Interview with Presidential Candidate Elijah Manley by Tina Phillips

Tina: Why are you running for president?

EM: I am running for President because there is a real emergency in this country. Everything from the climate to world peace is at risk of falling into a very deep, problematic, destructive, and dystopian future for all people. My campaign’s focus is to bring awareness to these issues, highlight the struggles facing people, and provide solutions and policies to address the real emergencies facing the planet and our people. My campaign does not take money from any corporate entities or lobbyists, and isn’t focused on raising money or winning the election. As the youngest person to run for President, and the first black gay man to run for President, I am highlighting the everyday issues such as climate change, the attack on workers, and age discrimination.

Tina: What do you say to people who say you are too young or shouldn’t run because you can’t take office at your age?

EM: Young people have always been at the very forefront of our movements, from the Civil Rights Movement to the social justice movements of today. One of my favorite individuals, Fred Hampton, was 21 years of age when he was assassinated by the government and FBI for his freedom-fighting efforts. His efforts, along with the rest of the Black Panther Party, led to the establishment of free breakfast and lunch programs in schools, and a large awakening of the U.S. public. I’m 20 years old and I’m not too young to feel the effects of capitalism and white supremacy. Therefore I am not too young to fight against capitalism and white supremacy. My goal, as stated at the very beginning of this campaign, was not to win office, but to bring awareness to the very problems facing young people and all people in our class. If those individuals care about that, then they would respect my decision to run and uplift my voice.

Tina: Can you tell me your top priorities?

EM: One of my top priorities is addressing climate change, which is directly tied to gentrification and the housing crisis. There are poor people living in coastal inner cities and coastal suburbs who are already feeling the devastating effects of climate disaster, with the increasingly disastrous hurricanes brewing in the seas, and hotter summers. These people are losing their homes and their fortunes, and that’s why I believe that housing is a human right. I also want to tackle healthcare disparities and access by providing a single payer healthcare system. However, we can’t do any of these things if we don’t address the two big elephants in the room: imperialism and war. Our imperialist foreign policy leads the government into pouring trillions of dollars into weapons, war, and destruction to appease the military-industrial complex, while neglecting our people back at home in the process. If we dismantle the military-industrial complex and the war machine, that will open up numerous opportunities for us to start investing in our long-overdue crumbling infrastructure, creating jobs and helping our workers. This is all great and dandy, but even this can’t be achieved permanently without a real commitment to socialist economic policy, such as: public ownership of utilities, and complete workers control of the workplace and private sector.T

Tina: Do you identify as a socialist? If so, why?

EM: I identify as a socialist, because my quest for justice and real freedom has led me to socialism as the only economic system that is right for the people. Our current mode of production has produced so much exploitation and destruction, from slavery, to wars for oil, and the climate catastrophe. We don’t have any further options but to produce radical transformation of our economic system and society to move humanity forward.

Tina: Do you think identity politics is important? Why or why not?

EM: I come from a place where I believe that radical identity politics outweighs liberal bourgeois identity politics. The difference here is that one of these promotes class solidarity and real liberation, while the other seeks to profit from our struggles, while tightening the chains around our wrists. I also do not believe that class reductionism is effective or proper. As a black person from the South, my struggle is shared with many white working class people who have also been exploited by capitalism, but it isn’t the same struggle.  If we, as socialists, want a real “movement” or “revolution” to overthrow the current economic hegemon, we must embrace radical identity politics, and uplift the voices of people of color and other oppressed minorities who face far more oppression and economic violence.

Tina: What is your stance on gun reform, since you knew students from Parkland?

EM: I sat in a classroom for a whole entire semester with the parkland shooter at an alternative education center. I know him more than most people. I know how he thinks, how he sees the world, and what he thinks about everyone else. I do support some basic gun reforms, such as background checks and a ban on certain high capacity magazines and bump stocks. I do not however, support disarming the public and banning weapons. That is ineffective, useless, and does not solve the real problems that allow these shootings to occur, which are: white supremacy, entitlement, and violence. I believe that white supremacy is the largest of these. Most of these shooters have been white and affluent. I can attest that the parkland shooter was racist, as I have experienced this first hand from him. These shooters have published racist and violent manifestos, have leaked their racist intent, and are pretty public about their views. This has to be addressed. These entitled brats have been given the world, grew up in affluent homes, but still turned into mass killers. However, the U.S. society itself is very violent. Everything from the militancy of our culture, how we’re trained to think growing up, and our police is violent. Simply removing the guns will not stop this, and probably will not happen either. History also shows that black people are the first to be disarmed and attacked by the state. We must be able to defend ourselves. Disarming people of color in a white-supremacist society, with violent police and criminal justice systems, will never get my vote.

Tina: What do you think are the most important issues facing the world today? How would you solve these problems?

EM: Climate change tops the list. Scientists have made it very clear to us that we have twelve years to get our act together and dismantle the fossil fuel industry, or we are doomed. We have already started to see the devastation from climate change. I live in South Florida and every year we have a hurricane season. It’s a time of extreme stress and paranoia for all of us. We live on the coast and a Category 5 hurricane can knock out our homes and everything we hold dear. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and, this year, thousands in Bahamas have been killed or displaced by hurricane Dorian. These storms get bigger and worse every year. But it’s also the sea levels that are rising, typhoons in the Global East, the record breaking heat that is leading to heat strokes and other health complications, the burning down of the Amazon by fascists in Brazil, and the destruction of Africa by capitalist ventures. These are all tied to human activity, specifically the greedy one-percent. To end this travesty of greed, we must not only dismantle the one hundred corporations responsible for climate change and the fossil fuel industry, we must dismantle the capitalist mode of production which is producing a worldwide disaster.

Tina: How do you incorporate the principles of socialism in your everyday life?

EM: There are basic things I do, such as tipping workers anytime I go out to eat; uplifting the voices of people of color, immigrants, and indigenous folks when I share space with them, and educating the public. None of this is easy, because I also live in this society and have to face the real realities of capitalism daily. However, I do my best to chip away at the system until it comes crumbling down.

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Special thanks to Elijah Manley for participating in this interview about his 2020 presidential run. For more information about Elijah’s campaign please take a look at this article where you can watch his campaign video (embedded):

https://www.collegemedianetwork.com/elijah-manley-the-youngest-person-to-ever-run-for-u-s-president/

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