A bright ray of hope radiated from the California primary election on June 7, despite victories by big-business presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
John Parker, a Los Angeles-based organizer, activist and revolutionary socialist running for U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ballot, garnered tens of thousands of votes. Parker’s candidacy was aligned with the Workers World Party presidential campaign.
Parker’s campaign invitation to an after-vote party summed up his revolutionary platform: “Over twenty-two thousand Californians voted for a socialist, militantly anti-racist, militantly anti-imperialist, full-rights-for-immigrants, jail-killer-cops, demonstratin’, picket-sign carryin’, in-your-face, anti-capitalist activist!”
In an interview with Workers World, Parker reflected on the importance of the campaign: “The campaign verifies that working people will respond to principled and honest politics calling for solidarity with the struggles of the oppressed and the abolition of capitalism. Our campaign put the struggle for Black lives and ending the war on Black and Brown people as primary, and made sure it was listed first. We also made the connection between that struggle and the demand to end endless wars and the destruction of the planet.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Parker’s main primary opponent, spent $11 million plastering TV airwaves and billboards with ads as the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate.
Campaigning on a shoestring, Parker spent less than $5,000, but reached many more voters per dollar than Harris. Vivid yellow signs at congested intersections listed his platform as “Black Lives Matter, Stop Deportations, Jobs Not War” and gave the website to contact for more information: Socialist4Senate.org.
Parker emphasized, “Almost everyone who heard our message agreed with it — even the call to jail killer cops, for self-determination for communities of color and an end to the ownership of the means of production by the less-than-1%.”
The most memorable moments of Parker’s campaign were street meetings and protests with Black youth in Oakland; a demonstration against Hillary Clinton with a young woman who taught in Los Angeles schools; and a rally against Donald Trump in Hollywood with a Latino activist and musician. At each of these, Parker said, “Participants voiced their experiences to echo the demands of the campaign’s platform eloquently and powerfully.”
Parker intends to take the lessons of his campaign and continue the struggle for socialism, as he pushes even harder for WWP’s presidential and vice presidential candidates Monica Moorehead and Lamont Lilly.
All indications from Parker’s electoral run are that the working-class movement is going to thrive — no matter which capitalist politician ends up in the White House.