Certain conspiracy-addled commentators want you to know that scary Kenyan Socialists are secretly plotting to overthrow America as you read this newspaper. In the face of such panic, surely no Socialist would be brazen enough to run for office — especially here in heartland Ohio.
Enter Dan La Botz, a mild-mannered elementary school Spanish teacher from Cincinnati. He’s running against Democrat Lee Fisher and Republican Rob Portman for the U.S. Senate seat under the banner of the Socialist Party U.S.A.
La Botz has been a lefty activist since the late ’60s, most recently working on immigration issues. He decided to run because of the economic crisis and the Tea Party response to it, as well as the attacks on Obama for being a Socialist.
“Some people were using it as a slur. But around the edges there has been some intelligent discussion,” says La Botz, citing polls that show 1 in 3 Americans are sympathetic to Socialists — particularly younger Americans.
Among the radical ideas espoused by La Botz: the right of Americans to full-time jobs at a living wage, universal access to health care, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and opposing prejudices like racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Yes, there’s no room for this brand of nutbag thinking in our fair corner of the world.
But LaBotz remains optimistic. “In this whole campaign, I have not had anyone say anything angry,” he says. “There’s still in this country a sense of democracy and tolerance. There is a willingness to discuss Socialism.”