SA’s Senate Campaign in CA Wins New Support

y Mark Ostapiak / October 2006 issue of Socialist Action Newspaper

“Heard your interview with WBAI in New York this morning. What a breath of fresh air! If only we could get 100 more candidates like you.” That’s what one radio listener wrote us after hearing Socialist Action Party’s Jeff Mackler, a socialist candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in California.

Mackler was interviewed on Deepa Fernandez’s Sept. 27 news and interview program, “Wake Up Call.” Thousands of listeners had a chance to hear Mackler’s revolutionary socialist critique of capitalism’s mounting crises. “Socialism is the view that working people, the vast majority of the people, should run this country in their own interests, through their own institutions,” said Mackler.

He explained that the Socialist Action campaign actively counters capitalism’s twin parties, the Democrats and Republicans: “Our success is not measured by the number of votes we receive, but by our capacity to build and unite the social movements that are the prerequisite for changing this world.

“We’re active participants and leaders in the struggle against U.S. wars. We’ve organized and supported the mobilizations to defend the Cuban people against U.S. threats of invasion. We fight against a fossil fuel-based energy system that guarantees the deadly global warming that threatens to kill us all. We fight for women’s rights, for abortion rights and against all forms of sexism and racism”

Mackler’s WBAI radio appearance was just one of many speaking engagements on the East Coast as part of a 13-day tour that included Philadelphia, New York City, Connecticut, and Florida.

But what could a Senate candidate in California bring to the political arena on the other side of the country? “The Mackler for Senate Campaign hit home for New Yorkers,” said Socialist Action tour organizer Marty Goodman. “New York’s Democratic Party U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, just like Jeff’s opponents in California, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Mountjoy, are pro-war to the core, and no different than their capitalist party counterparts across the country.”

“As a transit worker,” Goodman continued, “I can tell you that Democrat Hillary Clinton supported the reactionary Taylor Law that was just used to impose multi-million dollar fines on our union and its rank and file for exercising our democratic right to strike to defend our jobs and union contract.”

Defend the Cuban Revolution

A central plank in Mackler’s campaign program is defense of the Cuban Revolution. Mackler delivered major presentations on “Cuba and the Rise of Revolutionary Struggles in Latin America” in four of the East Coast cities he visited.

In New York City, Mackler addressed an audience of 30 activists in Midtown Manhattan, His central theme was that in order to break out of the cycle of poverty and oppression imposed by imperialism on the people of Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as Latin America as a whole, the model of revolutionary Cuba was critical.

“Despite important gains in Venezuela and Bolivia today,” said Mackler, “these nations have yet to resolve the fundamental issue of our times. They have yet to challenge the rule of capital, and therefore the gains that have been achieved, still modest, are in constant danger.

In Oakland, Calif., Mackler’s campaign was endorsed by Tina Flores, coordinator of Quality Medical Relief/International Medical Team (QMRIMT), a group that coordinates international medical aid to Cuba. On Oct. 6, Mackler addressed a OMR-initiated Cuban Five solidarity forum at Oakland’s Humanity House, where he discussed the case of the five heroic Cubans who infiltrated Florida-based and U.S.-aided right-wing organizations that conduct terrorist attacks on Cuba.

Mackler for Mumia

Pam Africa, the national coordinator of the International Concerned Family and Friends for Mumia Abu-Jamal, joined Mackler at two Philadelphia public meetings. Africa detailed the political and legal battles that Mumia confronts as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit begins the final deliberations that will determine whether Mumia is to be executed or win a new trial and eventual freedom.

As co-chair of the West Coast Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mackler has worked closely with Pam Africa in building a broad movement over the years to demand Mumia’s freedom.

On Sept. 15, Mackler addressed a rally organized by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia at the Alameda Court House. Two days later, he spoke about Mumia’s case during a Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal fundraiser at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall.

At the Night of Music and Poetry to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mackler shared the stage with many prominent musicians and poets, including devora major (former San Francisco poet laureate), Jack Hirshman (current San Francisco poet laureate), singer/song writer Jonathan Richman, rap artist Boots Riley of the Coup, and former San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez.

In San Francisco, Robert Bryan, chief counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal, announced he was endorsing Mackler’s campaign for the Senate. And in New York, Abdeen Jabarra, former president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, endorsed the Mackler campaign.

Youth for Mackler

A vibrant new Youth for Socialist Action chapter at Central Connecticut State University organized a successful tour for Mackler. Several articles in the CCSU student newspaper announced his visit and the campaign’s aims. Mackler was invited by two university professors to address their classes on questions of revolutionary theory and practice.

“I was stunned at the depth of interest in socialist ideas” said Mackler. “It was clear that the growing crisis of U.S. capitalism today is registering on the consciousness and lives of working-class students and their parents. They are coming to understand that the evils that so many abhor, from poverty and racism to war and the threat of environmental catastrophe, to job insecurity and increasingly bleak prospects for a stable and fulfilling life, are no accident but rather an inherent part of capitalist development.”

Mackler said that he was inspired by the Youth for Socialist Action chapter at Central Connecticut State University, which has been working closely with the Progressive Student Alliance to initiate an Antiwar Referendum Committee (ARC), a united-front coalition working for a referendum vote to take place before the end of the fall semester.

Mackler’s Connecticut tour also included a well-attended public forum on Cuba and Latin America as well as two educational presentations to SA and YSA members and friends. He was also invited to present his socialist campaign to the campus chapter meeting of the Progressive Student Alliance, attended by some 25 activists.

In Florida, Mackler spoke to a meeting of activists who were members of St. Petes for Peace, a St. Petersburg antiwar coalition whose members were also prominent in leading struggles for immigrant rights in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

Mackler also met with a core group of Florida antiwar and immigrants’ rights activists who had recently formed a branch of Socialist Action. During the course of Mackler’s 13-day East Coast tour seven people asked to join Socialist Action party branches.

Final push for the campaign

Though Mackler was away for his home state, campaign committee organizers in California didn’t miss a beat and continued the necessary work in reaching out to more Californians as the Nov. 7 election approaches.

At the Petaluma Progressive Festival in Sonoma County, Socialist Action campaign workers recalled positive encounters with festival-goers young and old, including a Black Panther Party co-founder, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, who voiced his support for the campaign’s socialist demands.

The campaign committee organized a series of house meetings and live radio talk show interviews, including a half-hour program on Jim Lafferty’s Los Angeles KPFK Pacifica Radio program, “The Lawyers Guild Show.”

On Oct. 11 and 12, Mackler’s campaign proceeds to Mt. Shasta, Calif., and Ashland, Ore., where Socialist Action members have organized a series of campaign meetings. A culminating rally and celebration is scheduled for Nov. 5, at 2 p.m., at the Socialist Action Bookstore, 298 Valencia St., in San Francisco. Call (415) 255-1080, or e-mail socialistact@igc.org for more information.