Socialists kick off 2009 mayoral bids
Offer working-class alternative to capitalism
BY CINDY JAQUITH
NEW YORKThe Socialist Workers Party here has nominated Dan Fein, a sewing machine operator, as its candidate in the 2009 mayoral race. James Harris, a union meat packer, is the SWP candidate for mayor in Los Angeles.
The two SWP candidates are calling for workers to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist class in order to defend themselves from mounting layoffs; cuts in transit, health care, and schools; greater assaults on workers rights; and the consequences of Washingtons expanding war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The socialist campaigns are being launched just weeks after the close of the 2008 presidential race, in which SWP candidates received a warm response from working people and youth to their advocacy of a revolutionary struggle to replace capitalist rule.
Fein, 63, is running against billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a Republican who has now adopted the affiliation independent and is seeking a third term in office; U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner and City Comptroller William Thompson, both Democrats; and others.
Citing the spreading capitalist financial crisis, the New York State and city governments are laying plans for deep cuts in Medicaid programs, health care, and education. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is proposing to raise fares as much as 25 percent while decreasing the number and frequency of trains and buses, eliminating some routes altogether, and cutting 2,800 transit jobs. The MTA says it has a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
What they really mean is they dont have enough revenue to pay the wealthy bondholders, Fein said in an interview. Those crooks deserve nothing! They rake off hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments every year.
Working people in New York, he noted, dont have chauffeurs to drive them around. My administration would oppose any increase in fares and would implement a public works program to improve the transportation system and hire more workers so we could increase service. Public transportation is a necessity for working people and should be free.
The employers in New York and the Democratic and Republican politicians who serve their interests are trying to resolve their economic crisis by stealing more of the wealth we produce, Fein said. But were not the ones responsible for this crisis, they are!
In self-defense, we need to organize more unions and use union power to fight layoffs, speedup, and lack of safety on the job. We need a labor party, based on combative unions, that will fight in our interests. But these are still not enough. We need to carry out a socialist revolution, involving millions of working people and youth, that will throw the propertied rulers out of government and replace them with workers and farmers.
Fein joined more than 2,000 workers who rallied in the town of Patchogue, New York, November 14 to condemn the lynching of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero. The socialist candidate brought back photographs of the demonstration to show to coworkers at the sewing shop where he works and to explain the need to legalize all undocumented workers.
Harris, who belongs to the United Food and Commercial Workers union, was the first candidate to file nominating petitions in the Los Angeles mayoral race and the first to be certified for the ballot. On December 20 Harris will participate in a march to demand justice for Christian Portillo, who was killed by Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies in July. His family is organizing the action on what would have been his 35th birthday.