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A statement from Facts For Working People.
Some of us associated with Facts For Working People Blog (FFWP) are also members of the Green Party. We advocate support for Jill Stein in the presidential elections. We do not subscribe to the lesser of two evils argument. We are opposed to both Clinton and Trump and of course the Libertarian idiot. However, while we are voting for Jill Stein we keep a few things in mind. It is important for us to prepare for the different eventualities, the numerous outcomes that might arise from the elections in this extremely volatile and unpredictable period. We must also take a sober look at the different strengths and weaknesses of the Green Party and how the Party and society in general can could be changed.
We need to explain a few things immediately and consistently. One is that we need to strongly maintain the position that Jill Stein puts forward with regard to student debt and that the Green Party could win this election. Jill Stein correctly points out that if all those feeling the weight of student debt on their shoulders, that includes students and their families who are being held responsible for this debt, were to vote Green in November, Jill Stein could win the presidency.
Jill Stein must get credit for insisting on putting forward this position and the entire party must follow her lead. It is not an exaggeration to make this point time and time again; the GPUS could win if all those with student debt voted Green Party. We must not be intimidated by the capitalist media and by the pessimism of the majority of the middle class and those working class people that haven’t withdrawn from the process in disgust and feel they have to make their vote count by voting the lesser evil because only a capitalist politician can get elected.
However while Jill Stein's point about the student debt is a good one it is not, most definitely not, the main point that has to be made. If the right wing win this election, whether it is Trump or Clinton, this will not be the fault of the unorganized students and their massive debt burden that stands at about $1.3 trillion or that the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.
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It is obviously not Jill Steins’ intention, but her emphasis on the debt laden students could lead her enemies and the Green Party’s opponents, to blame students for her defeat should she not win.
So we must be emphatic that if the right, either in the form of Trump or Clinton, win this election, this will not be the fault of the students. No, the fault will lie elsewhere; it will lie with the trade union leaders who control the two trade union federations, the American Federation of Labor and the Change to Win Coalition. We know them as that dog that never barks except to echo the policies of the bosses and the Democratic Party.
There are 12 million members in the trade unions in the US. Of course only a fraction of these are active. But they are not active because they feel safe and secure. They do not feel safe and secure. They are inactive because any movement from within organized labor that attempts to drive back the bosses’ offensive is met with the full force, the full opposition of the leadership of the trade union movement and their army of full time staff. Faced with a war on two fronts, against the bosses and the disastrous polices of their own leadership, to resist seems such a daunting task, so the average worker just puts their nose to the grindstone and tries to make the best of it.
But if the union leaders had the correct policies, that is, a policy of mass direct action and open opposition to the policies of the 1%, and the corporations that have a stranglehold on our economic and political life, millions of these 12 million could be organized and mobilized. But this is not the policy of the trade union leaders, just the opposite. The labor officialdom is terrified of a victory of any sort for the working class because they are aware it would inspire millions of workers inside and outside of organized labor. Workers would then see the unions in a different light and move toward these organizations turning them into fighting organizations, transforming them and of course in the process changing the leaderships. Victories for the working class would show that the entire policy of the union leadership over the past years was incorrect. They argue that victories are not possible so defeats and concessions must be accepted. The union leadership’s policies ensure that defeats and concessions are the result.
Victories for the working class would radicalize the labor movement. This radicalized labor movement could then be a lever which could activate and mobilize the rest of the working class into action, unleash the anger that lies beneath the surface of US society. This is what the labor officialdom fear the most.
Consider the resources of the trade union movement and its potential power.
One union alone, AFSCME, has 1.6 million members, approximately 3,400 local unions, 58 district councils and affiliates in 46 states according to its website. The SEIU has two million members. The LA Labor Council represents about 800,000 workers in crucial industries and LA ranks about the 16th largest economy in the world among countries. California is the 6th largest economy in the world and is a fairly heavily unionized state with about two million workers affiliated to the State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.
Are we to believe this is not potential power; that we are weak?
Are we to believe this is not potential power; that we are weak?
In Chicago there are 320 union locals and half a million workers affiliated to the Chicago Federation of Labor, the central labor body in the city.
Organized labor also hands out millions of its members’ money to the two capitalist parties. $7 million to Republicans this year so far and $40 million to Democrats. Over the years, the billions of dollars in union members dues money has gone to the Democrats. We should also consider the human capital the labor movement offers the Democrats. Afscme provided 40,000 volunteers for Mondale during his campaign in the 1980’s. Thousands of volunteers worked phone banks and walked precincts and there is also money that is spent on ads usually for Democratic Party issues. The money and resources the union leadership hands over to the two capitalist parties, mainly the Democratic Party is a disgrace. These resources should be going instead to building a mass workers party. The refusal of the union leadership to take this road is what allows the two capitalist parties, the Republicans and the Democrats to continue to dominate, to continue with their monopoly over US political life.
If any of the candidates of the right, either Trump or Clinton win the election it will not be because the millions of students overburdened with debt do not vote. It will not be because of the vote the Green Party will get. It will be because the trade union leaders refuse to build a mass workers' party and take on the parties of the bosses, the parties of capital and the right. The trade union leaders are the spoilers. Their refusal to lead gives the right an open field every time. The Green Party leadership has to point this out on all occasions.
There are two principle reasons for this. One is because it is the way to explain how a mass workers party can be built. And two because it is the way to defend the Green Party from attack in the unlikely case Trump would win or even if Clinton wins. Whichever right wing party would win, the truth is it would be the fault of the union leaders. Leaving aside their refusal to fight on the bread and butter issues, where are their voices on social issues? Jesse Ventura is speaking out and defending Colin Kaepernick, in fact he salutes him. Where is the voice of the leadership of organized labor? It is mute.
It is vital that this reality is pointed out. Just think of what could happen. The leadership of the Green Party is blind to the danger the Party faces. Supporters of this blog distributed a flier at the Green Party Convention in Houston outlining our views. We titled it: The Green Party: An unprecedented Opportunity: An unprecedented challenge.
This title is still correct and if the leadership of the Green Party do not rise to this challenge and do not prepare the party for all the likely outcomes of this election process, it is not ruled out that Stein could get a percentage of the vote which will be used to attack the Green Party, blaming it for the disaster that will follow a Trump or Clinton election. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t true, something doesn’t have to be true to be believed and any gains that the Green Party has made in the wake of the Bernie Sanders betrayal could be wiped out.
Imagine what would happen to the Green Party if this were to happen. If it was to come out of the elections with this millstone round its neck. The membership would be demoralized, as they would be blamed for the victory of the right especially if it was Trump. They would also be demoralized if Clinton won as she would soon show her imperialist, and anti working class policies.
Trump could build a movement, a racist semi fascist movement with some legs in such a situation. The Green party would get some of the blame for this also. The capitalist class to the extent that they would see the Green Party to be of any significance would go after it like wild animals and tear it to pieces, finish it off. Not that this would be hard to do if the capitalist class could blame it for opening the door to a Trump administration.
Those of us connected to this blog do not think Trump will win but events over the past period have convinced us that we cannot rule it out by any means. The dominant sections of the capitalist class still oppose him and prefer Clinton. The majority of the working class and middle class think too much of themselves to vote for the extreme right wing policies of the racist degenerate Trump.
But if Trump were to win, and it was by a tiny margin, maybe less than the Stein vote, the Green Party would need to be prepared for the assault that would be launched against us. The only way we can do this, that we can prepare for this abuse we would receive, is by starting right away to tell the truth, and the truth is that the blame for any victory of the right would lie with the heads of organized labor, the leaders of organized labor.
Their refusal to act politically, to act independently, prevents the building of a mass workers party and allows the political monopoly of the right wing Republican and Democratic Parties to continue to dominate. The word spoilers is used against the Green Party to intimidate and confuse. In reality it is the trade union leaders who are the spoilers. They prevent the power of organized labor from being used to mobilize the broader masses of labor and the youth to build an alternative to the right wing parties. These trade union leaders are the real spoilers.
Unfortunately the Green Party leaders are not putting this position forward. This could lead to a disaster. Nor are the left groups and individuals in the Green Party putting it forward. One of us recently attended a 600 strong meeting at a Jill Stein event in Chicago. Stein gave a very good agitational speech in particularly against militarism. However she never mentioned the Party's new eco socialist plank. It now appears that the Party after passing this plank is now ignoring it, one of the typical undemocratic methods of consensus.
Nor did Jill Stein mention the role of the trade union leaders. Where were the leaders and members of the 320 Chicago union locals, the half million Chicago union members who are affiliated to the Chicago federation of labor? They were not there in that hall. And there was not a single reference from any speaker to their absence. This was a disgrace and a serious political mistake.
One member of a left group which claims to be Marxist and revolutionary spoke from the platform. All he commented on was the student debt and the need to cancel it. In fact Jill Stein made a more radical speech. These left groups and individuals in the Green Party at best cover up for the right wing pro capitalist policies of the main forces that appear to be dominant in the Green Party at present. And cover up also for the trade union leaders support for the Democrats and their refusal to build a mass workers' party and oppose capitalism. This too is a very bad mistake.
The GP must explain something else beside the role of the trade union leaders. We have to explain that in reality we want to win the Presidency and if the union leaders led we could win the Presidency, but winning the Presidency is not the central issue. The Green Party can still win; the working class can still make gains, even if it does not win the Presidency. It can do so in this way. By building a mass direct action united front movement against the capitalist offensive. By building a mass direct action movement against the 1% at the center of which would be the Green Party fighting for its eco-socialist program, fighting to become a workers party and changing its own internal life to one that is democratic and not the undemocratic paralyzing internal life of consensus.
And while being clear on this and on insisting on explaining this, we must also be clear and explain that even if Stein won the Presidency tomorrow with its present policies where it refuses to fight for eco socialism, where it refuses to build itself into a workers party, and along with this with its undemocratic internal life it could not solve the problems of the country anyway. The party is not prepared to govern.
If the GP can win 10% 15% off the vote and does so while transforming itself into an eco-socialist party, that means fighting for eco-socialism not just having it in its platform and never mentioning it, if the GP wins 10% to 15% of the vote and in doing so transforms itself into a workers party and with a changed internal life and commits itself to mass direct action against the capitalist offensive it can transform the political life of the country.
It can put tens of millions on to the streets, into occupations and mass strikes in the workplaces. In doing so it can shake up the entire US political life, build a movement that can throw back the capitalist offensive and prepare the ground for ending capitalism in this country. US capitalism will not be ended by electoral means. Mass direct action movements of the working class will end it. It will be ended when capitalism loses control of, loses its domination over, the consciousness of the working class and when the working class develops independent thinking, sees itself as a class for itself and builds its own organization of tens of millions.
The struggle for this involves fighting on a number of fronts. With the tiny left resources now inside the Green Party it involves the building of a non-sectarian left current which can reach out to broader layers of workers and youth. There are already obstacles to this as a caucus formed at the Convention called the Watermelon caucus (Green on the outside red on the inside) has not been developed in any way and has now been deemed not a caucus at all. The argument is that for technical reasons it cannot be a caucus.
These are just excuses. So do not call it a caucus call it a network. There is no difference in reality, all is needed is a non sectarian left current or network within which ideas can be developed and advocated and organized around. The obstacles to developing a non sectarian left current or network are being put there by the party leadership and other forces in the Party such as the sectarian groups who want to use the GP just for recruitment to their own small sect and so do not want the Watermellon group or any other non sectarian democratic left current or network to develop.
Let us build such a non sectarian left current in the GP, let us turn out in these elections and in general and conduct a dialogue with the working class, elections are dialogues with the working class. As we do so let us not forget that while elections are important in the struggle for the consciousness of the working class, in our dialogue with the working class we have to be clear that electoral politics will not end US capitalism. This will take the mass direct action of the working class organized in a mass workers party of tens of millions.