The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.27           July 22, 1996 
'Workers And Farmers Need To Fight For Power'  


DES MOINES, Iowa - "I really like what your campaign says about immigrant workers," Larry Ginter told Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate James Harris. "If we don't support these folks, it will be that much easier for the big capitalist corporations to come after all of us!"

Ginter, a hog farmer and leader of the fight in Iowa to defend working farmers against the big capitalist pork producers, had invited Harris to tour his farm during the candidate's visit to central Iowa.

The SWP candidate's Iowa tour began by participating in the delegation welcoming framed-up unionist Mark Curtis out of prison June 18.

The following day Harris met with the media including the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Communicator, and two radio stations.

Harris was able to meet with workers from Fawn Engineering in Des Moines, and the IBP packing plant in Perry, Iowa. Roberto, an IBP worker from Mexico, agreed with Harris's description of the declining world order of imperialism. "In Mexico, they charge prices based on dollars but pay us in pesos," Roberto explained. "The crisis is on top of us and we have to figure out how to survive."

"That's why my campaign points to the Cuban revolution," responded Harris.

Several campaign supporters accompanied Harris on a visit to Ginter's 140-acre farm near Marshalltown, Iowa, June 21. Ginter and his mother Alice, also active in farm protests, invited farmer Earl Sime of Story City to join in the discussion. Sime plants corn and beans and works with Ginter in the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). Over a meal prepared by Alice Ginter, Harris heard about the situation facing Iowa farmers.

This past May saw record rainfall amounts that resulted in severe soil erosion in a third of the state's counties. Farmers can receive low-interest government loans to get through the bad spring only if each county can prove a 30 percent loss in crop yields.

"I think farmers should be guaranteed income on top of our production costs," Ginter told Harris. "Everyone says that Freedom to Farm [the 1996 farm bill] lets us produce for the marketplace. But I got news for you, we don't; we take what we can from the six corporations that control food production in this country and around the world."

Harris answered, "That's why my campaign is raising the idea of workers and farmers fighting together against the ravages of capitalism, a system that turns natural disasters into social catastrophes. That's why we need a workers and farmers government, to defend the interests of the vast majority."

Sime took the opportunity of Harris's visit to show photographs he took of a hog manure lagoon that overflowed near his land due to the heavy rain. The runoff headed straight for a nearby creek.

"It's incredible," Sime said. "The head of the DNR [Iowa Department of Natural Resources] said there's no chance of environmental damage because the rainfall diluted the manure."

At a campaign meeting held at the end of his stay here, Harris shared a platform with Shirley Peña, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, and Richard McBride, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Congress in the 4th C.D.

A former packinghouse worker in the audience asked, "My 18- year old daughter wanted me to ask you, what can you offer people if you're elected?"

Harris responded, "The question isn't what I do, it's what you do that counts. As long as workers see elections as a way of fundamentally changing things, we're tricked. If elections really were a way of changing things, they would take them away from us. Great individuals don't make history, but masses of people do."

Bill Kalman is a member of United Transportation Union Local 867.

Garza Joins Fight Against Cop Brutality, For Affirmative Action

SAN FRANCISCO - "This is a campaign of action," said Laura Garza. "We're interested in whether you will join in an effort to fight back against what the capitalists have in store for us." Garza, Socialist Workers candidate for vice-president of the United States, was part of a panel of fighting workers and young people who spoke at an SWP campaign rally at the Pathfinder Bookstore here June 22. The rally capped a five-day campaign tour of northern California. Fifty-four people attended the program.

Maithong Yang, who is active with the Young Socialists for Harris and Garza, told the rally that she first met Garza in Beijing, China, at the international conference on women held there last summer. Garza had a display of Pathfinder books set up outside one of the main tents, and "the books grabbed me." Yang looked up the Pathfinder Bookstore upon her return. "My life has been really exciting since then," she said. "It's exciting to be out there protesting."

A recent graduate of the University of California at Davis, Yang comes to San Francisco most weekends to campaign for the socialist candidates and sell subscriptions to the Militant newspaper. "I was blown away when I saw how open people are to seeing that there is another way than capitalism. America will never look the same to me again." She also explained that she is now working with others in Davis to build the U.S.-Cuba Youth Exchange trip to Cuba set for July 24-August 6.

Candidates William Clinton and Robert Dole have a lot in common, Garza said. They both agree that they should help the bosses in their assault on the workers' standard of living. Backed by both parties, the government goes after the few things in the budget that benefit working people: Social Security, welfare, Medicare. While in the Bay Area, Garza and Susan Zárate, Socialist Workers candidate for San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, traveled to Fresno to join with a group of Chicano students marching 750 miles through the state to protest the attacks on immigrant workers and campaign in defense of affirmative action. Along the way they are holding rallies, registering people to vote, and urging them to reject the misnamed California Civil Rights Initiative, an anti-affirmative action referendum.

Garza explained that in the face of a vicious drive against affirmative action in California, these students, members of the Chicano student organization MEChA, went to a number of groups proposing that something be done. Many told them that this is not the time. "But we did not agree," the students said. "We think this is a good time to fight." The march will culminate in widely-publicized protest actions at the Republican convention in San Diego August 12.

Garza supporter Ved Dookhum joined the march for four days soon after her tour. He sold several Pathfinder pamphlets to march participants along the way.

While in the area, Garza also joined fighters against cop brutality attending a grand jury hearing into the murder of Gustavo Soto Mesa by San Jose police. This was the first such grand jury hearing ever open to the public in San Jose, the fruit of a hard struggle by Soto Mesa's family and others willing to stand up to the city and police officials. Their protest actions have attracted others in the city who have been victims of police violence.

Jose Sandoval, of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in San Jose, joined Garza on the platform at the campaign rally. Speaking in Spanish, Sandoval said, "We seek justice for everyone without distinction. Previous candidates promise to solve problems. We ask the Socialist Workers candidates to take the people into account and together we will learn from each other how it is that we will solve our problems."

Steve Gordon, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Congress in the 8th C.D. and a member of the Young Socialists, also spoke. "Our campaign urges young people to read books, to educate ourselves on the struggles of the past and the system we see around us," he said. "We attend actions: against Buchanan; for gay rights; for striking janitors." Gordon urged rally participants to become active in the Socialist Workers campaign and Young Socialists. An appeal by the local campaign fund director, Toba Singer, raised more than $1,400 in new pledges and contributions. 'Ask Everyone To Contribute'
BY GREG MCCARTAN "We are taken very seriously by the people we set out to reach," said James Harris, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. president, in a phone interview from the campaign trail. "Working people and many youth want to hear an alternative to what we face in society every day. People not only listen and discuss, but decide to get involved in activity with us and become a part of the socialist alternative itself.

"Laura Garza and I are encouraging all our supporters to use the final week of the fund drive to organize to meet the $90,000 goal by asking other supporters to contribute to the campaign," Harris said. " During our tour stop in Iowa, a farm activist gave a $25 contribution before we had even asked for it. When we have set up tables with cans for money, more often than not we get contributions."

Some $10,000 was sent in this past week, with supporters in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Peoria, Seattle, and Minneapolis-St. Paul leading the way. There is now $50,674 in hand. Efforts by fund drive organizers in various cities to reach out more broadly with the campaign have paid off. Contributions have now come in from Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, and others states. Campaign backers in Boston say efforts along these lines in the last week will put them over the top in their $3,500 goal.

The socialist presidential candidate noted, "There is more consciousness now on what it takes to finance a campaign," pointing to recent articles on how the Democratic and Republican parties go around laws that limit contributions to a candidate to raise millions of dollars.

"That is the way the capitalist system operates," he said. "The ruling class is going to fund the candidates they want, either through legal or illegal means, or through loopholes in their laws. Our campaign and our candidates are supported through our own resources, through small contributions by regular working people and youth who understand the importance of having a working-class voice in the elections.

"We continue to find enormous opportunities to build the Young Socialist everywhere the campaign goes," Harris added. "Of those who want to become part of the socialist alternative the greatest number are young people, many of whom want to learn more about or to join the Young Socialists in order to become more effective fighters today."

Contributions can be made payable to the Socialist Workers 1996 Campaign and sent to the address on the coupon at right.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home