An Emeryville resident has thrown his hat into the ring in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election to be held on September 14. David Moore, who lives on Hollis in Northern Emeryville, is an Oakland public school teacher and will be one of 46 candidates to appear on the ballot.
Backers of recalling Gavin Newsom were able to gather the approximately 1.5 million signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot. For this recall election, voters will be asked wether Newsom should be recalled from the office of Governor and then asked to select which candidate should succeed him. If the “Yes” votes eclipse 50%, the candidate who achieves a simple majority will be elected to office.
Moore will appear on the ballot as a Socialist Equality Party (SEP) candidate. The SEP is a “far-left” political party founded in 1964 as the American Committee for the Fourth International (ACFI). Their ideology is anti-capitalism and seeks to “unify workers in the U.S. and internationally in the common struggle for socialism.”
While opposing the recall, Moore is not a big fan of Newsom and is running to provide a “left-wing alternative” should voters opt to recall him. Moore previously ran as a Socialist Equality Party (SEP) candidate in the 2018 state Senate race that incumbent Dianne Feinstein won handily.
Moore’s (and all candidates) tax return can be viewed on the CA Secretary of State’s website. His campaign website where you can donate or get involved is at socialism2021.com. His official candidate statement is provided below.
As an Oakland teacher, writer for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS.org) and member of the Socialist Equality Party, I have a long record of fighting for socialist politics in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans. I advocate for emergency measures to stop the pandemic by protecting lives, not profit; a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to meet social needs; the transformation of the giant corporations into public utilities; full rights for all immigrants; an end to imperialist war; and a global program to stop climate change. I believe that the fight against fascism and authoritarianism requires unifying workers of all races, genders and nationalities against the capitalist system.
Moore agreed to a 12 question Q&A that we have published verbatim.
Q&A with California Gubernatorial Recall Election Candidate David Moore:
1). Tell us a bit about your background. Where you grew up and how long you’ve called Emeryville home.
I grew up in Ventura County where my family has been farming oranges for about 120 years. I spent a lot of time working in the orchards and around the house my great-grandmother built. I eventually went to study mathematics at the University of California Santa Cruz and went on to get a master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico graduating into the devastated economy of 2009. Watching the banks get bailed out while people were evicted and there were massive cuts to education made me start studying socialism seriously. I started reading the World Socialist Web Site and joined the Socialist Equality Party (SEP).
Since a family farm is no place to spend your twenties I moved up to Oakland at the beginning of 2012 and made ends meet as a math tutor and bicycle courier while I wrote on workers’ struggles across Northern California like the BART or oil strikes. Then in 2016, I finally settled down into teaching special education at the elementary school level in Oakland Unified. It’s been a very tough job but it was steadier work and I love helping those kids out.
I’ve actually only recently moved to Emeryville. This pandemic has gone on so long that I’ve gotten married and had my first daughter in the middle of it. It’s my wife who has lived and worked in Emeryville the past four years and when she found out she was pregnant we started looking for a place near her work. With the pandemic we’ve both enjoyed having a lot more space to walk around.
2). Give us your opinions of Emeryville’s current political climate and direction.
Since I’ve only recently moved here, this is a tougher one for me to answer. With the pandemic there hasn’t been much chance to meet the neighbors. But from my limited observations, Emeryville as an enclave is reaching a dead-end. Through its maneuvers Emeryville has been transformed from an undesirable crevice between Oakland and Berkeley into a center for tech companies and modern condos. But it’s reaching the hard limits of the region and the main problems facing Emeryville like homelessness can only be effectively tackled on a regional level.
Any effort to wall Emeryville off from the social crisis in Oakland is going to ultimately fail. The task for any serious Emeryville politician is going to be to leverage the city’s relative economic strength into serious regional initiatives.
3). Can you letter grade Gavin Newsom’s performance and detail why you think he should or should not be recalled?
This recall campaign has been overwhelmingly funded by far-right forces trying to overturn even the most minimal measures to contain the pandemic. So I am calling on people to vote no on the recall. That said, these far-right forces were only able to gather enough signatures for the recall because of Newsom’s complete mishandling of the pandemic. I’m running in the recall to provide a left-wing alternative, fighting to eliminate COVID transmission in California.
I would give Newsom’s performance a D. He has never had a serious plan to contain the pandemic other than to hope that vaccines alone would take care of it. Basic information like the number of cases coming out of schools was not collected by the state and contact tracing was never really developed in the early stages of the pandemic when this could have been contained quickly and cheaply. The lockdown measures were enacted on a patchwork basis with no coherent statewide standards and large businesses like Tesla were allowed to defy local health authorities while small businesses and workers suffered.
Now we’re seeing the entirely predictable new wave of the pandemic coming after Newsom threw the state open on June 15, and it will only get worse as he pushes in person instruction in K-12 schools. The bipartisan decision to not even attempt ending the pandemic was unscientific and homicidal. He did not do as poorly as the governors of Florida or Texas but that is an incredibly low bar and nowhere near what we need to eradicate Sars-Cov-2.
4). So if you were to get elected, do you think you’d be able to push your agenda in a California Legislature composed of 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans and 1 Independent?
The centerpiece of my agenda is containing the pandemic and eliminating COVID transmission along the lines recommended by the scientists of the Covid Action Group for California. There will undoubtedly be push back from legislators as serious pandemic measures have an upfront cost. That cost is far less than the economic impact of allowing mass infections to continue and repeatedly enacting, retracting, and restarting public health measures.
Just how far we can push things is going to depend on the working class more than the state legislature. The first lockdown measures back in March 2020 were primarily a response to growing strikes by workers to force the closure of nonessential businesses. As an Oakland teacher I can testify that the district only closed after we had organized a wildcat strike and written up our demands. Since then politicians have squandered the time workers bought through their sacrifices. They are hoping that people are so tired of pandemic measures that they will just agree to keep everything open and let the children get infected.
By fighting openly for an alternative and giving voice to workers who don’t want to put the public at risk while billionaire fortunes soar, we can change the political landscape. Any politician who prioritizes corporate profits over preventing mass infections, with all the ensuing deaths and long term health impacts, should resign or be voted out.
5). In terms of a small city like Emeryville, how would the policies you support at the statewide level benefit our city and its residents?
The most important impact of my policies is that by eliminating SARS-CoV-2 in California, workplaces could reopen without sparking a new wave of the pandemic. Further, the increased funding to health care and education necessary to contain the pandemic will have continued benefits after the pandemic with better nurse-to-patient and teacher-student ratios.
6.) So you are an unapologetic Socialist (not a Democratic Socialist as Bernie Sanders and his supporters tend to identify as). Can you clarify the primary policy differences? Do you support a State-controlled economy where the state “controls the means of production?”
To be precise I am a Trotskyist and I’d like to highlight two major differences between the politics of Bernie Sanders and myself. First, I believe that the economy should be brought under the democratic control of the working class, that vast majority of humanity that produces all wealth. Instead of having major transnational corporations operate on the basis of private profit to enrich Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk to absurd heights, they should operate for social need. This socialization of the means of production is distinct from just the state running everything because we also have to answer “who runs the state?” Currently, the Democrats and Republicans are themselves millionaires and completely express the interests of billionaires.
Second, I am an internationalist through and through. You and I have far more in common with workers in Mexico, China, Egypt or India than we do with rich people in the United States. All across the globe workers have demonstrated their hostility to police brutality and war through mass demonstrations. Workers in country after country have fought for health measures to combat the pandemic. Yet they are universally confronted by governments that are cutting social services, raising the military budgets, and with few exceptions allowing the pandemic to run wild, because the governments do not represent the working class.
All of the major questions confronting humanity, like containing the pandemic or halting climate change, eradicating hunger and homelessness, run into these two fundamental obstacles, the private ownership of the means of production and the division of a global economy into rival nation-states. The vast social wealth created by workers globally should not be wasted on billionaires taking joy rides into space but should be applied to the enrichment of humanity.
In contrast, Sanders defends capitalism and claims he can convince billionaires to be kinder to their workers and pay some taxes. He is adamant that he wants to leave ownership of the economy in private hands. Similarly he is an ardent nationalist who has regularly blamed immigrant workers for low wages and stated if Trump “wants to work with us to make sure that we have strong border security, let’s do that.” He supports aggressive militarism including the wholly unconstitutional drone assassination program. These basic issues are deeply related. His defense of capitalism drives him to defend imperialism.
7). In regards to social media censorship, which you claim you and your party have been impacted by, how do you propose these should be remedied? What regulations should we impose on these tech giants (if any)?
The internet is an essential part of life for people to be informed and engaged across the world. In the past 20 years social media has become particularly important for connecting people and organizing protests. In the case of Egypt, even organizing the overthrow of the US backed Mubarak dictatorship. It’s precisely this democratic aspect of the internet, the ability of ordinary people to communicate and collaborate outside of official channels, that most frightens governments and has driven the push to censor social media posts.
At this point, Google and Facebook in particular have admitted to collaborating with the US government to determine what online speech should be censored, which is a clear violation of the first amendment. Publicly they always emphasize the fascists and racists like Alex Jones they censor, or the anti-vaxxers, but they consistently target socialist and anti-war voices, and ultimately anyone who disagrees with the official press releases of the intelligence agencies.
The most striking recent example is when Facebook started blocking and suspending the accounts of anyone who shared an article we published exposing that the Washington Post, had no evidence for the lab leak conspiracy theory they were pushing. It didn’t matter that our cited sources were the Washington Post itself and the World Health Organization, we were incorrectly flagged as presenting information that had been “repeatedly debunked.” When Facebook coordinates with the US government to silence critical voices it’s no different than when Myanmar or some other dictatorship shuts down social media during protests. It’s just a more polished attack on democracy.
Ultimately we need to transform the corporate Internet monopolies into public utilities, under internationally coordinated democratic control, to provide the highest quality service, not private profit. Until we can accomplish that some intermediate measures would be guaranteeing free and equal access to the internet for all citizens and banning government and corporate manipulation of search algorithms and procedures, including the use of human evaluators, that restrict and block public visibility of websites.
8). Many have pointed to our jobs-housing imbalance as a factor in housing affordability. Building has simply not kept pace with job creation causing a strain on supply driving up rents. Do you agree with this and if so, how can we spur housing on a large scale to make housing more affordable for those of all income levels?
The main factors driving the current housing bubble run far deeper than new housing construction. There are currently around five vacant houses for each homeless person in the state. Some of these are held by banks after foreclosure, increasingly financial institutions are speculating in housing and crowding out actual families. So the driving issue is not lack of housing, it’s distribution of housing.
The reason there’s so much money tied up in empty houses while homelessness is skyrocketing is a deeper structural question. According to the study by Picketty and Saez, the real wealth of the bottom 90% of Americans has stagnated since 1986. In contrast the incomes and fortunes of the richest in society soared until now, where the top 0.1% of society has more wealth than the bottom 90%.
This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. While the Trump and Biden administrations have been very stingy with stimulus checks to workers the CARES Act funneled trillions of dollars to the banks and the stock market has soared. California’s billionaires like Mark Zukerberg has seen his fortune rise from $55 billion in March 2020 to $125 billion now.
To tackle the housing crisis we need a massive shift of wealth from those rarefied heights down to people who actually work for a living. Until then banks will find it much more profitable to sit on empty houses to sell later in the bubble rather than see a family in them now.
9). Our unhoused population has grown exponentially over the past decade plus. Can you point to one policy we could feasibly implement in the next year that would make a significant impact on this?
That’s a very tall order for addressing a systemic issue like this but I’ll try. We should explicitly authorize and encourage local cities and counties to take empty buildings under eminent domain to use for emergency housing. I would prioritize any vacant residential buildings held by financial institutions that received government aid between 2008 and now.
Longer-term, to address homelessness we need to take a housing first approach as keeping a job and maintaining physical and mental health is enormously easier when you have a safe and secure place to sleep at night. The only way to fund that is by fighting for an immense redistribution of wealth away from the billionaires.
10). Many socialist policies borrow from other societies that may have different cultural norms than our country. What “flavor” of socialism do you model your personal beliefs after?
I am a Trotskyist and we trace our political heritage through Leon Trotsky’s struggle against Stalinism all the way back to Marx and Engels. I’ve already written above about some of the essential internationalism of Trotskyism. For us this is not just a grand ideal but an essential component of political struggle. The economy is global and the transnational corporations that dominate so much of modern life are global. The Trotskyist movement unites workers across the world in a common struggle because the auto-workers in Detroit are fighting against the exact same bosses as the autoworkers in Mexico or Belgium. Ultimately, whatever the surface cultural differences, workers have the same basic experience of exploitation and that’s why the Trotskyist movement brings under a common political program tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka, teachers in California, and bus drivers in Britain. There is a long history that’s worth reviewing but for the sake of space I’d simply encourage any readers to look through our Historical and International Foundations.
There has been a lot of effort over the years to portray socialism as something foreign to America, but that requires erasing the mass revolutionary struggles that founded this country. My own first step down the path to becoming a socialist was reading the declaration of independence and taking it seriously. My mom had a framed copy of it on the wall while I was a kid and it has some powerful ideas in it.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
A driving force of American history has been the popularity of those beautiful, democratic thoughts running head first into the hypocrisy and cynicism of the government claiming to represent them. From the beginning with slavery and continuing to the modern day brutalization of immigrants, not to mention extrajudicial killings by drone strike.
The basic democratic principle of the American Revolution was that everyone was equal no matter where they were born or who their parents were, and I’ve kept that hostility to privilege and national chauvinism throughout my life.
11). “Socialism” is generally more accepted by younger people but tapers off rapidly as people age. Why do you think this is?
Anti-communism has effectively been the state religion of the US for the past century and it had two main factors reinforcing it. First was the relative economic strength of the US in the global economy coming out of World War II. With the devastation of Europe, the US was responsible for over half of the industrial production of the world. In order to stave off revolutionary struggles in this country, the government dipped into that immense wealth to establish social security and other basic social services. Labor peace was bought with a steadily increasing standard of living.
The second buttress to American anti-communism were the crimes of Stalinism. No serious worker could look at the show trials, the murder of hundreds of thousands of revolutionary workers, and such international cynicism as the Stalin-Hitler pact, and think they wanted more of that.
These two factors together helped cement official anti-communism but for the younger generation neither of them exist. As Europe and Asia steadily rebuilt after WWII, America’s economic dominance was undercut and corporate profits take precedence over public well being. Wages have stagnated for two generations as social services have been cut. At the same time, the Stalinists dissolved the Soviet Union and restored capitalism in the early 90s demonstrating once and for all the hostility of that bureaucracy to socialism. Younger generations have a much easier time understanding the river of blood that separates Stalinism from socialism.
Meanwhile what are the major events that the younger generation have seen? A massive growth of inequality, particularly after the 2008 crash and during this pandemic. A full 30 years of brutal wars of aggression beginning with the first gulf war and continuing to today where US soldiers are occupying oil fields in Syria, a country we’re not even officially at war with. Mass deportations and brutality directed against immigrant workers. One could go on.
The political hopes of anyone younger than 40 to somehow tackle any of these issues within the system have been repeatedly dashed. A lot of people had false hope that Obama would be a progressive candidate. Instead we saw the massive bailout of the banks, attacks on public education, drone strikes and other crimes against humanity. Later many more had hopes that Sanders might be able to move the Democratic Party left and instead after the Democrats sabotaged the primary process, he has vociferously defended Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden who have been right-wing figures for decades.
The utter failure of capitalism to react rationally to the pandemic has only confirmed what so many young people were already thinking, if there’s a dollar to be made, neither the Democrats nor Republicans care if we die. Here was the first time in world history that the scientific and technical knowledge to contain a pandemic existed, and the government has decided to allow over 600,000 and counting to die in this country. Instead of spending $50 or $100 billion back in January of 2020 to establish a nationwide system of contact tracing and quarantine to end this, the government has spent trillions to prop up stock prices while letting the pandemic run wild. Instead of health measures, the Biden administration has pushed a record high military budget.
Capitalism and the rich have failed to even superficially address the issues of climate change, inequality, or the pandemic. Young people are naturally turning to the only alternative, socialism and the working class.
12). Identify your top-5 priorities for our state and can you identify any specific policies that you’d focus on that you think would have the greatest impact on them?
First priority, contain the pandemic. The delta variant is currently out of control. We need a new lock down with compensation for workers and small businesses. Roughly 5 weeks is sufficient to almost entirely eliminate transmission. They key is to use that time to build up health care infrastructure like contact-tracing and travel quarantines so that any reintroduction of the disease can be quickly eliminated.
Second, fund schools. Given the current state of the pandemic and the lack of vaccinations for children we need to have every child possible learning remotely. Save in-person instruction for those who absolutely need it like severe special education students or the homeless. In order to reopen safely after the new lockdown has eliminated local transmission we need to ensure schools are fully funded to reduce class size to 18 or less, have a nurse at every school, and enough support staff like janitors to function safely and effectively.
Third, address the crisis in health care. The pandemic has only emphasized the deep rot in the American health care system. Hospital after hospital has laid off staff in order to maintain profits. The right to life should not be subordinated to the profits of some insurance company, so we need to develop a public health care system.
Fourth, address wildfires and climate change by halting the bailout of PG&E and instead turning it into a public utility. We need to create a single public utility company in order for the states electrical grid to be modernized to prevent forest fires and increase the effectiveness of clean energy.
Fifth, tackle homelessness. I’ve outlined the basic points above.