Though he might not pack stadiums and high school auditoriums like fellow presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain, Social Equality Party presidential candidate Jerry White still hopes to give the two major candidates a run for their money.
White visited campus last night, sharing his views on the nation’s financial crisis in a speech to a crowd of about 35 at the Michigan League. Congress is currently working on a $700-billion of legislation to bail out Wall Street firms.
White criticized the negotiations, saying a bailout would reward those he blamed for the crisis.
“There is $700 billion being donated by the treasury to the wealthiest bankers on Wall Street,” White said. “Our party has the answer to the crisis — one that begins with the masses of working people, not with aristocracy on Wall Street.”
In an interview after the event, White said he is running to provide a political alternative to Obama and McCain, both of whom support the bailout.
“Both of them are preparing to issue a joint statement urging the passage of what would be the greatest theft of public assets in the history of the country, to bail out financial speculators at the direct expense of working people,” he said. “We’re running in order to make the case for a socialist alternative. If the resources of the country have to be mobilized to avert a financial catastrophe, then the great financial institutions should be put under the public and democratic ownership of the working people.”
White, who was invited to campus by the Students for Social Equality, said he’s been met with substantial opposition from the political establishment. During his speech, he cited an effort by the Illinois Democratic Party to keep him off the state’s ballot. He said he also wouldn’t be on the ballot in Michigan.
White said he has nowhere near the amount of funding Obama or McCain has, but said the disparity might be a good thing.
“I’m not getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Lehman Brothers, from Merrill Lynch, like Obama,” he said. “I’m not beholden to these economic interests.”
White said he’s using donations from the “working masses” to fund his campaign, which consists mostly of money he’s raised from visits around the country and Europe, giving speeches similar to the ones he gave Wednesday.
Engineering graduate student Darshan Karwat called White’s speech thought-provoking, saying he might decide to vote for him.
“I’ve been thinking about voting third party for awhile,” Karwat said. “I’m doing a lot of thinking.”
LSA junior David Bennett said White’s third-party status will factor heavily into his decision.
“I do tend to lean very far to the left, but of course he’s not going to win the election,” he said. “In terms of making a point and in terms of voting for what I really believe in, I think that’s important. It’s going to be a difficult position for me.”