When Every Vote Doesn’t Count in Hartford

By  (Originally posted to Real Hartford)

In Hartford, the Working Families Party has displaced Republicans as the minority party on City Council. We have three Registrar of Voters because of the strength of this third party.

Knowing this makes Hartford’s recorded results from November’s presidential election seem unlikely. How can a city with a sizable progressive-minded population only have two votes for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and none at all for Stephen Durham, the Freedom Socialist Party candidate for president?

It can’t.

Real Hartford has found two Hartford residents who say they voted for Stephen Durham, and three who claim to have written in votes for Jill Stein. It’s likely there are others.

Transparency

David Bedell, Treasurer of the CT Green Party, said that while some towns have election results posted on their websites, Hartford’s data has been less accessible. The most recent results posted by the Hartford Registrar of Voters reflects the outcome of the Democratic State, District and Municipal Primary from August 2012. Bedell said the Green Party has attempted to contact multiple Hartford Registrar of Voters, but as of publication, none have provided the information requested.

The Connecticut Secretary of the State website offers little more in the way of assuring residents that all votes were counted in the November election. The results posted for the presidential election only show votes cast for those candidates belonging to the Republican, Democratic, Independent, and Libertarian parties.

Today marks four months since the polls closed.

To obtain records about how many third party votes were cast town-by-town, members of the CT Green Party had to make an appointment and pay a visit to the  Connecticut Secretary of the State‘s office.

There are no unrealistic hopes that the write-in candidates gained enough support to change the outcome of the presidential election. Bedell says that having this information matters so that the Green Party can “find out” for themselves where they “had the most support.”

But with incomplete or inaccurate data, his and other parties can not carefully assess their own strategies.

Many districts, Bedell said, recorded write-in candidates with a zero or simply left this category blank.

From scouring the paperwork at the SOTS office, what the CT Green Party learned does not entirely match up with their expectations. Over fifty votes for Jill Stein were recorded in New Haven; over thirty in Hamden, Mansfield, and Middletown; and over ten in Bristol, Canton, Colchester, Columbia, East Hampton, Glastonbury, Manchester, New Britain, New London, New Milford, Norwalk, Southbury, Stonington, Tolland, Torrington, Wallingford, West Hartford, Westport, Windham, and Woodbury.

Is it believable that in a city with over 124,000 residents, only two voted for Stein, while a town with a population of half that managed to get more than thirty voters to write-in the same candidate?

Bridgeport, West Haven, and Waterbury all have reported no votes for Stein.

Patterns

The CT Green Party is preparing to file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). In2010, complaints were also filed with the SEEC for the failure to count and record all write-in votes within Hartford. The result? The Hartford Registrar of Voters was required to file an amended report.

Though the CT Green Party is leading the demands for accountability, Stephen Durham, the Freedom Socialist Partycandidate in 2012, has also voiced concerns about what he calls an “effort to exclude” anyone who poses “opposition” in the political arena. What’s happening in Hartford, Durham said, is “part of a pattern” nationwide.

The first openly gay presidential candidate said, “most of [the Freedom Socialist Party] votes weren’t counted across the country.”

In the state of Washington, unless the write-in votes could change the outcome of the election, these votes are not counted, Durham explained to Real Hartford.

For the Freedom Socialist Party, counting every last vote has less to do with campaign analysis and more to do with using the ballot as a way to voice dissent.

“All progressive ideas begin as a minority,” he said. “If you suppress that, you’re endorsing the status quo.”

Even with attempts at voter suppression and an inaccurate record of votes, United States citizens are pushing against the status quo. According to Ballot Access News, Stein became the top vote-getting female presidential candidate during a general election. At the same time, Durham’s running mate  — Christina López — is a Chicana feminist.

And, in an election that was widely believed to be of no contest in this state, some voters who normally would have filled in the bubble for the strongest candidate opposing a Republican, went with voting their conscience instead.

Beyond strategy and dissent, Durham expressed frustration with having to jump through hoops just to get on the ballot or be allowed as a write-in candidate, only to have the votes not counted.

Richard Nelson, one Hartford resident who has complained about the votes not being counted, says that for him it is “not because I believe in this system but voting to me is because of the folks who had to fight hard, get beaten, dog bitten, and killed
just to vote.”

“Folks who had to suffer all sorts of indignities just to participate in a given right such as voting,” Nelson says, “I go to the polls in
honor of these courageous people.”

Why Neglect to Count All Votes?

“Elections night is very busy,” Bedell said. “In some cases the district moderator or head moderator is new to the job and not very well-trained.”

After a long day at the polls, “write-in candidates are not considered[by moderators as] a priority,” Bedell said.

Priority or not, neglecting to record this data is a form of voter disenfranchisement.

As Richard Nelson — a voter taking part in filing a complaint — says, “I expect to have my vote counted. Not denied. I do not expect that I must be made to jump through hoops just to have my vote counted.”

Those wanting to write in the names of candidates have not had an easy time of it in recent years. The now-retired voting booths made the process awkward. Now, voters are provided with a thick, black marker with which to fill in bubbles. The marker does not lend itself to legibly printing more than a few letters, but voters are not informed that they may use their own pens for this purpose.

Bedell told us “anything that’s legible should be counted,” and voters do not even need to write a candidate’s full name. Just the last name of the presidential candidate should be enough.

Realistically, he said, such practices are interpreted differently in each polling place.

One instance of this is described by the Durham/López campaign. They reported that poll workers in Newark, NJ “publicly ridiculed” voters who tried to write candidates’ names on the ballots back in November.

Durham called the election process an “unstandardized method” and insisted that the failure to count votes was an “effort to marginalize” third party candidates.

Next Steps

As the Green Party of Connecticut prepares to file complaints with the SEEC, it is asking that Hartford voters be in contact — regardless of party affiliation — if they question whether or not their votes were counted in the 2012 presidential election. If you fit that description and are willing to give a statement, contact David Bedell.

Future

Will filing a complaint with the SEEC create lasting change?

Hartford resident Richard Nelson says that back in 2010, after submitting the same type of complaint, “it was promised to us by the SOTS office that all Registers of Voters would be trained again about counting the write in votes for registered candidates.”

Nelson says, “if training did take place I ask this question: Why then did the Hartford Registrar of Voters not train the moderators at the polls? We expect that there should be more than just a tap on the fingers of HROV this time around as all three in the City of Hartford are not doing their job in one of the most important functions of a democracy. For what good is the right to vote if no one counts the votes?”

Freedom Socialist Party resigns from California Peace and Freedom Party Central Committee

December 18, 2012

Kevin Akin, State Chair
Peace and Freedom Party (PFP)
PO Box 24764
Oakland, CA 94623

Dear Kevin and PFP State Executive Committee Members,

This letter is to formalize the Freedom Socialist Party’s (FSP) resignation from the Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee (PFP SCC) that we announced at the State Central Committee meeting in Oakland on November 17 and to state the reasons we are stepping down.

Nine members of the FSP in Northern and Southern California were elected to the PFP SCC in June 2012 with the help of the disabled, women, immigrant, people of color, and LGBTQ communities—communities that PFP’s socialist feminist program purports to defend. We cannot remain in the leadership of an electoral party whose officers refuse to support their own party’s program and the voters who stand behind it. Because PFP Executive Committee officers refused to hold Roseanne Barr, PFP’s U.S. 2012 presidential nominee, accountable to PFP’s platform and the campaign promises she made, FSP was unable to carry out the key commitment we made to voters—the assurance that the PFP would support candidates who were in keeping with its program. Choosing a liberal presidential candidate—one with a meandering political persona— betrayed all PFP voters who want a serious socialist alternative to the twin parties of capitalism. FSP holds the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) responsible for tipping the vote towards Barr’s non-socialist campaign. We expected more from a professed revolutionary party like PSL, who chose celebrity Barr over their own candidates in an opportunistic maneuver.

Barr makes farce of PFP program and abandons campaign promises

In their “We’re Serious” flyer (attached) handed out at the August PFP presidential nominating convention, Barr and her running mate Cindy Sheehan wrote that they were committed to exposing the true causes of and solutions for human, economic, environmental, and political conditions brought out by capitalism. They pledged to make 43,000 new PFP registrants a top priority; to promote socialism; to jointly fundraise for the campaign and the PFP; and to work collaboratively with PFP to craft messages. After winning the nomination, Roseanne dropped out of sight politically, ultimately campaigning only a few times on the issue of marijuana. In fact, Barr’s betrayal of her promises was so swift and so complete that Cindy Sheehan felt compelled to publicly withdraw and tried to get replaced as the vice presidential candidate.

Barr not only failed to campaign on the PFP program, some of her actions also contradicted the party’s principles against discrimination based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. For example, a Comedy Central roast in her honor, in which she actively participated, revolved almost entirely around “humor” ridiculing the disabled, women, people of color, and queers, and making light of racism, sexism, rape, and child molestation. Then, two weeks before the election, Roseanne put out a transphobic tweet that reinforces the vicious stereotype of transpeople as threatening—a stereotype that is used to justify anti-trans violence.

PFP State Executive Officers sidestep FSP’s requests to denounce Barr and defend PFP platform

To those of us representing FSP in PFP, Barr’s abandonment of even a façade of seriousness about PFP’s program and prospects seemed entirely predictable. This was so because of her lack of history of political collaboration with others, socialist or otherwise, and the fact that she turned to the PFP only after being rejected as a presidential candidate of the Green Party. Only weeks before entering the running for the PFP nomination, she had been pledging her allegiance to the fundamentally different program of the Green Party, and promising to boost its fortunes, with the same fervor with which she made her promises to PFP.

But we did hope for more from the PFP leadership.

As members of the PFP SCC, we repeatedly asked PFP officers to publicly condemn Barr for her behavior and defend PFP’s socialist feminist program. FSP’s requests were met with a combination of silence, denial, rationalization, and admonishment for raising our criticisms. FSP was then threatened with censure on an internal SCC list for disagreeing with the PFP choice of presidential nominees. After FSP members of the PFP SCC announced our resignation at the November State Central Committee meeting, Kevin Akin posted a memo to the PFP internal list saying that the reason we resigned was because the FSP National Office told us to. This is classic red-baiting, the hackneyed stereotype of “orders from Moscow.” It was also dismissive and patronizing to the FSP leaders who attended the State Central Committee meeting. We needed no order to resign—FSP’s California members were so outraged and dismayed at the insults Roseanne Barr tossed at us and the people whose issues we fight for that our only choice was to resign to maintain our integrity as socialist feminist activists.

Given their presidential candidates violation of the party’s platform, the PFP officers had ample authority to take action. The party by-laws give them this authority (see attached PFP By-Laws, Article II, Sections 10 and 11). But they chose to reject their responsibility to defend the party platform.

Leaders must be responsible to program

FSP takes extremely seriously the need for joint socialist action in the electoral arena, especially in the absence of a mass, anti-capitalist labor party for workers and the oppressed. That is why we have been part of PFP for many decades, and that is why we made a collective, democratic decision to devote so many resources to PFP’s attempt to provide a radical alternative in the 2012 election. This was an election with the potential to be a much-needed springboard for militant action against the anti-working-class austerity agenda. But we believe that PFP leaders squandered this potential, and FSP members cannot in good conscience be part of an organization’s leadership that betrays its own principles and stated reason for being.

Still, we believe in united left action despite disagreements, and we want to and expect to continue to work with the PFP on causes and issues we have in common. We believe this is possible as long as we can openly and respectfully discuss differences. To that end, we ask that you send this letter to the internal PFP list and publish it on the PFP website so that PFP registrants can read and evaluate for themselves FSP’s reasons for resigning from the State Central Committee.

In struggle for a socialist feminist future,
Yolanda Alaniz, L.A. County, District 53
Mary Ann Cutris, L.A. County, District 53
Yuisa Gimeno, L.A. County, District 54
Amy Gray-Schlink, Alameda County, District 4
Nancy Reiko Kato, San Francisco County
Toni Mendicino, San Francisco County
Bob Price, San Francisco County
Samuel Solomon, L.A. County, District 51
Muffy Sunde, L.A. County, District 54

Enclosures: “We’re Serious” Flyer; PFP By-Laws, Article II, Sections 10-11

Distributed to: 2012-2014 PFP State Executive Committee Officers Kevin Akin, state chair (Riverside County), Sherill Borg, state treasurer (Contra Costa County), David Campbell, state secretary (San Francisco) and officers at large, Richard Becker (San Francisco County), Marsha Feinland (Alameda County), Cindy Varela Henderson (Los Angeles County), Dave Kadlecek (Santa Clara County), Tom Lacey (San Francisco County), Mary McIlroy (Contra Costa County), Katie Ramsden (Solano County), Debra Reiger (Sacramento County), Maureen Smith (Santa Cruz County), C. T. Weber (Sacramento County)

For the pdf of statement with attachments, click here.

The $6 billion election that settled nothing

A Michigan ballot proposal to protect collective bargaining rights gained 684,000 signatures. In an election with mixed results for labor initiatives, the measure lost. Photo credit: Greg DeRuiter / AP

What matters now is what happens in the streets, labor councils, and organizations of the oppressed

On election night on Nov. 6, as returns showed Barack Obama winning, victory honks sounded in cities around the U.S. Compared to 2008, however, the mood still seemed somber, and the hope mostly absent. The president’s new theme, “forward,” raised more questions than answers: where’s the country going, and who’s leading?

Pundits were clear that Latinos, Blacks, Asian Americans, women, and youth kept Obama in the White House. The Republicans’ blatant misogyny and racism kept them out.

But this begs the importance of class. Obama’s support came from voters of all colors low on the economic ladder, where big issues are shrinking wallets and overt Republican threats to Social Security and Medicare. For instance, one poll cited Latinos rating the economy and jobs as their top concern, even ahead of immigration.

The cold truth, however, is that the Democratic Party is no more a real champion of workers and the poor than the Republican Party is. When Obama first announced his post-election priorities, for example, jobs were missing, crowded out by Wall Street’s agenda: deficit reduction, “reform” of immigration and the tax code, and “freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”

When it comes to avoiding the “fiscal cliff” — the drastic looming package of budget cuts and tax hikes — the Democrats promise bipartisanship. But their “bipartisanship” is a steady scooting to the right to accommodate to the Republican program; it’s a “bipartisanship” born of both parties’ allegiance to big business. The common rightward march on everything from union issues to reproductive rights and taxes is not going to stop at Social Security and Medicare.

Without revolt from below, Corporate America and its political partners will keep delivering war and austerity — whatever the election results.

Initiatives: a mixed bag. Disengagement was the real winner, as 93 million of 219 million eligible voters (registered or unregistered) abstained. Obama won the White House with an un-stunning 28 percent of eligible voters.

But breakthroughs on social issues offered electoral bright spots. Same-sex marriage rights won in Washington state, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. Drug liberalization advanced in Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington (Oregon and Arkansas went backward). Florida preserved public funding for abortion. California softened its “three strikes” law.

Victories for progressive measures owe a lot to past radical movements, whose impact is still unfolding. On the other hand, many of the wins also owe something to self-interested corporate backing, compromises by movement leaders, and watering down by Democratic politicians. For example, Washingtonians legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana at the expense of introducing tricky new regulations. These include criminal penalties for drivers showing a certain degree of marijuana use, an opening for more police harassment, especially of drivers of color.

Labor issues were another area of split decisions.

In Michigan, public-sector unions helped overturn the state’s hyper-undemocratic “emergency manager law” allowing the governor to trash labor contracts and privatize services.

In California, a huge pro-labor turnout helped win a living wage for hotel workers in Long Beach and a $2 minimum wage hike in San Jose. In South Dakota and Idaho, grass-roots campaigning stopped attacks on teacher tenure and bargaining rights.

In contrast, Georgia and Washington approved charter schools. In Washington, the pro-charter side outspent the opposition 10 to 1, with plenty of help from billionaires. A nearly tied result showed that labor could have beaten the measure if it had spent more energy and money on this effort and less on electing Democrats.

Also on the down side, civil rights suffered in the election. Oklahoma banned affirmative action. Alabama retained segregation language and a law that makes it harder to unionize. California kept the death penalty. In Arizona, Maricopa County’s xenophobic sheriff, Joe Arpaio, was announced as winning reelection — provoking protest, since 400,000 ballots remained uncounted at the time.

Rigged and rotten. Six billion dollars was spent this election to protect the Republican and Democrat duopoly. This was a new record, set in part thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that slapped a smiley face on corporate buying of elections.

Super PACs not only kept minor parties on the far margins, but also tried to mold public opinion. They did their best to push people to see government as a negative force, fear “tax and spend” as the sure route to economic hell, and accept that with one false move the U.S. will be a wholly owned subsidiary of China.

At the same time, voter suppression disenfranchised many people who are poor, of color, elderly, disabled, or likely to be progressive. In dozens of states, voters stood in lines for hours. Votes were blocked or voting skewed by district gerrymandering, ballot theft, malfunctioning machines at the polls, “robo-calls” that lied about voting deadlines, and racist, deliberately burdensome ID laws.

Voters attempting to write in Freedom Socialist Party candidates Stephen Durham and Christina López were harassed by poll workers in New Jersey and Illinois, but report great pride in persevering. Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant won 28 percent of the vote running for the Washington legislature — but to get that far, she had to sue the state to let her list her party preference on the ballot.

Build the movements! The 2012 elections don’t herald a triumphant march into a bright shining future. Far from it. Winners on both sides of the aisle are already vying to prove their anti-working-class worth to the CEOs who bankrolled their victories.

Elections don’t change things much for the people who need change the most; radical mass movements do. Elections don’t give the working class an effective voice; organizing does.

For change to come will take more than a gentle nudge at the powers-that-be. It will take putting some serious anti-capitalist muscle into our movements. The difference between a Republican or a Democratic White House won’t determine the course of the next four years. If we want an end to policies that send thousands off to war and throw millions out of jobs, it’s up to us.

By Linda Averill
Freedom Socialist, December 2012-January 2013, Volume 33, No. 6

FSP candidates buoyed by strong response to socialist message

Stephen Durham

“They ran on fear; we ran on belief in the potential of the working class”

On July 14, 2012, former hotel workers’ union activist Durham visits a picket to support locked-out employees of New York City utility Con Edison. Photo credit: Dave Schmauch / FS

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we live in a deeply destructive world. The way I see it, we’ve got two basic choices: duck and cover in fear and despair, or build a bold fight-back for radical change.

When the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) in the U.S. decided to run a 2012 presidential campaign, I thought it was a great idea. It didn’t occur to me that I might be FSP’s presidential candidate.

What an awesome journey it’s been! I met so many people who are thoughtful about issues, working hard for causes bigger than themselves, and open to new ideas. It verified my belief, and the party’s belief, that the U.S. working class is capable of great things.

Socialist? Right on! I was proud to be running with vice-presidential partner Christina López. In our very grass-roots campaign, Christina and I and our supporters talked to thousands door-to-door, in coffee shops and neighborhood bars, and at street festivals and political protests. We got the word out at labor conventions attended by over 11,000 unionists.

Everywhere, when people asked me, “You’re running for what?” and I’d answer U.S. president, they said, “Hey! Good luck!” On a radio program called Gay Spirit in Hartford, Conn., the interviewer exclaimed in surprise, “You’ve said everything I’ve wanted to hear.”

It was great to be a multiracial feminist team delivering the message that if you’re not changing conditions for people on the bottom, you are not advancing justice or revolutionary change. Racism and sexism are fundamental weapons of the ruling class, and they were also the fuel of fear that many mainstream candidates ran on.

It was striking to see the sudden attentiveness of undocumented workers as we said they should have the right to cross borders for jobs, and to vote here. And to witness the curiosity young people showed about our ideas, from teens in middle school to 20-somethings old enough to have voted for Obama in 2008. In fact, young people’s enthusiasm propelled our campaign from start to finish.

Looking ahead. Our campaign gave voters a radical, inclusive platform worthy of their vote and a way to protest rigged elections. It also promoted the cause of cooperation among socialists.

To its credit, the Left survived decades of harsh assaults after World War II, including McCarthyism. But today it is small and fragmented.

Christina and I were a consistent voice for socialists getting together in united efforts. But we also answered the question, “Why isn’t there just one socialist party?” Because, we said, there are some serious political distinctions among left parties. Plus, unfortunately, there’s a good deal of sectarian behavior; fighting over issues is one thing, but fighting over status is another.

And supporting a political gadfly like comedian Roseanne Barr in order to sabotage other socialists, as the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) did in California, is completely out of bounds. We further took issue with PSL’s support for Syrian dictator Assad (although we too condemn imperialist intervention). We also explained our differences with reformist groups like the Green Party, which, for example, doesn’t denounce Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

On the plus side, I appreciated that Socialist Party presidential candidate Stewart Alexander offered me opportunities to speak alongside him, even though our two parties also differ in some fundamental ways.

U.S. working people don’t have a mass labor party, and there’s no question they could benefit from one — if it was truly independent from Democrats and Republicans and willing to indict capitalism. But a labor party is no substitute for a revolutionary party.

Christina and I tried to explain and show by example what a revolutionary party is. A vanguard party, we said, is a group of people who believe in socialism, take initiative in the struggles of workers and the oppressed, and study history and theory in order to effectively act in changing our world at its roots.

Several new members decided to join FSP in the course of the campaign, which is extremely heartening! I have high hopes that this will be just the first step for the party in new growth and taking up new battles, with the ultimate goal of putting the working class in power. I can’t wait to be part of what comes next.

Also see: Freedom Socialist presidential candidate comes in second to last-minute celebrity entrant Roseanne Barr and A socialist choice for voters in Seattle at www.socialism.com.

Christina López

“People are looking for alternatives”

On July 29, 2012, López discusses the campaign at a rally against police brutality that followed the vicious shooting deaths of two Latino youths by cops in Anaheim, Calif. Photo credit: Doug Barnes / FS

One of the things I learned by running for vice president is this: people understand that the policies of the Republicans and the Democrats are not going to solve the economic crisis. Which is logical, because these parties take their marching orders from the banks and corporations that created the crisis.

My presidential running mate Stephen Durham and I got a lot of support, but I’m sure many people we talked to voted for Obama, because they saw him as the “lesser evil.” That doesn’t mean they are satisfied with their alternatives, however. They’re not; they want other options and they’re excited to hear about them.

Some are interested in the Libertarian Party, because there’s such fierce propaganda that government is evil, and the libertarians go to town with that. People don’t always realize that the basis of libertarian thinking, “let the market rule,” is right-wing, with disastrous consequences for immigrants, women, and others. Unfettered capitalism is the problem, not the solution.

I and my party, the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), don’t want Wild West capitalism. (Or a mythical “kinder, gentler” capitalism, for that matter.) Depending on whose class interests government represents, it can be a major force in helping people to survive and better their lives. That’s the kind of government we want to be a part of bringing about, and that’s why it was so important that we were out there this election with our socialist message.

A world of opportunity opens up. We talked to people on campuses, at demonstrations, in front of Walmarts. A lot of people at Walmarts gave us the thumbs up! What made it easier for us as socialists is that the mainstream politicians mostly ignored the issues that people care about — tuition hikes, budget cuts, war. (Except for when they were calling for more!)

The problems people of color face disproportionately, like poverty and prison, seemed to come up only when the Republicans used them to rally the racists they see as their base.

As for women, Democrats were happy to score points because of the disgusting things Republicans said, especially about rape and abortion. But look at the Democratic record on reproductive rights: it’s one horrible compromise after another.

And, of course, all of the issues affecting people of color and women affected women of color the most, from voter suppression and unequal wages to access to abortion. There really is a war on women, and the heaviest artillery is aimed at women of color.

What all this meant is that when we talked about the problems of workers of all colors and genders, but especially those who are most exploited and oppressed, people were eager to listen and to share their own experiences and opinions.

I found it fascinating to travel and see the leadership of women of color in action, from the young students fighting for ethnic studies in my old home state of Arizona to the farm-worker organizers in my current home state of Washington. I also loved spreading the news of their struggles everywhere I went, especially to the high school and college classes I spoke at on both coasts.

Students ask the best questions! Of course young people are known for being receptive to new ideas. I also found that, generally speaking, they are much less invested than their elders in this stultifying two-party system.

Get involved, express yourself! With everyone I talked to, I made the case for getting rid of capitalism.

It’s important to fight for reforms in the here and now, because people are desperate for improvements in their lives. We need truly universal healthcare, equal pay for equal work, and all those other good things.

But I know, in the end, it will take a revolution to get them and keep them. And the first step, I always told people, is for you to get involved, if you’re not already.

We workers and students have much more power than we realize. Common action has won great things for humanity in the past. Now it is up to us to carry that legacy forward, to take it to the next level. We need not just reforms, but a whole new system.

Here I go, I’m taking this slogan back from Obama, who ripped it off from us in the first place: ¡Sí se puede!

Order Christina López’ book Estamos en la Lucha: Immigrant Women Light the Fires of Resistance at www.redletterpress.org.

By Stephen Durham and Christina López
Freedom Socialist, December 2012-January 2013, Volume 33, No. 6

Socialist feminist presidential campaign: Bringing race and gender issues to the fore

The May Day 2012 march for immigrant and workers’ rights in Los Angeles. Photo credit: FS Presidential Campaign

Let’s consider. The forest of laws keeping minor parties off U.S. ballots just keeps thickening; all the major media act like alternative candidates don’t exist; and the price tag for being seen as any kind of “serious” contender just keeps going up. All in all, the Democratic and Republican two-party lock on the U.S. ballot box just keeps tightening.

And yet the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) decided 2012 was the right time to run its first presidential campaign! What were we thinking?

We were thinking about the urgency of posing an alternative in these ugly times. About the need to encourage people to say a loud no to unemployment, war, and disappearing social services and civil liberties. And a loud yes to dumping capitalism and using this country’s tremendous wealth to stop the suffering of the people who create that wealth.

The unconventional approach. Because the odds are so stacked against minor-party candidates, they’re often accused of tilting at windmills. But the FSP write-in campaign, although wholehearted, wasn’t about winning. It was about pushing the issues of the most oppressed center stage and about building movements.

Presidential candidate Stephen Durham, vice-presidential partner Christina López, and their supporters picketed with Chicago teachers, rallied against police abuse, marched against NATO, participated in Tucson’s Freedom Summer for ethnic studies, and delivered aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

They talked to farm workers not allowed to vote, and with students not old enough to. They went to big-box stores and knocked on doors in all sorts of neighborhoods. They intervened at union conventions where officials aggressively pushed Barack Obama, but rank-and-filers showed interest in the FSP’s “un-millionaire campaign.” They made a splash in California as contenders for the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party electoral coalition (which ultimately gave the nod to Roseanne Barr — click here to read more about that story).

And, with help from new friends all over the country, the Durham-López ticket acquired write-in status in 25 states.

New Yorker Durham and Seattleite López are both grass-roots organizers with long records of fighting for justice in many arenas. Durham stood out as an openly gay presidential candidate, López as a Chicana dedicated to the fight for immigrant rights.

They boldly raised socialism as the only sane way to reorganize society, and feminism as the only way to mobilize more than half the human race in this urgent task. They focused on communities of color, not as a demographic to be cynically wooed, but as crucial movers of social change.

The power of program. FSP’s platform — one that leaves no one out — gave the campaign its vitality and significance. López and Durham raised demands that make the major parties shudder: free, expanded mass transit to deal with climate change; a giant program of public jobs to address unemployment; taxing big business and the rich to pay for all this; shutting down the prison-industrial complex; and total reproductive rights, including free abortion on demand. The platform also took stands avoided by liberal third parties, like opening the borders and dismantling the Pentagon.

Durham and López also spread the idea that today’s close-knit world requires international solidarity among workers, including intensified opposition at home to the U.S. empire’s wars and crimes abroad. The campaign got publicity in Brazil, Argentina, and Australia and won endorsements from socialist groups in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Support also came from South Africa, Turkey, and Italy.

U.S. endorsements came from movement leaders like former Black Panther Richard Brown, writer-activists like Suzanne Brooks, rank-and-file unionists, community activists, and musicians including Laura Love and David Rovics.

How did we do? Due to the disdain the system has for David-versus-Goliath efforts like the FSP campaign, results for write-in votes won’t be known until mid-December, if at all. As FSP gets it, information will go up on this Web site.

But some things we know.

At the Seattle election night party, Campaign Manager Doug Barnes thanked the many enthusiastic volunteers and generous working-class contributors, who together raised $37,500. Because of this support, Barnes said, “We were able, with modest resources, to cause a scene, to poke holes in the two-party stranglehold, and find like-minded folks everywhere we turned.”

Durham-López campaigners found a remarkably high level of anti-capitalist sentiment among battered and beleaguered poor and working people, and opened eyes about what socialism is and why it’s feasible. They also found a serious will to organize after the billionaires’ election and made new connections for that effort.

Mission accomplished!

By Megan Cornish
Freedom Socialist, December 2012-January 2013, Volume 33, No. 6

Inside Out Reports: Youth voter turn out in 2012 election

A look at why young people don’t vote, filmed before the election with interviews of Stephen Durham and Schuyler Kempton. Click on the image above to view the video.

About Inside Out Reports:

The Spine of Inside Out is informed conversation. The 25 min. show aims to take an in depth look at the challenges and opportunities the United States faces in the 21st century. The discussions on Inside Out reflect the same passionate exchanges that one witnesses each day across America about the stories that matter most but are less talked about.

The show is written and presented by Susan Modaress. You can follow Susan on twitter @susanmodaress or send emails to info@susanmodaress.com

EN ESTADOS UNIDOS: Stephen Durham y Christina López candidatos socialistas en defensa de los trabajadores y oprimidos

El siguiente artículo apareció en Pluma-El Socialista, verano 2012, voz del Partido Obrero Socialista (POS) de México

Nueva York.- El Partido de la Libertad Socialista de los Estados unidos, decidió asistir a las elecciones presidenciales norteamericanas. Es una gran responsabilidad.

Para los socialistas, en un sistema electoral en el que las minorías tienen la de perder y unas campañas en las que se gastan miles de millones de dólares, el desafío es mayor. (1)

Solo el convencimiento de que hay que aprovechar el proceso electoral para dialogar con sectores del movimiento de masas, explica que el camarada neoyorquino Stephen Durham y la camarada seatleleña, Christina López, tomen la responsabilidad de presentarse como candidato a la presidencia el primero y a la vicepresidencia la segunda.

“La candidatura del FSP es una oportunidad para que el pueblo vote no solo contra algo sino por algo. En nuestra campaña estamos entusiasmados de proporcionar al pueblo una manera de expresar un fuerte mensaje de protesta, de encontrar nuevas personas con intereses similares y de fortalecer los esfuerzos organizativos para crear un futuro que todos los trabajadores se merecen.” Comenta Durham, de 64 años.

“Nosotros hemos enfatizado que nuestra compaña es una compaña abiertamente socialista que muestra como personas de diferentes razas, orientaciones sexuales y diferente generaciones, puedan aliarse en una lucha para emancipar la mayoría de los seres humanos, la clase trabajadora de los EE.UU. y sus aliados de clase por todo el mundo”. Señala Christina López de 44 años.

VENCIENDO OBSTACULOS:

El primero y más difícil fue el de las autoridades electorales del estado de California.

Las mismas se negaban a integrar a Stephen en la lista de los precandidatos del partido socialista, el Peace and Freedom Party (El Partido de Libertad y Paz), para su convención de junio del 2012. Ambos grupos, decidieron aliarse electoralmente en ese Estado.

EL partido de la libertad Socialista junto a otras organizaciones de izquierda levantó una compaña nacional de protesta, doblegando al Consejo Electoral californiano. Logrando su integración.

Los recursos financieros. Confiando en su propia fuerza.

Conscientes de que la campaña significa gastos y que a diferencia de los candidatos de los Partidos Republicanos y Demócrata, que manejan miles de millones de dólares donados por los empresarios y sectores de la burocracia sindical norteamericana, el Partido de la libertad Socialista se apoya en  actividades financieras propias de sus militantes, colaboradores, amigos y amigas, relacionados y relacionadas. En la misma participaron todas las secciones del partido, entre ellas, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, los Angeles y New York, recibiendo la solidaridad política y financiera de centenares de ciudadanos norteamericanos.

Un Comité de Campaña para centralizar esfuerzos.

Bajo la responsabilidad del compañero Doug Barnes planificó las actividades a desarrollar en la campaña. A la vez, cada seccional asumió la tarea de tomar iniciativas propias para empujar el esfuerzo en la misma dirección.

CON EL PROGRAMA REVOLUCIONARIO A CUESTA.

¿Que dicen los candidatos?

“Hacemos un llamado por la nacionalización de la industria petrolera bajo el control de los trabajadores”, declaró López, presidente de las Mujeres Radicales.

Durham considera que es necesario el desmantelamiento de las fuerzas militares de EEUU como una manera de resolver muchos de los males que aquejan al país, pues liberaría mucho dinero para garantizar que la Seguridad Social y el Medicare
conserven su solvencia.

“Sólo quiero hacer notar que el consumidor más grande de combustibles fósiles de todo el mundo son las fuerzas militares de EEUU. Un avión F-16 consume en 30 minutos la misma cantidad de crudo que un conductor promedio usa durante toda su vida para conducir su coche” Enfatizó.

APERTURA DE LAS FRONTERAS.

“El capital viaja a todas partes”, ¿Por qué los trabajadores, no?”. Es parte del llamado del Partido de Libertad Socialista para abrir las fronteras con México.

“Pensamos que la gente que está aquí y trabaja por un salario, que es lo que hace la mayoría de los inmigrantes, debe gozar de los mismos derechos que tienen otros sectores de trabajadores y trabajadoras, incluso hay que dotarla de documentos legales, sea residencia o ciudadanía”, señala Dhuram.

NO VENDEN ILUSIONES. ACOMPAÑAN LAS LUCHAS.

Hablando en una protesta del movimiento Occupy, López señaló un grupo que llevaba una enorme pancarta que mostraba la forma en que se podría utilizar de mejor manera el presupuesto militar. Con la aprobación risueña del público, expresó: “¡A Uds. los haremos responsables de encontrar la forma de gastar todos esos billones del Pentágono!”

“La base que existe es el capitalismo”, indica. “Esencialmente, también somos revolucionarios. Afirmamos que la base se tiene que desplomar para que surja una transformación total.”

Mientras Durham hace un llamado a favor de “la democracia de la clase trabajadora y declara que la estructura misma del gobierno de EEUU tiene que cambiar. “El interés de un gobierno debe ser alimentar, vestir, dar vivienda y educar al pueblo”, “Creemos que eso sí es posible.”

Llamó a las direcciones sindicales a romper con los Demócratas y Republicanos para asumir la defensa de los trabajadores que dicen representar sobre cuyos hombros recae la crisis económica y social que imponen los monopolios y sus gobiernos en Estados Unidos.

UN LARGO RECORRIDO SEMBRANDO IDEAS SOCIALISTA Y ACOMPAÑANDO LAS LUCHAS.

Levantando el programa socialista como bandera de lucha, Durham y López, juntos a activistas del Partido, han recorrido gran parte del extenso territorio norteamericano

Ya sea hablando en una protesta del movimiento Occupy, o en una entrevista en la Voz del Campesino-KDNA 91.9, Radio Cadena, en el Valle de Yakima, al Este de Washington,donde centenares de trabajadores agrícolas, principalmente Mexicanos, escucharon a  Stephen Durham y Christina López.

A la fecha, ambos candidatos han logrado presentar la propuesta socialista en más de 24 entrevistas de distintas redes de comunicación.

Christina habló en una concentración en el estado de Washington contra el poder nuclear in Richland donde hay un reactor nuclear.

Ambos candidatos estuvieron presentes en las protestas contra el asesinato de Trayvon Martin, el joven negro de Florida.

Recientemente fueron parte de la solidaridad para con los docentes californianos que se levantaron en huelga exigiendo aumento salarial. Más de 25 mil maestros y maestras agrupados en su gremio lograron sus demandas.

También se activaron en la defensa del programa de Estudios Mexicanos Americanos (MAS) atacado por las autoridades de Tucson, mediante una Ley de carácter racista que conllevó la confiscación o censura de muchos autores de renombre, entre ellos el Dr. Rodolfo Acuña, Sherman Alexie, Winoma Laduke, Junot Díaz, William Shakespeare, incluyendo, Viva la Raza: Historia de la identidad y resistencia chicanas, de los activistas del Partido de Libertad Socialista Yolanda Alaniz y Megan Cornish.

Entre mayo y agosto de este año, asistieron a cuatro congresos nacionales de sindicatos y una conferencia nacional de la mayor rede de activistas de base de los sindicatos. En total, 11,235 personas asistieron a estos eventos. Se distribuyeron 4,300 folletos y 900 periódicos.

En Agosto pasado, Christina, Doug (el coordinador nacional de la compaña) y Durham, hicieron, una gira por los estados de la costa pacifica de los Estados Unidos, (California, Oregon y Washington). Esta duró seis semanas. Viajando por los estados, parando en varios lugares—centros de ciudades, grandes tiendas—Walmart, Fred Meyer entre otros. En centros comerciales se entregaron folletos y hablaron con los clientes en las puertas hasta que un funcionario se opuso de mala manera.

Además en Ellensburg, una región agrícola, donde hay muchos latinos, después de haber sido expulsados del parqueo de las grandes tiendas comenzaron a hablar directamente con latinos en sus pequeños negocios.

Durante la gira, Christina, Doug, y Durham, asistieron al lanzamiento de una compaña contra los agentes del ICE (la migra) que reprimen a los Latinos e indígenas que viven en la región cerca de la frontera.

El mes de junio, en Nueva York, los candidatos tuvieron participación en la parada anual de los puertorriqueños en la Quinta Avenida.

En la Parada Gay un grupo de jóvenes ondeó una gran bandera con las figuras de ambos candidatos.

Ese mismo mes, hubo una manifestación enorme contra los abusos policiales a jóvenes de ambos sexos. Esta marcha fue masiva ya que la policía ha parado y chequeado (stop and frisk) más que 600,000 jóvenes en el 2011 contando con el apoyo del alcalde multimillonario, Bloomberg. Contó con la presencia del candidato y la candidata, como expresión de apoya a la lucha.

SI EL CAMNO HA SIDO LARGO, MAYOR ES EL QUE HAY QUE RECORRER PARA COSECHAR.

Estamos seguros que este esfuerzo dará sus frutos. Que es parte del conjunto de tareas por la construcción de un partido obrero en Estados Unidos y el mundo.

Ambos camaradas y su partido, con el programa que levantan, dialogando y acompañando a sectores de las masas en su nación, han sembrado y en tierra buena. Falta ahora cuidar los retoños, porque de verdad, son los que pueden frutificar.

Estamos confiado en que así habrá de ser, porque tanto el compañero Durham como la compañera López y el Partido Socialista que representan, manifiestan con mucha claridad, que asistir a las elecciones presidenciales de su país, solo se explica, si ayuda a la superación de la crisis de dirección revolucionaria que vive la clase obrera norteamericana y el mundo.

(1) Al respecto, en una entrevista ofrecida a UNIVERSIDAD (ver edición del 1 de febrero), el académico estadounidense Juan Cole indicó que su principal preocupación es el “gran dinero” en la campaña política. Tras recordar la suma de $1.000 millones que se dice que gastará cada candidato en la campaña presidencial y que “ahora se le permite a las corporaciones hacer campaña de forma independiente”, Cole sentenció que “la democracia estadounidense ha sido debilitada, los espacios publicitarios son muy caros y los candidatos son más dependientes de las donaciones. Estados Unidos se convierte cada vez más en una plutocracia”.

La campaña presidencial de EEUU de Durham – López batalla contra el asedio a los electores, ¡y resulta victoriosa!

Aguantando tormentas, intimidación de electores y colas interminables en algunos sitios, muchos simpatizantes de la campaña presidencial de 2012 del Partido de Libertad Socialista perseveraron y por fin pudieron escribir Durham y López en la boleta el 6 de noviembre.  Muchas gracias a todos Uds., valientes disidentes, por ayudar a hacer de ésta una campaña tan dinámica – cuyo mensaje llegó a miles de personas en todo EEUU y en el mundo.  Dondequiera que fueron nuestros candidatos, electores jóvenes y mayores acogieron el mensaje positivo de resistencia contra los millonarios y belicistas y contra su fraude electoral bipartidista.

¡Y sí que fue un fraude!

El día de las elecciones en Newark, Nueva Jersey, a los electores que intentaron escribir los nombres de Stephen Durham y Christina López los acosaron verbalmente los encargados de las casillas electorales.  Les dijeron que era una violación de las reglas el escribir nombres en la boleta y los ridiculizaron públicamente por insistir en que sí se podía – ¡y sí pudieron!  En el Condado de Cook de Illinois, los funcionarios electorales le dijeron a un elector la misma mentira.  Después de varias horas de discusión y de varias llamadas telefónicas, por fin pudo votar.  Pero él, así como otros electores de Nueva York y otros sitios, descubrieron que la raya donde se escribían los nombres, ¡era apenas lo suficientemente larga para escribir el nombre y apellido de ambos candidatos!  Esto, a pesar de que en estos y otros 22 estados, la campaña de Durham y López tenía estatus formal de postulación por escrito.  Asimismo se informó extensamente de otros intentos de desanimar a los electores de color, jóvenes y pobres, lo cual tuvo un agobiante impacto en aquéllos que querían votar por el Partido de Libertad Socialista u otros terceros partidos.

“Y eso pasó el día de las elecciones en la “mayor democracia de la tierra!”

En todos los resultados electorales que se están comentando ahora, hay algo obviamente ausente: los conteos de postulación por escrito de los candidatos presidenciales de terceros partidos.  Siete estados prohíben definitivamente la postulación por escrito de candidatos.  Muchos otros se rehúsan a contar los votos de postulación por escrito de cada candidato.  Las leyes de cada estado y condado son diferentes y, con frecuencia, contradictorias.  En el Estado de Washington, donde los votos de la postulación por escrito se cuentan colectivamente, la campaña Durham-López está exigiendo saber por qué los resultados de cada candidato no se hacen públicos.  En la minoría de estados que sí reportan los votos de postulación por escrito, las cifras finales nacionales no estarán disponibles hasta que ya se hayan olvidado las elecciones – a mediados de diciembre.

A pesar del asedio a electores, aquéllos que votaron por Durham-López comentaron en fiestas en la noche electoral en cinco ciudades que estaban eufóricos debido a la habilidad de la campaña para desvelar los asuntos que completamente ignoraron “las mejores elecciones que el dinero puede comprar.”

Prometieron ayudar a colaborar con el Partido de Libertad Socialista y su organización hermana, las Mujeres Radicales, y seguir construyendo un movimiento para desafiar las medidas de austeridad capitalistas que se les están imponiendo a los trabajadores y a los pobres de todo el mundo.

A la vez que el país se aproxima al abismo fiscal, está al acecho otra amenaza igualmente peligrosa: La “venta bipartidista” de la seguridad social, el Medicare, la educación pública y otros programas que son administrados socialmente.  La elección de Barack Obama para presidente no solucionará nada.  Continúa la lucha para defender y expandir los logros ganados por generaciones previas de trabajadores y oprimidos.  El Partido de Libertad Socialista estará en la vanguardia de estas batallas.  Te invitamos a que nos brindes tu fuerza y te prometemos que colaboraremos contigo en los días y meses venideros.

Comité de la Campaña Presidencial de 2012 del Partido de
Libertad Socialista

4710 University Way NE, Ste. 100
Seattle, WA 98105
206-985-4621
VoteSocialism@gmail.com
www.VoteSocialism.com