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David Coolidge

Workers and the Elections

(23 October 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 43, 23 October 1944, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The working class in the United States is once again confronted with national elections. We are face to face with the coming elections and the tremendous international and domestic problems involved, with no political and organizational preparations for using the elections in the class interests of organized labor and the whole working class.

There was the Atlantic Charter, with its scribblings on the Four Freedoms for the peoples of the world. There were Casablanca, Teheran and Dumbarton Oaks. In all of these conferences the imperialist powers, the United Nations, under the leadership of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, not only plan the military defeat of the Axis powers but at the same time conspire together against the collective interests of the masses of the people. They each sought to enhance the economic interests of the particular national ruling class which they spoke for and represented.

To each of the Allies this is known as the establishment of foreign policy – what will be done with this, that or the other country after the war. They talk words and more words; millions of words, just as they did during and after the First Imperialist World War. Words and agreements and documents about “democracy,” “peace,” “security,” freedom from want” and “freedom from fear.”

Of course, these political chieftains and imperialist warlords talk also (but not so openly) about “trade routes,” “world airways,” “exports,” “sources of raw materials” and “the colonies” (the colonial slaves are never included in the Four Freedoms).

What Labor Got Already

In our own country, where we toil for our existence, we are chained to a no-strike pledge, bludgeoned by a Smith-Connally Act, harassed by a War Manpower Commission and stripped of our earnings by exorbitant taxes and the stranglehold of capitalist profiteering prices. Not only this, but there is the Little Steel formula, the cutbacks and the specter of post-war mass unemployment.

These are gifts to labor from the Roosevelt Administration and the Democratic Party. This is what Roosevelt and the Democratic Party offer now. This is the kind of regime they enforce now. They will not and cannot offer more after the war is over. But this man and this party have taken care of business.

Aside from the billions which have been distributed in salaries, dividends and interest, the corporations have stored away forty billion dollars in cash reserves from the support of the “war effort.” Not satisfied with this, the Roosevelt Administration and the Democratic Party have made arrangements by which corporations may have their post-war profits guaranteed and protected from impairment by tax reductions.

The Republican Party, with its rocking-horse darling of the Wall Street nursery, comes before the working class as the “historic champion of free labor.” They have a “foreign policy” and also a “domestic policy,” too. Dripping at the mouth and panting to get at the public treasury and to ride on the backs of labor for at least four years more, they enter the arena against the three-time winner. They can adequately be described in the way John Randolph spoke of a famous “statesman” of his day: they are “like a dead mackerel in moonlight; they shine and stink.”

Tweedledee & Tweedledum

And so, there they are. The successor of “Bloody Thursday” Hoover. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: savior of capitalism, Roosevelt of the Little Steel formula, of wage stabilization. The same Roosevelt who tied us on the job like serfs, who made the employers a present of the no-strike pledge and aided them to strike blow after blow at our unions.

And then Dewey with his Republican Party, no better and no worse. After the same thing and with the same basic ideas, aims and goals.

Where is the choice for labor and the working class between these two men and these two parties? There is no choice. Hundreds of thousands of workers know this. Millions in the ranks of labor at least have a vague feeling that all is not well, and only hope that somehow they will escape the miseries of another ten-year depression. It is our opinion that the overwhelming majority of workers will vote for Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. They will vote for what they call the “lesser evil.” They say that Dewey and the Republicans are worse than Roosevelt and the Democrats. Furthermore, millions of workers have been beguiled with the propaganda of the capitalist bosses and their government deputies to get out the vote.

Another argument made is that since there are only two parties and two sets of candidates, one of them will be sure to win. Therefore in order not to be left out in the cold, the workers must be in on the victory. And since there is no Labor Party, then the only thing to do is vote for the candidates of the two capitalist parties.

None of this is true except the statements that someone will be elected and that there is no Labor Party. We do not have to vote for capitalist candidates. We have been left out in the cold after Republican victories and after Democratic victories. This will continue so long as we cling to the propaganda of the politicians who do the dirty work of our employers and the capitalist class.

What Kind of Labor Politics?

The CIO leaders organized a Political Action Committee and told us that it was time for labor to get into politics. But under Hillman, Murray and the rest of them, the only politics the PAC has engaged in is political activity for the re-election of Roosevelt: champion of the Little Steel formula, the no-strike pledge, the WLB and the savior of capitalism. They have taken our money and used it exclusively in the interest of Roosevelt, the Democratic Party and the capitalist bosses.

While this is a most brazen betrayal of the interests of the working class, even this slight, gesture toward political action by labor has frightened the capitalist ruling class. The PAC, despite its weaknesses and against the will of Hillman, Murray and the others, has demonstrated what we could do if we really went in for genuine independent working class political action. We could really put the fear of the working class into Roosevelt and Dewey, the Republicans and the Democrats and their capitalist masters.

What should the working class do on November 7? Precisely what we should be doing now, what we should have been doing years ago and what we should be doing after the election is over: TALKING FOR, AGITATING FOR, FIGHTING FOR, ORGANIZING FOR INDEPENDENT WORKING CLASS POLITICAL ACTION. This is what we should be doing now, this is what we should do on November 7, this is what we should do after November 7. We should attend to our own class political interests and let the capitalist bosses and their political stooges attend to theirs if they can. We should not be concerned now, nor on November 7, nor afterward with the puppets the ruling class puts up for us to elect for them and to defend their class interests.

The worker who throws away this vote on November 7 will not be the worker who stays away from the polls but the one who goes to the polls and costs his ballot for Franklin D. Roosevelt or Thomas E. Dewey. Our-business is to fight for our own party, to organize that party, to use our time on November 7 to teach this to every worker and win every worker to independent working class political action and the formation of a LABOR PARTY!

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