said.
OShaughnessy says that the working class is a class that has no borders, and believes that it is the only class capable of bringing change to real life.
In 2006, youths ranging in age from 18 to 29 were more likely than older voters to not be registered with a political party, according to information from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. In addition, in the 2004 presidential election, only 47 percent of voters from ages 18 to 34 voted, as compared to 66 percent of voters 25 and older.
Young people are open to new ideas all the time, OShaughnessy said. As a student, youre at a transitional period in your life.
OShaughnessy, a member of the Young Socialists National Steering Committee, also believes that young people are attracted to a revolutionary movement.
The SWP gubernatorial candidate is Maura DeLuca, a 27-year-old garment worker. For several weeks, members of the Young Socialists have manned tables in the UAlbany Campus Center to pass out information and flyers including biographies of the candidates and a short list of the issues for which they fight.
OShaughnessy focused much of the explanation of his issues on the internationalization of the working class. He describes the struggle for global working rights as a crisis caused by imperialism. SWP is working for a revolution in all workplace settings including farms, restaurants and work settings.
On the topic of foreign policy, OShaughnessy explained that the party supports the internationalist working class, and the freedom of all sovereign countries to develop their own energy. The SWP specifically opposes any threat to North Korea or Iran in reaction to these countries developing nuclear capabilities.
When posed the question of how his party would allay fears that the countries in question would develop nuclear weapons to use against the United States, OShaughnessy said that we need to build solidarity across borders.
The capitalist class has a tendency to frame things as us versus them, OShaughnessy said. The threat to Iran in return for the countrys development of nuclear technology in defiance of the rest of the world is, he believes, a result of the imperialist effort to keep oppressed countries in that state.
We defend the right of any country to pursue nuclear energy, OShaughnessy said….
When asked about whether he considered himself an idealist, OShaughnessy answered no.
Marxism is not an ideology, OShaughnessy said. [Its a] generalization of the forward line of march of the working class.…
We run in the elections to offer our platform as an alternative to the two big capitalist parties, OShaughnessy said. And the small capitalist parties.
Socialist Workers Party candidates in 2006