National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, Maria Svart
By: Tyler Welsh
Maria Svart, National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, recently visited Buffalo urging everyone to go out and vote in the upcoming presidential election.
With the election right around the corner, she believes it is very important for people get involved in the voting process. Progressive candidates are often elected by small vote margins and their victories come from getting every possible vote.
“It’s easy to feel there is no point in participating in politics, but the need to participate is there,” said Svart. “Abstaining from politics is a certain and formal silencing. Even though the system is messy, we are still able to win battles and make positive change.”
Svart’s main objective is to defeat Donald Trump. “The official position of the Democratic Socialists of America is to work together with others to defeat Trump,” said Svart. “Casting a vote for Hillary Clinton is the best way to defeat Donald Trump. Voting in elections is all about strategy. When you have choices, vote for who will make your organizing terrain the best.”
There are many important issues being looked at in the upcoming election and Svart encourages voters to support allies, oppose enemies, and push all those we work with to fight for a democratic socialist vision. As the Nation Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, one of the biggest issues Svart pushes for is a Medicare-For-All single payer healthcare system.
“Hillary Clinton isn’t a great candidate on the issue of healthcare because of her close connections to corporate America,” said Svart. “Our healthcare system needs to have a basic level of protection for all people. Medicare for all will be easier to administrate and that would be one among many changes that would help lower costs.” However, Clinton is willing to respond to popular pressure, which Svart believes is the most important characteristic for our next president to have.
Another big issue Svart touched on in her visit to Buffalo was security. She said, “We need to develop more relationships based on mutual trust and not be the world’s policemen.” She believes we need to change our attempt to dominate every part of the world as over surveillance just creates more hatred.
“When we were attacked on 9/11, people were asking why they hate us and it should be self-evident,” said Svart. “American aggression abroad radicalizes people in other countries, it’s a root cause of many of our problems abroad.”
Domestic white terrorism is a serious threat according to Svart which is constantly getting downplayed. She said, “Timothy McVeigh an example of a domestic terrorist. Too often, people of color are initially blamed for attacks that are carried out by white nationalists.”
One of the issues discussed during her visit in Buffalo was her support for all the Syrian Refugees that have recently moved into Western New York. She said that immigrants bring cultural richness and contribute to so much of our economy.
“All white people were immigrants who colonized and imported slaves which is hypocritical,” said Svart. “Our country can’t function without immigrants. We are richer when we have more immigrants culturally.”
Aside from immigrants benefitting the economy, she believes a federal investment in a massive jobs program would help as well. She said, “The program needs to be targeted to inner cities and renewable energy programs (solar and wind energy). It’s important to combat the poverty in urban and rural areas.”
Another way to help the economy would involve a public investment in healthcare, K-12 education, national childcare system and some living wage legislation. Svart believes our approach to government spending needs to prioritize human needs over corporate profits.
Svart also believes we need to reform how we pay for all these programs. This includes increasing taxes on the rich and cutting the military budget to save money. She said, “There’s a need for a Financial Transaction Tax in this country.”
She believes cutting wasteful military spending will also help benefit infrastructure and we can use that money to invest in renewable energy. She said, “We need to get past an oil economy because of the dangerous effects of climate change.”
The last topic Svart covered during her time in Buffalo was the relationship between the community and police. She believes self-policing doesn’t always work, but she also does not trust the police. She believes police pay a role in the continuation of economic and structural violence.
“Police came right out of slavery, their purpose was to maintain social control and uphold the established order,” said Svart. “Police were also set up to control working class people. Police are asked to respond to mental health emergencies which must stop. Medicare for All can help reduce that.”