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James Harris and Maura DeLuca, SWP candidates for U.S. president and vice president.
BY JOHN STUDER
James Harris, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, and running mate Maura DeLuca, along with three dozen SWP candidates for federal, state and local offices across the country, have been joining workers’ struggles against the rulers’ moves to divide working people—walking union picket lines, supporting legalization of undocumented workers, joining protests against attacks on a woman’s right to choose abortion, and marching against racist “stop and frisk” and cop brutality.
The socialist candidates have been campaigning for a massive government-funded jobs program to provide work building schools, housing, medical centers and other things workers need.
The deepening contraction in worldwide production and trade, Harris and DeLuca explain, is an inevitable result of the workings of the capitalist system. The bosses are pressing to restore their profit rates on our backs.
The Socialist Workers candidates explain the need for the working class and its allies to chart a revolutionary course towards toppling the capitalists’ dictatorship of political power and replacing it with a workers and farmers government.
They demand immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and other imperialist forces from Afghanistan, the Korean Peninsula and wherever they are deployed. They speak out against the buildup of Washington’s naval forces in the Pacific targeting China, as well as U.S. military intervention of any kind in Africa and the Middle East. They denounce the current administration’s increased use of killer drones and special forces assassination squads.
Assaults and resistance
In recent months there has been a decline in strikes and other workers resistance in the U.S. Workers feel the pressure of substantial long-term unemployment. They face constraints on their fighting capacity by the cumulative effects of decades of collaboration by union misleaders with the bosses, their political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, their government.
“Workers will find ways to transform our unions, to organize the unorganized, build solidarity with all workers in struggle, and throw the weight of the union movement into fights of all the oppressed and exploited,” Harris said. “Look at the intransigence of the miners in South Africa—an example of how the determination, imagination and united power of the working class can make its mark.”
But the propertied rulers are moving to place additional shackles on the unions. In several states, initiatives are on the ballot that would further restrict unions, like measures in recent years in Wisconsin, Indiana, and elsewhere.
“The two-party system in the U.S. is set up to prevent the working class from finding our own voice, breaking out and building our own party,” Harris said. “And ballot referenda, touted as ‘direct democracy,’ are yet another snare to keep workers off the streets and picket lines by promoting the illusion we can exercise power through the ballot.
“But workers can’t just ignore bourgeois elections,” Harris said. “Once or twice a year they offer a distorted way for class-conscious workers to speak out in the interests of our class. The Socialist Workers campaign is urging workers to vote not only for the party’s candidates—as a step toward a complete working-class break with the bosses’ parties—but also on a number of ballot measures.”
In California, Proposition 32 would outlaw the right of unions to use members’ dues money to donate to political campaigns. Couched as “even-handed,” the measure says, “Every year, corporations and unions contribute millions of dollars to politicians, and the public interest is buried beneath the mountain of special-interest spending.”
But the law’s only target is union political contributions.
“The SWP campaign in California is urging a ‘no’ vote on Proposition 32. Its purpose is to restrict the labor movement and working people from participating in politics and supporting candidates,” Norton Sandler, the party’s newly announced candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, told the Militant. (See article on front page.)
“As the ranks get more and more dissatisfied with the lack of a fight by labor officials, the bosses’ state moves in, claiming it will ‘clean things up’ in the unions. But any intervention by the government in the unions is an obstacle to the ranks taking advantage of new openings to take on the employers and organize independent working-class political action,” Sandler said.
In Michigan, union leaders, reacting to recent anti-union laws, mobilized workers to put Proposal 2 on the ballot. The measure seeks to write into the state constitution the right of public sector unions to bargain collectively and a prohibition against the legislature’s enacting a “right to work” law.
“The SWP is calling for workers to vote for this ballot measure,” Harris said. “Not because restrictive laws are the reason our unions are getting weaker, a rationalization often heard from union officials. But as one part of defending our unions and laying the groundwork to transform them into effective working-class combat organizations against the bosses’ deepening attacks.”
Space to organize and act
SWP candidates are joining actions and speaking out to defend workers’ political rights and space to discuss and debate how to chart a course to build a stronger and more unified working-class movement.
“My campaign supports and stands with all those fighting against efforts by federal, state, or local governments to deny 14th Amendment guarantees of equal protection of the laws because of gender or sexual orientation,” Harris said. (See article on page 5.) “We call for a ‘yes’ vote on R-74 in Washington, Question 6 in Maryland and Question 1 in Maine, which overturn discriminatory state marriage laws that bolster antigay prejudice. We call for a ‘no’ vote on a Minnesota measure that would reinforce that state’s discriminatory law.”
Amendment 6 in Florida is a ballot measure aimed at imposing further restrictions on women’s rights. It would embed denial of public funding for abortion into the state Constitution and overturn state court rulings that have recognized a right to privacy protecting teenage women from having to inform their parents they are seeking abortions.
“A woman’s right to choose abortion is a precondition to fully participate in social, political and economic life,” Naomi Craine, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida, said in a press statement Oct. 30.
“By attacking women’s right to decide when and if to have children, the amendment would shut down some of the political space our class has won,” Craine said. “I urge working people to vote ‘no.’”
Ballot measure LR-121 in Idaho would deny state services—from driver’s licenses to jobless or disability benefits and state aid for college—to undocumented workers. State agencies would also be mandated to report all such persons who apply for state services to the U.S. immigration cops.
“This measure is another effort to scapegoat a section of the working class and divide us,” Harris said. “We support legalization for all immigrant workers. This is crucial to strengthen workers’ ability to organize and fight. We urge a ‘no’ vote on LR-121.
“Another question facing the working class today,” Harris said, “is fighting to get rid of the death penalty, which is used by the capitalist rulers to try to cow workers from standing up and fighting.
“But Proposition 34 in California, which claims to be an initiative against the death penalty, is full of anti-working-class, anti-Black ‘findings’ and ‘intents’ that make it impossible to support,” Harris said.
To cite just one example, the laws states: “Every person convicted of murder … shall be required to work within a high security prison as many hours of faithful labor in each day and every day during his or her term of imprisonment.”
Voting for such a measure, Harris said, “has nothing to do with advancing the fight against the capitalist rulers’ so-called ‘criminal justice’ system of plea bargains, long incarceration, solitary confinement—all visited disproportionately against workers, especially workers who are African-American and Hispanic.”
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