For three weeks supporters of the campaign fanned out across Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan and a portion of the Bronx and went well over their goal of 6,000, collecting 6,658 signatures.
Joining Harris was Callie Miaoulis, SWP candidate for the Nebraska Legislature in the 29th District; Róger Calero, SWP candidate for Senate from New York; and César Sanchez, one of the party’s electors in New Jersey.
The celebration was part of a weekend visit to the area that included a meeting in Garfield, N.J., where Harris met with activists involved in the fight against police brutality and the cop killing of 19-year-old Malik Williams there. Also in attendance were workers from the nearby Crestron electrical assembly plant.
“The capitalist crisis, attacks by bosses, and workers’ resistance are worldwide phenomena,” Harris said at the New York meeting. “Everywhere they are driven to attack us in an effort to become more competitive with their rivals inside each country and internationally.
“They have no choice,” he added, “It is the very nature of capitalism—compete or die, and the only thing they know to help them is to make us pay.
“You can see this in Hillary Clinton’s trip to Africa over the past week,” Harris continued. “She took a bunch of top corporate bosses, looking to push China aside and win investments and manufacturing contracts. And she went to build up the U.S. military in the region. Washington says this is to combat ‘terrorism,’ but down the road its real goal is to protect U.S. markets against all rivals.”
Harris also drew out a number of other political points that socialist workers have been discussing with workers on strike or battling lockouts, fighting back against police brutality, and farmers facing drought conditions and the threat of foreclosure.
“The one thing you’ll notice about our campaign is that it goes to these struggles because that is where workers are learning to think; they begin to learn about the cops, the politicians, and they learn about their fellow workers, look at them differently, begin to trust each other, and get an inkling of what a workers and farmers government can be.”
Miaoulis described her experiences talking to workers at the Kawasaki plant in Lincoln, Neb., where she worked. One co-worker explained how he was coming to view U.S. politics. “It’s like we’re on this bus, and every four years we know something is wrong but we just change the driver,” he said. “But we need to change the road!”
Socialist Workers candidates campaign against Democrats, Republicans, all the capitalist parties. Both the Democratic Party ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as well as the Republican Party ticket of Mitt Romney and his newly announced vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan are appealing to win over working people. Both get a hearing. One says we have too much “big government” that interferes in workers’ lives, and the other says you need more government to take care of you. Both say they have a plan to improve the economy, while both work to strengthen the bosses’ attacks on working people.
A meeting for Harris hosted by United Residents of Garfield Engaging Neighborhood Transformation in New Jersey the next day drew nine people. Harris was joined by Calero. The wide-ranging discussion included the role and function of the police under the capitalist system, how to combat anti-social behavior like crime, the job crisis, immigration, and what lessons workers can draw from the Civil Rights movement and the Cuban Revolution.
Shirley Williams, mother of Malik Williams, who was gunned down by cops last December, and Miguel Reyes de Leon, another leader of the fight to get the cops who killed Malik prosecuted, took part.
“I understand there is no solution to crime under capitalism and more cops in the streets are not the solution to it,” de Leon said after the discussion had gone on a while. “So what are we supposed to do? Police ourselves?”
“I grew up in Nicaragua under the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship,” Calero said. “His National Guard and the police would come into the neighborhoods and pick you up for no reason and beat you. Many were killed. We grew up hating them. There were popular struggles going on at that time—peasants fighting for land, strikes, student protests—that ultimately grew into a massive popular uprising that overthrew Somoza and established a workers and farmers government.
“We were very young and not politically involved, but when the popular insurrection developed, we saw it as an opportunity to get rid of his hated guards, and we joined the fight,” Calero explained. “As the insurrection spread, we armed ourselves any way we could to defend the neighborhoods under our control against the National Guard and Somoza’s henchmen. There was no looting. We organized to feed and look after each other. As the dictatorship crumbled and its army and police were smashed, a new police and army were born out of the people itself.
“This was possible because of the solidarity that grew with the revolutionary struggle to build a different kind of society,” Calero said. “This can’t be done living under capitalism. But as we fight together against capitalist injustice, we move in this direction.”
SWP presidential ticket on ballot in Louisiana
‘Union struggles important to fight for safety’
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