WASHINGTON — Thousands of people, including many young women, turned out for the “Women’s Wave” march here Oct. 8, as they did in similar actions across the country. Organizers appealed to them to join in campaigning and voting for Democratic Party candidates in the November elections.
“Trump Republicans want to hand out kickbacks to corporations and block every bill to lower the cost of living for all of us while destroying constitutional rights to bodily autonomy for women,” Women’s March Executive Director Rachel O’Leary Carmona told the crowd. “That’s why this election is about a women’s wave.”
But there were a wide variety of views among the thousands who joined the march. “They say vote Democrat, but the Democrats are already in power and what good has that done?” Aurozo Niaz told this Militant worker-correspondent.
Niaz is a 22-year-old member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She agreed that the DSA backs the Democratic Party, and was interested in learning more about the Socialist Workers Party’s call for working people to break from the Democrats and Republicans and to fight for a labor party based on our unions.
Capitalism’s erosion of the family
Members and supporters of the Socialist Workers Party actively campaigned at the action, explaining how the fight for women’s emancipation is essential to defend the interests of the working class amid capitalism’s decline and its erosion of the family, which is all many of us have to fall back on.
They put up tables with the Militant,books and signs highlighting a working-class road forward, including to woman’s emancipation, attracting the attention of many participants.
“For reproductive and maternal health care, sex education, safe and reliable contraception, safe and legal abortion,” read one sign.
“For a jobs program and working conditions that allow family time. Support union fights at Warrior Met, Ingredion, Corn Nuts,” read another.
“Defend constitutional freedoms. No to the FBI, the rulers’ political police,” said a third. At the rally in New York City, SWP members included a sign that read, “Decriminalize abortion, no to population control!”
These signs help spur broader discussion about the character of the crisis facing working people and what we should do about it.
Joanne Kuniansky, SWP candidate for Congress from New Jersey, spoke with Stacey Gray and her daughter, Cosette Miller, 24.
Gray had on all kinds of buttons, including one that said “F— SCOTUS” (the Supreme Court). She said she thought that the overturn of Roe v. Wade showed the Supreme Court should be changed, including by adding more liberal judges.
Kuniansky said that it was good that Roe was overturned, because it was in fact unconstitutional. The liberal majority Supreme Court justices at the time simply wrote their own law, without any foundation in the Constitution, and imposed it on the country.
That cut off the debate among working people that had broken out, a discussion our side was winning, Kuniansky said. The ruling opened the door to years of attacks on women’s rights.
“We can’t let the right wing have the mantle of being ‘pro-life,’” she added. “We’re the party that is for life.” As the recent Supreme Court Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe, said, it gives us the opportunity to join the debate again and win people over state by state. Kuniansky encouraged those she met to read the Dobbs decision.
Because of the conditions working people face, including inadequate wages, dangerous work hours and schedules, and the spiraling cost of housing, many young people have put off having children and have even moved back in with their parents.
Gray said that was her own experience. She worked at Lowe’s during the peak of the pandemic.
“We’re not for abortion,” Kuniansky said. “We’re for fighting for child care, cost-of-living escalators in our contracts so that our wages go up with inflation, for widely available sex education, for government-funded family planning including access to contraception and, when needed, to safe abortions.”
Miller said that when she got pregnant, she at first planned to have an abortion. The staff at the family planning clinic “explained to me how an abortion works. They didn’t try to pressure me one way or another,” she said. “They said to take my time to make a decision. I decided to have the baby.”
“We need sex education. Not just for girls, but for boys,” said Miller, so that they all know how their bodies work and can avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Miller subscribed to the Militant and bought Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women.
Importance of involving our unions
At the Oct. 8 rally in Dallas, Alyson Kennedy, SWP candidate for governor, was one of the speakers.
“The rail workers’ unions are fighting for a livable work schedule to be able to have a family and a life,” she said. “These are crucial issues facing women who bear the responsibility of raising a family and taking care of the sick and elderly.
“That is why we must oppose the FBI raid against Trump’s home in Florida,” Kennedy continued. “If they use the FBI to go after one of their own, think about what they will do to fighters for women’s emancipation or the unions standing up for betters conditions.”
At the D.C. action, Sara Lobman, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from New York, told Rose Buchanan, a 22-year-old member of the United Steelworkers union at a factory in Ohio, “We need to start with broader questions we face today, fighting for conditions to make it possible for young people to choose to raise a family.”
Buchanan agreed that backing the Democratic Party is a dead end for working people. “We need to build community organizations,” she said.
Workers need to work inside the unions as they are today to make them effective and, through our activities, to make them stronger, Lobman said. Through our experiences workers will see the need to forge our own political party, a labor party based on our unions, added James Harris, SWP candidate for Washington, D.C., mayor.
Buchanan said that the union is not very active where she works, and she would like to try and change that.
Lobman, who works at a pizza factory organized by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, described how she and some co-workers circulated a card to build solidarity with fellow union members on strike against Corn Nuts in Fresno, California.
Buchanan subscribed to the Militant and bought five books on revolutionary working-class politics.
As I was entering the rally site before the march, a group of participants came by chanting: “Abortion rights, no debate; women’s rights, no debate; health care, no debate! Transgender rights, no debate!”
When they paused, I said that in the real world there are many different views and you have to be able to discuss and debate these questions to make progress. One woman replied, “They should just be rights, they shouldn’t be up for debate.” And the group started back up their chant.
But most people were eager to discuss a way forward. That was reflected in the response to Socialist Workers Party campaigners at the march. They sold 23 books and 20 subscriptions to the Militant to participants at the D.C. action.