The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter
Special Supplement to Issue 66– June 27, 2022
(formatted at www.socialistorganizer.org)
Please repost and forward widely!
IN THIS ISSUE:
• Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade: Concentrated Expression of a Failed System – Statement by Socialist Organizer
• Anger Erupts in San Francisco on June 24 and at Gay Pride Day, Nancy Pelosi Booed for her support to anti-choice Texas Democrat – by Alan Benjamin
• More than 50,000 Take to the Streets in New York City to Protest Abortion Ban — Extended photo caption
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Statement by Socialist Organizer
(June 27, 2022)
Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade: Concentrated Expression of a Failed System!
Democracy means majority rule.
Democracy, in any true sense of the word, has never existed in this country. The ruling rich, through a two-party system rooted in white supremacy, have always been able to buy politicians on both sides of the aisle to whom they entrust the task of promoting capitalist interests and subverting the will of the working-class majority. In reality, what we have is a system based on one big property party with two names.
What is developing today at an increasingly rapid pace in this country, however, is something far more nefarious than the traditional politics of the bourgeois republic. What is developing is the tyranny of the minority. The June 24 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is the concentrated expression of this danger and of a failed political system. The decision exposes the reactionary institutional framework established by the nation’s “founding fathers” — notably the Great Compromise — that is paving the way towards totalitarian rule.
The Role of the Filibuster
In 1972, five months before the Roe v. Wade ruling, more Republicans than Democrats supported decriminalizing abortion, according to an article in The Washington Post (Aug. 25, 1972). At that time, 64 percent of U.S. voters agreed with the statement that “the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician.”
GOP strategists began preparations to undo Roe v. Wade even before the Supreme Court rendered its historic decision. They created coalitions with the Christian evangelicals and Catholics and began running candidates at the local and state levels. They passed laws, often with the complicity of conservative Democrats, that called for parental-consent, mandatory waiting periods, restrictions on abortion providers, access to religious propaganda, and funding prohibitions such as the Hyde Amendment. The laws gave personhood rights to fertilized eggs, threatened to criminalize in vitro fertilization, and offered bounties for reporting doctors who provide abortion services.
Reacting to this mounting assault on Roe v. Wade, the women’s movement called for a Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) as a means to protect and expand the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. The WHPA was seen as an option of federal legislation aimed at supplanting anti-abortion state laws.
But enactment of the WHPA — just like the enactment of the pro-labor PRO Act and other progressive legislation — required a fight to overturn the filibuster, an arcane rule adopted by the Senate that is a holdover from the days of the slavocracy and Jim Crow. With the filibuster, 41 senators representing less than 12% of the population can block legislation. The 12% figure is itself an indictment of a Senate that allots an equal number of senators to the state of Wyoming (population 579,000) as California (population 39 million). What kind of democracy is it when some votes are worth 67 times more than others?
Joe Biden — like other Democratic presidents before him — refused to challenge the filibuster. In fact, from the beginning of his presidency, he supported the filibuster openly, arguing that the filibuster was a necessary means to promote bipartisanship and guarantee the stability of the political institutions in the country. (An entrenched two-party system, with no proportional representation to give a voice to alternative points of view, is another central feature of the undemocratic nature of the U.S. political system.)
Other Key Holdovers of the Slave Era
Leaders of the labor and women’s movements are rightfully alarmed by the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. They warn that same-sex marriage and access to contraception may soon come under attack. They also decry the recent Supreme Court ruling that undermines the separation of Church and State.
However, the main lesson they draw from this Supreme Court assault on the American people is that we must redouble our efforts to elect Democratic Party leaders “committed to protecting and expanding our rights.”
But here’s the rub. If democracy actually prevailed in this country, there would be no extreme right-wing majority on the Supreme Court.
According to the Constitution, it’s the president who appoints the Supreme Court justices with the advice and consent of the Senate. (Not surprisingly, it was left to the most conservative and unrepresentative body in the legislative branch to select the nine justices.) Three right-wing justices (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett) were appointed by Trump. Two others (Roberts and Alioto) were appointed by George W. Bush. Today, these five justices are responsible for undoing many of the fundamental rights that were wrested over the past 200-plus years from the capitalists through bitter struggles.
But who elected Trump? It was not the majority of the American people. Hillary Clinton obtained 3 million more popular votes than Trump. Who elected Bush in 2000? Al Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College. In any democracy Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have been elected president. The Democrats, however, sat back and allowed the constitutional coup d’états to take place. They loyally respected the rulings of the Electoral College, yet another reactionary institution created by the Northern property owners to appease Southern slave-owners at the beginning of the republic and win their support for the Constitution.
The composition of the Senate, the Senate’s prerogatives, the filibuster, the Electoral College, and the lack of proportional representation are but a few of the undemocratic features of the U.S. political institutions that subvert democracy and make way for the “tyranny of the minority.” There are many other entrenched processes by which democracy is thwarted in the U.S. These include the unbridled use of dark money to buy elections, the gerrymandering of electoral districts, and the assault on voting rights (particularly of Blacks and Latinos).
Electing Democrats in 2022 and 2024: A Way Forward?
In an Op-Ed article published in the June 25 New York Times, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith took note of the “structural” problems facing the U.S. political system. They write.
“We need broad democracy reform: changing the composition of the courts, reforming Senate rules like the filibuster, and even fixing the outdated Electoral College that allowed presidential candidates who lost the popular vote to take office and nominate five of the justices who agreed to end the right to an abortion.”
However, more than “reform” is needed. All of the institutions subverting the democratic will of the working-class majority must be abolished.
Today, two-thirds of the American people believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (NPR, May 19). A vast majority oppose overturning Roe v. Wade (NBC News, May 15). Similarly, 55% support Medicare For All (Politico, March 24, 2021); 51 % support more funding for jobs and social services, not war (Gallup, March 16, 2021); and 57% support the PRO Act and labor law reform (DataforProgress, September 20, 2021.
The burning question is this: What is the way forward to ensure that the democratic will of the majority of the American people for fundamental and lasting change can prevail? What will make a real difference?
In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times, Senators Warren and Smith call on voters to “help the Democrats maintain [their] control of the House of Representatives and expand [their] majority in the Senate by at least two votes this November.”
Every two years (midterm elections) and every four years (presidential elections), Democrats call on voters for their support, only to turn their backs on these same voters once they are elected. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress on multiple occasions over the years and could have passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, or the Employee Free Choice Act, or the Medicare for All Act.
The Democrats could have slashed the war budget and provided the needed funds for our schools, hospitals and infrastructure — instead of increasing the already bloated war funding by $40 billion, as they did this past month. They could have passed a law providing citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in this country. The list goes on.
They did nothing of the sort.
Voting for Democrats is a failed strategy, a dead end. Beholden to their Wall Street funders, and ever so loyal to the reactionary institutions of decaying capitalism, the Democrats have failed to deliver on their promises.
Workers and oppressed peoples in this country know this. That is why they are abandoning the Democratic Party in droves, abstaining in election after election (44% of registered voters, on average, have abstained over the past 40 years), and re-registering as independents and even Republicans. It’s not that they are “backward” or “ignorant,” as some Democratic pundits would have us believe, it’s that they are sick and tired of lies and failed promises. Many are totally demoralized and feel that there’s no hope.
This situation — this crisis of leadership – is fertile ground for the extreme right-wing to continue to grow and capture the hearts and minds of demoralized, disenfranchised, and often jobless voters.
What Is to Be Done? What Steps Can We Take Towards Effective Change?
It’s the task of the working class — beginning with the trade unions — and all oppressed peoples and their organizations to rise up and champion the fight to abolish all the reactionary institutions and obstacles that stand in the way of democracy and working people’s rights and demands. What is needed are new institutions – and a new government – that are at the service of working people and the oppressed communities and that advocate for, represent, and fulfill their pressing demands.
The Democrats won’t carry out this fight. They have demonstrated this beyond a shadow of a doubt, and tweaking the institutions of decaying capitalism, as some now propose, won’t do.
It is necessary for working-class activists and socialists to put forward forcefully the need for new institutions and a government of, for and by the working-class majority. We need to explain that there is a way out of this continued drift toward totalitarianism. We need to wage a struggle for our unions and community organizations to spearhead a movement for this attainable objective. Only the working class in alliance with its community allies can redesign the U.S. political institutions and turn things around in the interests of the working-class majority.
But that is not enough. Steps are needed to get there from here.
Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) was formed to promote running independent labor-community candidates at a local and state level around a platform that embraces workers’ and communities’ pressing demands. The explicit aim is to advance the effort to build a mass working-class party rooted in unions, youth, and communities of the oppressed.
With this objective, LCIP calls for building support and principled unity with national liberation movements of Black people and other oppressed nationalities within U.S. borders in their community and electoral campaigns. The platform of these independent candidates needs to be discussed and approved by labor-community assemblies, and the candidates must be answerable to these assemblies and to the coalitions formed for this purpose.
LCIP’s second objective is to promote widely in the trade union movement a committee that advocates for a Labor-Based Political Party. A resolution adopted by the October 2017 national convention of the AFL-CIO affirmed that, ‘whether the candidates are elected from the Republican or Democratic Party, the interests of Wall Street have been protected and advanced, while the interests of labor and working people have generally been set back.
A second convention resolution concluded that, “the time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils politics.” The committee’s goal will be to promote the discussion inside the labor movement about the need to break with the “lesser of two evils politics” and to create a “Labor-Based Political Party” — a reference to the title of a forum organized by key labor officials at the October 2017 AFL-CIO convention. In order to create such a mass working-class party, we will organize to raise awareness in the unions of the need to break with the Democratic Party. (LCIP Statement of Purpose)
Our union leaders gave lip-service to this resolution but took no action to advance this struggle. They see themselves as the partners of the bosses by and large, and they try to convince their members that we are all “middle class,” that we have to advance the interests of both Wall Street and Main Street (meaning the workers).
Socialist Organizer agrees with LCIP’s points of unity. We believe that it’s time for workers to reclaim our unions for struggle against the capitalists. It’s time for workers to reclaim the instruments of power built through hard-fought battles. It’s time for the unions and oppressed working-class communities to break with the Democratic Party and build a working-class party of our own!
Some steps have been taken in this direction in Southern California, Maryland, and South Carolina.
In South Carolina, for example, advocates for a Labor Party have been able to preserve a South Carolina Labor Party ballot line and are now preparing to run a slate of South Carolina Labor Party candidates this coming November. They will be running on a platform that features the call for Medicare For All and workers’ rights under their main slogan, “The Bosses Still Have Two Parties, We Need One of Our Own.”
The South Carolina Labor Party campaign, without a doubt, will set an example for unionists and activists nationwide.
The political situation is fraught with dangers but also opportunities. Socialist Organizer invites you to join us in this struggle for independent working-class political action. Please contact us at Theorganizer@earthlink.net to learn about how you can get involved in one of our Revolutionary Study Groups. The time is now, Join Us!
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Anger Erupts in San Francisco on June 24 and at Gay Pride Day
Nancy Pelosi Booed for her support to anti-choice Texas Democrat
By Alan Benjamin
Hundreds of supporters of abortion rights gathered at the Civic Center in San Francisco on June 24 to protest the Supreme Court ruling earlier that day that overturned Roe v. Wade. Home-made signs throughout the rally expressed the sentiment of women across the country: “My Body, My Choice!”
“What was most impressive,” a teacher activist told The Organizer, “was the large number of young women, especially women of color, participating in the rally.”
“I’m in a state of mourning and also very angry, and I want to turn that feeling into something where I can contribute to the solution,” Mary McNamara, a San Francisco attorney told The Guardian newspaper “We have to go to the streets and raise our voices, even in blue states where our rights are protected. This is one of the most consequential decisions of the past 50 years … and we’re entering into a very dark era.
McNamara, expressing the deep concern of activists nationwide, continued: “I have no faith that the Supreme Court is going to stop here. I think this is the start of a massive retrenchment on individual rights. Marriage equality and contraception may soon be stripped away.”
Anger over the June 24 Supreme Court ruling also erupted two days later at the annual San Francisco Gay Pride parade of 500,000 people. Everywhere chants of “Whose Bodies? Our Bodies!” could be heard. Everywhere there were signs protesting the assault on abortion rights.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who joined the parade, was cheered by some but also booed by others for her support to Texas Congressperson Henry Cuellar in the June Democratic Party primary. The top leadership of the House Democratic Party defied the top priority of the women’s movement and campaigned to re-elect Cuellar, the one Democrat in the House who voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act. Cuellar, who is deputy House Whip, is not only anti-choice, he also is against single-payer healthcare and immigration reform.
Jackie Fielder, a former candidate for state senate, told The Guardian that she was frustrated to see Democrats like the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, supporting an anti-abortion Democrat, and the lack of action to expand the Supreme Court or abolish the filibuster: “It’s hard to believe that Democratic leadership is going to do anything.”
Fielder added, “We’re very privileged in California to have access to abortion and other reproductive justice means, but we really gotta dig deep to figure out how to support people in other states. This is a matter of life and death.”
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More than 50,000 Take to the Streets in New York City to Protest Abortion Ban
Though abortion is protected under New York law, tens of thousands took to the streets in New York City to voice their shock and disbelief over the Supreme Court’s decision. “It was an outpouring of anger,” an activist told The Organizer. “It was all very powerful, very spontaneous.” Abortion rights groups in New York are urging state lawmakers to make New York an abortion sanctuary state.