Support White and Niemuth in 2016!
In the 2016 US elections, the American people are being asked to choose between two right-wing representatives of the corporate and financial aristocracy, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Regardless of who wins in November, the ruling class is preparing a massive campaign of military violence abroad and an intensification of the assault on the working class at home.
Millions of workers and young people are disgusted with this supposed “choice.” Polls show that Clinton and Trump are among the most despised presidential candidates in US history. Growing numbers of voters are looking for a political alternative to the two corporate-controlled parties.
The Socialist Equality Party and its candidates, Jerry White and Niles Niemuth, are running in these elections to give a voice to the real interests of workers and young people, and to prepare for the struggles to come. We address our campaign to workers suffering from decades of wage stagnation; to young people, burdened with debt, with no prospect of a decent-paying job; to older workers being stripped of their health care and pensions; to everyone opposed to police violence, the destruction of democratic rights and an ever-expanding war drive that threatens the very future of the human race. After experiencing the catastrophic consequences of the crisis of the capitalist system, millions throughout the United States and all over the world are beginning to ask the question: What is socialism? Our campaign is answering this question and building among workers and young people a genuine socialist leadership to wage war on war, inequality and the capitalist system.
Jerry White, 56, is the US labor editor of the World Socialist Web Site. He joined the Workers League, the predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party, in 1979, while working at United Parcel Service and attending the City University of New York. For nearly four decades, as a writer and activist, Jerry has played a major role in the struggles of the working class. He was the SEP’s presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012.
Niles Niemuth, 28, was raised in a working-class family in Wisconsin and became a member of the SEP during the 2011 mass protests against budget cuts imposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Niles joined the staff of the WSWS after completing his masters degree at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where he specialized in African-American history. Niemuth has written extensively on US social conditions, working-class struggles and the government’s assault on democratic rights.
The 2016 elections and the crisis of American democracy
The US presidential election is taking place amid an economic, social and political crisis without precedent since the 1930s. Eight years after the Crash of 2008, the global economy remains mired in a deep slump. Workers and young people in the US and internationally are facing relentless attacks on their jobs and living standards.
While the real economy is stagnant, the stock market has tripled in value under Obama as a result of the bailouts and free money policy that ensured super-profits to speculators while setting the stage for an even more catastrophic crash. Economic crisis is fueling growing national competition, expressed in endless and expanding wars. Obama has the distinction of being the first president to spend two full terms waging continuous wars.
It is not necessary to wait until November to know what will happen after the elections. Both Clinton and Trump are committed to launching new and even bloodier wars while stepping up the attack on the working class to pay for the massive accumulation of corporate and government debt. Well aware they have no popular support for such a reactionary agenda, both candidates plan to expand government spying, police killings and state repression of political dissent.
The 2016 elections are unlike any in American history and have revealed the deep rot of American “democracy.” On the Republican side, the real estate mogul Trump is seeking to exploit economic insecurity and popular disaffection to build up a nationalist and fascistic movement based on anti-immigrant chauvinism, militarism and law-and-order demagogy. While posturing as a champion of the disenfranchised, the billionaire candidate is calling for more cuts in corporate taxes and regulations.
To the extent that Trump has gotten any hearing, it is only because his principal challenger, Hillary Clinton, is the personification of corruption and the status quo. She and her husband, the former president, have amassed a fortune by means of political insider dealing.
Clinton now has the implicit or explicit backing of everyone from Iraq warmongers Robert Kagan and Paul Wolfowitz, to top intelligence officials such as former CIA heads Michael Morell and Michael Hayden, to the Obama administration, the entire trade union apparatus, and former primary challenger Bernie Sanders. To this list must be added major hedge fund billionaires and most of the media.
A Clinton presidency would represent an alliance between Wall Street and corporate America, the military-intelligence apparatus, and the upper-middle-class layers that adhere to the Democratic Party on the basis of the politics of race, gender and sexual identity.
The Democrats and the media are seeking to turn the elections into a mandate for war with Russia and China, even as the horrific implications of a clash between nuclear-armed powers are concealed from the public. The Clinton campaign has managed to attack Trump from the right, centering its criticisms not on his fascistic policies, but on Trump’s alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his unsuitability, for both political and psychological reasons, to serve as US commander in chief.
The mass support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist who based his campaign on calls for a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class,” demonstrates that tens of millions of workers and young people have become politically radicalized and are turning to the left. As the Socialist Equality Party warned, however, the aim of the Sanders campaign was to contain this anti-capitalist sentiment within the Democratic Party and channel it behind Clinton.
Now, various pseudo-left organizations that promoted Sanders, including the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Alternative, are setting another political trap by presenting Jill Stein and the Green Party as a genuine alternative. The Greens, however, are a capitalist party. Wherever they have gained political power, as in Europe and Australia, they quickly abandoned their pacifist and reformist platforms and threw themselves behind the militarist and austerity policies of their ruling classes.
The program of the Socialist Equality Party
The political radicalization of workers and young people, fueled by nearly eight years of Obama’s endless wars and the massive growth of social inequality during the so-called economic recovery—is not going away. The United States is entering a period of intense class struggle. This will, in turn, lead the American working class onto the path of conscious political struggle against the capitalist class and its state machinery.
The Socialist Equality Party candidates are running to unify all sections of the working class, in the United States and internationally, on the basis of their independent class interests. Our aim is not to reform the bankrupt capitalist system. Nothing can be fundamentally changed unless the working class carries out a frontal attack on the wealth and political power of the financial aristocracy that rules this country.
Our election program is centered on three essential demands:
1. Oppose US militarism! Stop the drive to World War III!
Under the fraudulent cover of the unending “war on terror,” now in its 15th year, Obama jettisoned his 2008 election promises. He continued and expanded the war policies of the Bush administration to assert the global domination of US imperialism. With the advent of drone warfare, the White House has been transformed into the planning center for bureaucratically routinized murder. Millions of people—in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan—have been killed, injured or turned into refugees in the wars launched by the United States since 2001.
The regional wars are leading to global conflict. American imperialism will not tolerate either military or economic challenges to its dominant international position. Washington’s “pivot to Asia” has set into motion a massive military operation aimed at forcing China to accept the global hegemony of the United States. At the same time, the determination of the US to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia has escalated conflict with
The SEP is fighting to build a mass anti-war movement of the international working class. We call for the dismantling of the massive Pentagon war machine, the CIA, the NSA and other covert operations of American imperialism, and the reallocation of the trillion-dollars-plus spent annually on the military, nuclear arms and war debt-servicing, for peaceful and socially useful needs.
2. Put an end to poverty and social inequality!
While Obama insists “America is pretty darn great,” the social reality facing millions is just the opposite. The fall in nominal unemployment since the depths of the recession is largely because millions of Americans have dropped out of the labor force. All the growth in jobs over the past decade has been in the form of contingent, part-time or temporary labor.
Social inequality today is greater than ever before. The top 20 billionaires in the US have as much wealth as the bottom 150 million Americans. The rich not only enjoy untold wealth and privilege, they live longer. The life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest Americans averages almost 15 years for men and 10 years for women.
Young people are burdened by more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, millions of people are being cut off from food stamps, and millions more are seeing their pensions and health care slashed or eliminated. The government spends billions on “homeland security” while it allows public schools and basic infrastructure to collapse, and forces the victims of floods and other natural disasters in Louisiana and West Virginia to fend for themselves. Residents in Flint, Michigan and other cities are supplied drinking water poisoned with lead and other toxic chemicals.
The SEP insists that workers have basic social rights that they must fight for. These include: the right to secure and good-paying jobs, health care, affordable housing, high quality public and higher education, and access to culture, leisure time and a comfortable retirement.
To pay for this we call for a radical redistribution of wealth, the seizure of the ill-gotten gains of the financial aristocracy, and the nationalization of the major banks and corporations. This means an end to the private ownership of all corporations valued above $10 billion and their transformation into publicly owned enterprises under the democratic control of the working class. To provide quality jobs to all those who need them, the SEP calls for a multitrillion-dollar public works program to rebuild infrastructure throughout the country.
3. Defend democratic rights! No to government spying and police violence!
Under the framework of the “war on terror,” the most basic democratic rights are being ripped to shreds. Since the revelations of Edward Snowden in 2013 exposed to the world the criminal and unconstitutional activities of the NSA, nothing has been done to rein in the power of the intelligence apparatus. Instead, every terror attack—whether in the United States or abroad—is used as a justification to give more powers to the state.
The Obama administration proclaims the right to carry out drone assassinations, without any judicial process, of people around the world, including US citizens. It helps arm a militarized police force that kills over 1,000 people a year with impunity. Those who expose the crimes of the American ruling class—Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange—are thrown in jail or hunted down and forced into exile.
The vast spying apparatus must be dismantled, along with the Pentagon’s Northern Command, which is overseeing the ever more direct use of the military within the borders of the United States. Genuine democracy is incompatible with an economic system in which all decisions are dictated by a ruling class that controls the giant corporations and banks and demands increasingly brutal attacks on the rights and interests of the working class.
A political party for the working class
The fight for peace, equality and democracy is inseparable from a fight against the capitalist system, which subordinates the global economy to a criminal financial elite. The oligarchs control the political system and both major parties. To defend their rights, workers need their own independent party—the Socialist Equality Party.
The fact that 13 million people voted for Sanders has exploded the official narrative of American politics, according to which no one claiming to be “socialist” can get a hearing. Sanders, however, is no socialist. He supports Obama’s wars, promotes economic nationalism and defends the capitalist system.
Above all, Sanders peddles the lie that the Democratic Party can be transformed into a party for working people. The Democratic Party has been the graveyard of all socially progressive movements, from the insurgent working-class struggles to build the industrial unions, to the Civil Rights and the anti-war movements.
The Socialist Equality Party is fighting to unite every struggle—against war, budget cuts, attacks on wages and benefits, police killings and other attacks on democratic rights—into a single political struggle aimed at establishing a workers government and the socialist reorganization of society.
History has demonstrated that the working class cannot take a step forward without uniting across all divisions—racial, ethnic, gender, language, religious, etc.—used by the ruling class to divide and weaken workers. We reject the claim that the US is separated into a “white America” and a “black America,” or that all “whites” and “males” enjoy special privileges.
There has been an enormous development in the general consciousness of the population since the period of Jim Crow segregation in the south and widespread racial discrimination in the north. Workers of all races live and interact with each other on a daily basis and face a common struggle against poverty, unemployment and the corporate attack on wages and benefits.
The promotion of racialist politics is aimed at advancing the interests of an upper-middle-class layer of minority and women business owners, politicians, academics, and union bureaucrats. Far from opposing the capitalist system, they want a bigger share of the profits extracted from the working class: black, white and immigrant.
The fight against racial and identity politics is a component part of the SEP’s fight to unify the international working class in a common struggle against the global capitalist system, the source of inequality, war and dictatorship.
An internationalist and socialist program for the working class
White and Niemuth are addressing their campaign to workers all over the world, not just in the United States. What happens in the United States has global implications, and the struggle against the American ruling class can be waged only as an international struggle. The same conditions that exist in the United States are repeated in country after country and have already led to explosive social upheavals, from the revolutionary events in Egypt in 2011, to the mass strikes in China and India, to the protests this spring in France against the state of emergency and reactionary labor laws.
In the United States, there are growing signs of radicalization, including the rebellion of autoworkers last year against the United Auto Workers sellout contracts, the wildcat strikes by teachers in Detroit and other cities, and the nearly two-month walkout by Verizon workers. American workers are increasingly turning to politics and seeking radical solutions to the conditions they confront. The ruling class, determined to control the world, will find that it does not have control of its own “house.”
The basic aim of the SEP election campaign is to build support for socialist policies—to speak to and educate masses of workers and youth who are looking for a way forward. This is not a campaign about votes. It is about the organization of workers and young people to prepare for the struggles into which they are entering.
The hundreds of millions of people whose labor produces society’s wealth must take power in their own hands, seize the ill-gotten gains of the super-rich and reorganize society on the basis of human need, not private profit. Only in this way can the working class create a world free from war and poverty and based on international solidarity and social equality.
A new way forward must be forged! To all workers fighting to defend their jobs and living conditions, to young people drowning in debt and without a future, to the millions who are sick of endless war, we say: This is your campaign! Get involved today!