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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

“Labor with a White Skin Cannot Emancipate Itself Where Labor with a Black Skin Is Branded” – Karl Marx

The Elections on November 4

(1 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 44, 1 November 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Negro workers in the metropolitan area will have a chance on Tuesday, November 4, to express their views on the most important questions of the day. On election day in New York City and in Essex County, New Jersey, they will be able by the votes they cast to show where they stand on the vital questions of war, fascism, Jim Crowism, jobs and equal rights for the Negro people, attacks on civil liberties and militant unionism.

What do the Democratic and Republican parties stand for today? Every Negro worker has had the opportunity from his own experience and observation to learn the answer to this question. Not from the answers the Democratic and Republican politicians give to this question around election time, for then they are all honey and sweetness, full of fine promises, ready to give away cigars and hot dogs and beer and to pat babies on the head. I once saw a white wardheeler who despised Negroes pick up a little colored baby and kiss her – ten days before the voting took place.

I mean what do these boss parties really stand for?

Where do they stand on Negro rights? On paper, they say they stand for “fair play” and “equal treatment” and so on. But when it comes to action, these promises are shown to be very hollow indeed.

Take the Anti-Lynch bills, for example. When the Republican Party had a majority in both houses of Congress, it failed to pass this legislation. When the Democratic Party got a majority, it too refused to pass it. And these bills of theirs are very weak and inadequate as it is. When they refuse to pass them, they reveal more about their true attitude toward the Negro people than all the talk and words in the world.

The same thing with the Anti-Poll Tax bills. The same thing with legislation to stop the bosses from barring Negroes from industry. Talk is cheap, but action is what counts.

Of course, there are some politicians who are more dependent on Negro votes than others, and they are more careful in how they act. LaGuardia is a good example. But when it comes to something important, men like LaGuardia only use their reputations as “friends of the Negroes” to hinder and prevent the real struggle against Jim Crowism. Last June, when thousands of Negroes were getting ready for their March on Washington for jobs and equality, LaGuardia used all his influence to prevent them from going through with their militant action which would have accomplished a million times more than all his promises and appointments.

Workers must stop making the mistake of saying, “The boss parties are no good, we know that, but Jones and Smith are good men belonging to those parties, and so we will vote for them.” Politicians must be judged primarily on the basis of the party they belong to, and the program and record of the party they belong to. Candidates of the boss parties must accept the responsibility not only for what they do themselves, but for what their party does.

Vote for the Program You Support

Workers must also learn to resist the old argument that it is no use voting for the candidate of a fighting workers party, “because he can’t get elected anyhow, and it would only be wasting your vote to support him.”

If you really want to waste your vote, cast it for the candidates who are opposed to labor’s best interests. What good does it do workers to help elect people who are going to oppose labor’s needs?

What does a vote for the Republican or Democratic party mean? It means a vote in favor of the war and the war program that the masses will have to pay for. It means a vote of approval for their refusal to pass the Anti-Lynch Bill, the Anti-Poll Tax Bill, for their refusal to put any teeth into the order to abolish discrimination in industry. It means a vote of approval of the refusal of both parties to do anything about the vicious Jim Crow system in the Army and Navy.

And what will you be voting for when you support the Socialist Workers Party? First of all, you will be saying that you are opposed to this fake “war for democracy”. Secondly, you will be saying that you are opposed to fascism both at home and abroad, and you recognize that the workers themselves, independently of the bosses, must organize their forces to defeat fascism and destroy its roots.

You will be saying that you are opposed to Jim Crowism in any form and in any place. You will be saying that you are ready to fight for full social, economic and political equality for the Negro people. You will be saying that you are opposed to the capitalist system that breeds racial prejudices to keep the workers divided so that the bosses can exploit them more easily, and that you want to replace it with a system where discrimination will be forever abolished, where all workers will have security and freedom.

In New York our candidate for mayor is James P. Cannon. In Essex County our candidate for General Assembly is George Breitman. They merit the support of every Negro and white worker not only because of the struggles they have led and participated in, but primarily because the program they represent is the only answer to the problems of the working class.

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Last updated: 21 March 2019