Open Letter on the November 3, 2020 General Election – Bay Area

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As Election Day 2020 approaches, multiple crises are wreaking havoc across the country. The pandemic that has taken more than a million lives across the globe has triggered an economic crisis that will deepen, not resolve, in the months ahead. The consequences of global warming are manifesting more and more acutely. Political polarization continues to escalate, with protesters who are demanding racial justice facing violence both from police and white supremacists, egged on by Trump. And the blows are falling hardest on Black people, others of color, women, and poor people, as they always do.

In this tempest, the “lesser evil” argument is being promoted frenetically. The rationale is that Trump is just too dangerous to do anything other than vote for his Democratic Party opponent. The same case was made when Nixon ran, and Reagan, and the Bushes senior and junior.

Yes, Trump is more openly and crassly pushing the supremacy of the wealthy white elite than his predecessors. But it is precisely because the stakes are higher today that workers and poor folks cannot afford to give one iota of credibility to the Democratic Party and its ability to solve 21st-century problems.

Substituting Biden for Trump will not restore the millions of jobs that have been lost, nor empower communities to hold police accountable, nor wrest stolen wealth out of the hands of the uber-rich, nor result in the forceful and immediate action needed to check the ravages of global warming. The Democrats have a long history of war-mongering and betraying the needs of working and oppressed people. And this is not fixable! They are wholly committed to the capitalist system, with all its inequity and barbarity.

The truth is, elections are a scam, propping up the illusion of democracy, which is actually denied to the working-class majority. And the longer workers continue to buy into this rigged game by voting for one of the two ruling-class parties, the farther off meaningful change will be.

For this election, FSP has studied the platforms and records of the anti-capitalist candidates for president, and our recommendation is to write in Socialist Action (SA) candidates Jeff Mackler for president and union activist Anne Montague for vice president as the best option. SA’s campaign demands, for example, disarming the police and cutting their funding; rebuilding poor neighborhoods and tribal lands under community control; creating a massive public works program at top union wages; reducing the work week to create jobs; ending all forms of discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people; establishing free, universal, nationalized healthcare; building quality housing costing no more than 25 percent of income; taxing the rich; shutting down the war machine; and addressing the climate catastrophe by nationalizing big oil and agribusiness under workers’ control.

There are issues on which FSP disagrees with Socialist Action, including SA’s support for repressive regimes that are supposedly anti-imperialist, like Bashar Assad’s in Syria. But in this election, SA presents an independent, working-class vision worth backing.

Unfortunately, there are no other clearly socialist or anti-capitalist candidates running in the remaining contests. We recommend leaving your ballot blank as a further protest against scam elections and the economic system they prop up. There are, however, many ballot measures to consider, some of which must be defeated, and some of which make small steps toward expanded rights for youth, formerly incarcerated people and non-citizens.

Whatever happens on November 3, or in the upheavals that may follow Election Day, the explosive issues of 2020 will still remain, and neither of the twin parties of capitalism has any intention or capacity to solve them. It’s up to us who believe in freedom and a better future to join together to fight for them.

Please see our voting recommendations below. If you would like to discuss any of our positions, or would like to work with us in the fight to disarm the police and slash their funds as part of the Slash SFPD Stash – Guns and Cash coalition, please contact me (415-864-1278,

In solidarity,
Bob Price
Freedom Socialist Party Organizer

Ballot Measure Recommendations

 Regressive tax measures:

SF Prop A, SF Prop J, CA Prop 14, Regional Measure RR – Vote NO

We oppose all these various regressive tax measures which hit the poor much harder than the rich. Instead big business and the wealthy should be forced to make up funding shortfalls to pay for government services such as parks, emergency services, or education. It’s no surprise that state and local Democrats are willing to make the 99% foot the bill.

General obligation bonds are long-term loans paid for by public funds, at a higher cost than the amount borrowed. Parcel taxes are added to homeowners’ property tax bills; a working class homeowner pays the same as Uber founder Travis Kalanick! Sales tax is a classic regressive tax, tacking the same percentage to everything purchased, despite huge differences in incomes.

SF Prop A is a 30-year general obligation bond to pay for various needs like parks, mental health services or street maintenance, in the amount of $487,500,000. We need these services, but taxing SF big business is a better way to go. No on A.

SF Prop J is a rehash of 2018’s Prop G, a $320 parcel tax on every homeowner (renters pay a portion as well) to pay for wage increases and other education needs. Prop G is currently stalled in court over the fact that a simple majority was used to pass it; Prop J would be a slightly lower tax, but would need a 2/3 majority to pass. Of course teachers need raises, but why tax poor and working class people instead of calling for the rich to pay? No on J.

CA Prop 14 is a general obligation bond for stem cell research. We support this research, but the money should not come from average Californians, especially given that private companies would profit from the measure! Vote no on 14.

Regional measure RR is a sales tax increase of 1/8 of a cent for 30 years to pay for Caltrain improvements and expansion. We need reliable public transit, but like all of these measures, workers shouldn’t foot the bill; the profiteers should! Vote no on RR.

Tax the rich measures:

CA Prop 15, SF Prop F, SF Prop I, SF Prop L – Vote YES

CA Prop 15 is one of four tax-the-rich measures that show how we can get our needs met without squeezing more from those who can least afford it. It will re-assess commercial and industrial property and therefore raise business tax revenue to increase school and local government funding. Unfortunately, the state education code mandates that the state school funding pot be divided proportionally between charter schools and public schools; we call for an end to charter schools! They tend to be anti-union and allowed to “cherry pick” students, usually at the expense of the most oppressed students. The education code should be changed, but we don’t want to stand in the way of public-school funding. We critically support and join with public workers union AFSCME and the California Federation of Teachers in saying yes on Prop 15.

SF Prop F increases taxes on gross receipts for most SF businesses, with the money going to libraries, recreation, transportation; taxing business is the way to do this; along with Coleman Advocates, we encourage a yes on Prop F.

SF Prop I would generate much needed City revenue by increasing the tax rate when commercial property valued at $10,000,000 or more changes hands. We join the Affordable Housing Alliance in calling for a yes vote on Prop I to tax BIG business more!

SF Prop L will tax companies with disproportionately high management pay compared to the average worker wage, with the money going to the general fund. We join with the SF Labor Council with a rousing yes on Prop L! We call for more measures like these at every level!

 Housing security for the working class:

CA Prop 19, SF Prop K, CA Prop 21 – Vote YES

CA Prop 21 will remove some restrictions preventing cities and counties from enacting rent control, repealing a part of the Costa-Hawkins Act. While the whole act needs to go and this prop does not actually enact any rent control, it is a necessary step; we agree with the Eviction Defense Network in saying yes on 21!

SF Prop K authorizes the City to own, build or rehabilitate 10,000 affordable rental units. We agree with housing rights advocates like the Coalition on Homelessness! Yes on K!

CA Prop 19 allows homeowners who are elderly, disabled or have recently lost their homes due to wildfires to purchase a new home but maintain their existing, lower property tax rate. We agree with Californians for Disability Rights in calling for a Yes on 19!

Small steps for democratic rights:

SF Prop C, SF Prop G, CA Props 17 and 18 – Vote YES

These measures make small but good changes, introducing more democracy to the electoral system. Like United Educators of SF, we endorse SF Prop C, which allows non-citizens to serve on City policy boards. We’d go further and call for non-citizens to have full voting rights.

We agree with the SF Youth Commission in supporting SF Prop G, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in SF elections; youth are certainly aware of and impacted by local issues decided at the ballot box.

CA Prop 18 would allow a 17-year-old to vote in a primary or special election if they will be 18 years of age by the next general election; we support expanding voting rights for youth and join with Courage California in recommending a yes vote.

Prop 17 would restore voting rights after someone’s prison term ends, whether or not they go on parole. It’s a good step for prisoners’ rights; we join with Human Rights Watch in saying yes on 17.

Setting the stage for affirmative action: CA Prop 16 – Vote YES

We have the chance to open the door for affirmative action again in California, after it was struck down in 1996 by Prop 209. Prop 16 will allow factors of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin to be considered in public employment, education and contracting decisions. We join Chinese for Affirmative Action in saying yes on 16.

Law and Order:

CA Props 20 and 25 – Vote NO

We strongly disagree with Proposition 20, which would restrict parole for some non-violent offenses and re-classify some current misdemeanors as felonies. In the midst of state sanctioned violence and police brutality, working people – especially of color – have no confidence in the criminal (in)justice system. Along with the ACLU of California, we say NO on 20.

Prop 25 is a cynical, misleading promise to end cash bail – which we agree should be eliminated. No one should lose their jobs, health care and more while they sit in jail because they cannot afford bail. Prop 25 would replace bail with a computer-generated “flight risk assessment” that presents new ways for judges to abuse their discretion in deciding the fate of arrestees. Criteria such as employment status could be used to disproportionately classify the poor and people of color as flight risks. There is already sustained momentum toward ending cash bail so we should hold out for the real deal. We join with Human Rights Watch and Color of Change and many others in recommending a NO vote.

Abuse of gig workers: CA Prop 22 – Vote NO

This proposition, with its deceptive campaign ads, would overturn an earlier ruling that forces companies like Uber and DoorDash to treat their drivers like employees as opposed to independent contractors. These workers would not receive paid sick days, workers compensation or unemployment insurance and the companies would not pay into critical programs like Social Security or Medicare. We join with the California Labor Federation in opposing Prop 22.

Making kidney dialysis safer and accessible: CA Prop 23 – Vote YES

Prop 23 makes improvements in providing kidney dialysis, by requiring clinics report infections due to unsanitary conditions and ensure equal care to all patients regardless of their insurance status. Most dialysis in California is provided by DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, who rake in unfathomable profits, and we agree with SEIU-UHW West that they need to be regulated and held more accountable. Yes on 23.

Measures related to the cops:

SF Prop D – Vote NO and SF Prop E – Vote YES

SF Prop D would create a new bureaucracy in charge of the same old SF Sheriff’s Department (SFSD). The “Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board” would be appointed (not democratically elected) by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors and would only make recommendations regarding SFSD operations. Working people are flooding the streets demanding genuine oversight and the right to get rid of cops who kill and abuse us. This dangerous measure, endorsed by the entire Board of Supervisors, all Democrats, attempts to stop the movement to radically reform law enforcement and blocks efforts to gain the elected civilian oversight we really need. Join us in saying no on D.

SF Prop E removes one obstacle in the effort to slash cops’ power and budget by removing the requirement to maintain at least 1,971 SFPD officers. It does not actually eliminate any cops, but it would make it legally possible to lower the number of police on the streets. This will help groups like Slash SFPD Stash – Guns and Cash in our work towards community control of the police. Along with many community groups fighting police abuse, we call for a yes on Prop E!

Summary of recommendations

President: Write in Jeff Mackler for President and Anne Montague for Vice President.

San Francisco propositions:

  • Prop A (Regressive bond for homelessness, parks, streets) – NO
  • Prop C (Removes citizenship requirements for City bodies) – YES
  • Prop D (Toothless “oversight” of Sheriff’s Dept.) – NO
  • Prop E (Removes minimum police staffing requirements) – YES
  • Prop F (Taxing businesses for libraries, recreation, transportation) – YES
  • Prop G (16- and 17-year-olds voting in local elections) – YES
  • Prop I (Progressive transfer tax on the highest-valued property) – YES
  • Prop J (Regressive parcel tax for SFUSD) – NO
  • Prop K (Authorizes affordable social housing) – YES
  • Prop L (Tax on businesses with largest pay discrepancies) – YES

California propositions:

  • Prop 14 (Regressive bond for stem cell research) – NO
  • Prop 15 (Commercial/industrial tax for school funding) – YES
  • Prop 16 (Allows factors of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to be considered in public employment, education and contracting decisions) – YES
  • Prop 17 (Restores voting rights to ex-prisoners upon release, regardless of parole) – YES
  • Prop 18 (17-year-olds voting in primary or special elections) – YES
  • Prop 19 (Allows homeowners who are elderly, disabled or have recently lost their homes due to wildfires to move without raising their property taxes) – YES
  • Prop 20 (Restricts parole for some non-violent offenses and re-classifies some current misdemeanors as felonies) – NO
  • Prop 21 (Expands local governments’ power to use rent control) – YES
  • Prop 22 (Allows Uber and DoorDash to keep treating their drivers like independent contractors rather than employees; denies their workers many rights and benefits) – NO
  • Prop 23 (Makes improvements in providing kidney dialysis) – YES
  • Prop 25 (Replaces cash bail with a very problematic “flight risk assessment”) – NO
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