The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan:
Working Class Party on the Ballot

Aug 22, 2016

The following is part of a speech made by one of the candidates of the new Working Class Party in Michigan. It first appeared on the website: www.workingclassfight.com.

Working people – all of us – are facing a crisis today. And the two existing parties, the Republicans and Democrats, have no answers; they have no solutions for working people. In point of fact, these two parties are part of the problem.

Just look at the crises in this state, and who caused them. People of Flint have been poisoned.... The lives and future of the children of Detroit are being destroyed – not by water, but by inadequate schools....

Both parties made decisions to cheat the schools and public services, taking money that should have gone to them in order to give it to the banks, the corporations and the wealthy.

Why would anyone believe that the political parties who caused these crises would fix them? Not to serve our interest!

So, let me state a political fact: in this country, the bosses have two parties, Democrat and Republican; the working class has none.

Let me state another political fact: working people need our own party. Period!

A working class party would say the truth – that the money is there to provide jobs with decent wages for all who want to work. But just saying those things is not enough. Electing some workers to political office is not enough in a set-up run by and controlled by the wealthy.

It will always take a fight for the working class to gain what it needs. But a working class party can be part of the fight and could help organize that fight. A working class party today would try to bring together the protesters in Flint and the teachers, parents and students in Detroit who are making a fight against the same bosses.

A working class party would show how the fight of one group of workers is connected to the needs of all working people.

A working class party would address the problem of racism, which is always a cancer within the working class, and which the enemies of the working class use today to divide us from each other.

A working class party would say the truth: that workers, who do the work necessary to make everything run, are the majority in this society. And our interests are different from those of the bosses.

Let the Workers’ Voice Be Heard

Two years ago, some of us decided to let the workers’ voice be heard in the elections. I’m speaking on behalf of five candidates who ran for office in Michigan in 2014: Sam Johnson, Mary Anne Hering, Ken Jannot, David Roehrig and myself, Gary Walkowicz....

On the ballot we were listed as independent candidates, but in point of fact, we ran together on a slate that stood for a working class program. It was the effort of only a few dozen individuals. But we were able to reach some tens of thousands of people....

The response we got in 2014 led us to believe that we could do something more in 2016 – try to put a party on the ballot that would not only build on what we had done but could directly speak to the most important issue facing us today, which is, that the working class in this country is not organized politically.

So, in January, we started the petition campaign to get Working Class Party on the ballot in Michigan. A total of 69 people were pulled into the effort to circulate petitions. That included several dozen from other states, who understood how valuable it would be for a working class party to be put on the ballot in any state.

In six months, we got more than 50,000 people to sign our petitions, giving us a comfortable margin beyond the 31,566 needed....

We chose three candidates from 2014 to run this year.

First, Mary Anne Hering for State Board of Education.

Mary Anne is a teacher, she is well-known at her school and elsewhere and she did very well in running for Dearborn Board of Education in 2014, getting votes from 20% of those who voted. She can address the crisis facing public schools in Detroit and every working class community throughout the state, the disgraceful conditions in the schools and the attacks on teachers and other school workers.

We want to reinforce Mary Anne’s campaign by running two workers relatively well-known in this area and link the three campaigns together: Sam Johnson for Congress in the 13th District and myself, Gary Walkowicz, in the 12th District.

Sam is a long-time worker militant at Chrysler and known also in this community. He has written a book about his life as a militant – A Fighter All My Life – living in Alabama, Los Angeles and Detroit.

I am a long-time Ford worker who has led struggles against 2-tier wages and against concessions. Because of these fights, I am known to workers, not just in my plant, but throughout Ford, and to other UAW workers.

Everyone in the state can vote for at least one of our candidates. This lets us campaign anywhere we are in the state, not only for Mary Anne, but behind her, for the working class party.

Some people might think this is a very small start – only three candidates. But the working class hasn’t had its own party for more than a century. And three IS a start!

Putting a party on the ballot doesn’t change the situation – we know that. But by putting this party on the ballot today in Michigan, we are planting a flag, showing there are thousands of people who agree that the working class needs to organize its own party. And those thousands of people can change the situation.

Finally, we think we can get enough votes to remain on the ballot in future years, when we will find more people ready to run.

But we need your votes this year – everyone in the whole state can vote for Mary Anne Hering, and, depending where you live, for Sam Johnson in the 13th congressional district, and, in the 12th congressional district for me, Gary Walkowicz.

We need your help, and the help of anyone you know who can be interested by this campaign.

So, let me repeat: The bosses have two parties. It’s about time that the working class builds one!