Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are two names that voters are discussing as an alternative to the major party nominees, but New Mexico voters have another option as well.
Socialist Presidential Candidate Gloria La Riva visited UNM Tuesday to inform students that she’s actually on the ballot in New Mexico.
Many students were surprised there were other candidates running in the current election, La Riva said.
“They keep asking, ‘President of what?’ We keep saying, ‘The United States. We are running against Trump and Clinton. We’re actually on the ballot,’” she said.
Democratic and Republican candidates are already on the ballot in all 50 states, she said, while third parties have to collect signatures to get on ballots.
Things haven’t gone as smoothly for La Riva in Florida as they have in New Mexico. Florida is trying to kick her off its ballot, she said.
“It’s virtually impossible for a party like ours to have the millions of dollars to attain ballot status. It’s very unfair,” she said.
La Riva said, in New Mexico, candidates must have 2,500 voter signatures to get their party on the ballot, her campaign collected 6,200 signatures from across the state.
Kate Barr, a canvasser for the La Riva campaign, said her supporters are remaining realistic about the outcome of the election.
“We’re not expecting Gloria will win, but we want to challenge the two-party system. More people voting for a third-party candidate is progress,” Barr said. “I talked to a lot of students who were feeling very disheartened with the current Democratic and Republican candidates. This was especially apparent when the first presidential debate was last night.”
La Riva called the rhetoric of the Clinton and Trump debate on Monday night “awful.”
“Both Clinton and Trump, especially Trump, talks about the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada all of the time,” she said. “NAFTA was passed under Bill Clinton, so of course Hillary is for it,” she said.
All of the capitalists are for NAFTA, La Riva said, though she alleges that Trump falsely opposes the trade agreement to appeal to U.S. workers.
“Trump uses smoke and mirrors,” she said. “If he’s elected he will promote NAFTA policies, because he’s of the class that benefits.”
La Riva said her campaign is against NAFTA for completely different reasons than Trump.
Many countries have tariffs that protect their product and national economy, she said. For the U.S. to bring goods into Mexico, U.S. corporations had to pay a tariff so the Mexican economy wouldn’t be overrun by the U.S.
“NAFTA eliminated tariffs, and U.S. corn flooded Mexico,” La Riva said. “Indigenous people in Mexico rely on their own production of corn.”
Mexican industry is prohibited from protecting their own product, and they are smaller-scale growers who can’t compete with highly-developed U.S. production, she said.
La Riva said since 1994 some 6 million Mexicans have crossed the border because of the poor economy, due to NAFTA, yet are denied legal status.
“You know why some of these right-wing politicians are against immigrants becoming legal? Because Mexicans would vote for people like me,” she said. “Imagine if 6 million undocumented people had been able to vote. Trump wouldn’t stand a chance.”
La Riva said the Bernie Sanders campaign helped enormously in overcoming people’s fear of socialism.
Many non-socialist countries have free health care and free education, but in the stage of capitalism that the United States is currently in, only a socialist system could guarantee major change, she said.
La Riva said socialism would involve an overturning of the system, which could take years.
“Today, we can fight for free health care and education. Right now, we can demand that student debt be cancelled,” she said. “Clinton’s in the bankers’ pockets. She would never dare say, ‘Cancel student debt.’”
She said Clinton does not truly support eliminating student debt, because the banks are the ones who profit from it.
“U.S. taxpayers bailed out the banks in 2008 for the crisis the banks created through their own practices — and banks continue to rip students off,” she said.
La Riva also praised college students for protesting police brutality, and said the next protest should be for free education, one topic that could see a large increase in young voter turnout come Election Day.
“Students need to strike,” she said. “They have the power.”
Sara MacNeil is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sara_macneil.