Jun 6, 2016
The American working class is not organized politically. It has no political representatives of its own. There are only two big political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and both represent the wealthy classes: those who control the big banks, big industries, big real estate, big agribusiness, and all the Wall Street wheeler-and-dealers.
Those of us who work every day for our living – no one represents us. We have no political party that speaks for us, no party that tells this basic truth, that we are one class. There are only the two big parties that seek to divide us, trick us, set us one against another.
But we are one class – black, white, Latino and every one else who must work every day just to live. We are one class, we have one set of interests, and they are distinct and separate from those of other classes.
The capitalist class improves its situation by exploiting us, and by using the government to lower our standard of living. When they benefit, we lose.
When a party represents the capitalist class, how could it represent us?
The Republicans and Democrats both decided long ago that the capitalist class was their class. Whenever they speak about our problems, it is only to trick us into giving them our vote.
We need our own party. And in this election year, at the very least, we need a way to say that.
We will get a real party in exactly the same way we once built unions for ourselves, unions that the capitalist class did not want and even made illegal. Whatever those unions have become, we need to remember how we got them: more than 80 years ago, workers fought to increase their wages, they fought to protect themselves at work, they fought against hunger, fought against police attacks on their picket lines. And, in fighting, those workers built up their own organizations.
To defend our own interests, we can depend only on ourselves, on our own collective force, on our own capacity to organize ourselves.
It is important that someone says this. Saying it won’t make it happen. But someone needs to step up to say it.
In 2014 in Michigan, there were five independent candidates who asked for people to vote to show their agreement with the idea that the workers need to be organized independently, and that they will defend themselves only by making a collective fight. It was only five candidates, only in one state. But it broke ground that needs to be broken.
Those five candidates, and the people organized around their campaign, are now working to put a political party on the ballot this year in Michigan, the Working Class Party.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed, since the state makes it very hard for the name of a new party to be put on the ballot. Thirty thousand signatures are needed – many more in reality. And many restrictions apply. But it’s important that someone is finally trying to do it.
Of course, just putting the name of a party on the ballot doesn’t mean the workers have built a real party. For that a series of fights will be necessary.
But putting the name Working Class Party on the ballot is a kind of pledge for the future. It calls on everyone who knows the working class needs to organize independently – it lets them express themselves, to say, with their ballot, what they really think.
Over and over we’ve heard it said that nothing can be done, that things have always been this way. Maybe – and that’s not really true – but things don’t have to continue this way. That depends on what workers who want to speak up for their own class are ready to do.