Definitely Not a Concession Speech

PFP LOGOEugene Ruyle, November 14, 2012
Candidate for State Assembly, 15th District, Peace and Freedom Party

(In the Nov 6, 2012 General Election, Eugene Ruyle of the Peace & Freedom Party received 22,779 votes, or 13.2% of the total, in the 15th Assembly District that surrounds the Berkeley campus of the University of California and includes Richmond, Berkeley, and North Oakland,)

I want to start by thanking all those who supported my candidacy and our Peace and Freedom campaign of 2012.  Our campaign was less about winning votes than about building a movement for peace and socialism. That work will continue and I will conclude with suggestions about how we can work together in this important task.

With over 13% of the vote, I refuse to concede to the incumbent, whose re-election was just part of the normal functioning of a corrupt and undemocratic electoral system. While the twin parties of capitalism spent billions of dollars to convince the American people to vote for politics-as-usual, our low-keyed Campaign for Peace and Socialism refused all campaign contributions and received 22,779 votes, or 13.2% of the total. Other Peace and Freedom candidates did even better: in the 33rd State Senate District in Long Beach, Lee Chauser received 32,712 votes (19.9%) and in the 9th SD, which overlaps the 15th Assembly District, Mary McIlroy received 46,225 (14.2%). (All figures are as of Nov 13, 2012, with 100% of precincts reporting.)

It is a good thing that Romney and the Republicans were defeated. It’s just too bad that Obama and the Democrats could not have been defeated as well. One of the worst things about our two-party system is that only one of these war-addicted, pro-capitalist parties can be defeated at a time. Both the Democrats and Republican represent the 1% and peddle policies that continue to undermine the lives, liberties, and well-being of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Barack Obama did receive a bare majority (50.6%) of the votes cast. But with a voter turnout rate of only 57.5% (one of the worst in the world, 120th out of 169 nations), this means that less than 30% of the electorate wanted Obama to be President enough to actually vote for him. It is not clear how many of that 30% voted for Obama out of fear of a Romney presidency, rather than support for Obama.

Smaller parties shared about 2% of the vote:  Libertarian Gary Johnson (0.9% 1,139,562), Green Jill Stein (0.3% 396,684), Peace and Freedom’s Roseanne Barr (<0.1% 51,756), and Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson (<0.1% 34,521). (All figures from Google Elections as of Nov 10.)  The Party for Socialism and Liberation ran perhaps the most impressive and principled campaign, gaining ballot status in 13 states and winning over 9000 votes, according to Liberation News. Other socialist campaigns include the Freedom Socialist Party, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Socialist Equity Party, but complete vote totals are not yet available,

These percentages might lead some to wonder, why bother? And if one wants to despair, there are certainly reasons enough. But where the politics of despair sees only death, defeat, and destruction, scientific socialists see the birth pangs of a new world and assist in mitigating the pain of labor. The founders of scientific socialism recognized the importance of participating in elections even when the system is rigged against the working class. In their Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, London, March 1850, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote:

“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled. The progress which the proletarian party will make by operating independently in this way is infinitely more important than the disadvantages resulting from the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body.”

Later, in his 1884 Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Engels re-affirmed this view:

“the possessing class rules directly by means of universal suffrage. As long as the oppressed class – in our case, therefore, the proletariat – is not yet ripe for its self-liberation, so long will it, in its majority, recognize the existing order of society as the only possible one and remain politically the tall of the capitalist class, its extreme left wing. But in the measure in which it matures towards its self-emancipation, in the same measure it constitutes itself as its own party and votes for its own representatives, not those of the capitalists. Universal suffrage is thus the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the modern state; but that is enough. On the day when the thermometer of universal suffrage shows boiling-point among the workers, they as well as the capitalists will know where they stand.”

Clearly, workers in the United States have not yet reached a boiling point, but we must keep in mind that the U.S. is only one part of the global capitalist system. The recent re-election of Hugo Chávez of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela reminds us of other socialist heads of state in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, France, China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and, of course Cuban President Raúl Castro. While we may not agree with all the policies of these nations—when have socialists ever agreed about everything?—socialism is clearly not dead. From a global perspective socialism is very much on the agenda.

When we further consider the unrest in the Arab world, Greece, Spain, South Asia, and South Africa, we understand the continuing relevance of Lenin’s words in the 1920 Preface to Imperialism:

“Imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat. This has been confirmed since 1917 on a world-wide scale.”

The overwhelming military domination by the U.S. has not kept people around the world from resistance and we cannot foretell where the chains of U.S. imperialism will again be broken.

From this global perspective, it is very important that socialists here in the heartland of imperialism—what Che called the belly of the beast—continue our activities in solidarity with our comrades around the world. So, we will continue to campaign for the Peace and Freedom Party. In simplest terms, our slogans remain:

End the Wars and Tax the Rich
Free Education & Health Care for All
Protect & Restore Our Mother Earth
Power to the People

Electing a few socialists to the State Legislature won’t solve our problems. Hard times will continue until workers and oppressed people around the world organize as a class, take possession of our Mother Earth and the machinery of production, abolish the capitalist system, and build a global socialist world. That’s why the Peace and Freedom Party advocates participation in mass organization and direct action in neighborhoods, workplaces, unions and the armed forces everywhere. Naturally, as part of this, we urge everyone to register and organize in the Peace and Freedom Party.

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