Open Letter on the November 6, 2012 California General Election

Vote for the Greater Good—Write in Stephen Durham and Christina López for U.S. President and Vice-President

Everyday people think: the U.S. is way overdue for change. So when they encounter the Freedom Socialist Party Durham/ López campaign, they are energized—whether it’s appreciation for concrete solutions, delight at a way to protest sham elections, or interest in an anti-capitalist perspective. Outside big-box stores, on campuses and picket lines, in barrios and at rallies, socialist feminist candidates Stephen Durham and Christina López have been cheered and welcomed.

Durham has been a radical since his student days at Berkeley and is a pioneer queer activist. Today he heads the Harlem branch of the party. He’s been a strike leader, a Marxist educator and traveled widely in Latin America making alliances with unionists and radicals. López is President of Seattle Radical Women and a hardworking grassroots organizer with a passion for fighting on behalf of the most oppressed—women, immigrants, people of color, young people and the poor.

Their campaign is an optimistic antidote to the grim austerity measures levied against the working class from Chicago to Los Angeles and South Africa to Greece. Workers and the oppressed are the vast majority worldwide and are fighting back in inspiring ways. But these forces need support and encouragement—your support. So step onto the righteous side of the global class war by voting for a concrete socialist alternative! The full platform of the Durham/López campaign can be found at www.VoteSocialism.com

The Presidential election finds California with real problems that need real solutions. Our state is in the top ten in foreclosures, unemployment and homelessness, and we’re number one in incarcerations. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans offer any substantial answers in their tit-for-tat campaigns. Obama fills our airways and email inboxes with scare stories about Mitt Romney. But both parties support war, bank bailouts, union busting, and the privatization of education. So why vote for them?

Unfortunately, California’s only socialist electoral party, the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), turned their 2012 opportunity into a farce by selecting comedian Roseanne Barr as their presidential candidate. The Party for Socialism and Liberation ensured that no serious socialist got the PFP nomination by throwing their support at the last minute to Barr. A month later, Barr’s VP running mate, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, resigned from the ticket (even though her name still appears on the ballot). Sheehan pointed to political differences and Barr’s failure to come through with promised financial or canvassing support.

Also on the ballot for president is the Green Party’s Jill Stein. While she has been stronger on workers’ rights than past Green candidates, she is still an advocate of capitalism. Her Green New Deal calls for an unattainable gentler form of capitalism via a reprogrammed financial sector that serves everyday people. But the very nature of the profit system is the problem.

Registering a protest vote against this rotten and rigged system is the most powerful thing you can do in the upcoming elections. On your ballot, you’ll find a line under the list of the corporate parties’ candidates where you can write in Stephen Durham and Christina López. Be sure to spell their names correctly or your vote will not count!

We live in contradictory times, and the ballot reflects this with several, mostly bad, tax propositions plus an entreaty to eliminate the death penalty.

California Ballot Measures

We live in contradictory times, and the ballot reflects this with several, mostly bad, tax propositions plus an entreaty to eliminate the death penalty.

  • Proposition 30: Temporary Tax Increases for Education and other Needs— Vote Your Conscience
    If passed, this measure would increase the state sales tax by .25% for four years, and increase modestly graduated income tax rates on individuals making at least $250,000 a year for seven years. This measure is on the ballot because Governor Brown convinced the California Federation of Teachers to abandon their popular grassroots-initiated Millionaires Tax, which exclusively targeted the 1% with permanent tax increases but frightened Brown’s big business allies.There is no winning side to this compromise initiative. A YES vote adds to the burden on the poor via an increase in the regressive sales tax that already represents 29% of the state’s funding. Even though the bulk of the revenue would come from the wealthy via the income tax, the toll on the under-privileged is harsh. On the other hand, a NO vote means immediate “trigger” cuts of $6 billion to public education, already crippled by previous cutbacks. The heavy-handed bullying by Democrats and labor bureaucrats to pass this measure is disgusting, and there are no safeguards ensuring that the revenue will go to education, as claimed.
  • The only way out of these lose-lose election dilemmas is for education workers, students, and the community to demand fully-funded public schools paid for by taxing the ultra-rich and corporations.
  • Proposition 31: State Budget Restrictions—Vote NO
    This complex constitutional amendment would require “performance review” of all state programs, budget cuts to balance all new expenditures and give the governor power to make unilateral cuts in times of a “fiscal emergency.”
  • Proposition 32: Limits Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction—Vote NO This measure pretends to get big money out of politics, but exempts big business and their PACs. The real targets are public and private sector unions who would be forbidden to use members’ dues for any political purpose without express, yearly, written permission for individual members. It’s an attack on labor’s ability to fight for working-class issues.
  • Proposition 33: Car Insurance Increases based on Prior History—Vote NO
    This is another attempt by the insurance industry, particularly the CEO of Mercury Insurance, to raise premiums on those who have not had continuous coverage for five consecutive years. The first to pay will be the poor, students and immigrants.
  • Proposition 34: Replace the Death Penalty with Life Without Parole—Vote YES
    This would rid California of the death penalty, a legacy of slavery. Despite the many things wrong with this initiative—mandatory life without parole, and mandated work for those convicted of murder—this is a step forward to end a practice that kills mostly the poor and people of color.
  • Proposition 35: Increases the Penalties for Human Trafficking—Vote NO
    As socialist feminists, we abhor human trafficking of laborers and sex workers. However, this initiative statute poses a threat to civil liberties, has an overly-broad net that could impact any sex worker—trafficked or not—and duplicates current laws while doing little for victims.
  • Proposition 36: Revises the Three Strikes Law—Vote YES
    The original law mandates life in prison for anyone convicted of three felonies. This initiative statute would reduce the life sentence in a limited number of cases. A better option would be to strike down the entire law because it disproportionally affects the poor and people of color.
  • Proposition 37: Labeling Genetically Engineered Food—Vote YES
    This initiative statute is a step in the right direction in providing consumers information about food purchases, although it contains many exceptions.
  • Proposition 38: Income Tax Increase to Fund Education—Vote NO Like Proposition 30, this is aimed at increasing funding for California’s impoverished education system but, this measure increases taxes on all income earners—including the overburdened poor and working class— instead of targeting the rich and corporations.
  • Proposition 39: Multi-state Business Taxes—Vote YES This initiative statute closes a loophole used by businesses that operate in states outside California, and adds $1billion to state revenues while establishing a Clean Energy Job Creation Fund.

State and Local Candidates

FSP only recommends candidates who criticize the capitalist system and call for radical change. Where there are socialists on the ballot, we encourage you to vote for them (see below). Sadly, Proposition 14 undemocratically took away the right to write in candidates other than for President.

  • CA 9th State Senate District: Vote for Mary McIlroy, Peace and Freedom Party
    Clearly a socialist, she calls for defending public education and keeping state parks accessible to all.
  • CA 15th Assembly District: Vote for Eugene Ruyle, Peace and Freedom Party
    His demands include ditch the twin parties of Wall Street, free education and healthcare for all, end wars, tax the rich, and protect and restore Mother Earth.

San Francisco Measures

  • Measure A: City College Parcel Tax—Vote Your Conscience
    This property tax would cost $79 per parcel for eight years, and the $14 million in revenue goes directly to City College of San Francisco. This vital school should be funded by corporate taxes and an oil severance tax on Chevron, not regressive property taxes. But, the desperate economic straits facing this working-class college as a result of previous budget cuts leads us to say: you choose how to vote.
  • Measure B: Park Bond—Vote NO
    Parks are important especially to poor and working-class families. But this measure which allows the city to borrow $195 million in bonds to improve facilities doesn’t get our support while unspent funds from a previous bond exist, and some parks are being privatized.
  • Measure C: Housing Trust Fund—Vote YES
    Aimed at alleviating the paucity of affordable housing for poor, working-class and middle-class city residents in the city, this measure creates a fund through the tax on business proposed in Measure E and other sources that do not tap the average person. Although it gives developers a discount for building affordable units, the need is dire with the federal government no longer constructing public housing.
  • Measure E: Gross Receipts Tax—Vote YES
    This will substitute a gross receipt tax for the current payroll tax, resulting in $28.5 million more revenue per year and 90% of businesses in San Francisco paying higher taxes. Small businesses are exempt.
  • Measure G: Repeal Corporate Personhood—Vote YES
    Mostly advisory, this statement of policy opposes the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United that said corporations are people and paved the way for super PACs, powerful business- funded Political Action Committees.Don’t miss out on the opportunity to vote for what you want and need this November and be a part of an exciting grassroots upsurge: Write in Stephen Durham for U.S. President and Christina López for U.S. Vice-President! 

    In Struggle,Toni Mendicino, SF Organizer

    P.S. It’s not too late to volunteer with the people-powered Durham/López campaign. Come to a weekly meet-up or lend your talents and energy as you can. Contact me at 415-864-1278 or baFSP@earthlink.net.

  • Summary of Ballot RecommendationsNovember 6, 2012 California General Election

    (You can take this into the voting booth)

    Candidates

    U.S. President—Write in Stephen Durham

    U.S. Vice President—Write in Christina López

    CA Senate Dist. 9—Mary McIlroy

    CA Assembly Dist. 15—Eugene Ruyle

    California State Propositions

    CA Prop. 30—Vote your conscience

    CA Prop. 31—Vote NO

    CA Prop. 32—Vote NO

    CA Prop. 33—Vote NO

    CA Prop. 34—Vote YES

    CA Prop. 35—Vote NO

    CA Prop. 36—Vote YES

    CA Prop. 37—Vote YES

    CA Prop. 38—Vote NO

    CA Prop. 39—Vote YES

    San Francisco Ballot Measures

    SF Meas. A—Vote your conscience

    SF Meas. B—Vote NO

    SF Meas. C—Vote YES

    SF Meas. E—Vote YES

    SF Meas. G—Vote YES