The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 80/No. 46      December 12, 2016

(front page)

SWP takes LA campaign for mayor to
workers’ doorsteps

Militant/Becca Williamson
Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Los Angeles mayor, shows Are They Rich Because They're Smart? to Christine Dixon on her doorstep in Van Nuys, California, Nov. 27.
LOS ANGELES — “Cuban workers and farmers participate at all levels in making decisions — including in local, regional and national elections — and the Cuban government is their government. They defend their own interests, not those of a capitalist class, but you never hear about that. Why do you think the U.S. ruling class and the newspapers and TV stations they own denounce Fidel Castro?” Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, told Mary Jones on her doorstep Nov. 29.

“It’s his example and that of the Cuban Revolution that the U.S. is so afraid of,” he said. “They do not want working people to do the same here.”

Richter and SWP supporters are campaigning door to door in working-class neighborhoods, introducing the party, discussing how workers can organize against the attacks of the bosses and their government in the midst of today’s capitalist depression conditions, and signing people up to put Richter on the ballot.

In nine days of campaigning, 69 copies of The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes and other books and 30 Militant subscriptions have been sold, and $126 donated toward the filing fee.

Over 475 signatures have been gathered toward the goal of 1,000 — twice the requirement. The party plans to turn in the petitions and the $300 filing fee by the Dec. 7 deadline.

“I think Fidel Castro was a dictator and the people of Cuba do not have the right to express themselves,” Jones, a retired high school history teacher who is African-American, told Richter.

“As the central leader of the revolutionary movement, Fidel fought alongside his troops,” Richter said. “Cuba sent 425,000 Cuban volunteers to Angola to defend that country against the South African army and they won, helping to lead to the overthrow of the hated apartheid regime.

“They send doctors and other medical personnel to any country that asks for help, asking nothing in return,” he said.

“The Socialist Workers Party also starts with the world and how we can advance the fight of toilers worldwide,” he said.

“The Socialist Workers Party is part of the fight for a workers and farmers government here in the U.S. and to put an end to capitalism,” Richter said. “This would also be a tool in the hands of Black people opening the road to ending racism for good.”

Jones signed the petition to get the SWP on the ballot. “I’m going to consider the things you’ve said,” she said. “I had never heard any of this about Castro and Cuba.”

Richter met high school student Xavier Izquierdo when he campaigned in Wilmington two days earlier. They discussed the unending wars U.S. imperialism has begun, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria. “Wars are nonsense and pointless,” Izquierdo said.

“It’s young people from neighborhoods like this one who are called on to fight and die to defend a system that serves the ruling rich,” Richter said.

“The only way the working class will make decisions on how society is run is if we organize a movement of workers to take power away from the capitalist class,” he said. “Workers can’t organize such a powerful movement without their own party. That’s where building the Socialist Workers Party comes in.”

Richter is running for the seat currently held by liberal Democrat Eric Garcetti.

Richter and other SWP members joined a Nov. 22 protest at an El Super supermarket, where workers have been fighting for three years to get a contract in the face of intimidation and firings.

A number of demonstrators were discussing the presidential election, many repeating what they heard in the liberal big-business press — that Trump won because workers were becoming more right-wing and prejudiced.

“I don’t think it’s because most working people suddenly became more racist. The historic fight that overthrew Jim Crow segregation and protests against cop killings across the country have transformed the working class. There’s less racism in the working class than ever before,” Richter told fellow marcher Fanny Ortiz. “Trump won because many workers responded when he said he was an outsider, saw the economic crisis working people face today, and said he would do something different.

“Workers contrasted this to Hillary Clinton, one of the most distrusted candidates in history, who said the economy was great and called workers ‘deplorables’ and ‘irredeemable,’” he said. “Neither of them have any answers for us. Workers will have to fight for ourselves, to depend on our own mobilizations and build our own party to move forward.”

Some workers have offered to join in the campaign. Kevin Smith, a worker at a pet food manufacturer, volunteered to circulate the SWP ballot petition on the job. A young worker who is a hotel valet gave his name and number to SWP campaigners, looking to set up a time to sit down for a longer discussion. He got a copy of The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record.

Another supporter of the campaign set a date to introduce Richter to co-workers outside the meatpacking plant where he works. Two workers watching news coverage about Castro’s death invited SWP members who knocked on their door in for discussion and got a subscription to the Militant.

SWP members from the Bay Area, Chicago and elsewhere are joining the campaign effort. Anyone who wants to help can contact the Los Angeles SWP at (323) 643-4968 or  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home