Gus Hall - Presidential Candidate and Later Years

Presidential Candidate and Later Years

In the 1964 presidential election, Hall's party supported Lyndon B. Johnson, saying it was necessary to prevent the victory of the conservative Barry Goldwater. During the 1972 presidential election, the CPUSA withdrew its support from the Democratic party and nominated Hall as its candidate. Hall ran for president four times—in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984—the last two times with Angela Davis. Of the four elections, Hall received the largest number of votes in 1976, largely because of the Watergate scandal bringing protest votes for minor parties. But Hall ranked only in eighth place among the presidential candidates. Owing to the great expense of running, the difficulty in meeting the strenuous and different election law provisions in each state, and the difficulty in getting media coverage, the CPUSA decided to suspend running national campaigns while continuing to run candidates at the local level. While ceasing presidential campaigns, the CPUSA did not renew support for the Democratic party.

Hall's results in his presidential candidacies
Election year Running mate Received votes (absolute) Received votes (%)
1972 Jarvis Tyner 25,597 0.03 %
1976 Jarvis Tyner 58,709 0.07 %
1980 Angela Davis 44,933 0.05 %
1984 Angela Davis 36,386 0.04 %

In the late 1980s, when liberalization and democratization were under way in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Hall maintained his Marxist-Leninist stance. Concerning Joseph Stalin, he admitted that even leaders of a socialist country might err sometimes but suggested that the Soviet historians were exaggerating Stalin’s crimes. Hall declared that he had not become a member of the CP because of Stalin and would not leave because of him.

The 1980s were a politically difficult decade for Hall and the CPUSA, as one of Hall's trusted confidants and the deputy head of the CPUSA, Morris Childs, was revealed in 1980 to be a longtime Federal Bureau of Investigation informant. Although Childs was taken into the United States Federal Witness Protection Program and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987, Hall continued to deny that Childs had been a spy. Also, Henry Winston, Hall's African-American deputy, died in 1986. The black party base questioned the fact that the leadership was exclusively white.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the party faced another crisis. In a press conference that year, Hall warned of witch hunts and McCarthyism in Russia, comparing that country unfavorably with North Korea. Hall led a faction of the party that stood against Glasnost and Perestroika and, for the hardliners of the CPSU, accused Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin of "demolishing" socialism. Hall supported Vietnam and Cuba but criticized the Peoples Republic of China for failing to oppose the West. In late 1991, members wanting reform founded the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a group critical of the direction in which Hall was taking the party. When they were unable to influence the leadership, they left the party and Hall purged them from the membership, including such leaders as Angela Davis and Charlene Mitchell.

During the last years of his life, Hall lived in Yonkers, New York, with his wife, Elizabeth. Along with following political events, Hall engaged in hobbies that included art collecting, organic gardening, and painting. In 2000, shortly before his death, Hall resigned the post of party chairman in favor of Sam Webb and was appointed honorary chairman.

Gus Hall died on October 13, 2000, at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan from diabetes complications . He was buried in the Forest Home Cemetery near Chicago.

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