Michael Ortega (center), Socialist Workers Party candidate for State Assembly District 28 in New Jersey, campaigns September 17 at Puerto Rican Day Parade in Newark, New Jersey.
The Socialist Workers Party is fielding 34 candidates in 12 states and 14 cities this fall. These candidates offer a working-class alternative to the twin parties of U.S. imperialismthe Democrats and Republicans. They are the only ones running on a platform advancing the interests of working people.
The SWP candidates are presenting a revolutionary working-class program in the United States to reach out to our sisters and brothers around the world in order to strengthen the struggle against our common enemiesthe imperialist aggressors and capitalist exploiters the world over.
The elections take place in a new political situation in the United States. It is fueled by Washingtons initial successes in advancing the U.S. rulers imperial interests from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.
Hundreds of thousands of working people sense today that the same two parties of capitalism that are more united than in decades in leading U.S. imperialisms wars abroad are carrying out an escalating assault on workers and farmers at homeon our wages, hours, safety, and other job conditions, and on our living standards. Thats why the Socialist Workers campaign platform, at least major parts of it, is getting a wider hearing.
This includes the socialists call to support workers struggles to organize and mobilize union power to defend ourselves and other working people from the bosses attacks. Over the last year, union organizing has become the battle cry of growing sections of the working class.
SWP campaigners have run into this reality repeatedlyfrom independent truckers organizing into the Teamsters, to industrial laundry workers seeking representation by the UNITE union at Cintas and other companies, to meat packers in the Midwest and poultry workers in the South fighting to unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers, and coal miners in Utah seeking union recognition for the United Mine Workers. Socialists are acting on the fact that every situation is a union situation, whether the union exists in a workplace yet or not.
The socialists have also been calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. and other imperialist troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Korea, Colombia, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And they have been exposing the drive by Washington and its allies to prevent nations oppressed by imperialism from developing nuclear power and other sources of energy needed to expand electrification necessary for economic and social advances.
Socialists are explaining that the bipartisan war partythe vast majority of both Democratic and Republican officeholdershas been expanding military operations and preparation for new conflicts abroad, with Syria in the forefront this week, as they step up antilabor assaults at home.
The transformation of the U.S. military necessary to carry out this course is accompanied by growing factionalism within the ruling class, what socialists have described as the pornographication of politics. The Monica Lewinsky/William Clinton scandalwith the impeachment investigation pursued fanatically by prosecutor Kenneth Starrwas a prominent manifestation of this phenomenon in the 1990s. This is now being repeated, perhaps with greater ferociousness, in the investigation of top officials in the Bush administration over security leaks, under new special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The destabilizing threat of the slowly, but surely, deepening polarization among the U.S. rulers is driven by the same dynamic ushering in a new political period for the vanguard of the working class.
Working people are resisting the effects of the employers unrelenting offensive. Their growing readiness to fight back is bringing reinforcements to those in labors vanguard, beginning to strip away illusions, and starting to increase class solidarity and political consciousness as the effects of the social catastrophe mount.
Elections always pose the question: Which class rules? In whose class interests? How do we advance the interests of working people?
Today, more working people are open to a clear explanation of the need for independent working-class political action. The need to break from the twin parties of capitalism and build our own party, based on our main defensive organizations, the trade unions, that can fight in the interests of workers and farmers 365 days a year.
In these elections, SWP candidates are also popularizing demands to nationalize health caresocialize medicine and make it a lifetime right for alland the energy monopolies (see front-page article). These demands hold a more immediate significance today given the onslaught by the bosses on existing medical programs and the devastation of the livelihoods of farmers, truckers, taxi drivers, and other exploited producers by skyrocketing energy costs. More and more working people can see that we can fight for our unions to adopt such demands and champion them now. They are not pie in the sky. They are realistic goals to fight for in order to protect the toilers being ravaged by the normal workings of the profit system.
This year, socialist candidates also took initiatives to defend political rights, important to working people fighting for union rights and those advocating changes in government. Accomplishments included putting on the ballot Jay Ressler, SWP mayoral candidate in Pittsburgh, who refused to sign an anti-subversive pledge that Allegheny County required; and the victory of the SWP ticket in Seattle in winning exemption from disclosing to the government the names of campaign donors, which could provide an enemies list to bosses, cops, and government agencies.
The socialists are urging working people not to vote for the individual, but for the program. They have been saying: Its not who you are against (or what you are against), but what you are for!
The socialist candidates are themselves workers who have been part of the resistance by working people to the bosses offensive, which takes a toll on our life and limb. They have joined picket lines, championed union-organizing drives, and worked tirelessly to spread solidarity for many labor and other social struggles. These include: the strike by mechanics and other workers at Northwest Airlines; fights by nurses in California and New York to oppose decreasing the nurse-to-patient ratio at hospitals; the walkout by Machinists who pushed back Boeings efforts to cut pension and health benefits; struggles by taxi drivers demanding a living income; efforts by working people who organized to assist each other in face of the capitalist-caused social disaster on the Gulf Coast; and the current strike by meat packers in Alberta, Canada.
Militancy on the picket linesthe starting point of labor solidarityis beginning to transform workers who resist the bosses attacks. This resistance is producing the seeds of coming battles and rebellions against the rule of the capitalist exploiters. This is what the socialists point to. Join us in supporting the working-class alternative on November 8 and beyond.
Click to see a list (.pdf) of Socialist Workers Party candidates.
SWP candidates in California: Nationalize energy, health care!
Socialists campaign for working-class program
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