Ben Joyce is a 22-year-old student at the Borough Manhattan Community College. He's also the Socialist Workers Party's chosen candidate as representative for New York's 7th Congressional District, an area that includes east Bronx, northern Queens and Jackson Heights.
If elected, Joyce would be not only the youngest member of New York State Congress but also the first member of the Socialist Workers Party to hold national office since the early 20th century, according to his campaign manager Dan Fein.
Dressed like any Stern student in a dark suit and blue-striped tie, Joyce explained to WSN why the U.S. government is in need of a complete makeover.
"You can't really have both those who represent the workers and the ruling class in power [at the same time]," he said, his eyes flicking towards Fein as he outlined the SWP platform.
He said there is a need for a party for the working class, which he believes is not represented by either the Democrats or Republicans. He said that many Americans have become dissatisfied with both major parties.
Despite undeniable odds against him, Joyce hopes that the dissatisfaction with the two-party system might direct voters toward the Socialist Workers Party and give him and his fellow SWP candidates a chance in the elections.
"I think we can really reach out broadly and make a successful campaign ... We run to win," he said.
And, he pointed out, his campaign offers something original: a focus on "concrete politics," not "personality campaigns that distract people from the real issues."
Although Joyce has no political experience, he became interested in politics in high school and in 2003 helped to organize a student walkout at his high school to oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The SWP's anti-war position was one of the issues that initially attracted Joyce to the party, which advocates complete withdrawal of U.S. troops not only from Iraq, but from "everywhere else they are stationed in Europe, the Mideast, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas," according to a pamphlet distributed by the campaign.
If elected, Joyce might not continue his studies at BMCC next year.
"I think I could prioritize being a congressman over being a student," he said with a grin.
© 2008 Washington Square News via U-WIRE