As the Socialist Workers Party talks to thousands of workers at their doorsteps about a way forward for working people, the capitalist party presidential candidates, viewed negatively by the majority of the population, face anger and skepticism from millions of workers ravaged by the effects of the grinding capitalist depression.
“You could put half of [Donald] Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it,” Democrat Hillary Clinton told a New York fundraising gala Sept. 9. “Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”
“That’s what Clinton and the ruling-class families who support her really think about workers and farmers,” Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy told the Militant Sept. 14. “They try to explain away the broad dissatisfaction and frustration of millions of us — particularly targeting those who are Caucasian or live in rural areas — as stupid, backward and bigoted.”
Republican candidate Trump was quick to take advantage of the widespread anger against his opponent for writing off large swaths of the working class. One of his new campaign ads describes Clinton as “viciously demonizing hard-working people like you.”
Some workers who back him made and are wearing T-shirts saying “Adorable Deplorable.”
At a rally in Ashville, North Carolina, Sept. 12, Trump invited working-class supporters on stage to talk about Clinton’s remarks. “My wife and I represent nondeplorable people,” an African-American school principal said to cheers.
Trump told those at the Sept. 12 National Guard Association conference in Baltimore that he is backed by “millions of working-class families who just want a better future and a good job.”
Clinton, feeling some pressure, temporized Sept. 10, saying, “I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.” But her national press secretary Brian Fallon said, “The larger point of what she said on Friday remains true and it’s something we’re not going to apologize for.”
Her supporters in the liberal press pushed harder. “If anything, when it comes to Trump’s racist support, she might have low-balled the number,” Washington Post pundit Dana Milbank opined Sept. 12.
“The capitalist rulers fear the working class, and that is who they see at Trump’s rallies,” Kennedy said. “Trump claims he’s the man for the working class, but he represents the interests of the wealthy rulers as much as the Clintons. His rightist demagogy targets our class — whether it’s workers without papers, Black protesters or workers demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage.
“Their goal in scapegoating the majority of the working class is to divide our class and pit us against each other,” she said. “They’re stepping up attacks on jobs, unions, safety on the job, health care and more. And they’re worried we will rise up.
“No matter which one is elected, the capitalists will be in the driver’s seat,” Kennedy said, “Clinton or Trump will rule in their interest and attack our class, in the U.S. and around the world.”
SWP campaigns at miners’ rallyKennedy and her running mate Osborne Hart campaigned at the United Mine Workers of America rally in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8.
“Between Trump and Hillary I don’t know who would be the lesser of two evils,” Dwight Jeffrey, 59, a retired member of UMWA Local 1058 in West Virginia, told Hart.
“Clinton wants to lay off miners and Trump wants to help mine bosses,” Hart said. “The capitalist class rules through a two-party system, the lesser of two evils is always evil. The Socialist Workers Party is the working-class party.”
“Miners’ pensions used to be guaranteed by royalties on the tonnage,” Jeffrey said. “The problem started when it became based on man-hours worked. Mine equipment increased production, but since man-hours went down, we lost funding for our health care.”
“The way I see it, cradle-to-grave health care is what miners and all workers need,” Hart said. “We can’t let them be tied to company profits. The working class produces all the wealth, it all comes out of our labor, and the bosses expropriate the lion’s share. Health care must be a social right for all.”
Kennedy worked in coal mines in Alabama, Colorado, Utah and West Virginia. She joined the UMWA in 1981. From 2003 to 2006 she was among those in the front ranks of a union-organizing battle at the Co-Op coal mine outside Huntington, Utah, where miners, the majority of them Mexican-born, fought for UMWA representation.
When SWP campaigners go door to door in working-class neighborhoods introducing the party, they find that most back neither candidate. “This system is broken. The two main candidates are an idiot and a liar,” Beth Onan, from Morganfield, Kentucky, told Kennedy.
“I started work on Nov. 7, 1977, and then a month later I was on strike for 111 days, one of the best experiences I ever had,” Terry Lester, 57, a retired miner who came by bus from Danville, West Virginia, told Hart.
Capitalist bosses were beginning to feel the pinch of what has become a deep capitalist economic crisis. The coal bosses demanded miners give up the union’s right to strike over unsafe conditions as they sought to speed up production.
“That strike made gains and set an example,” Hart said. “It pushed back the bosses and the government.”
“You’re right, they’re both the problem,” Lester said. “You can’t convince me the government doesn’t know what the coal companies are up to. They just let them get away with it.”
“It’s a capitalist government,” Hart responded. “What they do to miners is a part of a broader offensive against the working class, against our humanity. That’s why we are building a revolutionary party, to fight for a workers and farmers government.”
Mary Martin and Arlene Rubinstein contributed to this article.