Gary Walkowicz: Main Speech of the WCP Convention

Last fall we campaigned on this idea: that the working class needed its own party. We said that the working class in this country has been suffering through an economic crisis that has gone for over 30 years, under the watch of both the Democrats and the Republicans. We said that the two main political parties both spoke for the capitalists and that the working class needed its own voice.

We also said that the working class could improve its situation only by making a fight. We said that when the working class did begin to fight, it would be in a position to build a real party of its own. We are not in that situation today. But it was important to get the Working Class Party on the ballot and to raise these ideas.

Those ideas certainly resonated among many working people. We saw that last year when we were petitioning to get WCP on the ballot. It was relatively easy to get people to sign the petitions. It was clear that, in some way, people agreed with the idea that the working class needed its own party. With only a few dozen volunteers petitioning, we got over 50,000 signatures and qualified for the ballot.

But even still, the results for the WCP in the election were higher than I, and I think most of us, expected. With little money, no media coverage and barely over 100 people campaigning, we were able to get almost a quarter of a million votes for a statewide office. Our two candidates for Congress got more votes than some established smaller parties. We received a lot of votes in areas of Michigan where we never campaigned. People voted for the name and the idea of a working class party.

Workers in this country haven't had our own party for nearly a hundred years. The idea that we should have a working class party obviously touched people. That is important.

Certainly some people must have voted for us just because they were fed up. Last year it was clear that many people were fed up with both parties. Some people voted for Bernie Sanders because they were fed up and he almost got the Democratic nomination. Some people voted for Donald Trump because they were fed up and he won the Republican nomination and then the presidency.

In 2018 we are going to run candidates again. We would like to run more candidates, if there are other people who want to campaign and have other people campaign with them. It is important to keep raising the idea of the working class needing its own party as widely as we can.

We do not know what the political situation will be a year from now. But today, in 2017, after eight months of the Trump presidency, it is clear that the political situation is different than it was a year ago.

So let's talk about the current political situation and how it affects what we can do campaigning for the WCP. The biggest thing that affects the WCP is that last year Trump got votes from a number of workers and still probably has some support from many of these workers.

How did Trump win the election as the Republican candidate? Trump could always count on votes from the base of the Republican party, which mainly consists of conservative religious fundamentalists, whose main concerns are issues like opposing abortion rights, opposing gay marriage, taking money away from public schools and giving it to private and religious schools. But this base is only a minority of voters in this country, a small minority.

Undoubtedly, part of Trump's vote, and maybe part of the votes he got from workers came due to his racist appeals. Trump used barely disguised racism against black people and he openly attacked Hispanics and Muslims.

But to get elected, Trump had to get a lot of votes from workers appealing to other issues. Trump made jobs a main issue in his campaign. He blamed trade treaties, like NAFTA, for the loss of jobs and promised to create millions of new jobs. Trump was able to attract the votes of many workers on this basis – especially since unions had been excusing their lack of a fight for jobs by blaming trade deals. It was mostly white workers who supported Trump, but also some black and Hispanic workers, who voted for Trump because of his promise to create jobs.

Trump also promised to drain the swamp in Washington. He attacked politicians from both parties. This appealed to many people who are disgusted by both parties and wanted change. Trump got enough votes from workers on this basis to make the difference and win the election.

But since Inauguration Day, what has Trump done? What happened to Trump's election promises to the workers who voted for him? Not surprisingly, they turned out to be lies. He has done nothing to create any jobs. If he wanted to, he could have immediately created millions of jobs repairing the infrastructure in this country, which is badly needed. But he didn't. Trump's health care proposal would take coverage away from over 20 million people, most of them working families. Trump's plans for tax reform would give even more to the rich. And Trump turned the Washington swamp into a quagmire, filled with former CEOs and rich people like himself.

Just like other politicians, Trump has not fulfilled his promises. But Trump has also done something else. With nothing accomplished from his campaign promises, Trump has tried to foment racism. Trump defended the white supremacists after the rally in Virginia, where one of the white supremacists killed a protester. Trump made attacks on immigrants and Muslims a centerpiece of his election campaign and he has continued those attacks since he took office. Trump pardoned Sheriff Arpaio from Arizona who was notorious for his racist attacks on Hispanic people.

Trump's open racism coming out of the White House has likely emboldened and encouraged the open racists and the closet racists. Trump has done everything he can to sow division, playing white workers against black workers, native-born workers against immigrant workers, trying to divide the working class.

And this has changed the political situation. It is different in 2017 than it was in 2016.

Today a lot of people are angry and fed up, like they were in 2016, but for different reasons.

Today many, many people want to get Trump out of office, understandably so. People are fed up with Trump's lies. Trump's approval rating is historically low.

Trump has probably lost the support of some workers who voted for him. But at the same time, all the attacks on Trump by politicians and the media have probably convinced others of his supporters to stand behind him because they don't trust politicians or the media. That's one reason they voted for Trump in the first place.

This is the political situation in 2017.

When we run candidates in 2018, it is possible that the political situation we face will be more difficult than what we faced in 2016.

The resentment and anger of many black people, Hispanics and women workers toward Trump will be completely warranted and expected. Given what Trump has done, it would not be surprising if the main focus of many people will be to get rid of Trump. And we certainly agree with everyone who says, Let's get rid of Trump.

But who will replace Trump? Many people are hoping that Trump will be impeached. But he would be impeached and replaced by the very people who have been running things all along. Vice President Mike Pence would replace Trump and his politics are just as reactionary as Trump's, minus the tweeting.

In 2018, it's very possible that many people may believe that the solution to getting rid of Trump will be to put the Democrats in office, forgetting what the Democrats did when they were in power.

The truth is that we need to get rid of, not just Trump, we need to get rid of all of them. And it won't happen through elections, but through a fight of the working class. We're not at the point today that the working class is preparing to make any kind of massive fight. But still we have to say the truth.

Given the situation, people may not be as ready to listen to us in 2018 as they were in 2016.

Whatever the political situation in 2018, it doesn't change the basic facts, the reality of the world we live in. We live in a world divided into classes. And the two main classes, the working class and the capitalist class, have nothing in common. The capitalists who run this society are ruining our lives and pushing us further into poverty. Things are getting worse for us. And it will only be a fight of the working class that can change things. And the working class – if it is divided – can't make that fight.

Whatever the political situation in 2018, it doesn't change the fact that there is no working class party, which is why the WCP will run candidates in 2018 and we will insist on the same message: the working class needs its own party. And we ask everyone who agrees to join us and help us.


September 24, 2017

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