Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

New York elections: Crisis unresolved – what next?

First Published: People’s Tribune, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The elections are over, and the working class in New York, so instrumental in Carter’s victory in the Northeast, is waiting to see what the smiling populist and the Democratic Party can do to relieve their misery.

New York’s problems are staggering. But New York is merely the most obvious “problem area” in the northeast region. Jimmy Carter will be called on to do more than grin if he is to deal with these problems.

New York City has thus far laid off every teacher hired over the last four years. Garbage sits on the streets for days, not because the sanitation workers are not working three shifts or are not picking up more refuse, but because one third of the trucks are broken down and cannot be repaired because the mechanics have been laid off. More and more firemen are dying because they are both overworked and older. No new firemen have been hired in seven years and 16 firehouses have been closed down. Drastic cuts are being planned in public transportation. The unemployment lines in New York City are longer than those in almost any other city. Today there are 95,000 fewer jobs than there were in New York last year. Last year there were fewer jobs than any time since 1954 and in 1954 New York had half its present population.

Under these conditions, in this atmosphere of desperation and uncertainty, the working class of New York was carefully organized and led to seek its salvation in the vague promises and empty smiles of James Earl Carter and the Democratic Party. The labor unions, most prominently D.C. 37, representing municipal employees, campaigned intensively for the Democratic ticket. The union political action committee mobilized 500 members for its phone canvassing operation and made 60,000 calls to members urging them to vote for the Carter-Mondale ticket. 1,000 members were mobilized as volunteers to canvass for the Democrats on election day, and 3,500 mailings went out to members in selected districts to support candidates for state off ices. The union claims credit for 100,000 votes for the Democratic slate. Victor Gotbaum, the Executive Director of D.C. 37 said recently, “I have confidence that Jimmy Carter will come through on every promise he made to us and to the country – once again not because our votes helped him win, but because the promises were valid ones, based on need and decency.”

Practically every poverty agency in the national minority sections of the city became part of the Carter army. Through the Democrats’ control of community corporations and poverty agency jobs, multi-service centers and community centers hear housing projects were mobilized to carry on support activities for the Democratic candidates, voter registration drives, candidates’ nights and canvassing were some of the functions of these organizations. The sections of the working class relying on these agencies for health facilities, answers to housing problems, or redress from welfare department harassment were swept into the Carter camp by these poverty pimps who in turn look to Carter for crumbs from the federal budget to support their jobs. Carter’s policy for New York was “We will support the poverty pimps and the poverty pimps will support you.”

The NAACP who threw its support to Carter by a vehement condemnation of Gerald Ford at its national convention, also worked locally for Carter. Although disavowing partisan politics, the local branches had candidates’ nights giving exposure to local Democrats who were the only serious contenders in many areas and who plugged Carter-Mondale at every opportunity. In Brooklyn, one victorious Democratic assemblyman joined the local NAACP branch immediately after the campaign as a token of his appreciation.

In the 23rd Senatorial District in Brooklyn, the CLP candidate for state senate ran against these forces and their candidate the incumbent Democrat, Vander L. Beatty. The CLP’s campaign was run on the issues of jobs, peace and equality, with a platform of demands dealing with the basic needs of the workers of New York. Art Goldberg and the widely distributed party literature exposed the role of the banks and of the corruption of elected officials in the creating of the New York crisis. This campaign presented workers in New York with their first opportunity to vote for their own representative, not the representative of their bitter enemy. The main effort of the campaign concentrated in the low income areas and housing projects where the full force of the city crisis is being felt. In these areas people enthusiastically endorsed the party program and bought the party literature. In these areas, the Communist Labor Party succeeded in getting 518 votes.

The Democratic Party candidate, in spite of its widely known reputation for ballot tampering and dishonesty, was swept into office by the force of the labor and national minority vote mobilized behind the Democratic Party.

But the Carter administration, however indebted it is to the “leaders” who delivered the votes, is first and foremost interested in preserving the capitalist system and furthering the interests of the investment banking community. The impoverishment of the northeast region and the intensified exploitation of the colonies and semi-colonies is a process that can be halted only to the detriment of the system Carter and his party are sworn to protect.

We can be sure that there will be some meager form of relief for New York and the northeast, if only in an attempt to hold down the social struggles of the proletariat and keep Carter’s fragile coalition together for a while longer. But the facts remain that Carter has made no acceptable plans for funding a decent standard of living for the workers of New York City or any place else.

Has he called for cutting the $123 billion military budget?

Has he called for a halt to the banks’ usurious interest rates?

Is he really calling for an end to political bribery and corruption that has cost New Yorkers 10% of the entire city budget? Obviously not. In fact, he is relying on the regular Democratic organization that has administered the destruction of New York to carry out his programs. Further, his advisers have proposed creating jobs in industry for unskilled youth at below the minimum wage, a tactic that can only drive down wages for the working class as a whole.

While the election results make it clear that the workers of New York look to Carter and the Democrats for a brighter future with jobs, decent housing, medical care, daycare and schools and an end to high prices and discrimination, we know these hopes cannot be fulfilled by Carter or any representative of the capitalist class. But this lesson will not be learned merely by the working class’ experience of struggle, hardship or disappointment in the coming years. Only by patient, persistent communist work within the unions, the community organizations, the organizations of the national minorities and the local organizations of the Democratic Party itself will we be able to ensure that this lesson is learned.

In New York there are over 500 workers who have already cast their vote for the Communist Labor Party and its program. Our job is to consolidate these advanced people as quickly as possible, to expand the party and the influence of the party into the organizations that presently lead the working class in its struggles. Only then will we be in a position to give the leadership and teach the lessons that are vital to the working class in the years ahead.