My name is Loan, and I’m with the Workers World Durham Branch. I wanted to take a few minutes to share how excited I am to be here and what it means for me to be here.
I met Workers World Party in 2012 in Charlotte, N.C., and at the time was organizing with undocumented high school students for access to higher education and an end to deportations. In 2012, the Democratic National Convention was on its way to Charlotte, the Wall Street of the South, the second largest banking city in the U.S only after New York City.
This was the city I grew up in after my family and I migrated from Viet Nam. I had always had a weird feeling about the place and over the past two decades, the development, gentrification and corporatization only confirmed my perception of the city as so heavily laden with power and greed.
So of course it was fitting for the Democratic Party to hold their convention there. The city of Charlotte received over $50 million for the convention — $25 million of which went toward purchasing new toys for cops. The working people and homeless were pushed out of center city, forced to use irregularly scheduled public transportation and worked overtime to make sure that Charlotte could uphold its image as a world-class city.
Organizing a demonstration against the Democratic National Convention gave me a new perspective into the corporate two-party system embedded in the fabric of the United States. Democrat or Republican, there was no people’s agenda for these politicians, whose campaigns were being funded by CEOs and multi-million-dollar industries. And while many of us are led to believe there is a moral argument to be made with the Democratic Party — that they are sensible, well-intentioned, and serve the interests of the people — it is all simply a myth. We see Democrats and Republicans behaving rather similarly and unsurprisingly so. The corporate two-party electoral system is populated with the same warmongers, politicians for profits and capitalism’s stewards on both sides.
We have an upcoming presidential election and have witnessed the horrendous circus and spectacle that it is. Every debate is essentially the same: disappointing, painfully comical and full of propaganda about how the current system can be reformed by simply getting more people to participate in the political process.
But Workers World and revolutionaries bring attention to the question: Why are the masses not involved in the political process already?
Well, because this political process is not meant for the masses. Because young Black and Brown people are being policed, brutalized, locked up and killed daily. Because many of the Black and Brown people murdered are disabled and mentally ill, blocked from access to adequate health care and mental health resources. Because trans women of color are facing death and violence that is still being ignored. Because workers have to have three minimum wage jobs just to pay rent. Because immigrants are being detained and deported after U.S policy pushed them here to begin with.
Because women are still facing attacks on health and reproductive freedom and the basic right to control their bodies. Because LGBTQ people are being pushed out into the streets and into the jails. Because communities across the country and globe are being bulldozed into landfills, polluted with waste, and people are dying because of environmental racism. Because working and oppressed people everywhere have boots on their necks, and the two-party system has done absolutely nothing to change that.
The working class is bombarded with and exhausted by speeches and campaign ads that promise a better U.S if only they’d vote. But once things go awry, when there is yet another war, yet another economic crisis, yet another bailout for the banks and not the workers, the working class is told to turn the other way.
How do we make sense of this all? That is why I’m here today and that is why I know many of y’all are here today. We can only change these conditions by struggling for socialism. Struggling for a world where we plan for human needs, where workers are regarded as humans and not property, where oppressed people are not pitted against each other, and where we can live in our whole selves without fear of state repression. That is how we change these conditions.
Capitalism is not fit for humanity, no matter how hard the billionaires and the politicians work to convince us that it is. Because capitalism at this stage in time — as we’ve seen from Staten Island to Ferguson, to Charleston and everywhere in between — will do whatever it takes to protect profit and property. Capitalism is hanging on by such a thin thread that we see people being murdered every single day because their mere existence has the possibility to ignite an entire uprooting of this wretched system.
I decided to start my candidacy with Workers World earlier this year because these are revolutionaries who when — in my comrade Imani’s words — “there is nowhere to run,” we “stay and fight.” These are revolutionaries who run toward the battles, confront power and put it back in the hands of working-class people. These are revolutionaries who fight with dignity, conviction and love.
To fight side by side with comrades who understand the necessity of a working-class struggle that means LGBTQ liberation, the liberation of oppressed nationalities, the liberation of women, and the liberation of young people is an honor and a privilege. And since 1959, Workers World has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to workers and oppressed people all around the world. Because it is not enough to know what to say, we must know how to act on what we say.
I started my candidacy with Workers World because it is through principled struggle, unity and solidarity that we win. It is through an understanding of self-determination — that oppressed people decide their destinies — it is through an understanding of the relationship between racism and capitalism that we fight for a new world for workers and oppressed people.
The world is bursting at its seams, and the ruling class is running out of ideas to keep the masses from rising up. Revolutionaries say: Let the world burst and let us make something new — something that prioritizes human needs and not corporate greed, something that prioritizes basic necessities like food, health care, employment and housing, and not prisons and killer cops. We know it is possible to live in a world that is not in perpetual crisis, a world where there is enough for everyone, a world that doesn’t get by on oppression. And we must fight like hell for that world.
Welcome comrades and friends of the party. Let’s make this year’s national conference the best one yet.
Free Palestine and end the occupation! Black lives matter — disarm the cops! Stop killing queer and trans women! Free Mumia and all political prisoners! Stop exploiting youth and workers! We need a socialist revolution!
WW photo: Brenda Ryan