Martin Harvey

Michigan Politics a Sewer

(28 August 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 35, 28 August 1944, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROITDemocratic Party and Republican Party politics, that is, capitalist politics, is at best a pretty rotten and slimy affair. It is based on the colossal lie that a Republican or Democrat can represent the “people.” Labor Action has long contended – and has proved over and over again – that capitalist politicians have as their main function the preservation of the rule of capital, which means keeping this country under the control of the “Sixty Families” who own most of the nation’s wealth.

This isn’t always too obvious to working men, since big business men and politicians do their finagling behind closed doors – the traditional smoke-filled room. A friendly note, a long distance phone call, a timely campaign contribution and Mr. Politician, who was the friend of the people at election time, is voting according to the wishes of his real friend: Lamont of Morgan & Co.

But there are always the hogs who spoil everything. The guys who like a little extra graft – the illegal kind. And they go and tip off the “great game of politics” to the poor, unsuspecting worker, who isn’t supposed to know about such things.

Take what just happened in Michigan, for example. Some Republicans got the bright idea that if they could spill the beans on a few Democrats it would increase their chances of having the signal honor of representing big business in the halls of the state legislature.

So they set a couple of lawyers to work in the cesspools of Lansing and came up with a bunch of mud-spattered Democrats – and, to make it look good, one Republican. These august lawgivers (who included, by the way, a majority of the 1936 Wayne County – Detroit – delegation to the state legislature) were charged with selling their votes for from $50 to $100 apiece!

Now that, you might think, is small stuff., These guys were practically robbed. Whoever heard of a state senator – even a state representative – letting a vote go for a measly fifty bucks? But before you get real mad you must remember that these votes weren’t sold to Henry Ford or Alfred Sloan. They were sold to small fry who don’t always get proper consideration from the representatives of big business. They were sold to, a group of small loan companies to prevent the lowering of interest rates on small loans, that is, loans to workers.

Convicts Renominated

Now this, you must understand, was getting to be sort of embarrassing to the Democrats – what with Commander-in-Chief Roosevelt coming up for re-election – and even the support of Phil Murray’s Political Action Committee wasn’t going to wipe away that stain. But tins wasn’t the end of their troubles. Three of the indicted legislators got themselves renominated on. the Democratic ticket. And then, to top it all off, the jury convicts the whole lot of them.

Clearly, some fast thinking was called for. And, quick as you could call out the National Guard to break a strike, they found a solution. They called the three grafters into the back room and spoke to them in a fatherly way. “Look, boys," they said, “we’re all good Democrats here. Can’t something be done to straighten this out?” And the grafters, being good Democrats; said, “Sure, we’ll cooperate.”

Switching the Crooks

So Leo J. Wilkowski gave up the nomination on condition that his brother replace him – which was done. His brother, we are indeed sorry to note, recently got out of the jug himself on parole. He was convicted of vote frauds.

And Frank Nowak gave up the nomination on condition that his wife replace him on the ticket – which was also done.

Now all this squabbling and bickering among capitalist politicians would be a huge joke if there were not a tragic sidelight to the affair. At the same time that all this is going on, the Michigan Political Action Committee, headed by the not-so-august August Scholle, endorses the whole Democratic state ticket from Banker Fry, who is running for Governor, down. The same Democratic Party that deals with convicted grafters, that is so discredited in Michigan that it can’t find candidates for all available offices, this party gets the endorsement of the CIO bureaucrats and the brass-hats of the United Auto Workers!

Last updated on 29 June 2020