The Political Situation and the Independent Left
Presented by: Stewart A. Alexander
Written by: Kevin Akin
Sister, Brothers, Comrades and Friends – Good Morning,
For working people in the United States, the political situation is dire. Almost the entire national legislative branch, as well as the executive and judicial branches of government, is in the hands of representatives of the capitalist ruling class, the wealthiest owners of great financial, trading and industrial firms.
In the 2008 national elections, the twin parties of big capital again used their domination of the political process and their masters’ stranglehold on the national economy to win every seat in Congress. Millions, to whom the situation was and remains unclear, expected the Democrats to take action to help working people. As has happened after every election for decade after decade, the Democratic Party did no such thing. Workers’ rights to organize unions, a broken promise. Health care for all, a broken promise. A decent and honorable foreign policy, a promise broken once again in Tegucigalpa, with the Honduran oligarchy represented in Washington by former staffers for Democratic Party leaders.
Action has been taken, and taken promptly, to help some Americans. Anyone with big interests on Wall Street has had reason to rejoice, as the vanished capital from pension funds and the small investments of retirees and those who hope one day to retire, gone like a flash in a few days of collapse, is replaced for huge financial firms from the tax money of working people, and our children and grandchildren. The only thing that has trickled down to us in the working class so far has been a higher unemployment rate than 99 percent of our population can remember.
If we leave things to the Democrats, there will never be a recovery for workers. If we leave things to the Democrats, we will never have universal healthcare. If we leave things to the Democrats, the wars for the empire will never cease. As has happened before in our history, a resurgent Left, independent of the Democratic Party, is the only force that can offer real hope for working people.
Even when we lose the elections, we can win the issues. And sometimes, in crises, we can win elections too. With consistent and steady and hard work, and intelligent planning and preparation, we can win some victories, on and off the ballot, in every field of struggle. As we win, our enemies often retreat to regroup. The Peace and Freedom Party won some small victories right after it was founded, as our ideas took fire. Reading the handwriting on the wall, the capitalist parties backed down and allowed 18-year olds to vote. Our founding and the other struggles for peace at the same time, with which our party was organically connected, helped bring an end to the imperial wars in Southeast Asia. Even Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual income, a memorable occasion.
Who knows what we can win if we bring intelligent organization to an electoral arm of the movement across the country, and mobilize millions to fight and vote for health care, peace, and the needs and rights of workers? We may win little, we may win much, but as we are the ones who see the need and see the possibilities, we are obligated to work this year to prepare the way for an upsurge next year. An upsurge of anger and revulsion against the Democrats and Republicans who fooled people again, an upsurge of hope and militant action as many people come to understand what we need and how we can win it.
Despite some illusions, no socialists were elected in 2008. But a great many people have shown themselves to be interested in socialist ideas, and even abuse from the Right is raising interest in the real socialists as people come to understand that the fake ones aren’t going to accomplish anything for the people.
Because we can see the need, because we understand that our country’s rulers will not meet those needs, because we understand that millions will be ready to break with the con artists of the two big-money parties next year, because the fight is worth fighting, because people learn from struggle, because we can win victories, and because fighting is the only way to win- for all these reasons, the independent Left needs to use both electoral and non-electoral means to confront the parties of the exploiters and oppressors in 2010.
Because we understand that even positive changes that do not remove the capitalists from power are doomed to eventual roll-back, we look forward to fundamental change, to the dispossession of the owners of much of the earth. We need a workers’ earth. But we need to fight for this fundamental change every way we can, and the ballot can have an important role in our struggles.
I hope that this conference helps us learn how independent electoral action can help advance the struggles of our working class in 2010, and into the future.