Socialist Workers candidate for Cal. gov. appeals to US troops

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sat Sep 20 07:28:36 MDT 2003

One of the parties that is taking advantage of the recall vote in
California to put forward its own candidate for governor is the
Socialist Workers Party.  To the best of my recollection, this is the
first time in more than two decades that an SWP candidate has been on
the ballot statewide there, because of the incredible signature
requirements for getting nonrecognized parties on the ballot.  The SWP
is running Joel Britton, who is a longtime political and union
activist who has been a central leader of the SWP for decades.

Britton's position on the recall -- he supports it -- will be
deservedly controversial.  I sort of doubt that the broad generality
he states, that we should always favor working people voting to remove
a capitalist officeholder when the opportunity offers, has universal
validity. However, in this instance, I tend to think the recall has
given  working people in California a chance to debate the issues and
the parties in a more politicized atmosphere (because of events like
the war, not just because of the recall) than the one in which the
last gubernatorial election took place. I think some sections of the
working people may come out stronger in the end regardless of whether
Davis --ugh-- retains his post or whether he is replaced by
Schwarzenegger --ugh-- or Bustamante -- ugh.
Fred Feldman

Vol. 67/No. 33           September 29, 2003

Socialist Workers candidate for California
governor addresses U.S. soldiers abroad
LOS ANGELES—“With this message I am appealing to California voters
abroad, especially to the working men and women in uniform now serving
in Iraq, Afghanistan, south Korea, and elsewhere,” said a message Joel
Britton recorded September 16. “Exercise your constitutional rights as
citizen-soldiers to discuss with fellow soldiers and sailors the
burning issues facing working people and youth. Please consider
casting an absentee ballot for a fighting working-class alternative to
the twin parties of imperialist war, economic exploitation and
depression, and racist oppression.”

Britton, Socialist Workers Party (SWP) candidate for California
governor, recorded this personal audio message through the Federal
Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense. The statement
will be available to all members of the U.S. military, their families,
and other U.S. citizens abroad.

In his message, the SWP leader spelled out programmatic demands to
defend working people in the face of a deepening capitalist economic
crisis worldwide. The Socialist Workers campaign’s “‘Jobs for All!’
program calls for a massive program of government-funded public works
and a shorter work-week at union scale to spread available work,” he
said. “We call for a big increase in the minimum wage. We call for
cost-of-living protection in all union contracts, unemployment
payments and other social benefits. We demand debt relief for working
farmers and a stop to foreclosures on their farms by the banks.

“We defend affirmative action. We back women’s access to abortion,” he
continued. “We call for an end to Washington’s economic war on Cuba
and support normalizing relations.

“We call for immediately and unconditionally bringing the troops home
from the Balkans, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
End the occupations by U.S. forces now!” (see editorials section for
full statement).

This revolutionary working-class program—disseminated not just by the
candidate, but also by the Young Socialists for Britton, who are among
the candidate’s most enthusiastic campaigners—has sparked interest
among working people in South Central Los Angeles and other
working-class districts in this city and across the state. Workers and
youth have stayed to listen and exchange views with the street
campaigners and have picked up campaign literature, Pathfinder books,
and copies of the Militant and Perspectiva Mundial. Discussions have
taken up most of the political issues of the day.

Ricardo Hernández, a sewing machine operator, for example, met Britton
in the downtown garment district here September 13. Hernández told the
socialist candidate that he opposes the recall of Democratic Governor
Gray Davis. “We should let him finish his term,” the garment worker

Britton responded that while he did not campaign for placing the
recall on the ballot, he is urging a “yes” vote to remove Davis from
office. “Whenever working people have the opportunity to remove a
capitalist politician from office we should take advantage of it,” he

“The bosses rule over us through the Democratic and Republican
parties,” Britton stated. “The bosses don’t just run the garment shops
and other factories, they run the government. We need to build a
movement that will replace the exploiters with a workers and farmers

Hernández countered that he liked Davis because he had signed a law
recognizing undocumented workers’ right to a driver’s license without
having to show a Social Security card.

Britton said that Davis’s September 5 approval of the bill, which will
go into effect January 1, was a by-product of years of protests by
workers and immigrant rights organizations. The governor had vetoed
similar legislation twice before, Britton pointed out. He noted that
Davis had said he would support a driver’s license bill on the
condition that it require applicants to have jobs, and allowed the
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to conduct background checks. The
recent legislation dropped both provisions.

“The fight around the driver’s license is far from over,” Britton
noted. “For one, the DMV has not issued details on how immigrants will
get their licenses. Many are concerned that the DMV will allow the
police and other cop agencies easy access to its records, including
addresses and fingerprints. “I am opposed to discrimination against
immigrants,” Britton said. “The government uses repressive measures to
heighten insecurity and fear among immigrants, hoping to maintain them
as a super-exploitable labor pool and to discourage involvement in
unionization efforts and other social and political fights.”

Between 1980 and 2000, California’s Latino population doubled to 11
million people, or almost one-third of the population. Most are of
Mexican origin.

Britton has discussed the socialist alternative with workers looking
for jobs, as well as employed workers dissatisfied with low wages. In
the past year, some 8,700 garment manufacturing jobs have been slashed
in Los Angeles County. The industry today employs 64,000 workers—a 12
percent decline from a year ago.

The candidate has also called for guaranteed health, disability, and
pension benefits, along with lifetime health care. These demands have
come up in discussions on the sharp attack on workers’ compensation
just approved by the California State Legislature. Davis says he will
approve the $5 to $6 billion in expenditure cuts proposed there—which
will affect programs for vocational rehabilitation, chiropractic
treatment, and physical therapy.

“I am opposed to these cuts,” Britton said in an interview. “If the
bosses wanted to reduce injuries, they would slow down the speed of
the assembly lines. We don’t have to accept their speedup drive. The
frequency of carpal tunnel and other repetitive injuries is
unnecessary. There are many factories where workers, desperate for a
job, offer their limbs in exchange for a weekly wage.

“What is happening is outrageous,” Britton added. “Under capitalism
health care is an industry designed to make profits off of human
misery. We need to build a movement that will put an end to this, like
in Cuba.”

On September 11 the socialist candidate joined a Young Socialists for
Britton campaign table at California State University’s Long Beach
campus. One student expressed interest in having Britton speak before
his class. The young socialists are taking the campaign to the
campuses, setting up meetings, and arranging interviews with campus
newspapers and radio stations. A series of campaign activities will be
held at California State University, Monterey Bay in Seaside, and in
the Napa Valley September 24-26.

Meanwhile, the campaign continues to receive numerous e-mail
inquiries. One woman liked what Britton had said in defense of the
Cuban Revolution on Channel 11 Fox News. “I really like what you wrote
in the voter info guide. I hope your words are real,” wrote a San
Diego resident. Another told Britton that she is “considering voting
for you, and would greatly appreciate if you would be willing to
answer a few questions about your platform.” Her questions covered
women’s rights, education, unemployment benefits, regulation of
monopolies, and legalization of drugs.

Britton has submitted a two-minute video, “State Your Case,” to LA36,
a public-access educational channel in Los Angeles. On September 16 he
will be interviewed on “Bull Sessions,” a program on KPAY News, Clear
Channel Chico-Radio. KPAY is the leading news talk station in Butte

The Gateway company has offered free digital cameras to the 135
candidates in the race on the condition they are used to take photos
of the candidates campaigning. The photos are posted on the Internet
and are available to the public. Britton accepted the offer. His
photos can be found at On this web site’s
home page click “campaign albums” and then click “Joel Britton.”

Three-judge panel of U.S. court rules that
California recall vote must be put off
On September 15, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals approved a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to
postpone the vote on whether to recall California governor Gray Davis.
The full court will review the ruling. The judges made the decision on
the grounds that antiquated voting machines in several California
counties must be replaced prior to the ballot. If the ruling stands,
the election will be moved from October 7 to March of next year.

Related articles:
Vote Socialist Workers!
‘I see two Californias: that of the workers, that of the bosses’
California channel interviews Joel Britton
The revolutionary potential of U.S. working class
Socialist Workers gubernatorial candidate discusses record of
communist activity

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