Monday, April 02, 2007

Socialists stage comeback in Pennsylvania

The last time we heard from Socialist Party member Jeff Brindle was the 2006 general election when Brindle fell short in his bid to win a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Brindle took on incumbent Republican state Rep. Tim Hennessey in Chester County's 26th District. The contest wasn't close in the heavily Republican district, but Brindle did collect 2,873 votes. (I doubt there were more than three Socialists Party members in the entire district).

The fact that Brindle managed to attract more than 17 percent of the vote showed the dissatisfaction voters had with Hennessey, who voted himself a pay raise in July 2005 and has very little to show for his 13 years as a state legislator other than amassing all sorts of perks for himself.

I have to give Brindle credit for running a positive and reform-oriented campaign in 2006. He's a bright young man who believes voters need to have a choice beyond interchangeable Republican and Democratic candidates.

Brindle recently contacted me to announce the rebirth of the Socialist Party movement in Pennsylvania.

Progressive Democrats, Social Democrats and Democratic Socialists from across the commonwealth have come together to reconstitute the old Social Democratic Party of Pennsylvania as an alternative to the two "corporate owned parties that now dominate Pennsylvania politics," Brindle said.

The social democratic parties of Western Europe, such as the Swedish or German SDP or the British Labour Party, are generally responsible for constructing a welfare system that provides more security and benefits for the average citizen than liberals in the U.S. would dare propose, according to Brindle.

"Indeed, it is the Social Democratic movement that has given workers shorter work weeks, national health care, and equality of political participation throughout much of the world," he said.

The Social Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, through a marriage of serious electoral campaigns and grassroots community based activism, seeks to extend the political democracy residents now enjoy into the economy and bring these proven improvements to our own society, Brindle said.

While a candidate has not run in Pennsylvania on the Social Democratic line since the early 1900s, the Social Democratic Party of Pennsylvania aims to field a slate of more than a dozen candidates — most for local offices — this year despite the obstacles usually placed in front of third parties in the commonwealth, according to Brindle.

The new coalition has set up committees in five of Pennsylvania's 67 counties — Allegheny, Bradford, Cambria, Chester and Northampton counties.

Brindle, 28, a software engineer at Lockheed Martin, is the coordinator in Chester County.

For more information on the Social Democratic Party, visit

Pennsylvania has a shoddy record when it comes to allowing third parties access to the ballot. The Republican and Democratic parties have worked hard through the years to set up a monopoly on ballot access, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

Why do the two dominant parties fear other voices? Why can't Socialists and Libertarians and Green Party members or independent voters have a say in who governs this state?

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