Open Letter on the November 3, 2020 General Election – Los Angeles

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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 for Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action (SA) as the best option. His 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.  SA’s Vice President candidate is Ann Montague, who is a lifelong LGBTQI activist, a leader and founder of SEIU’s Lavender Caucus, and an activist member of SEIU’s retirees chapter.

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.

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.

If there ever was a time for those of us who cherish our democratic rights and recognize the need to stand against the growing right wing and white supremacists, it is now. If you are interested in creating a united front and working with us on issues of homelessness, immigrant rights, and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable, please contact us.

In solidarity,
Val Carlson
Los Angeles FSP Organizer

California Ballot Measures

Proposition 14:  General obligation bonds to fund stem cell research—Vote NO 
While we support this research, general obligation bonds are long-term loans paid for by public funds, at a significantly higher cost than the amount borrowed.   This money should not come from average Californians, especially given that private companies would profit from this measure!

Proposition 15:  Schools and communities first—Vote YES
This proposition would 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 are allowed to “cherry pick” students, usually at the expense of the most oppressed young people. 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 in saying yes on Prop 15.

Proposition 16:  Restoration of affirmative action—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. Proposition 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 Prop 16.

Proposition 17:  Restoration of voting rights to individuals on parole—Vote YES
This proposition would restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies who are on parole.  It’s a good step for prisoners’ rights; we join with Human Rights Watch in saying yes on Prop 17.

Proposition 18:  Voting rights for seventeen-year-olds—Vote YES
This proposition would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary or special election if they will be 18 by the next general election.  We support expanding voting rights for youth and join with Courage California in recommending a yes vote.

Proposition 19:  Property tax breaks—Vote YES
This proposition would allow 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.  It would also allocate additional revenue or net savings resulting from the ballot measure to wildfire agencies and counties.  We agree with Californians for Disability Rights in calling for a yes vote on Prop 19.

Proposition 20:  Rollback on criminal justice reforms in criminal sentencing, parole, and DNA collection—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.  It would also allow the state to collect DNA from people convicted of misdemeanors like shoplifting and drug possession.  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 Prop 20.

Proposition 21:  Local rent control—Vote YES
This proposition would remove some restrictions preventing cities and counties from enacting rent control, repealing a part of the Costa-Hawkins Act. It would allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.   That is a significant improvement in Los Angeles where current rent control only applies to housing first occupied before 1978.  While the whole Costa-Hawkins Act needs to go, and this proposition does not itself actually enact any rent control, it is a necessary step; we agree with the Eviction Defense Network in saying yes on Prop 21.

Proposition 22:  App-based drivers as contractors and labor policies initiative—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.  If reclassified as 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.

Proposition 23: Making kidney dialysis safer and accessible—Vote YES
This proposition makes improvements in kidney dialysis care.  It would require clinics to have a licensed physician present when patients are being treated, to report dialysis-related infections, and to 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.

Proposition 25:  Replace cash bail with risk assessments—Vote NO
This proposition is a cynical, misleading promise to end cash bail – which we agree should be eliminated. No one should lose their job, health care and more while they sit in jail because they cannot afford bail. Proposition 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.

Los Angeles County Measure J:  Budget allocation for alternatives to incarceration charter amendment—Vote YES 
This measure would amend the L.A. County charter to annually re-allocate at least 10% of the general fund to be used for housing alternatives to incarceration. The money would also go towards mental health and other social services, youth programs, and employment programs. It would prohibit this funding from being used for law enforcement, jails, District Attorney’s office or probation. We join in supporting this measure along with Skid Row Housing Trust, UNITE-HERE Local 11, L.A. Community Action Network, Black Lives Matter L.A., Gender Justice LA, National Union of Healthcare Workers, L.A. Black Worker Center and many others.

Ballot Box Summary
(You can take this into the voting booth)

U.S. President—Write in Jeff Mackler
U.S. Vice President—Write in Ann Montague

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
    Los Angeles County Measure J  (Budget allocation for alternatives to incarceration)  — YES
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