While it’s primary election season in the U.S., with California’s primary coming up March 3, working people here and around the world aren’t counting on the ballot box to get the changes we need! Thousands internationally marched against the possibility of U.S. war against Iran last month. With youth in the lead, voices from every generation are speaking out for climate justice. Unions have rediscovered their most important weapon, the strike, to hit back at the bosses from the Bay Area to Paris. Feminist street performers in Chile have inspired emulators around the globe with their chant “A rapist in your path,” a protest against sexual assault and state violence.
Demonstrators and unionists like these understand that elections are only one facet of the political landscape. We won’t win our freedom by voting; we need to impeach this whole rotten system. However, voting does give us the opportunity to reject ballot measures that are racist, sexist, and corporate-friendly and to support ones that have the potential to make life better for working people; Freedom Socialist Party recommendations follow.
These are pivotal times with much at stake, from transgender rights to the fate of the whole planet. These aren’t times that call for business as usual. Working and oppressed people can’t afford to listen to those who urge support for Democratic Party politicians as the answer to our problems. They have never delivered on their promises, and the reason why is simple. It’s not the lack of a spine. It’s because they are just as much part of the essential capitalist status quo as their political colleagues across the aisle.
Democrats and Republicans have a good cop/bad cop routine in place. The act is fortified by Democratic Party contenders like Bernie Sanders, who claim the label “socialist” while stopping short of actually insisting on socialist solutions, like an end to the profit system and social rule by working people. There is a powerful drumbeat for “anyone but Trump,” but what has the lesser-evil approach gotten us? An ongoing shift to the right in the political climate, an epic transfer of wealth to the already obscenely wealthy, and a steady loss of rights and respect for workers, especially those who are historically marginalized and discriminated against.
It’s time to get bold and radical! Let’s demand what we want and need instead of politely asking for slightly less suffering. And let’s join forces and harness our power to create a socialist, feminist, race-liberationist movement that can go head to head with the two parties of capitalism.
Please see FSP’s ballot recommendations below. FSP hopes to work with you in the effort to build a movement strong enough to topple the profit system and usher in the world that we all deserve. Please get in touch!
San Francisco city worker
FSP National Committee
Since March 3 is a primary election, the ballot shows only the people who are running to win the nominations for the six California parties that have ballot status. This means that candidates from small parties or other people who are not aligned with the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, American Independent or Peace and Freedom parties essentially do not participate.
In the past, we have advocated for California voters to register with the Peace and Freedom Party, which has a platform that is socialist. Unfortunately, years of degeneration within the Peace and Freedom Party, and within many of the left groups who work within P&FP, have made qualitative changes that render it socialist on paper only. Additionally, the P&FP presidential primary is essentially a popularity contest, with the real decision coming later in the year at the party’s convention. In some past elections, the final nomination went to individuals who didn’t even appear on the primary ballot.
This year there are two candidates vying for the P&FP nomination, Howie Hawkins (also of the Green Party) and Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Hawkins, well known on the East Coast, identifies personally as a socialist, but does not call for overturning capitalism, and seems mainly interested in building the Green Party and a kinder, gentler brand of capitalism.
Gloria La Riva, on the other hand, has identified many important systemic weaknesses of the profit system, from environmental destruction to police brutality, and her platform clearly calls for socialism. However, her actions and statements, and those of the PSL, send a very different message. The PSL’s refusal to defend and support working-class movements against Bashar al-Assad in Syria or the brutal theocracy in Iran betray the fundamental need for international solidarity of the working class. While we have critically supported PSL candidates in the past, we feel that this opportunism has reached a point of no return. PSL’s reason for unapologetically supporting governments that stifle, oppress and murder poor and working people is that they are hostile to the imperialist United States. But “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is not logic that serves the interest of the international working class. It does a terrible disservice to the courageous feminists, youth, ethnic minorities and others who desperately organize and fight to overcome repression by their own governments and U.S. aggression.
Finally, the PSL is lending support to Democrat Bernie Sanders by calling for registered Democrats to vote for him in March. Further, if he wins the Democratic nomination, the PSL pledges not to run candidates in battleground states (closely contested states that could go either to a Democrat or Republican) in November. This cedes the entire political conversation to the corporate-controlled parties!
We cannot recommend a vote for either P&FP candidate.
California Proposition 13: Bonds for Renovation of Public Education Facilities
San Francisco Proposition A: City College Construction and Repair Bond
San Francisco Proposition B: Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond
California Prop 13 would borrow $15 billion to spend on education facilities, including $500 million for charter school construction. SF’s Prop A is an $845 million bond to improve City College of SF campuses. San Franciscans need to know that City College trustees and top administrators made false promises and squandered millions of funds previously approved by voters. SF Prop B would put $628.5 million toward improvements to our earthquake and emergency response infrastructure “and related costs necessary or convenient” for those purposes.
We historically recommend voting NO on bond measures. Although the projects financed by special bonds are often necessary, we reject the idea of taking on billions of dollars of debt that working-class taxpayers ultimately end up paying for. Paying back bonds generally costs taxpayers twice the amount that was borrowed. This funnels public dollars to bankers and perpetually ensures that we lack the general fund dollars to meet the needs of the majority.
The grotesque tax breaks for the rich and big business must be reversed. Increased taxes on corporations, who benefit enormously from education and the public infrastructure, could provide more than enough to pay for improved schools, seismic safety and the like. They could also contribute to establishing a massive jobs program, at union wages, to carry out the kind of improvements addressed by these propositions. Vote NO on Props A, B and 13!
San Francisco Proposition C: Retiree Health Benefits for Former SF Housing Authority Workers
The SF Housing Authority went belly up in 2019 and is in the process of being restructured. Its workers were not employees of the City of San Francisco. But the city assumed many of the Housing Authority’s responsibilities and has hired many of its former employees. Prop C provides that such workers will be eligible for city retiree medical benefits, with credit for their years of service with the Housing Authority. This ensures that employees will not be penalized for the mismanagement that caused SFHA to collapse. Along with the San Francisco Labor Council, we recommend voting YES. What we really need is free universal health care for all!
San Francisco Proposition E: Limits on Office Development Tied to Affordable Housing
Proposition E says that if San Francisco doesn’t meet state-mandated goals for affordable housing construction, then future office construction would be limited. New office approvals would be reduced by the percentage by which the city misses its affordable housing mandate. San Francisco has a housing crisis and sorely lacks affordable places to live. But tying housing to office space in this way does nothing to actually build more affordable dwellings. Additionally, this measure actually speeds construction of certain commercial projects, to the benefit of big developers! We need a public works program to build quality homes at union wages, affordable for every San Franciscan, not sweet deals for developers. We must part ways with the San Francisco Tenants Union and several Democratic Party clubs in recommending a NO vote.
Summary of Recommendations for March 3 California Primary Election
Presidential Nominee for Peace and Freedom Party
Leave your ballot blank.
California Ballot Measures
Proposition 13 (General Obligation Bond for Renovation of School Facilities)…………………………. Vote NO
Proposition A (City College Job Training, Repair and Earthquake Safety Bond)………………………. Vote NO
Proposition B (San Francisco Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond)…………………… Vote NO
Proposition C (Retiree Health Care Benefits for Former Employees of the San Francisco
Housing Authority)………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Vote YES
Proposition E (Limits on Office Development)…………………………………………………………………….. Vote NO