In these times of Black-led rebellion, with pandemic, economic and environmental crises coming to a head, it’s no surprise that passions over the presidential election are running high. There’s tremendous pressure to vote for Biden/Harris to “avert disaster.” But as Miriam Xiomara Padilla, a young leader in the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) and Radical Women says, “Donald Trump is a menace, especially to Black people. But he is not the entire problem. The real problem is that the Republican and Democratic parties both uphold systemic oppression. Sexism and racism aren’t caused by one individual. … Stop asking me to vote for Biden/Harris. I won’t do it.”
Indeed, it’s critically important to think systemically — at the polls and in the streets.
In “Democrats and the myth of the lesser evil,” we address why voting for Democrats will not stop the deep damage that Trump and his ultra-right base inflict.
What is the answer? Working people relying on themselves and being independent, whether in the streets, on the job, on strike, or at the polls. Our interests have nothing in common with the billionaires who determine who the major candidates will be and what policies they put into practice.
An independent labor party would be a good place to start. But the last attempt to build one, in 1996, was sabotaged by labor bureaucrats who took control, then blocked all attempts to actually run candidates.
That leaves the logical option to vote socialist! FSP endorses Socialist Action (SA) write-in presidential candidate Jeff Mackler. SA’s platform is by far the best among the independent, anti-capitalist parties. A sample of its demands to combat the current crisis includes disarming and reducing funding for the police, rebuilding poor neighborhoods and tribal lands under community control, creating a massive public works program at top union wages, a reduced work week to create jobs, ending all forms of discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people, free universal healthcare and nationalizing the entire health care industry, national programs to build quality housing with costs limited to 25 percent of income, taxing the rich, shutting down the war machine, and stopping the climate catastrophe by nationalizing big oil and agribusiness under workers control.
FSP has differences with Socialist Action. We see SA’s performance in the social justice movements as often divisive and opportunist. As one example, SA has blocked democratic discussion and decision-making in the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). In the international arena, it correctly opposes U.S. military interventions. But it supports dictatorial regimes such as Bashar Assad’s of Syria and the fundamentalist Islamist government of Iran, because they claim to oppose U.S. imperialism. Both regimes murderously repress dissidents.
Still, what SA calls for is head and shoulders above the pro-capitalist Democratic Party, whose platform is mostly platitudes with few promises for the 99 percent.
FSP cannot endorse any other socialist parties’ candidates, because they betray class independence. The Party for Socialism and Liberation crossed class lines to undermine other socialists in 2012, endorsing pro-capitalist celebrity Roseanne Barr for California’s Peace and Freedom Party presidential ticket. Barr later became a rabid Trump supporter! The Socialist Workers Party, trying to appeal to conservative workers, crossed class lines to support the right-wing property zealots who took over Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 and has expressed support for Trump. Green and Socialist Parties have a long history in Europe of administering capitalist austerity against workers.
An independent working class will have far more impact on both capitalist parties than a subservient one ever could. Independence is mainly won through grassroots organizing. But voting politically independent is essential.