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Farrell Dobbs

SWP Election Tour

On Truman’s Trail

(19 September 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 39, 27 September 1948, p. 4.
Transcription & Mark-up: Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Toledo, Sept. 19 – For the past ten days I have been hard on the trail of strikebreaker Truman through the great auto centers of Michigan and Northern Ohio.

Truman’s speeches were carried as a “public service” by the major radio stations in each city, except Detroit, where the Democrats paid for radio time. Our comrades fought for and won equal free time – second for second – for me to answer Truman.

Here is the scoreboard on my radio time: Flint, 17 minutes; Pontiac, 11 minutes, 8 seconds; Grand Rapids, 13 minutes, 18 seconds; Lansing, 4 minutes, 54 seconds; Toledo, 14 minutes, 10 seconds.

Through these broadcasts we reached tens of thousands of auto workers. Reports from the factories reveal that my radio talks have been an important topic of conversation among them.

I welcomed the opportunity to rip into the top union officials for their cynical policy of supporting Truman, who is a political tool of the monopoly corporations and the big banks.

I got right down to brass tacks and talked about the reality of the War between capital and labor; the need for the workers to create a new policy and a new leadership corresponding to this reality; and the compelling reasons why the workers must combine the economic struggles on the picket line with independent labor political action.

In Detroit and Pontiac I addressed street meetings of several hundred workers, mostly Negroes. Here I described how the Workers and Farmers government will be built and how it will transform the capitalist economy of artificial scarcity into a socialist economy of abundance.

The workers listened closely to my explanations of these fundamental questions and applauded at several points during the talk.

After the speaking program ended a number of workers remained to discuss issues, ask questions, purchase literature and sign interest cards to secure more information about the SWP.

Our Michigan comrades, who have had little past experience with street meetings, are already conducting themselves like seasoned street campaigners.

The SWP presidential campaign coincides with a serious new trend of thought about basic program and independent labor political action among important sections of the auto workers.

These significant twin events will speed the growth of a strong left wing in the auto union under the impact of coming developments on the American political. scene.

I am now moving through Ohio toward Canton where I plan to reaffirm the socialist anti-war program of Eugene V. Debs set forth in his historic Canton speech 30 years ago. And I shall defend this sterling revolutionary against detractors like Norman Thomas who seek, in Debs’ name, to betray the working people into support, of the capitalist ruling class in a Third World War.

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Last updated: 3 November 2022