pat-noble-041211Patrick Noble on Broad Street in his hometown, Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

Forgive us our presumptions, but when Patrick Noble invited redbankgreen to meet for coffee earlier this week to discuss his Socialist Party candidacy for Monmouth County Freeholder, we imagined someone… different, yes. Offbeat, certainly. Embittered, possibly.

We did not expect to find a pink-cheeked young man with a pleasant demeanor who lost his only prior run for elective office: vice president of his high school’s student government. In the current school year.

But Noble is representing the Socialist Party of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in the race to have a voice in shaping a nearly half-billion-dollar budget, and he’s just 17 years old.

He will, he assures us, be old enough to vote for himself well before November rolls around. He turns 18 in two weeks.

“It throws most people at the beginning,” he says of his age, while sipping coffee at Starbucks on Broad Street.

Noble had suggested the meeting place, by the way. But isn’t Starbucks the embodiment of the capitalism that so chafes socialists?

“They do have union forming,” he says. “I have no problem supporting a company if some of that is going to what I think is a pretty good union.”

Noble is hoping to grab one of the two Freeholder seats open in November: one held by Republican Lillian Burry, of Colts Neck, and the other by Democrat Amy Mallet, of Fair Haven.

Son of Red Bank Board of Ed member Peter Noble, he’s a lifelong Red Banker and senior at the Academy of Allied Health and Sciences in Neptune. He plans to attend county-run Brookdale Community College.

Noble is one of a handful of founders of the twin-county party, created just a month or so ago, and is also its chairman.

OK, so, socialism? Putting the means of production into the hands of the workers and all that? A political philosophy most often associated, in practice, with oppressive, murderous tyrants like Stalin and Mao?

“A lot of people say socialists don’t know, A, what to think, and B, what it means,” says Noble. “But once you explain it and break it down issue-by-issue, it’s not as crazy as some people tend to think it is.”

Noble says he’s been a socialist “for a number of years,” and joined the national party a year ago. He was drawn to it, he says, out of curiosity about “all the horribleness about it,” but “kept looking, kept looking, and didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

He says societies, whether capitalist or socialist, are “authoritarian no matter which way you look at it. Capitalist countries concentrate on an elite group of wealthy people, and the socialist countries that have historically been around concentrate on party elites. So which evil do you want to go for?”

Democratic socialists like himself, he says, “are just as critical of” authoritarian and murderous regimes like those of Stalin and Pol Pot as they are of capitalism.

“To give us the rap for them doesn’t make sense, because we’re as critical of them as everyone else.”

Rather, he says, his brand of socialism is about restoring working men and women to a decent, “equal” standard of living, without huge disparities in income and wealth, and getting there via democratic means, and without centralized control of politics and economies.

“If you work, you should be able to have a decent living, without worrying about the next paycheck, healthcare, things like that,” he says.

His 10-point platform, includes, in no particular order of priority, “paved roads for all… regardless of whether the road is in a wealthy area or a poverty-stricken one;” rent control;  an end to eminent domain abuse; and employment programs to ensure that unemployed Monmouth County residents “can have an honest day’s work and have a decent paycheck to show for it.” Here’s the full list: pat-noble-platform-2011001

Noble says he believes in giving a say in the running of a business to all workers, who would get to vote on their leadership. If getting to that point displaces owners and shareholders, well, you gotta break some eggs to make omelettes, he suggests, allowing that forcible takeovers of companies may be acceptable.

“Our goal is not to take away from people, but to give to the most amount of people,” he says.

The Socialist Party of Monmouth and Ocean Counties plans to hold a membership meeting in the back room of Zebu Forno on Saturday, April 23 at noon. For more info, email.

[Update: After this article was published, Noble sent us a revised platform statement, which has been reduced to seven issues: campaign_platforms]