In February of this year I posted this article What an Oaklandsocialist for Mayor in 2022 Campaign Could Accomplish. As I pointed out there, Oakland is not an isolated island; there is not a single issue that workers in Oakland face that can be resolved outside of a national, and in fact an international, working class political movement. That is true for issues related to low pay, lack of jobs and poverty, including homelessness and crime. It is true for issues involving racism and police brutality and the criminal (in)justice system. It is true for issues involving public health, especially in the era of covid. And it is true for environmental issues. Therefore, mine will be a campaign to add a voice towards taking one small step in the direction of building a working class movement and a mass working class party in the United States.
Crisis in Working Class
Among other things, I recognized the crisis that exists in the working class, with something close to 40% working class support for Trump. This crisis is largely due to the role of the leadership of our class – the union leadership. It’s true that the unions have shrunk significantly, but with 14.3 million members they absolutely dwarf all other working class organizations combined. They still remain the only mass organizations of US workers. This leadership has collaborated with the capitalist class to wage a 75 year war on the very idea that workers have their own interests, as workers, vs. the interests of the capitalist class. That war has included a struggle to wipe from collective memory the real, fighting history of how the unions were built in the first place.
In the last six months we have seen a tendency to rebel against the results of this war – the cut rate contracts that this leadership pushes. We have seen this rebellion in Western Washington carpenters, among striking UAW members at Volvo and John Deere, among Kellogg workers, and among IATSE members. In all those cases, a majority of voting members rejected a proposed contract at least once. My hope had been that this tendency would develop into an organized force. Although it could yet happen, that now seems unlikely.
Republicans and Vote Nullification
Since I wrote about running for mayor, one other important development has been the Republican Party’s further moves towards voter suppression and, even more important, vote nullification. That move is summarized in a recent article in Atlantic Magazine called Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun If you have not read that article, you really should. The author, Barton Gellman, explains in gory detail how Republican state legislatures in a series of states are setting themselves up to overturn the popular vote, especially in presidential elections. Bear in mind that even in states whose voting majority oppose the extreme Republicans, due to gerrymandering the Republicans are often able to capture the majority in state legislatures. This means that they can take the most extreme measures with impunity.
If they cannot win an outright majority of the electoral college (which can’t be ruled out), the plan is to sow so much confusion that at the very least the outcome of a presidential election would be thrown to the US House of Representatives. There, if left to their own devices, the Republicans would install their presidential candidate no matter what the real outcome of the election is. In fact, they didn’t get that far from accomplishing that in 2020, which is what January 6 was really all about, as Gellman explains. A Republican imposed presidency in 2024 might be met with mass protests – or let us hope so. The Democrats and the overwhelming majority of their lieutenants in the working class – the union leadership – would do everything in their power to prevent such protests or at the very least to prevent them from being anything more than symbolic. If they did not succeed, then Biden and the state governors would call out the National Guard. While they would moan and groan and even shout from the rooftops against undemocratic procedures, they would do everything in their power to prevent a real, powerful working class movement from developing to stop it. Like it or not, this would tend to have the effect of greasing the wheels for the imposing of a new Trump or Trump stand-in presidency. Brought about in that way, it would make the previous Trump presidency look like child’s play.
It could literally mean the end of capitalist democracy in the United States. While such democracy cannot resolve the problems workers and our planet face, a Trump-style dictatorship would be 1000 times worse.
One of the greatest dangers of such a return of Trump or a lookalike would be the massive environmental destruction that they would bring about. Capitalism has already gone to great lengths to destroy the environment. Such a new dictatorship could be the final nail in the coffin, especially as far as global climate change is concerned. At some point, climate change will become irrreversible if we continue on our present course. We may have reached that point already, but we have to hope and act as if we have not, as if there is still time. A Trump-style dictatorship could push us over the edge.
Mass Working Class Rebellion Needed
To repeat: A mass working class rebellion leading to the building of an independent working class party seems to be the best hope to avert a Trump-style dictatorship. I have no illusions that my running for mayor will even be a significant step towards creating such a rebellion. I have few resources and there is no organized working class group in Oakland that would back a campaign that explained the nature of the crisis we face and call for a complete break from both parties of big business. But maybe it could make a small mark here in Oakand and set a small example for others elsewhere.
We All Must Contribute to Building the Movement
I have gone back and forth on this since I first posed the idea of running for mayor. At 75 years old, I really don’t need the stress. Nor do I want to be inundated with paper work, including quarterly filings of campaign donations and expenses. However, if I keep the expenses of a campaign under $2,000 (which is the plan), the paper work would be minor, especially since I would not accept campaign donations. We all owe it to the future generations, as well as to all living creatures on this planet, to do whatever we can to avoid the disaster towards which we are headed. My plan to run for mayor will be my own small contribution. What is yours?