The district, covering much of Queens and parts of Brooklyn, was left without a member of Congress last month by the resignation of the seven-term Democratic Party incumbent Anthony Weiner, previously a rising liberal star in the party.
Hoeppner announced that the SWP is organizing a one-week petitioning effort to collect the signatures necessary to place his name on the ballot as the partys candidate. The states conditions to gain ballot status, implemented without complaint by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, are so onerous that the New York Times felt compelled to run a July 4 editorial headlined New Yorks Especially Undemocratic Electionsa rare criticism by the papers editors of the states recently elected and (in some Democratic Party circles) sainted chief executive.
With Cuomos July 1 proclamation of the special electionmade on the Friday of the Fourth of July weekendand the deadline for filing nominating petitions set for Wednesday, July 13, the procedure is stacked from the outset to ensure that the Queens Democratic Party machine handpicks the partys candidate. If an outsider wants to get on the ballot, the editorial said, he or she will have to collect 3,500 signatures by July 13. Fat chance.
The Socialist Workers Party decided not to leave it to chance, Hoeppner said. It is organizing supporters to hit the streets for four days between Friday, July 8, and Monday, July 11, in order to collect well over the required signatures. The party will run write-in candidates in one or more of four special elections in the city for the New York State Assembly, as well.
A revolutionary course
Were taking our campaign to the working people of the district, many of whom have begun to consider that the cause of todays worsening conditions may be the capitalist system itself, Hoeppner said.
Were reaching out to working people in these parts of Queens and Brooklyn, as well as others across the city interested in the special election, who welcome a discussion about why we must chart a revolutionary course to replace the bloated, blood-soaked government serving the interests of a handful of wealthy ruling families, Hoeppner said, replace it with the state power of workers and farmers.
In recent months, he said, party members have found that growing numbers of workers are open to our explanation that a revolutionary struggle of this kind by the working class and our exploited allies is both inescapable and necessary.
Hoeppner, who works in an electronics assembly factory in the 9th C.D., was born and raised in Queens, the son of a New York City fireman. He has been active in the Socialist Workers Party and in social and political struggles defending the interests of the working class and unions for nearly 40 years.
Hoeppner said he and supporters of the SWP campaign are taking the Militant newsweekly and books and pamphlets about revolutionary working-class politics to workers across the district. Were urging them to join us in taking part in political, social protest, and union activities here in New York and beyond. And to invite SWP representatives to come speak about the campaign at a house or apartment, a community center, or a school or library basement.
Among other things, he said, supporters of the socialist campaign will be traveling to Germantown, Maryland, between July 31 and August 6 to join with others to defend a womans right to choose abortion. Operation Rescue and other opponents of womens rights have announced plans to organize demonstrations targeting a clinic there.
If women dont have the right to decide if and when to give birth to a child, the socialist candidate said, then they cant take part as equals in social and political life. This is a decisive question for the working class.
Hoeppner said his supporters are helping to publicize and will participate in an annual July 26 celebration in New York to get out the truth about and defend the socialist revolution in Cuba. What workers and farmers in Cuba did more than half a century ago in overturning capitalist rule and bringing to power a revolutionary government of working people, Hoeppner said, is an example supporters of the SWP campaign will point to time and again.
As shown by the breakdown of capitalist banking, production, and trade since 2007, Hoeppner said, each round of the crises of this profit-driven system since the 1970s gets biggerand more ruinous for working peoplethan the one that hit us before.
Workers and farmers are living this social disaster, he said. Not only in Queens and Brooklyn but in small towns and rural areas across the country, from New York to the Dakotas to California, the socialist candidate said. This is also what faces workers and farmers from Greece, to the United Kingdom, to Spainand across the oppressed nations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, where depression conditions continue to grow worse for the big majority.
As always, Hoeppner said, the propertied rulersand their two parties, the Democrats and Republicansaccompany their stepped-up attacks on wages, on line speed, and on job safety with a tightening squeeze on the political rights of workers and farmers.
They go after our ability to speak, organize, and act to defend ourselves and to mobilize solidarity with other working people across the United States and around the world.
With help from both houses of Congress, he said, the Obama administration is extending the constriction of our rights by prior administrations. They are making it easier for FBI, CIA, and other spy agencies to tap our phones, email, and Internet communications, eroding any pretense of the privacy necessary for human dignity. They are making it easier for cops to burst into our apartments and houses, to stop and search us in our cars and on the street, and to deny us the right to keep silent when they haul us away.
Washingtons reckless wars and military assaults are taking a bloody toll on working people from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Iraq, Libya, and beyond, Hoeppner said. That is why Socialist Workers campaigners demand immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troopsand a halt to Washingtons drone assassinations and other deadly assaultsanywhere its military operations are under way.
It is young workers and farmers in uniform who are sent to fight and die in these brutal wars, not the sons and daughters of the rulers or well-off middle-class and professional meritocrats.
Just as it is young people from working-class neighborhoods here in New York and across the country who pack the wretched cells and dormitories of jails and prisonssome 2.3 million in the United States today, with another 5 million on probation and parole. With more than half held on drug-related charges, with longer and longer mandatory sentences.
By-product of revolutionary struggle
As we organize to build a mass social movement to fight for workers power, Hoeppner said, working people defend ourselves against attacks by the employersand from the normal operations of capitalism itselfthat intensify competition among us, block solidarity and class consciousness, and sap our determination and capacity for struggle.
Whatever concessions we win along the way, he said, are a by-product of uncompromising revolutionary struggle.
In face of record levels of long-term unemployment, the Socialist Workers Party candidate called for federal action to cut the workweek with no reduction in pay to provide jobs for all who are out of work.
Working people also need to fight for a massive program of government-funded public works to provide jobs building housing, roads, bridges, hospitals, public transportation, child-care centers, and facilities to meet other needs of the working class, Hoeppner said.
Class interests, not fringes
The working class today is taking bigger and bigger blows, the socialist candidate said, as a result of the union officialdoms decades-long class-collaborationist course of negotiating fringe benefitscompany by company, industry by industrythat are dependent on the bosses profits and on pension and health care funds vested in stocks and bonds.
While finding safer spots for their own pensions, Hoeppner said, the procapitalist bureaucrats have refused to organize a union-led social movement to fight for the needs of the working class as a wholefrom livable pensions and lifetime health care, to jobless benefits that dont run out, to disability compensation and other needs.
These are not welfare or transfer payments, he said, let alone charity. Its a matter of taking a bigger portion of the surplus wealth working people in city and countryand only working peopleproduce with our labor, in order to strengthen class solidarity and combativity in face of capitalisms grinding toll.
This is also necessary, he pointed out, to cut across the drive by the rulers and their government to divide the working class by pitting workers whose fringe benefits are today under siegeboth public employees, and those working for a private bossagainst the growing majority of workers who have few or no retirement, medical, or other protections of any kind.
As the working class is finding out from assaults on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by both Democratic and Republican politicians, the socialist candidate said, theres no such thing as a secure retirement or reliable medical plan under capitalist rule. As the crisis of the profit system deepens, all these can be, and are being, taken away by legislative vote, the pen stroke of a governor or president, or a judges gavel.
Organizing immigrant workers, with or without papers, into the labor movement is a life-or-death question for the unions, Hoeppner said. The hard-fought gains workers won in forging industrial unions in the 1930s have been pushed back for more than 75 years by the officialdoms political subordination to the bosses two-party system and refusal to mount a militant campaign to organize the unorganized. Today the percentage of union workers employed by a private owner is lower than any time since the 1920s, and still sliding.
Unless the labor movementas part of a broader working-class-led mobilization to rebuild our unionsorganizes to fight the Obama administrations E-verify immigration audits and ongoing deportations, the bosses salami tactics against working people cannot be stopped, Hoeppner said.
For the same reason, the SWP campaign rejects the fake trade-off presented by the capitalists between higher taxes, on the one hand, and, on the other, layoffs of public employees and cuts in government programs needed by working people.
We dont have a choice, he said. There will be both higher taxes and cuts and layoffs. The bosses are pressing ahead on all fronts. The workers go to the wall either way.
The Socialist Workers Party, Hoeppner explained, is on the lookout for fighters, for those who are attracted to being part of a revolutionary working-class movement to end capitalist rule, establish workers power, and open the road for the final struggle by working people here and the world over to eliminate exploitation, oppression, and wars once and for all.
To find out how to get involved in the SWP congressional campaign, call 212-736-2540. Or write or stop by the campaign headquarters at 306 W. 37th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018.
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