Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Reconstruction Party: A New Political Development

With election fever approaching as we get closer in the US to pick the next president, I plan occasional discussions, as people search for political alternatives. This was published in Socialist Appeal.

Written by Bill Leumer
Friday, 12 October 2007

There is a new political party on the horizon that is attempting to offer working class Blacks, working people in general, and the poor an alternative to the two capitalist parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Stunned by how little has been done by either capitalist party for anyone who was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans – other than the rich and powerful – the Reconstruction Party was officially launched on September 2 of this year. As a first step, the Party is running Malcolm Suber for City Council in New Orleans. Suber is a former textile worker and auto worker and member of the UAW, and has been active in labor struggles since moving to New Orleans, especially around union organizing. He was a founding member and national organizer of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition, a broad coalition of grassroots groups organized around the demand for the reconstruction of New Orleans under community control.

In part, this movement is a response to the ruthless policies implemented by the ruling class in New Orleans. Taking full advantage of the helpless situation of many working people, especially the Black majority of New Orleans, the capitalists have pressed to privatize everything, including schools, health care, and prisons, while at the same time preventing the vast majority of those who were forced to leave from returning to their homes.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Suber proclaimed: "We want to win this seat so working class and poor Black folk have some representation at City Hall and to move forward towards building the Reconstruction Party." He argued: "If we want real justice and equity, we'll have to do it ourselves. Certainly the Democrats and the Republicans make empty promises to the people; they only give awards to those who are politically connected."

In another statement, Suber emphatically promised, "In the struggle of labor against the bosses I have and will always stand with the working class. I have always stood for the unionization of workers and the repeal of the anti-union 'right to work' laws."

The Reconstruction Party was conceived about a year ago by the victims of the hurricane who were abandoned by the capitalists and their political parties. Several predominantly Black organizations, including the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition, which calls for the right of return, as well as the broader Reconstruction Movement, took the lead in raising the idea of a new independent, working class party. The platform of the Reconstruction Party focuses on issues fundamental to working people. It calls for genuine democracy for the majority, the re-opening of public housing, rent control, compensation for home owners affected by the hurricane, health clinics at public schools, the creation of jobs at a living wage aimed at reconstruction, and support for public education.

Those involved in the Reconstruction Party are already reaching out to people across the country in the hope of establishing a national basis for the party with this call: "We're calling upon our friends and supporters from around the country to support the formation of the Reconstruction Party, which is needed to address the myriad problems of institutional racism, class domination and historical poverty and sexism which plagues working people in the cities throughout the country." The response has been positive. Cynthia McKinney, former Democratic Party member of Congress for the people of Georgia, has declared her support for Suber's campaign, adding: "The facts on the ground clearly demonstrate that we cannot rely on failed politicians and failing political parties which are complicit in the lack of preparation, the failure to rescue, and the continued refusal to advance the right to return for hundreds of thousands of people who continue to be displaced."

Al Rojas, National Coordinator of the Frente de Mexicanos en el Exterior in Sacramento, CA, sent this support: "We in the Frente de Mexicanos en el Exterior ... have followed with great interest your initiative to launch a new and independent Reconstruction Party in the United States ... We cannot allow them [the U.S. government and the corporations] to divide us. We must build a united movement of Black and Latino workers that demands the right of return for the Black majority and that also demands amnesty and full legalization for all Latino workers in the Gulf Coast and across the United States. A massive public works program could be instituted in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region to put everyone, Blacks and Latinos, to work on a true Reconstruction Program."

Donna Dewitt, President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO and National Co-Chairperson of the Labor Party, has also voiced support: "I hope you will join me in saying 'Enough is enough!' Beginning with this special election in New Orleans, give governance to the real people. Malcolm Suber will speak for them and ignite a flame that will speak for working people throughout our nation."

We in the Workers International League view the Reconstruction Party as a positive first step for workers to break from the capitalist political parties and fight for own interests, which stand in stark contradiction to those of the capitalists. We endorse the Suber campaign. As this party evolves, it will have to play a leading role in the antiwar movement because of the vast amount of money being directed to U.S. imperialist adventures aimed at profits, not real human needs. Capitalism aims above all at making the rich ever richer. It lives by the creed of taking from the poor in order to give to the rich. Only by creating our own political party will we be in a position to unite all of capitalism's victims – working people, particularly Blacks, immigrants, etc. – and then we will be in a position to put up a real fight for our interests and build a just society.


steven rix said...

In part, this movement is a response to the ruthless policies implemented by the ruling class in New Orleans. Taking full advantage of the helpless situation of many working people, especially the Black majority of New Orleans, the capitalists have pressed to privatize everything, including schools, health care, and prisons, while at the same time preventing the vast majority of those who were forced to leave from returning to their homes
Milton Friedman (from the Chicago School of economics) must be rolling in his grave because he succeeded in what he always looked for: the privatization in some american states of everything during a catastrophic event such as Katrina.

Chicago school economics:
The Chicago school of economics is a school of thought favoring free-market economics practiced at and disseminated from the University of Chicago in the middle of the 20th century. The leaders were Nobel laureates George Stigler and Milton Friedman. Its attitudes towards economics are the intellectual legacy of the Austrian school of economics.[citation needed]

It is associated with neoclassical price theory and free market libertarianism, the refutation and rejection of Keynesianism in favor of monetarism (until the 1980s, when it turned to rational expectations), and the rejection of regulation of business in favor of laissez-faire. In terms of methodology the stress is on "positive economics" -- that is, empirically based studies using statistics, with less stress on theory.



steven rix said...

Here in Houston there are many people from the New Orleans that are still waiting to go back to their home. Most of them live from motel to motel, others decided to stay in Texas and they got jobs. There has been a solidarity movement down here in Texas to help all these people.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Republicans in New Orleans city government? Where? When?

Oh, I forgot, this is a leftist viewpoint. I'm not supposed to expect any resemblance to reality within it.

Graeme said...

It appears Katrina is going to less damage to New Orleans than investors looking to destroy public housing.

nanc said...

ren - who will MONETARILY support this party?

Frank Partisan said...

Beamish: It is more of a threat to the Democrats, than GOP. That is why I'm interested in it.

Nanc: It had a website that is down now. It has the support of another embryo party The American Labor Party.

Politiques: Good point about Milton Friedman.

Graeme: Public housing will be a memory.

nanc said...

it just sounds like another "socialist" stranglehold - inert - something the rest of u.s. will pay for.

i like chocolate, but i don't want the rest of you supporting my addiction!

nanc said...


sorry...i was having a moment...

Daniel said...

Getting rid of political parties which represent capitalist interests is the first step towards achieving a more just society.

Capitalism and social justice are mutually exclusive!


nanc said...

"Daniel said...
Getting rid of political parties which represent capitalist interests is the first step towards achieving a more just society."

could you possibly have said anything more inane?

come on - you get one more chance.

Frank Partisan said...

Nanc: When people get interested in politics, they join mass organizations they are familiar or comfortable with. In the USA there is no mass party, for someone progressive on the left. The Democratic Party is only an electoral machine. It shares goals with Republicans, although differ on tactics. One can say two sides of the same coin. Both are parties of big business.

The US has no mass party. The Reconstruction Party might be an embryo of something that can make a difference.

I support the Labor Party in UK, Israel, Australia etc. I support the PSUV in Venezuela, the PPP in Pakistan. That doesn't mean agreeing with everything.

I have nothing in common with a Clinton, Edwards, etc.

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(((Thought Criminal))) said...

My only points are that historically a city government controlled by Republicans is less likely to run a city that:

a.) appears on a list of "America's most criminally violent cities"

b.) is unprepared for natural disasters and can't account for funding set for this purpose

c.) possesses a stagnant or decaying infrastructure to the point it kills someone (falling bridges, destroyed by wildfires, etc.)

Do I want the government to pursue my happiness?

Hell no!

I want the government to do its fucking job.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Democrats can't even piece together a functioning city government, and people expect them to run a country?

Frank Partisan said...

Beamish: You hit the nail on the head. That is why Malcolm Suber formed the new party.

I don't have a stake in the next big election, I'm waiting for the posts on your blog.

steven rix said...

In the US I learned one thing: if you slip from the Democrat or Republican party then you'll be marginalized. Look at what happened to Cindy Sheehan that was representing at one time the interests of the Democrats before she got obstructed completely from the political life when she started going nuts on the Dems. They are making it very hard on 3rd parties to see the daylight in this country, so our options are very limited, since Dems and Reps share many common interests.
Even people who hijacked the political parties (is Ron Paul a Republican?) don't have the favor of the media.
During the 60s there was lots of grassroots movements that changed the political spectrum in this country and the right of the minorities, and the rights of women, but everything has been taken back under Reagan and Bush Jr. In this country, since Presidents are not elected under universal suffrage, it is very possible to change the course of the elections with 1 state only in favor of a political party (if they change some rules on California and Nevada then the Republican party will be elected again). In other words we are not that much democratic. They keep insisting they are but we are not.

steven rix said...

I think the time has come for America to develop a true 3rd political party
In the elections of 1912, 1948,1968,and in 1992 Theodore Roosevelt, Strom Thormond, George Wallace and Ross Perot ran as 3rd party candidate for the office of President. Roosevelt, who was en ex President when he bolted the Republican party to find the Bull Moose party, came in 2nd in both the popular vote and in the Electoral College vote. Wallace and Thurmond, appealing to the Southern voter were able to gain 46 and 39 electoral votes respectively with a popular vote of 13% for Wallace and 2%for Thurmond. Perot won 19% of the popular vote, but did not win any Electoral College votes. The one thing they all 4 have in common is that once the election was over the party they founded soon vanished from the political map.

I think what this country needs is a true third party that begins from the bottom up, and concentrates on electing people to state legislatures for now, and eventually when it feels strong enough to run their own candidates for United States Congress.

Labor, lawyers, teachers and inner city poor make up a good portion of the base of the Democratic party.and provide it with most of the votes it needs to win elections at both the state and national level. Republican rely on the Christian right, Small business owners, the upper class, and the rural poor to provide the monies and votes to help them win elections.

Once in office the democrats concentrate on passing legislation beneficial to the laboring class, to teachers, and lawyers and occasionally throw a bone like a raise in the minimum wage to their poorer constituents. Republican legislators find little problem supporting social legislation to please the Christian right, and are more than willing to pass tax legislation beneficial to the wealthy and the Small business owner.but are reluctant to pass legislation designed to help America's poor.

Since Democrats receive an very high proportion of the inner city vote as legislators they feel confident that this vote is theirs for the asking without the necessity of passing any concrete legislation that would directly benefit the inner city voter. The same can be said for the Republicans in regard to the rural poor.

What is needed, then in America, is a third political party whose main purpose would be to pass legislation that would economically benefit both the inner city resident and the rural populace. This 3rd party would probably never be in a position to be the majority party in any state of federal legislative body , but it could be in a position to hold the balance of votes needed for both the Democrats and the Republicans to pass legislation . These new 3rd party
legislators could bargain with both parties, providing them with voted they need to please their constituents for votes they need to pass legislation specifically geared to helping Americas poor and forgotten

To organize this party I suggest hat they start with what they already have. many legislators at the state level are in safe municipal and /or rural districts where they are well known and respected by the voters in those districts. I would go to those legislators and try to convince as many as possible to leave the Democratic or Republican party and join our new third party. I m sure the first question a potential legislator will have who is anticipating leaving his party to join a 3rd party is Show me the money.

To provide funds for newly converted legislators this 3rd party will have to go to such people as Tiger Woods Oprah Winfry, the owner of Bet TV, Denzel Washington and the like who not only have monies available but also have tremendous endorsement potential for any candidate running against the established Democratic or Republican party.

For members of the 3rd party we will need to recruit people the same way the 2 major parties recruit people through door to door canvasing, and through recruiting stands at local colleges, and during the summers at local festivals and entertainment venues.

The bottom line that we will need to emphasize is that this not a one shot deal like Wallace and Perot were., This is going to be the establishment of a permanent 3rd party that will run candidates on local municipal and in state legislative district where their is a preponderance of poor people who feel that the 2 major political parties are not interested in passing legislation that would economically benefit them .

It may take 20 or 30 years in order for our new third party to gain enough seats in state legislatures to control the balance of power in those legislatures but the wait will be worth it

nanc said...

dear Lord, politique - does your body come complete with a bobblehead?

please do not try to get anybody to take you seriously if you use "cindy sheehaniballectorwhoeatsherown" in any discussion. think succinct. you know, the shortest distance between two points.

steven rix said...

Well Nanc you get the point. I could have used Lyndon Larouche under Reagan:

LaRouche was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations, but continued his political activities from behind bars until his release in 1994 on parole. His defense attorney, Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. Attorney General, argued that the case represented an unprecedented abuse of power by the U.S. government in an effort to destroy the LaRouche organizations.[5] LaRouche and his defenders claim the prosecution was a politically motivated conspiracy involving government officials, numerous others, and a mass media brainwashing campaign.[6]

nanc said...

proof that power is easily abused - NO MATTER who has it?

so, do you believe a "reconstructionist" will be any different than another?

you don't eat the paste as you're copying, do you?

steven rix said...

People gotta start somewhere and it's not forbidden to dream but I don't believe in it anymore. Individualism is our own prison that prevent the people from organizing themselves into a collective society so that they can reconstruct/rebuild something better. We elect "leaders" that reward american society with their wars in the rest of the world; as long as people are busy shopping and busy with their own life, then nothing will be changed because we are the own slaves of this system that believes in liberty.
It takes a while to change a society from the inside, it only took 1 day to change the american society from the outside with 911.
In order to go back the way we were, we need to start from sratch all over the states, and the best way to achieve it is maybe a good financial crash* that would send some shock and awe in the whole country so that people can start realizing they have to reconstruct a different society, and still...

*The financial crash for most of the part comes from the government itself.

Does that answer your question?

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Politiques USA,

The only person that truly believes Ron Paul is a Republican, or even a conservative, lives inside Ron Paul's skull. Ron Paul represents, at best, the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party, and not very well.

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