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Class Against Class in the Presidential Elections

Communist Vote Will Test the Policy of the Stalinists

(November 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 45, 5 November 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On November 8, millions of American workers will go to the polls to vote for the next president of the United States. Millions of these workers will cast their votes for the parties of reaction. Millions of other workers, the most exploited and subjected will not go to the polls. These millions who stay away from the polls are the disfranchized American Workers In normal periods, the bulk of the Negro masses of the south are denied this bourgeois “liberty” by legal and “illegal” means of brutal suppression. Millions of foreign-born workers, who have not yet obtained their papers, because of the special discrimination, are prevented from voting, yet these millions are numbered among those who do the most useful and basic work under the capitalist system.

Workers’ Vote Cut Down

The laws dealing with election right are so complicated and exclusive, with poll tax in some states and other qualifications that the unskilled and semi-skilled millions of workers are automatically eliminated.

In addition to this, the crisis and mass unemployment have broken up the homes of additional millions, who will not be qualified to vote. The Communist Party will also be unable to get on the ballot in many important states, including some important industrial states. All this this summed up, plus the stealing and counting out of Communist votes will not enable us to have an accurate picture of the motion and direction of the working class unless these factors are taken into consideration.

On the other hand, a more accurate trend of the other classes can be registered by the November 8 election. The bankers are putting their eggs in more than one basket. Hoover and Roosevelt have the backing of the imperialist who want to play safe, knowing a shift to the left will be registered in the coming election.

The big capitalists of America have their sectional interests within their class but this interest is in no way menaced by the election of Roosevelt instead of Hoover, in case the working class and the middle class protest vote is sufficient to dislodge the latter.

Position of Middle Class

The middle class has shown the greatest confusion in the pre-election days. Most of the middle class have shifted their support from Hoover to the “left.” Many of the middle class are of the opinion that Roosevelt is to the Left of Hoover and will vote according. This also applies to a big layer of the working class. The Jingo, Hearst, with his middle class outfit, are in the Roosevelt bandwagon.

Other layers of the middle class are rallying behind the Socialist candidate, Norman Thomas, and a layer, led by the intellectuals has endorsed Foster and Ford, the Communist Candidates. The majority of the middle class will divide their vote between Roosevelt and Norman Thomas.

The agrarian division of the middle class – the reformers par excellence of the past – is up in arms with pitchforks against Hoover and the monopolists, with their “holiday” movement and farmers’ strike. The farmer has shifted to the Left in the present crisis and the Roosevelt forces are counting heavily on polling a goodly share of this discontent. Roosevelt has been busy with the stunt of straddling as many classes as possible, promising everything in words that will be so many after-dinner jokes of the bankers the day after the election if they replace Hoover with Roosevelt as their new office boy.

As for the workers, everyone knows that layers of the class will vote for the parties of reform and reaction, and mainly the parties of reaction. The important question to consider is just to what degree these layers have shifted to the Left? What has caused them to stop on the way side? What has repelled them from a further Leftward shift and how can we dislodge this “resting place” between reaction and revolution – Reform.

The important question for us to solve is what the new relationship of classes as reflected by the vote? Just how far has the shift to the Left developed? How successful have the parties of reform and reaction been? How successfully have our policies accelerated this process? Or, how negatively have the wrong Stalinist policies and program repelled this Leftward shift? All these questions are fundamental ones. Not a Stalinist “victory” of counting the “gains” mechanically compared to the last election without taking into consideration the shift in class forces and new relationship and ideological changes.

Socialist Advances

The inability of the Stalinists to understand the tactic of the united front not only in their present activity but in all fields of activity has cut from under us a broad base of workers who will vote the socialist ticket this year instead of the Communist ticket. An outstanding example of this is the Illinois coal field where the party was a power in the past. Now the socialist party is running wild through here. This is the reaction to the Stalinist policies.

We at least know one thing, that the election will not solve the accumulating contradictions piling up upon the ruling class and their henchmen. The workers must be told to vote Communist. The workers must be told that our class solution is through the proletarian revolution.

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Last updated: 6 December 2014