Kathy Goodwin: Speech at October 18 meeting of WCP in Michigan.
I am proud to be the Working Class Party candidate for U.S. Congress in District 5. This Flint area played a key role in workers’ history with the Flint Sit Down Strike in 1937. The idea of working class solidarity is still handed down in families in the area. I can testify to that from my own experience. I have a friend from the area here tonight who can back me up. My hope is that the Working Class Party will be able to encourage the spread of this kind of class solidarity more widely in Michigan.
It was horrible that the poisoning of adults and children happened in the Flint Water Crisis in 2014 and 2015. But the people of Flint fought back. They exposed the truth. They let the whole world know what was done to them. They have gotten some compensation for their suffering. Not nearly enough, but something.
Because our class, the working class, is so important for the smooth running of this Capitalist society, every election season, the Democrats and the Republicans pretend to care about working people. They want our vote to legitimize their horrible leadership.
In Congress right now, there are 436 members. A wealth study by the Center for Responsive Politics found 279 are millionaires. So just under two-thirds are millionaires. I find it hilarious that this many rich people are pretending to speak for ordinary working people!
The base salary in Congress is $174,000 so all who are elected earn 6 figures.
Our 2020 candidates, like the majority of people in this country, are working class. Our candidates have held multiple jobs. Our candidates started working early – in their teens. As 2020 candidates we have auto workers, teachers, restaurant/kitchen/hotel workers, healthcare workers, an insurance worker, a construction worker, a maintenance worker, a student, and a retired state worker – just to name a few of the jobs our candidates have held during their lifetime. Our candidates, like our working class community, do valuable unpaid work, taking care of their community, taking care of family – which includes raising children or caring for family members who are ill. In 2020 caring for family now includes becoming a teacher’s aide as students learn from home.
Part of the mission of the working class party is to see all of this essential work become more highly respected and valued.
In the U.S. Congress right now, 96% of members have a college education. As my autoworker uncle told me when I was young, get all the education you can, because they can’t take THAT away from you. But do NOT be a know-it-all. It’s the workers on the front line who really know what is going on.
Disdain for people who have less formal education is a disgusting prejudice in this society. It is a putrid prejudice that needs to be called out just like racism and sexism. This prejudice is one of the ways that those with billions of dollars pretend they got their obscene wealth because of “merit.” We live in a so-called “meritocracy.” “Merit” is like a magic wand billionaires like to wave over their piles of money to pretend they “earned it,” instead of admitting they used exploitation to “steal it.”
Yes, education is important. It should be free and easy to obtain for all. All types of education and training. My idea of intelligence – the intelligence that I value -- is not based on a piece of paper. It is all the knowledge that it takes to make the work flow correctly on the front lines. It is the construction intelligence it takes to create and build something new. It is the mechanical intelligence it takes to fix what is broken. It is the physical agility, engineering intelligence and logic it takes to build a vehicle. It is the medical intelligence it takes to care for the sick. It is all the unique abilities it takes to be a teacher. It is the mathematical intelligence it takes to follow the money. It is the social intelligence it takes to plan a fun party. It is the emotional intelligence it takes to make wise decisions. It is the artistic and musical intelligence it takes to create beauty. It is the tactical intelligence it takes to protect others. It is the organizational intelligence it takes to bring the working class together to fight. It is all the ability and all the experience it takes to do all the jobs that our candidates represent and for all the functioning of society to happen that the working class makes possible.
When Republicans and Democrats get the votes of workers, they act like this authorizes them to speak for workers. They get away with this because we the workers do not yet have our own party strong enough to stand up to them.
Some workers keep hoping there will be a way to make the Democrats or the Republicans become the party to fight for workers, perhaps through some kind of extreme make-over.
I am here to say workers will have to make a new party to fight for workers. We have to change ourselves so that we become the leaders that the working class needs. We have to become the fighters that our class needs.