Which Socialist is the Real Deal in the 25th Ward?
By the Organizer Newspaper
|Who is the true Socialist in the 25th?|
Ed Hershey for 25th ward alderman.
On February 10, we posted to our website and sent out to our subscribers via email a statement by our editorial board in support of Ed Hershey, one of four candidates for alderman in Chicago’s 25th ward. Our statement can be accessed athttp://socialistorganizer.org/
We supported (Ed) Hershey for 25th ward alderman for three main reasons:
1) Hershey is clear about the fact that while there are many wings of the Democratic Party, all exist for one purpose -- as Hershey put it, “to manage the affairs of the ruling class.”
2) Hershey calls for the unions to break with the Democrats and to build “an independent workers’ party.”
3) Hershey sought the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union, of which he is a member, and obtained that endorsement from the union’s House of Delegates, despite having been opposed by the CTU’s Political Action Committee.
Shortly after we posted our endorsement of Ed Hershey, we received a letter to our editorial board from Jorge Mújica, a long-time leader and activist in Chicago’s labor and immigrant rights’ movements, criticizing us for allegedly misrepresenting his stance on the Democratic Party. Mújica is one of the four candidates in the aldermanic race in Chicago’s 25th Ward.
We are publishing below the letter we received from Brother Mújica along with a reply from the editorial board of our newspaper.
The Organizer Newspaper
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Letter from Jorge Mújica
Dear Editors of The Organizer newspaper,
In your statement endorsing Ed Hershey you write:
"But they answer, when asked, that they support García. One candidate, labeled a socialist, when asked if he supported García since he was a Democrat, answered by comparing Garcia to Harold Washington and concluded that, since the progressive movement back in the '80s supported Harold, people should, similarly, support García today. (Harold Washington during his administration forced the CTU out on strike four times in less than six years -- 1983, ’84, ’85, and ’87)."
Since I am the "labeled socialist" candidate mentioned in your statement, I would like to make a statement.
I do not support Jesús García, and I have broadly stated that several times. I completely disagree with some of his platform points, like the hiring 1,000 police officers and others.
I compared García to Washington in the sense that both were part of the Democratic Party, but not part of the Democratic Party machine in Chicago, meaning, a different from the prevailing interest group that dominates in Chicago.
While Washington forced the CTU to strike six times, he also recognized public employees’ right to bargain collectively, and the first AFSCME contract was signed. García voted in favor of cutting off pensions of public employees, but also was the leader against Cook County jail rejecting immigration's detainers, which resulted in effectively expelling ICE from the building.
Politics is not black and white. Our campaign is the first leftist campaign that intends to actually win a seat in Chicago's City Council running as an open socialist.
While I greatly respect Ed Hershey, his campaign does not have that intention. It is only a propaganda campaign, and as such, he can declare anything in favor or against anything. While I hope he wins many votes, I doubt he will get more than 500 in a district with 24,000 voters.
Please, do not smear the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Winning a seat in City Council for a socialist alderman would have a more profound effect, locally and nationally, for all forces in the left.
Also, interview available here: http://gozamos.com/2015/
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|Jorge Mujica, 25th alderman candidate and labor organizer.|
Reply to Jorge Mújica
Dear Brother Mújica:
We write this rejoinder as a newspaper that has reported positively on your campaign for alderman in Chicago’s 25th Ward and that has always shown great respect for your extraordinary history as a fighter for immigrant and workers’ rights. We also write this rejoinder in the hope that we can clarify our views over how best we can work together to throw the Democratic Party into the junk-bin of history.
We admit that we have not read each and every one of your statements and interviews. We were not aware, for example, of your February 6, 2015, interview with In These Times, where you state that you are not backing any mayoral candidate. This stance, it appears to us, is a positive and important step away from the stance you took in the November 30, 2014, interview with a community radio station in Chicago. We welcome this stance of not supporting Democratic Party candidate Jesus “Chuy” García for mayor.
We made the statement that you quote in your reply based on the full transcription of that radio interview. [The transcript of the entire interview is available, upon request.] Needless to say, we were disappointed to read your reply to the interviewer.
The interviewer asked you a point-blank question about whether you support a candidate linked to the Democratic Party. He asked:
“There’s another faction that . . . say they’re not interested in supporting anybody again that has any links to the Democratic Party, and even though Jesus García has clearly been against the machine and run against the Daleys and the Democratic political machine in the city, he’s definitely still very much a Democrat. . . . I’m curious to get your thoughts on that."
In your answer, you never say, "No, I don't support voting for a mayoral candidate who is a Democrat, such as García". Your answer beats around the bush, in our view, and implies that García is like Harold Washington, and it would therefore be the correct thing to do what “progressives” did in the 1980s when they supported him. This was your response:
"So people are discussing, arguing and I keep telling them, ok, if you were here in 1983 would you have supported Harold Washington? Yes or no? Because in practical politics I think that things come down to that. Would you have supported Harold Washington or not? Because he was a Democratic Party officer also, he had been a legislator in the Democratic Party. So, would you have supported Harold Washington? Yes or no? And I keep repeating the question. And I get every kind of answer possible: ‘Well, no, it is not the same thing, no it is not the same time,’ -- and I say, well I think it is the same thing."
Your answer avoids answering the question. But there is a strong implication that, yes, under some circumstances you would support voting for a Democratic Party mayor. It appeared to us that García (who many people today are characterizing as Harold Washington's twin) might be one of those instances. How could we interpret your answer differently?
We would also be remiss if we did not point out that there is still, in our opinion, a great deal of confusion in your assessment of the Democratic Party and what it represents. In your reply to our statement endorsing Ed Hershey you write the following: "I compared García to Washington in the sense that both were part of the Democratic Party, but not part of the Democratic Party machine in Chicago, meaning, a different from the prevailing interest group which dominates in Chicago."
In addition, in your recent (February 6) interview with In These Times you do criticize Garcia over his position on hiring more police. But you still avoid calling for a clear break from the Democratic Party and its politicians. You use the term "Blue Dog Democrat," and this brings along with it (without further clarification) the mindset that there are good Democrats and bad Democrats and, further, some could be "pushed" to the left with workers’ support.
As you surely know having read our newspaper over the years, The Organizer calls for a clean break with all wings of the Democratic Party. And we call for the labor movement to break with the Democratic Party and to run its own candidates under the banner of a Labor Party, a party that is linked as well to the fight to build independent politics in the Black and Latino communities.
What has held back the fight for independent working class political action for more than 100 years is the idea that there are “progressives” inside the Democratic Party that can be supported against the “machine” wing of the Democrats. We are hearing echoes of this already with the MoveOn.org campaign to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren so that she can run against Hillary Clinton. And the result of this confusion is always the same: All independent movements inevitably end up getting hijacked back into the Democratic Party -- even the ones that call themselves socialists.
Sharp clarity on the class nature and function of the Democratic Party -- and of the need for the working class, through its organized expression in the trade unions to break with the Democrats and build its own party -- is not an abstract or pie-in-the sky matter; it is one of the most practical and burning questions facing working people and all the oppressed today.
That is why we were pleased to read the statement by Ed Hershey on these matters:
"Chuy García [is] not arrogant and preening like Rahm. But [he still carries out] the same policy at the County that Rahm is carrying out in the city: budget cuts, austerity, attacks on workers and attacks on pensions. . . . The Democratic Party is an institution arrayed against working people -- to my mind it taints anyone affiliated with it . . . moving up, or even just operating within the Democratic Party means serving corporate interests -- that is, interests that are fundamentally opposed to ours."
Yes, this is the kind of "black and white" clarity we feel Chicago workers need. Wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you endorse this statement?
We are heartened that you do not support García for mayor. We would like to continue this discussion with you over how best to advance independent working class politics in the electoral arena at the very same time that we work together with you in building the independent fightback in the workplaces and streets of our country in defense of immigrant rights and workers’ rights. Such unity in action is needed urgently today.
The Organizer Newspaper