The following statement is based on the talk given by Alyson Kennedy, SWP candidate for president, in Seattle Oct. 30. Her running mate was Malcolm Jarrett. As we go to press, the results of the presidential election are not settled. Either way, whoever occupies the White House will govern in the interests of the capitalist ruling families. Working people need to find the road to fight back against the bosses’ relentless attacks on our jobs, wages, working conditions, health and safety.
We launched the SWP 2020 campaign in February as coronavirus was impacting countries around the world and governments in the U.S. and other capitalist nations were telling millions of working people to “stay at home,” not to worry, “we got this.” But the SWP campaign did the opposite. Malcolm and I have been to 22 states and over 90 small towns, rural areas and big cities. We got out on the streets with thousands of workers, marched in protests, walked strike picket lines and talked to countless workers as we campaigned in their neighborhoods.
We have seen firsthand how the pandemic is intertwined with the social and economic crisis of capitalism and how it bears down on our lives. But more importantly, the SWP presented a fighting course for working people and our unions — a road forward to build an independent, fighting working-class movement of millions to take political power into our own hands. Everything we are facing is created by the dog-eat-dog capitalist system organized for the handful of bankers and bosses to rake in profits off our backs.
We are seeing a second wave of infections and deaths, and how the rulers and their parties have done nothing to prepare for this. Health care in the U.S. is not health care — it is an industry to generate profits for the insurance companies, pharmaceutical monopolies, hospital and nursing home bosses. This shapes how all their decisions are made, with full backing from those in Washington and every state capital.
You hear people — especially the liberals and their media, who are in a frenzy — say this is the most important election in U.S. history. They castigate the SWP for running in fear we might take votes from Biden. But what the 2020 election shows is the crisis of the two-party shell game that began with the last election. Trump won in 2016 because millions of working people were disgusted with the “swamp” in Washington that has shown nothing but disdain for our growing crisis. He is trying to do the same again. But he has been in office for four years — are things better for working people?
Hillary Clinton called working people “deplorables,” and the Democrats blame the working class for Trump’s election. They firmly believe workers and farmers need to be controlled and prevented from effecting politics.
Biden poses as a man of the people, saying, “I’m the man from Scranton, and Trump is from Park Avenue.” But many workers, especially African Americans, remember Biden’s decadeslong record as a senator and Obama’s vice president, where he was a staunch defender of capitalist rule.
A fighting working-class program
Whichever of the bosses’ parties comes out on top, the class course forward raised by the SWP in our campaign for immediate action remain what workers need to fight for today.
The SWP says growing joblessness is the central issue in the U.S. We say workers and our unions need to fight for a government-funded public works program to create millions of jobs at union-scale pay building what working people need — housing, hospitals, schools, day care and much more. We call for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay to spread work around and prevent layoffs, without lowering our income.
Workers need to be at work. It is there that we can join together to fight the daily attacks of the bosses. That is how we can build and strengthen our unions.
We say our unions need to fight for escalator clauses in every contract — and to cover everyone on Social Security, disability or a pension — so our wages and benefits go up every single time prices rise.
Out of these struggles we can build our own political party, a labor party, to bring the mighty weight of labor to all struggles against exploitation and oppression. And to lead the fight to take political power out of the hands of the exploiters and establish a workers and farmers government.
One of the most important legacies of the leadership of Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement in Cuba was that they led Cuban workers and farmers to recognize themselves as actors, not objects. They are the changers of the world, not its victims, and can accomplish what others tell them is impossible. And that’s what they did in Cuba and continue to defend.
We say to workers and farmers here — we are not victims, nor objects for others to manipulate. We are the makers of history and we can change the world.