Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The La Riva/Puryear PSL Presidential Campaign is proud to announce that we have achieved ballot status in Louisiana and Wisconsin! We are already on the ballot in nine other states - Arkansas, Vermont, Colorado, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Iowa, Utah and New York - and are continuing the work of gaining ballot access across the country, including in Rhode Island, where we have completed petitioning. Please make an urgently needed donation to help us take the message of the La Riva/Puryear socialist campaign across the country! As Hurricane Gustav headed for the Gulf Coast last week, the capitalist candidates expressed their solidarity with the people of Louisiana in varying ways. Barack Obama used Gustav to promote himself, crediting the differences between government response to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav to a bill he helped pass in Congress. But while the evacuation before Gustav was better organized than the utter chaos that preceded Katrina, very limited assistance was extended to those living in poverty who make up a huge part of the state’s population. Unlimited resources, on the other hand, were made available for repression. The state sent 50,000 National Guard soldiers to enforce their evacuation plan and hunt down "looters." John McCain cancelled all “non-essential” opening-day activities of the Republican National Convention supposedly out of respect for the people in the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, outside the RNC, tens of thousands of people demanded an end to the war, justice for Katrina victims and an end to poverty. Police falsely arrested 800 protesters. The La Riva/Puryear PSL Presidential Campaign, including presidential candidate Gloria La Riva, was in Louisiana before, during and after Hurricane Gustav. There were no photo-ops, no meaningless gestures of solidarity. Instead, our campaign spoke to working and oppressed people from all corners of the state. We volunteered with Common Ground, a grassroots organization formed in the days after Katrina to provide support for people in New Orleans. Our campaign loaded appliances, tools and supplies onto trucks to aid people who would be displaced from their homes because of Gustav. The La Riva/Puryear campaign always stands shoulder to shoulder with working and oppressed people. We want to spread the message that real change does not come as a gift from politicians, but only when the power of the people is realized. For this reason, it is of critical importance that the PSL campaign will be on the ballot and active throughout Louisiana in the coming months. Gloria La Riva, Eugene Puryear and the PSL have been fighting for the Hurricane Katrina and Rita survivors since 2005. They have also been to Jena, La., to stand with the Jena 6 and their families. Puryear has been a leader of the national campaign to win justice for the Jena 6. The capitalist government continues to criminally neglect the working-class people of Louisiana. It has failed to sufficiently strengthen the levees. Tens of thousands of displaced residents have not been able to return due to lack of housing. Massive gentrification schemes have been bolstered by the government to create immense corporate profits at the expense of African American workers. The state now has 46,000 fewer Black voters than it did before Hurricane Katrina. Despite the fact that Entergy and other private utilities are charging exorbitant rates and making windfall profits, they have been criminally negligent in their preparations for storms that they know are inevitable. As a result, virtually the entire Louisiana power grid collapsed in the face of Gustav, a Category 1 hurricane. Hundreds of thousands are still without power, meaning no refrigeration, no air-conditioning in extremely hot weather, and, in many cases, non-operating medical equipment. The poverty rate in Louisiana is 19.2 percent—the second highest in the country and the highest in the South. More than one in four Louisiana children live in poverty. In New Orleans, 44 percent of adults - compared to 25 percent nationally - read only at what is considered the “lowest functional level.” These atrocious crimes of capitalism must be exposed. That is a duty that our campaign takes on with pride. In contrast to the Republican and Democratic campaigns, the PSL campaign platform expressly calls for the rebuilding of New Orleans, the right of return for all survivors, full employment, a $15/hour minimum wage, housing as a right, free, quality health care and education, and much more. Most importantly, our campaign stands for a system that puts people over profits: socialism. Building multinational, working-class solidarity It is also very important that the La Riva/Puryear PSL Presidential Campaign will be on the ballot in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has one of the fastest growing poverty rates in the country, with 11 percent of residents living under the government-defined poverty threshold. In Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, over 26 percent of residents live in poverty. African American people make up nearly 40 percent of Milwaukee’s population, as compared to six percent in Wisconsin at-large. Infant mortality among African Americans in Milwaukee is over twice that of whites. The situation for working-class people in Wisconsin shows the importance of a class struggle based on multinational solidarity. This is a central message of our socialist campaign. Milwaukee is also home to a large, growing and politically active Latino immigrant community, and a strong labor movement. In order to get on the ballot in Wisconsin, more than 2,500 signatures were collected. PSL members and friends from Illinois and California traveled to Milwaukee in the first week of August to petition at the Wisconsin State Fair. Tens of thousands of people from diverse communities from all over the state attend the fair. Many of the people who signed petitions expressed a deep anger at the two main capitalist parties. Wiz Kid Nice, a young African American student who signed the PSL petition, commented: "You’ve got my vote. We need a party that really fights racism and represents the poor people of this country." The La Riva/Puryear campaign will be in Wisconsin on a regular basis over the next two months to promote socialism and an independent working-class struggle against racism, and for housing, education, health care and jobs. Bringing the message of socialism to millions We want to speak to the tens of millions of working-class people who desire real change but will not get it through the capitalist electoral process. We want to fight along side our class—the working class—in every struggle against the profit system. We want to be a catalyst to raise working-class consciousness in every arena. Most importantly, we want to spread the ideas of revolution, of true change. We are excited to be concluding our ballot access efforts, and to turn our attention to campaigning all across the country. We will get into the debates; we will go door to door; we will hold rallies, speak outs, protests, sit-ins and more. The PSL’s campaign will reach out to workers and the oppressed with a message of hope, and with a message of real struggle. We will take the ideas of socialism—a better, more just society; the way forward for humanity—to the working-class everywhere we go.
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