Desmond Silveira is running for Governor of California as an American Solidarity Party candidate. He currently serves as a National Committee member for the ASP, and he was the presidential campaign manager for the ASP’s Mike Maturen in 2016. He agreed to answer some questions for Imago Dei Politics about the concerns of his campaign, the challenges third parties face, and what pro-life politics looks like.
Why are you a candidate for a third party? In what way does the duopoly fail the United States today?
I spent most of my adult life as a registered Republican because I believe that abortion is the most important issue in society today. I never felt comfortable with many of the Republican Party’s other positions but weighed them accordingly and always felt that they were the better option. When the Republican nominee wasn’t pro-life, I would temporarily break to minor parties as an alternative. During the 2016 presidential campaign, I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of the major party candidates, but what led me to utter despair was the realization that the two worst candidates were going to be the major party nominees. I hope this doesn’t make me sound neurotic, but I was genuinely distressed over the future of the nation. I looked over the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Party candidates and didn’t see anyone over there that I could get behind either. So I searched the internet (mostly Wikipedia) for other parties, going smaller and smaller, until I finally found the American Solidarity Party. The platform sounded amazing! It was everything that I had ever wanted and more. So I registered with the party at http://solidarity-party.org, waited for a while, and then got invited to their Facebook group. The discussion in there was engaging. It was thrilling. And the best part was that people could discuss ideas with reason and charity without resorting to insults and attacks. These were my kind of people!
As the national elections got more and more divisive and vitriolic, my excitement for the American Solidarity Party grew. Despite being tiny, I felt that this was the party that America needs. The ASP and its value of solidarity is what could save the nation.
The party started searching for a presidential candidate, and Dr. Amir Azarvan hesitantly agreed to run, picking Mike Maturen as his running mate. Because I had become known as a high energy supporter of the party, Dr. Azarvan asked me to be his campaign manager. I enthusiastically agreed, immediately setting up state chapters to support the campaign across the various states. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Azarvan had to step out of the race for personal reasons, but Mr. Maturen stepped into the spotlight and kept me on as his campaign manager. Through aggressive grassroots marketing and with the help of many, many volunteers, we ended up growing the party ten times its size by the time of the election, got Mr. Maturen on the ballot in Colorado, and got enough votes that we could legitimately say that the American Solidarity Party was the 11th most influential party in the U.S. out of dozens.
During that summer of 2016, I also ran for a position on the ASP’s National Committee and received the most votes in the election. With chair Matthew Bartko and the rest of the national committee, we got a lot of great things done for the party.
I can’t imagine ever going back to the major party duopoly because I’ve seen how big of a failure the major parties have been at representing their constituencies. Instead of doing what is right and good for America, they do what is best for themselves, holding onto power at the costs of what is most beneficial to American citizens, rejecting good legislation just because it comes from the opposing party, and leading on the public with empty promises and campaign rhetoric.
What do you think it means to be pro-life?
Being pro-life is respecting the value of human life from conception to natural death. That includes opposing abortion, opposing euthanasia, and opposing capital punishment. To me, it’s also very important that we in society support each other so that we can live full and fulfilling lives.
Who do you look to for inspiration in politics?
My most direct political inspiration comes from Mr. Mike Maturen for fighting the good fight in 2016. The inspiration for my political values comes from my Christian faith and my loving family.
Why are you running in this race, and why now?
During 2017, much of the election year energy had dissipated, and with me dealing with a major health issue (open heart surgery), I was less involved than I had been. But when 2018 rolled around, I really wanted to continue the work that we had started, so I am running for governor of my home state of California.
What are some issues that few candidates or current office holders are addressing effectively?
In California, the most undervalued issue is the pro-life cause. The Democratic candidates don’t value respect for life. Most of the Republican candidates don’t either, and those that do fail to make the pro-life cause a campaign issue and instead prefer focus on Trump-style scapegoating, like demand for a wall.
CA is a unique state in terms of the ability of citizens to work around the legislature and the governor, and enact laws through initiative. Are there any issues you would like your campaign to build more awareness of that could eventually carry into ballot initiatives or other activism in the future?
Most of the political disfunction that our nation experiences is due to our broken election system. It favors extremists and prevents politicians from working toward the common good. This plurality voting system, where each voter casts one and only one vote, necessarily leads to the major party duopoly. What I would passionately like to see is reform of the election system to replace plurality voting with some better alternative, whether it be instant runoff voting, approval voting, or range voting.
How should ecological issues such as the California water crisis be addressed?
Californians pay among the highest income taxes in the nation. What I would like to see is a reduction in income taxes for an increase in ecological taxes, including water, for a net zero aggregate tax imposition. We can and should also compensate for any regressive properties of ecological taxation through increased tax deductions, tax credits, and/or universal basic income.
What are your views on the affordable housing crisis in California?
The availability of affordable housing is worst in municipalities where rent control has been enacted. I advocate for an increase in housing developments instead of trying to use rent control to manage the market. A decrease in regulatory capture in the housing industry as well as all other industries will benefit consumers instead of special interests.
What do you think it will take to empower voters to hold public officials accountable for their actions? What role can a third party play in helping build a climate of accountability to voters?
To be honest, public officials have been abusing their power, unchecked, for a long time. Citizens need to get more civically engaged, register to vote, and not feel pressured to vote based solely on a candidate’s perceived electability.
What do you think is the biggest roadblock to third party success, and how can your campaign bring attention to changing those problems?
Many people are hesitant to cast a vote for a third party candidate out of the notion that it would be a “wasted vote.” Frequently, the least wasted vote is the vote cast for the candidate that has little chance of winning. When major party politicians fail over and over again to serve their constituents, yet the voters continue to reward them with votes, there is no incentive for the politicians to change. However, a vote to a third party signals to the major parties what direction the voters want the major parties to shift towards. Third parties “win” when major parties adopt their ideas or shift their party platforms to be closer in values to the third party. It is the vote that makes no difference to the winning candidate that is the wasted vote.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
This gubernatorial campaign is important for a few different reasons. It brings our party’s values of human life and human dignity to the forefront. Secondly, it shows that we are a party that should be taken seriously. Lastly, it is an invitation for those with similar values to join us in our shared vision. We can’t enact change without the help of those that share our values. If you share these values, please join us in this mission.