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Vol. 80/No. 33      September 5, 2016

(front page)

SWP campaign confronts Tenn. curbs on voting rights

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “In Tennessee, throughout the South and nationally, the capitalist rulers are attacking working-class voting rights, especially those of workers who are African-American,” Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy told the press here Aug. 18. “Their photo-ID requirements to vote, aggressive purges of voter rolls and other restrictions are aimed at disenfranchising workers and working farmers.

“This assault also hits our party,” Kennedy said as she filed an additional 491 signatures for ballot status, “because it deprives workers here of being counted when they sign to put the SWP on the November ballot.”

Party supporters filed 569 signatures Aug. 8 but Tennessee’s secretary of state’s office said only 30 percent were valid. “We answered by more campaigning, gathering 1,060 signatures overall,” Kennedy said.

The Division of Elections office verified Aug. 24 that Kennedy will be on the state’s ballot.

The SWP campaigned in 38 cities and rural towns across the state. One reflection of the support won by the SWP here is that when the party began campaigning there was only one Militant subscriber in the state, today there are 78.

On the heels of the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act — a conquest of the Black rights movement that overturned Jim Crow segregation — Tennessee officials passed a law restricting the right to vote.

The new rules disenfranchised people who had been voting for years. In one notorious case, Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Black woman who had managed to vote all her life, even under Jim Crow, lost that right because her ID was in her married name and she didn’t have a marriage license.

Her plight attracted a lot of media attention, and the state commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security had to make election officials give her the ID she needed.

SWP campaigners got a good response when they encouraged workers to attend the United Mine Workers Sept. 8 rally in Washington to defend miners’ pensions and health care.

They explained that the Socialist Workers Party was the working-class party in the race, against the Democrats, Republicans and all the other bourgeois-minded campaigns.

The socialists find the Mideast wars are on workers’ minds.

“It tears me up to see what is happening in Syria today,” Michael Harden, 56, a custodian at the Musicians Hall of Fame, told Arlene Rubinstein when she knocked on his door in Nashville Aug. 17. “I feel like we’ve been at war all my life. Politicians from both parties tell us how they are going to end war, only to explain that for one reason or another, now is not the time. This system needs wars to survive. Workers need to end wars so we can survive.” Harden got a copy of the Militant to learn about the party and gave his phone number for future discussion.

In Columbia, SWP campaigner Lea Sherman met Leigh, a young mother who used to work in a center for so-called juvenile delinquents, but quit because it didn’t do anything for them. Columbia is a town of 35,000 an hour south of Nashville.

“I mentioned the news reports that an average of 20 military veterans are committing suicide every day,” Sherman told the Militant.

“My neighbor committed suicide this year,” the young woman said. “He would get deployed abroad for long stretches. It’s terrible.”

Leigh said she liked what the SWP had to say and asked the campaigners to come back to talk some more.

“Workers are sent abroad to fight and die for capitalist exploitation from Iraq to Afghanistan,” Kennedy told the press Aug. 18. “They come home, injured and exhausted, from unpopular wars that drag on and on, to find depression conditions, few jobs and bureaucratic disregard and contempt from the Veteran’s Administration. The Socialist Workers Party says bring all the troops home now!

“As today’s crisis drives capitalist regimes to deepening conflicts, many, led by Washington, are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. The SWP demands unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament and fights to take political power out of the hands of the imperialist war-makers.

“Our party is your party,” Kennedy told workers. “Vote for what you WANT, even if you don’t get it today, NOT for what you don’t want, guaranteeing that you’ll keep on getting it.”


Related articles:
Socialist Workers Party says, ‘Fight to defend right to vote’
Struggle over right to vote in US continues today
Working-class fight for right to vote marks US history
‘Our priority is one-on-one discussions with workers’
Join the Socialist Workers Party campaign!
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