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Vol. 81/No. 20      May 22, 2017


‘How will SWP deal with FEC ruling?’

How can the SWP do it?
I read with interest the article by John Studer on the recent Federal Election Commission action ending the SWP’s exemption for campaign financial disclosure, including the statement by Alyson Kennedy that “the SWP will continue to actively engage in politics, including running candidates within the law and in ways that maximize protections for contributors and supporters.”

How will you do that?

William Henckel
by email

John Studer answers
Thanks for your question, it’s a good one.

The Socialist Workers Party won exemption from having to report the names of contributors to its election campaigns in the 1970s, as the party waged a political fight — a fight that included a lawsuit in federal court against the FBI and other police agencies — that forced out evidence of systematic government spying and disruption over decades aimed at the SWP as well as unionists, Black rights fighters, abortion rights protesters and others.

As part of that political battle, we also won an exemption from federal election campaign disclosure laws. The SWP did so in the face of a campaign by the rulers, supported by liberal groups like Common Cause, to impose “election reform” laws in the name of “transparency,” seeking to rebuild trust in capitalist politics in the wake of mounting opposition to the Vietnam War and exposure of government cop operations, from “Watergate” to assassinations and attempted assassinations at home and abroad.

In fact these campaign “reform” laws were an attack on working people, placing obstacles in the way of independent working-class political action.

From the beginning, the rulers and their Federal Election Commission looked to the day when they could get rid of the Socialist Workers Party’s exemption, the only one the FEC ever granted. They saw it as a barrier to enforcing their anti-working-class “transparency” campaign.

The Socialist Workers Party opposes all these laws. To know what the SWP stands and fights for, all anyone needs to do is read its literature, including coverage of its activity and positions in the Militant. You don’t need to know that John Doe gave $210 to support an SWP election campaign.

What’s more, one of the biggest problems workers face in breaking from the bosses’ two party system and taking the indispensable road of independent working-class political action is the bureaucratic paperwork thrown at them by government probers. The rulers have become past masters at using such red tape as a way to target, fine, and even jail union and other worker militants for alleged “violations.”

Most workers who support the SWP and its campaigns today want people to know about their support. They sign petitions to put us on the ballot, subscribe to the Militant, and tell co-workers and friends about the SWP.

Amid the carnage wreaked on working people by the employers and their government, more and more workers are looking for a political alternative to capitalist politics. There are unprecedented political opportunities for the SWP today.

We will run in elections aggressively, to get out our views and win new members. We’ll ask workers and others to give generously to our campaigns, so we can join struggles across the country and around the world and get the party’s program out as widely as possible.

Most contributions to a workers party like the SWP are well below the FEC’s $200 limit, above which disclosure is required. But if somebody wants to give more than $200 in a year — and we welcome such contributions — we’ll inform them and follow the law when we file our reports to the FEC.

And the Socialist Workers Party will continue to help lead the fight against attacks on the political rights of working people — including the SWP — by the bosses, the rulers’ political police and right-wing thugs.  
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