“I worked as a coal miner in Utah in a mine where the majority of workers were from Mexico,” Kennedy said. “We organized and fought to make it a union mine, to raise wages and get protection from the bosses’ disregard for our safety. The answer to the problems you pose is not deportations, but coming together to fight for the needs of all.
“We face a basic conflict between the owning class, who use the government to defend their profits, and the working class,” Kennedy said. “We need a social revolution. Working people must unite and take political power.”
The Socialist Workers Party organized teams across Wisconsin to present the party’s revolutionary perspective in the political discussions leading up to the Republican and Democratic Party primaries there April 5.
The bourgeois elections in 2016 are marked by a splintering of both major capitalist parties and the emergence of the “outsider” campaigns of Trump in the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic.
They draw interest because workers have lived through more than a decade of accelerated capitalist crisis, grinding away at jobs, wages, working conditions and social and political life. The propertied rulers, their media and politicians have no answers other than deepening attacks to make working people pay for the crisis of their system.
The Socialist Workers Party is running Kennedy, Osborne Hart for vice president, and other candidates across the country, campaigning to win workers to the party, to the perspective of building a revolutionary working-class movement that aims to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a workers and farmers government.
For months the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News and other big-business papers have declared Trump finished, or Sanders too far behind to matter. Every week their wishes fail to overcome reality.
After Trump was invited to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference March 21, both the Times and the Post said large numbers of delegates were organizing to boycott or walk out of the session.
To the contrary, Trump was greeted with ovations and cheering over 50 times, especially when he denounced the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. And those in the audience were not the working-class “white trash” the press says make up all of the billionaire’s support.
The next day the bourgeois dailies said not a word about the big protest that wasn’t. They just turned to new efforts to demonize and dismiss Trump’s campaign.
While Trump in practice has no course different from his fellow capitalist candidates, he gets a hearing from workers in part because he points to the crisis they face and claims he will fight for jobs. He told the Washington Post April 2 that economic conditions are perilous, with a growing bubble on the stock market, and he sees the country headed for a “massive recession.” And he accurately described as “statistically devised” the official 5 percent unemployment rate. “We’re at a number that’s probably into the twenties,” he said.
“To those voters furious at politicians who sent their children to fight and bleed and die in Iraq,” J.D. Vance wrote in the April 4 Times, Trump says “the war was a terrible mistake imposed on the country by an incompetent president” and “he promises to take care of our veterans.”
Combining these views with coarse, anti-immigrant, sometimes thuggish comments, Trump offers himself as a strong man for today’s difficult times.
Anti-working-class slandersSome blame Trump’s support on what they call the “White Working Class’s Dysfunction,” as Kevin Williamson scornfully titled a March 28 article in the neo-conservative National Review. “If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy … you will come to an awful realization,” he wrote.
“The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin,” Williamson said, in a slander mirroring the contempt for the “redneck” working class expressed by liberals and the left.
In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his radio talk-show backers were in the “Never Trump” coalition along with public service union leaders who have tried and failed to force Walker out of office. They all joined in calling on people to vote for arch-conservative Texas Republican Ted Cruz, to return bourgeois politics to “normal.”
Whatever the outcome in Wisconsin, Trump continues to draw workers’ interest. “I’ve never really been interested in politics, it’s like all the politicians are crooks,” Chuck Choate, a writer, told SWP campaigners at Trump’s meeting in West Allis.
“Trump and Sanders are getting support because they sound like they’re making radical proposals. They talk about the working class, continuing high unemployment and some of the real problems we face,” Kennedy told him. “But the Republican and Democratic parties are the parties of the capitalists and the bosses.”
Choate signed up for a subscription to the Militant.
Sanders held a March 31 rally of over 15,000 people in the Bronx, New York, where the primaries are set for April 19. There too Socialist Workers Party campaigners got a good response.
When Lea Sherman approached Martha Epstein, a drug rehabilitation counselor, Epstein was skeptical. “Isn’t Bernie socialist enough for you?” she asked.
“I answered voting doesn’t make social change, it comes from the mass mobilization of workers in action, like the civil rights movement and the growth of the CIO union movement in the 1930s,” Sherman told the Militant. “In the course of struggle, workers become different people, conscious of the fact capitalism cannot be reformed and confident of our capacity to overthrow it.”
“This is what happened in Cuba, where workers and farmers took power in 1959, an example for us to learn from,” she said.
Epstein got a subscription and said to keep in touch.
The Socialist Workers Party will continue to take its campaign to workers in rural areas, small towns and big cities in states where primaries are scheduled and all across the country explaining class politics and building the party.
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