Socialist Workers Party still struggling to be heard

Merdies Hayes | 10/3/2012, 5 p.m.

Presidential contender James Harris, 70, and his vice presidential running mate Maura DeLuca, 33, are continuing the Socialist Workers Party's (SWP) long-standing advocacy of workers' rights to organize trade unions, and recently led a call for a massive federally funded public works project.

They are campaigning in this election for a working-class, labor and socialist movement, and the party's platform seeks to join with workers in " . . . resisting attacks from the bosses and their government."

The two emphasize the working-class struggle for political power and encourage input of permanent solutions to soaring unemployment, a review of trade imbalances and a rejection of governmental infringement of personal freedoms.

Harris, a Los Angeles resident for the past six years, has been traveling the country meeting with labor unions, farmers, immigrant groups and the working poor to mobilize them to push for workers rights this November.

"We talk with the workers' unions and those fighting for unions as well as to farmers to address the issues of the time and figure out what exactly is needed to make changes," Harris said. "The working class has to struggle for political power. No political change will come about without the mobilization of working power. Political questions are given to the Republicans and the Democrats, but no solutions come forth."

Harris has headed the Socialist Workers Party ticket in the previous four national elections.

One of the key tenets of the SWP is creating a federal jobs program, with a distinctive twist.

A federally-funded national jobs program has been debated the past four years by each major party. Besides specific party ideology debating the merits of more government assistance, implementation of a "new WPA (Works Progress Administration)" has failed on contentious party lines among Democrats and Republicans. The major impasse is the amount of government deficit spending needed to proceed, as well as necessary tax increases needed for such a program.

The administration's 2011 jobs bill failed the Senate vote and is not expected to be taken up again until next year. The soaring national debt appears to prohibit a new version of the old Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s.

Harris believes that citizens who work in the specific infrastructure professions (engineers, architects, electricians, etc.) should operate the renewal projects outside of government administration. The SWP wants the program operated by the people, and not by Washington bureaucrats.

"The individual professions are the best qualified to repair our infrastructure," Harris said while on a Los Angeles campaign stop recently. "We have the economic catalyst right here among the workers. The workers must organize and take power and use the wealth we create to transform the system for permanent progress."

DeLuca supports a woman's right to choose abortion, noting that such a right is "critical to women being able to control own lives, to work and to break down discrimination" in order to participate fully in the working class and social struggles. This spring she joined rallies in Des Moines, Iowa, and in Omaha, Neb., in protest of the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.