Socialist Workers Party members found widespread interest in the party’s program, and in how it championed workers on strike to defend their jobs, wages and safety, and joined in protests against police brutality, Jew-hatred, for women’s right to choose abortion and for amnesty for undocumented workers in the 2018 midterm elections. Opportunities are wide open to continue the discussion in state and municipal elections set for 2019.
Battered by the crisis of capitalist rule today — from veterans returning from imperialism’s wars abroad to workers facing low wages and unemployment, from the deterioration of public transportation and inadequate housing to attacks on political rights — working people are looking for ways to defend their interests.
That’s also what lies behind the outcomes of the midterm elections, and why the crisis in the Democratic and Republican parties — the capitalist parties that have ruled for decades through their “lesser evil” shell game — will continue.
It’s why the anti-Donald Trump hysteria of the liberals and middle-class left, and their “resistance” to his presidency, will continue. Their anger is aimed at the working people who they blame for keeping Trump in office, the so-called deplorables who they say are becoming increasingly reactionary, racist, xenophobic and anti-woman.
The Democrats took the majority in the House — nothing new, as it’s common for the party not in the White House to make significant gains in midterm elections. Workers who voted for change and didn’t get what they wanted feel compelled to vote for change again.
The Republicans increased their majority in the Senate. Trump remains the president, with candidates he backed winning election.
“The most striking feature of Tuesday’s voting was the absence of a blue wave,” Gabriel Schoenfeld, a former adviser to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wrote in a Nov. 8 column in USA Today.
“Pundits and politicians can split it a million different ways, but the bottom line is that the electorate did not repudiate Trump,” Schoenfeld whines. “Instead, it chose to normalize the grossly abnormal.”
Schoenfeld charges that “Trump’s fascist-style rallies” are proof that “thousands of our fellow Americans” have been “lured into moral degradation.”
No shift to the right
In fact, the elections confirm the opposite — there has not been a rise in racism, xenophobia, misogyny or any other form of ideological reaction among working people in the U.S. Working people are taking the moral high ground.
In Florida, liberals howled that the election of Trump-backed Ron DeSantis as governor of Florida was further proof workers are becoming rightists and racists. But those workers ensured that Amendment 4 to the state constitution, restoring voting rights to more than a million people convicted of felonies — over a third of them African-American — passed in a landslide with 64 percent in favor. The amendment won a majority of all but a handful of districts in the state, from Democrats and Republicans alike, regardless of race or nationality.
In Louisiana, an amendment requiring that finding someone guilty of a felony will require a unanimous jury — strengthening the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty — was also passed overwhelmingly. Louisiana had been one of the two states, the other being Oregon, that allowed conviction if just 10 out of 12 jurors agreed.
And within days of the elections President Trump announced his support for a bipartisan bill before Congress that would get rid of some of the most onerous and draconian “minimum sentences” and “three strikes” laws, first imposed during the Bill Clinton administration. The bill includes reductions in egregious sentences for crack cocaine, which have been used by cops and prosecutors to target Blacks. Working people would welcome any measure that lessens the vindictiveness of the capitalist rulers “justice” system.
The scorn for the working class expressed by Schoenfeld is nothing new. In April 2008 then-President Barack Obama, referring to workers in small towns and rural areas hard hit by the capitalist economic crisis, said, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
After Trump won the 2016 election Obama mused that “maybe we pushed too far. Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe. … Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early.”
In case you had any doubts on what Obama was saying, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd spelled it out. “We were constantly disappointing him,” she writes. “He would tell us the right thing to do and then sigh and purse his lips when his instructions were not followed.” She said what he meant was, “What if we were too good for these people?”
To the liberal pundits and meritocrats, working people are “grossly abnormal.”
What about the ‘socialists’?
The liberal and left media has focused on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Despite all the hype, her election, like that of a handful of other new “socialist” Democrats is no break with capitalist politics.
Ocasio-Cortez ran as a Democrat to promote a kinder form of capitalist rule. The excitement about her in the media is motivated by the same desire. Her Bernie Sanders-like program of Medicare insurance for all and other reform schemes would do nothing to challenge capitalist exploitation and rule. She backs septuagenarian Nancy Pelosi “as the most progressive candidate for Speaker” of the House.
Neither the Democrats or Republicans of any stripe, nor their strife-riven parties, nor Donald Trump point a road forward for the working class and all victims of capitalist oppression.
SWP points road forward
That’s why the Socialist Workers Party says working people need to break from the two parties of capitalist rule and embark on a road of independent struggle and working-class political action. The party will be fielding candidates in upcoming 2019 elections, including for governor of Kentucky; mayor of Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia; for New York City Public Advocate; and more.
SWP candidates will explain why working people need to think socially and act politically, independent of the capitalist parties and state.
Joining in today’s struggles, telling the truth about the crisis of capitalism, raising demands that can unite working people will point the way for workers to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist class.