He says he doesn’t have anything personally against either candidate, but sees them as indistinguishable on the majority of issues.
“There’s not any fundamental difference,” he said — and that goes for everyone, including President Obama. He said the campaign, for him, is about raising the broader issues facing workers, and encouraging people to get more directly involved in a social struggle he sees as inevitable.
“They want us to bare [sic] the brunt of the crisis they crated, the capitalist [sic],” he said as we turn off Cross Bay towards the debate at St. Barnabas Church. “Workers didn’t create it, yet they’re cutting our hospitals, our schools, our pay.”
Hoeppner says he’s opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against the bailouts of the financial system. He says he’s for a smaller government, devoid of a bloated bureaucracy. He considers health care a fundamental right, opposes Obama’s immigration policies in favor of full legalization “for the unity of the working class,” and wants to protect the social safety net against any cuts, from anyone.
“When I got out in campaign in Forest Hills, in Sheepshead Bay, people don’t want to talk to me if I say I’m a politician. I have to explain to them, I’m not a politician like you know,” Hoeppner said. “I work as a machine operator inspector in an electronics plant. I’m not a banker; I’m a worker, OK? And I’m a socialist, and then I say, I’m for jobs, fighting for jobs.”
We park and talk for a bit. I’m told I and other reporters are behind because we get caught up on the perception that people don’t like the word “socialist.”
“That’s not a barrier,” Hoeppner said. “The crisis is so deep that people are looking for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.”
Not so many people are looking right now, given the poll numbers, but the early signs of a coming trend will likely be hard to see. It will be a significant achievement if Hoeppner's vote total matches his poll numbers, but if that happens, and if the Republican wins by a margin smaller than the Socialist Worker vote, prepare for a firestorm of Democratic rage directed at the independent candidate, who would then be accused of throwing the election to the forces of reaction. Like Republicans, Democrats want Americans to think that when their party loses, everyone loses. Apart from who actually wins today's election, the vote in the 9th District may measure how many Americans have decided that they lose whether a Democrat or a Republican wins. It may be that many Americans believe that already, if that's why people don't vote -- but a decent turnout for a Socialist Worker or any third party would be an encouraging sign that some Americans are willing to do something positive about it.
Bonus: here's the post from d. eris's Poli-Tea blog that tipped me off to what Hoeppner was up to.
Update, Sept. 14: Apparently those polls took unrepresentative samples, or else the support professed for Hoeppner was purely moral. The latest numbers show him getting less than 1% of the vote, while Turner cruised to victory. As predicted, the result is being read as a repudiation of Democratic economic policies, but some sources suggest that, if any third party influenced the election, it was the Zionists. I don't know whether this is a presumption based on the district's demographics, or if exit polling will confirm the assumption that foreign policy was a major issue. I can actually imagine Democrats spinning it that way just to deny that economic policy did them in this time. In any event, I assume that Mammon, not Yahweh, is the favored god of that district this year.