These were some of the questions packinghouse workers asked Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, as he talked to people for over two hours Nov. 30 during shift change at the Farmer John meatpacking plant here.
“Sanders says his goal is to take over the Democratic Party, to change the leadership to one that is more ‘progressive,’ to carry out an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ type program to reform capitalism,” Richter said. “There are two classes and three parties in the U.S. The bosses have the Democratic and Republican parties and the working class has the Socialist Workers Party.
“A working-class party is necessary to lead the millions who produce all the wealth to the revolutionary conquest of state power,” Richter said. “This is what’s needed to end the exploitation of workers and to form a workers and farmers government that can lead the transformation of society.
“The Cuban Revolution — and the leadership example of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Communist Party — show workers worldwide that we are capable of uniting, of transforming ourselves in struggle to overthrow the propertied rulers,” he said. “Our party will continue to put defense of Cuba and its socialist revolution at the forefront of our campaign.
“Along the road, we can win important reforms for the working class, no matter who controls Congress or the White House,” he said. “That’s the lesson of the mighty struggle we waged to overthrow Jim Crow segregation and to end the bloody U.S. war against the people of Vietnam.
“But in the end the working class has to end the dictatorship of capital, under which everything and everyone is a commodity to be bought and sold,” Richter said. “We need a revolution to open up the possibility of ending racism, sexism and all forms of human degradation once and for all.”
A key component of the SWP campaign effort to build the party and put Richter on the ballot is getting into workers’ hands three new books by party leaders —The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People and Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? both by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, and Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? A Necessary Debate Among Working People by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters — as well as subscriptions to the Militant.
Since Nov. 19, workers have bought 164 copies of these three books and 50 subscriptions. One worker at the Farmer John plant gate got two other Pathfinder books in Spanish — Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own and Abortion Is a Woman’s Right! Forty-eight workers there signed petitions to put Richter on the ballot.
From the southern Los Angeles port neighborhoods of Wilmington and San Pedro to Van Nuys and Northridge in the San Fernando Valley, the focus of the campaign has been visiting with workers on their doorsteps, where workers have contributed $210. The party gathered over 1,200 signatures to put Richter on the ballot, more than twice the requirement, and filed Dec. 7.
“What is your opinion of Obamacare?” asked Crystal Rodin when Richter knocked on her door in Eagle Rock Dec. 2. Rodin is a single mother who works as a tutor.
“Obamacare doesn’t solve workers’ right to health care. It was designed to boost the profits of the drug and insurance companies,” Richter said. “The working class needs to fight to stop health care from being a commodity to enrich capitalists. Medical care should be guaranteed for all from cradle to grave.”
“A big issue for me is Child Protective Services,” Rodin said. “They are attacking single parents, trying to take their kids away. This is a huge thing in L.A. County.”
Richter showed her The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, describing the devastating effect on women and children when then-President Bill Clinton “ended welfare as we know it.”
Rodin got the book and said she would like to bring some of her friends together with Richter to discuss this. “It will be a lot of single mothers. Are you ready for that?” she asked.
They began making plans to set up the meeting.
If you would like to join the Socialist Workers Party in campaigning in working-class neighborhoods and at working-class protests, contact the party in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 643-4968.
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