The Spark

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

Chicago:
A Not So Usual Election Result

Mar 2, 2015

Six hundred and two people cast their vote for Ed Hershey in Chicago’s alderman election for city council. That was 8.23% of the people who voted in the 25th ward.

Ed has been a public school teacher for nine years – not your typical politician. He said he ran because he was outraged at what Mayors Daley and Emanuel took from the public schools in working class neighborhoods, ripping up the possibility of a decent education for many children of the working class.

Before running, he was active as a teacher, fighting against these attacks and against school closings. He was arrested, along with parents, in 2013 when Emanuel sent in heavy equipment to tear down a building used as a community center and library at Whittier school. He was a leader at his school in the 2012 teachers’ strike, which forced Emanuel to take a step back.

Ed, in his campaign, declared that money does exist in the city, money that could be used to provide decent schools, adequate services, pleasant neighborhoods. But, he also said, this money has been stolen by the banks and by the wealthy people served by Rahm Emanuel and the aldermen tied to him. That money went directly into the pockets of the capitalist class, greedily trying to protect itself from the crisis its system created.

There is no answer to the problems we face every day in the cities, unless the working class fights – just like there is no answer to the problems of unemployment, falling income and lack of opportunity for the next generation. But the working class has to fight, not simply to ameliorate some immediate problems. It has to fight to take back all that stolen wealth.

The money in the hands of the banks and the capitalist class today was stolen from the labor of working people. And it was stolen once again, through the tax and budget machinery of city and state government, taken right out of our paychecks and our bank accounts. All that stolen wealth has to be taken back, ripped out of the hands of the capitalist class, torn out of the coffers of the banks. That money has to be taken back and used to protect the interest of working people. That will happen only when the working class organizes itself to fight for its own interests.

Ed Hershey said he ran in order to say all that, to give a chance for all those working people who think the same way – to give them a chance to use an election to say what they really think. And, he said, the job of the alderman should be to use everything at his disposal to make it easier for people to organize a fight.

Many of the people who voted for Ed made a conscious choice to use their vote to say that the working class must fight. They were looking to the future with their vote.

Add to Ed’s 602 votes the 900 people who voted for Jorge Mújica, long-time immigrant rights and community activist who headed the Socialist Campaign, and it’s obvious that working people in the ward found a way to express their anger outside the framework proposed by the Democratic Party. Just over 20% of the 25th ward voters expressed themselves in favor of programs proposed by these two socialist campaigns.

The two candidates may have a different perspective of how the working class can protect itself. Jorge Mújica seemed to focus more on what he would do for people as an alderman, while Ed focused on the need for the working class to fight to win what it needs.

But whatever differences exist between them, the fact is 1502 people voted for these two socialist campaigns. This vote in a city long controlled by the Democratic Party is a welcome development.