The Spark

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

The Workers’ Voice Was Heard in Michigan

Nov 10, 2014

In most states, the 2014 elections offered working people no one to vote for, no one who represented their class interests. But in Michigan, there were five candidates running together on a slate calling “for a working class fight based on a working class policy.”

They did much better than independent candidates ordinarily are able to do. Gary Walkowicz, running in Michigan’s 12th Congressional district, had 5,039 votes, 2.44% of those voting. (It was 3.03% in the part of his district in Wayne County and 1.48% in the part in Washtenaw County.)

Sam Johnson whose district includes the central part of Detroit, had 3,466 votes, which translated into 2.07% of the 13th district, where turnout was lower.

In the election for the Dearborn School Board (responsible also for Henry Ford College), Mary Anne Hering had 5,153 votes, over 20% of the 25,127 people who voted. In an election to put three people on the new board, she came in fourth. Kenneth Jannot had 2,431 votes, almost 10%. (The final percentages are calculated differently because people could choose up to three candidates and so that increased the total number of votes counted.)

Finally, in the election for Wayne County Community College Board of Trustees, D. A. Roehrig won with 15,661 votes. He was unopposed after the incumbent failed to qualify for the ballot.

The importance of a campaign like this is not measured in the way the two parties measure their campaigns – who won and who lost. Two per cent of the vote may not seem like much, measured on their scale. But when measured against the difficulties for a campaign like this to be heard, even two percent in a large Congressional district is a very big number. And the three candidates running in local school board elections did even better.

Election law makes it hard for independent candidates to get on the ballot. The two parties have millions of dollars to spend on every election. And the big media don’t bother reporting on independent candidates.

Despite all this, the workers’ viewpoint was heard this year in Michigan. Volunteers supporting their election talked to people on street corners, in front of markets, at plant gates, at bus stops, in people’s homes, at meetings, at parties, always spreading the message of the campaign.

Thousands of workers responded – not only by voting, but by talking about this campaign to people around them.

Nothing was decided in this election. For workers to defend themselves, they will have to fight. And certainly there has been no fight like the kind we need. But those thousands attracted to this campaign can be the kernel of the fight that needs to be made. And that is important for the future.

In any case, all five candidates say that they will be out there tomorrow, just as they were during the campaign, calling for a working class fight based on a working class policy.