That was funny - Stephen Colbert just interviewed Brian Moore, the Socialist Party's presidential candidate.
Eight years ago, I volunteered for and was quite active with the campaign of David McReynolds, who was then the Presidential nominee of the same party.
The SP-USA is a good bunch of folks, if a little bit ideologically clueless, not to mention completely powerless to effect any change. I was an active member of that party for several years. They're not a crazy militant socialist revolutionary kind of party; they're more a kind of informal, relaxed and groovy coalition of democratic socialists. And there are about 700 of them nationwide.
Sad, really, that American socialism has been reduced to that level. If this election is to be compared to the Roosevelt-Hoover election of 1932, I probably would have voted for Norman Thomas. That was back when the Socialist Party actually had a shot at breaking into the mainstream. Then Roosevelt, saint of the progressive movement as he is, co-opted socialist ideas into a reformist agenda that allowed capitalism to survive its most precarious days. He was of course followed by that frothy witch hunter Joe McCarthy who is single-handedly responsible for destroying much of the American left. Long story short, today the American left is a pathetic, tiny little shell of itself, composed of a few absolutely inconsequential groups fighting amongst themselves over tiny ideological struggles. There are good people in the American left, and good groups, too, but none of them can break into the mainstream. The SP-USA is a sad little remnant of the grand old Socialist Party, and Brian Moore is its brave little Don Quixote. I wish him well. I will be voting for Obama.
I still believe on a very kind of visceral level that worker control of the means of production would not be a bad thing, but as a pragmatist, I just don't see how it could work. That's kind of why I call myself a social democrat now rather than a socialist. I think the best thing to do is to let the market do what the market does well, which is to distribute basic goods and services to society, and have the government oversee it to curb its excesses and level the playing field.