Greg Pason of Maywood finds itamusing when right-wingshock jockspejoratively call President Barack Obama a socialist.
"It just indicates how far to the right this country has moved for Obama to be classified that way," says Pason. "He doesn't even support single-payer health care."
If Pason doesn't mindwhen people call him a Socialist, that's because he proudly belongs to the same party that had some traction once when it ran Eugene V. Debs forPresidentin the early 20th Centurybut has since gone the way of the wooly mammoth ifthe number ofits members in good standing provides any indication.
There are a little over 300 Socialists in the state right now, according to Pason, a perennial candidate for statewide office who's running for governor again this year ona ticket with gubernatorial candidate turned LG hopeful Constantino Rozzo of Vineland.
Pason, 43, who ran for governor in1997, serves assecretary for the Socialist Party USA, the national organizationaffiliated withthe Socialist Party of New Jersey.
Born in Paterson to factory worker parents, Rozzo wasrecently laid off from hisjob as a security guard.
"Gov. Corzine hasn't pushed hard enough forsingle payer health insurance nationally," says Pason, who said he was homeless at 18 and livingat the Passaic YMCA when hefound his Socialist starting point. "This governor has given tax breaks to developers and corporations and imposed an alcohol tax, which we don't see as a progressive tax. We're opposed to any sin tax. If you go to anylow income neighborhood, you'll find a liquor store on every corner. This tax is hitting them. It's pretty regressive."
"I think the president's plan is a corporate welfare scheme and a betrayal of single payer," adds Rozzo of Obama's health care reform effort.
The candidateswould like to seeincome earners making over $500,000taxed at15%, or 6% more than what theykick in currently in New Jersey.
The North/South Socialist ticket doesn't want to ramrod any new anti-corruption laws without first reforming ballot access.
"Most of the cities are one-party rule," says Pason. "The problems arise when one party runs things. This is what happens when you don't have equal ballot access for alternative parties like ours. Most of these guys are safe, and will be until we change ballot access. Anti-corruption lawswon't address the problem."
"It's a shark tank, and there are two sharks in there – the Democratic and Republican parties," adds Rozzo.
They have no moneybut promise to hit some events together after LaborDay to get their message out there, and intend to try to harvest votes from Green Party members who don't have a gubernatorial candidate in this year's contest.