In the US, the Democratic Party was once supposed to represent working people. Yet many of the labour unions in America are closely tied to the interests of the bosses rather than the workers. The Democrats are funded largely by large donations from corporations and Obama has continued an aggressive foreign policy, has failed to introduce even the modest reform of Medicare and there has been no let up in the agenda of austerity, with many thousands of homeowners facing the nightmare of repossession, in the richest country in the world.
It is clear, I think, that we need a new party to challenge for power, and to stand up for the interests of ordinary Americans. In Seattle and in Minnesota, and with branches growing across the US, Socialist Alternative has been able to do this in two recent elections.
Ty Moore, standing for Socialist Alternative in Minneapolis, is just 130 votes behind the Democratic candidate, with second and third preference votes yet to be counted. See – http://www.tymoore.org/ for more details of his campaign.
Just as exciting is the battle in Seattle, with Kshama Sawant on 48% and rising, again with many ballots still to be counted. This is likely to be neck-and-neck, as the Sawant campaign gathered momentum in the final days leading up to the election. See http://www.votesawant.org/ for updates.
Both socialist candidates stood on a programme of a $15 minimum wage, for investment in real jobs, against cuts to public services and to support fighting trade unions. Both stood against foreclosures to people’s homes and for tax rises for millionaires to take people out of poverty.
These campaigns show that where they are seen as posing a viable alternative to capitalist cuts, socialists can achieve victory. However, while these are massively important and inspirational victories, whatever the final result, for working class representation in politics, the fact remains that these are just two seats. We still need to challenge the entire system of capitalism. However, the working class make up the vast majority of society and are the producers of the world’s wealth – we hold the power to make the world stop.
Support Socialist Alternative in the US. Support TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, http://www.tusc.org.uk) in the UK in order to help build a similar alternative – against cuts and austerity and for working-class representatives on a workers’ wage.
Update – as I write, the final result in Minneapolis is in: 42% for Ty and 47% for the Democrat – this is an incredible achievement for our small party in America, which just lost by 229 votes, after second and third preference votes were counted.
Update – Kshama Sawant is on course for a probable narrow victory, with a likely recount. Ballots in Seattle are counted in the order they are received, and there is a tendency for more conservative voters to vote early, while more impulsive, radical voters tend to vote later. This has certainly held true in this election with the first batch of ballot papers being 46% to 54% in favour of the Democrat, Richard Conlin, while in later batches Kshama Sawant led by 56% to 44%. It also shows the grassroots support for the socialist campaign, with hundreds of volunteers knocking doors to win support in the days running up to the election. This is despite Sawant’s challenger having one of the best-funded Democratic campaigns in the region (thanks, of course, to largely corporate donations).