Archive for dan la botz

Vote La Botz, Socialist For US Senate!

Posted in Guest Post with tags , , , on October 28, 2010 by Rustbelt Radical
A Socialist Alternative
By Dan La Botz, Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Ohio.

The following essay represents a distillation of my basic stump speech over the past nine months of the campaign. Visit my YouTube page to watch me giving speeches very much like this one around Ohio – or follow my campaign on Facebook.

WE IN AMERICAN TODAY face three great crises: the economy, the environment, and the wars abroad—and both the Republicans and Democrats are failing to address those crises. We must not only create jobs for the unemployed, we must create a full-employment economy. We must address the environmental crisis by ending the use of coal and dramatically reducing the use of petroleum. And we must bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop the bombing of Pakistan.

The Republicans and Democrats cannot address these urgent issues because they represent the very corporations that have caused the crises. How can you address the crises when the banks, insurance companies, manufacturing corporations, service industries and agriculture pay for your campaigns, provide your candidates and staff, and write your legislation? Today, under Republican and Democratic administrations, the banks determine our economic policy, the insurance companies determine our health policy, agriculture and manufacturing corporations determine our trade policies and the oil companies determine our environmental and foreign policies.

Bush and Obama: Continuity

We have seen in the last two years a political continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. They saved the bankers, but not the homeowners. They saved the auto executives, boards and investors, but not the autoworkers’ jobs, wages, benefits and working conditions. They saved the health insurance companies, but failed to give us a single-payer healthcare system.Similarly with energy. Neither Bush nor Obama would take on the coal or oil companies. Coal remains on the energy agenda of both, while Obama opened up oil drilling on the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf just before the BP geyser in the Gulf. The real oil spill was not in the Gulf, it was in the Congress—where oil money has purchased the Senators and Representatives of Republicans and Democrats.

And the wars? Obama has expanded the wars. The U.S. today has an occupying army of 50,000 in Iraq. There are 100,000 troops in Afghanistan carrying out the war there. And Obama has expanded the use of drone missiles to bomb Pakistan, often killing civilians. As a Pakistani-American woman said in Cleveland when I spoke there, “I have to explain to my co-workers and neighbors, ‘Your president is bombing my country.’”

Change the National Priorities

We need to change the priorities of the United States. All of the crises are the result of the corporate domination of our country. Today everything revolves around CEO salaries and bonuses, around corporate profits, and around stockholder dividends. We must the interests of working people, not of the CEOs, at the center of our policies. We might, for example, consider a working woman with a couple of children to support. (I think here of my own mother, a grocery checker who raised two children largely on her own.) What would she need to make her life livable?

She will need a good job at a living wage—with a union to give her a voice in the workplace. She will need good housing with a reasonable mortgage or rent. She will need good public transportation to get her to work quickly and cheaply—and to reduce carbon fuels and the destruction of the environment. She will need free health care for her children, with free hospitalization and pharmacy access. She will need free public education from K through college—because she wants her kids to go far, and so do we.

We take a working woman as the measure of our society, as the measure of a decent society. If you think about it, you can see that if we take care of her, we take care of all of us. For her needs are the common needs of all working people in the country.

How do we Pay for It?

How do we pay for all of this? We end the wars abroad and we close the 1,000 military bases abroad. We raise the taxes on the top bracket of millionaires and billionaires from 36 percent today to the 80 percent they were at in the period from 1945-1965. With the trillions saved by ending the wars and reducing the military budget and taxing the rich, we can begin to put all Americans to work at good jobs with living wages.

The American people step in and take charge of the corporations. We make the government create an enormous stimulus program, twice as big as Obama’s, aimed at creating jobs in all sectors. We force the government to take over the idle and low-capacity production plants and with government financing set them to work, but under the management of workers and communities to produce for a green economy. We demand that the government create a national economic plan and that all Americans have a voice in elaborating that plan.

Big Government?

Some ask, “Won’t this just create big government?” The real question, however, is not: “Is the government too big?” The real question is: “Whose government is it?” I am not simply talking about our current corporate, capitalist government simply nationalizing everything. I am not for that. If that happened we would not have socialism or economic democracy, but a state bureaucracy.

I am talking about building a movement among the American people which says that we need to transform our society and end the domination of the corporations and the anarchy of capitalism with its booms and busts. We need to build the consciousness, organization, and self-confidence of the American working people so that they, that is, we can take over these corporations and run them. We need to absorb the corporations into our society, to digest them and transform them by socializing them.

How do we Get There

How do we possibly accomplish such a job, that is, ending corporate domination and transforming American capitalism into a socialist society? First, we have to rebuild the power of labor unions and the social movements. The labor unions need to be transformed from within and from below into a fighting movement prepared to use its power to fight the bosses. We need to strengthen the environmental movement and encourage a resurgence of independent activism.

We need to rebuild the power of the African American, Latino, and women’s movements for freedom and self-determination. We can take some inspiration from the LGBT movement as it has fought for marriage rights and to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We must revive the slogan “An Injury to One Is an Injury to All,” building solidarity among all of the discriminated against and oppressed in our society. Working people have tremendous economic power and organization and should provide leadership to this movement.

The labor movement and social movement alone, however, will not be able to transform American society, no matter how militant they become, if they don’t create a working people’s party. The labor upsurge of the 1930s and the civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s accomplished much, but ultimately their power was harnessed by the Democratic Party and then turned against them. We must build an independent political movement to the left of the Democratic Party, otherwise we will continue to sow and they will continue to harvest our work.

Why Vote for a Third Party

What is the role of my Socialist Party campaign today? What is its relationship to independent political action more broadly speaking and to that larger task of creating a working people’s party? Can a small group of activists creating a third party really make a difference?

I ask you to think back to those small groups of men and women, black and white, who in the 1830s and 1840s met in private homes and school houses, in churches and religious colleges in Ohio and in other states throughout the union. They were radicals who argued that the country could not develop economically, socially, or morally as long as it was blocked by the existence of the plantation and plantation slavery. They argued that the plantation must be abolished. Imagine that, at a time when the plantation was the very center of the American economy, both of “King Cotton” in the South and of the Northern textile industry.

From Radical Activism to Political Party

Those radicals circulated petitions. They marched and demonstrated. They engaged in civil disobedience. They broke the law: freeing slaves from the South and wrestling slaves away from slave hunters and federal marshals in the North. They built the abolitionist movement and then they created abolitionist parties such as the Free Soil Party.

The Free Soil Party played a catalytic role, helping to bring about a realignment of the U.S. political party system—and this led to the Republican Party, which would nominate Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. Lincoln, of course, would prosecute the Civil War and create the Union Army in which abolitionists and the former slaves themselves would end slavery. A small group of far-seeing activists changed the country’s history.

Independent Political Action Today

Today, we who vote for the Socialist Party, the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, and for independent progressives to the left of the Democratic Party are, I believe, in an analogous position to those abolitionists of the period from, say, 1830 to 1860. We are working to stake out a humanistic position on the left of the American political spectrum, one that rejects the corporate domination of America.

We are for the abolition of the corporation. We are for the abolition of capitalism. We are for turning the country upside down. What do I mean by that? I mean putting working people, the poor, the discriminated against, the downtrodden at the top of our society and having them and their needs set our course. I mean reorganizing our society around the needs of that working class woman I mentioned earlier.

Vote for me on November 2 because you think that that woman and her kids, that all of those working men and women and their children should have the power to make decisions that will benefit them and all of us. Vote for Dan La Botz. Vote for the Socialist Party. Vote for the socialist alternative.

Dan La Botz is a Solidarity (on whose website this was first published) member and longtime activist in the labor, immigrants rights, and antiwar movements in Cincinnati.

It’s Never Too Early For Independent Politics!

Posted in Announcement, Comment with tags , , on March 27, 2010 by Rustbelt Radical

The economic crisis along with the reaction to it by the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats are preparing the ground for some vigorous independent campaigns in the midterms and then in 2012…if the challenge is met.  Buckeye Socialist Dan La Botz is meeting the challenge and has a new website up for the November Ohio Senate election.  Dan, being a serious guy, has gotten an early start.  The site has event announcements and a slew of ‘issues’ statements up; further updates are promised.  Dan is running as an proud and open socialist – a real one, not the confused epithet of the right- attempting to reclaim the term.  In my opinion, part of the reason “socialist” can be currently used as a term of obfuscation is that the socialist left haven’t embraced, and helped define, “socialism” enough.  Here’s to Dan for naming the alternative and placing workers’ issues at the center of his campaign. We’ll be keeping an eye on this campaign and hopefully we here in Michigan can lend a hand, Ohio is just down 75.

Here’s Dan speaking on “Who Owns Cincinnati?” breaking down the power structure of The Queen City.  Dan is a skillful activist and educator; bringing this kind of perspective to the Ohio Senate race is going to be a real strength.  Ohio has felt the recession as hard as any place, like the rest of the Rust Belt it never recovered from the last recession(s).  My guess is that the candidates running from The Two Parties to replace the retiring bore Voinovich will avoid debating Dan like the plague.  They would lose and the last thing the Duopoly wants in times like these is for any alternative to be posed.  It will take a strong voice to get heard.

Free, Quality Education for All!

Posted in Guest Commentary with tags , , on March 4, 2010 by Rustbelt Radical

Join the Protests! Free Life-Long Education for All!

Statement of  Ohio socialist and US Senate candidate Dan Labotz

Today, on March 4, 2010, students and education workers throughout the United States will join in protests to demand a solution to the educational crisis facing this country. Their slogan is: “Resist, Mobilize, Transform.” We see in these protests the beginning of a movement to reform education and to transform our society.

Public schools at all levels from kindergarten through graduate schools are under siege. We have too few teachers. Classes are far too large. We have lost our art, music, foreign language, and even physical education classes. From “No Child Left Behind” to vouchers and charter schools, from the economic crisis to the states’ budget cuts, American public education is being dismantled.

As a result, our educational system is failing. Since “No Child,” teaching to the test has replaced teaching the whole child. Too many of our students cannot read or do math at grade level. Some 12 percent of whites, 20 percent of African Americans, and 30 percent of Latinos drop out of school. The cost of higher education has become astronomical, making it difficult, if not impossible for many students to go on to college. With the overturning of affirmative action and the underfunding, education at all levels has become more classist, more racist, and altogether more unfair.

The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress provided trillions in grants, loans, and federal insurance to banks and corporations for the bailouts. The total military and war budget comes to almost $750 billion dollars. The President’s proposed education budget is just under $50 billion dollars. The Obama government provided hundreds of times more money to the bankers than it will to teachers and students, and it will spend 15 times more on arms and war than on our children’s education. Obama’s proposal is more loans that will saddle more families and students with more debt. We don’t need loans—we need free education.

Our state and our nation should provide free, quality education to all, from pre-school through Ph.D., from technical schools to adult life-long learning classes. Free education is not a utopia. During the 1960s states like California and New York provided virtually free education to their students. Open-admissions community colleges allowed students to move on to state colleges and universities. Corporations were taxed to pay for what was in fact the education of their employees. We must once again tax the wealthy and the corporations to provide free, quality education for all.

Public education should be democratically controlled by the public. The public should set the priorities. Teachers unions and communities, parents and students working together should shape the educational program in the schools. The combination of generous funding together with democratic control would make it possible to construct an educational system for a new era. To achieve the combination of generous funding through taxing the corporations and democratic public control we will have to build a powerful movement to wrest the educational system out of the hands of politicians, government bureaucrats, and corporate charter schools.

Yet educational reform will be meaningless if we can’t provide jobs for all at living wages. And we can’t do that while corporations run the country. We need to end the era of corporate control and replace it with a new era of social control. We need to end the capitalist system, and create a new democratically controlled socialist economy.

When teachers, parents, and students come together in a movement in the classrooms, in the streets, and in politics, as part of a larger movement to sweep the power of banks and corporations from control of our lives, then education will be transformed. When that takes place—and we are seeing the beginning of that movement now—we will at the same time create a new ethos, a new national morality that comes through the fusion of the ideal of egalitarian and democratic education with a movement for liberation from corporate, capitalist domination of our society.

Change will not come from above, it will only come from below. We cannot rely on the Democrats and the Republicans and we can’t depend on the government. We must rely on ourselves to build the new society we need. Support the protests.

Dan La Botz

Ohio Socialist Party Candidate for the U.S. Senate
Dan La Botz, 513-600-9405 or 513-861-8722 Website: DanLaBotz.com

Cincinnati Socialist Dan La Botz For US Senate!

Posted in News with tags , , , on February 19, 2010 by Rustbelt Radical

Dan La Botz, Cincinnati School Teacher, Socialist Party Candidate for U.S. Senate.  Article from The Cincinnati Beacon

Dan La Botz, a 64-year old Cincinnati school teacher, has filed petitions with the Ohio Secretary of State to become the candidate of the Socialist Party for the U.S. Senate. La Botz, who needed 500 signatures to get on the Socialist Party primary ballot, filed petitions with approximately 1,200 signatures on Thursday, Feb. 18. La Botz, a long time labor and social movement activist, is the candidate of the Socialist Party of Ohio which is the state organization of the Socialist Party USA.

Speaking in Columbus after turning in his petitions, La Botz said, “I believe we need an alternative to the Republican and Democratic Parties. We have to stop the banks and corporations from controlling our political system. We must stop the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We must bring our citizens single-payer health care. We must confront the environmental crisis, rejecting coal, petroleum and nuclear energy and prioritizing solar and other green solutions. We must create jobs for all at living wages. When private enterprise fails the government must step in to become the employer of last resort.”

La Botz said he sees a growing, though still embryonic movement for social change, a movement to which his Socialist candidacy will speak. “We can see the growing frustration, alienation and discontent with our political system. We see it in the Tea-Baggers. We see it in the demonstrations for immigrant rights. We see it in workers voting against contract concessions that give away wages and health plans. We see it in the LGBTQ movement for gay and lesbian marriage rights. People want an alternative, and that alternative is the idea of a democratic socialist society with health care, education, housing, and jobs and justice for all.”

Rejecting arguments that a third party cannot win and cannot have an impact, La Botz pointed out that given the political deadlock in Washington, one Senator in the U.S. Congress from a third party could exert enormous leverage on the political process. “But,” he said, “my job will be to inspire people to fight back not only politically, but by fighting for secure jobs, higher wages and health care, resisting attempts to foreclose on and seize their homes, and demanding free public higher education such as many states had in the 1960s. We need a political movement that is the expression of a social movement.“

“Working people make the country run,” said La Botz. “And working people—not the banks, corporations, and politicians—should run the country.”

Ohio once had a history as a Socialist Party stronghold, with Socialists elected by their labor union and working class constituencies to lead city government in Dayton, Hamilton, and other Ohio cities and towns. During the twentieth century railroad union leader Eugene V. Debs in the 1910s and 20s and former Presbyterian minister Norman Thomas in the 1930s and 1940s served as the presidential candidates of the Socialist Party.  END.

Obama, The Crisis & The Movements

Posted in Guest Commentary with tags , , , on July 1, 2009 by Rustbelt Radical

red-flag

The is the conclusion of  Dan La Botz’s Working Paper: Obama, The Crisis & The Movements from Solidarity.  The whole piece is chock full of food for thought and is recommended to readers.  RR

The Left and its Tasks

The U.S. left is a motley crew, politically speaking. Some on the left support Obama, others wish to build a movement that will make Obama be the president they believe he might be.  Further to the left, Solidarity and other socialist organizations call for an independent politics and independent movements to challenge Obama and his policies.

The liberal left, represented by The Nation, only a few months ago absolutely enamored of Obama, has quickly become more critical, though it still tends to be critically supportive.  In a recent article Robert L. Borosage and Katrina vanden Heuvel write that, “Without a grassroots uprising that challenges business as usual in Washington, we aren’t likely to get the change we were promised, much less the change we need.”  Borosage and vanden Heuvel, however, still put their emphasis on build a movement that can support and pressure the president, rather than building a movement that challenges him and his party.

The Communist Party and its publication The People’s Weekly World, which also supported Obama in the election, take a similar position.  Sam Webb wrote in the May 1 issue, “Currently, the level of mobilization of the diverse coalition that elected Obama doesn’t match what is necessary to win his administration’s immediate legislative and political agenda, let alone more far-reaching reforms.”  Webb goes on, “And herein lies the role of the left.  Its main task, as it has been throughout our country’s history, is to assist in reassembling, activating, uniting and giving a voice to common demands that unite this broad majority as well as draw in other people who didn’t vote for Obama.”  The article makes clear that those on the left are to be drawn in behind Obama to push him forward so that the forces of finance capital do not triumph and pull his administration to the right.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which claims to be the country’s largest socialist organization, published in its journal, The Democratic Left (Fall 2008), an election year statement by its honorary chair Frances Fox Piven, in which she argued for support for Obama.  She wrote: “If turnout remains high, an Obama victory could mean a realignment of American electoral politics around a majority coalition similar to the one forged in the New Deal era, with African Americans and Latinos replacing the white South as the reliable core of the coalition.  The composition of this new coalition would encourage presidential rhetoric that in turn could spur movement activism.  It would simultaneously generate the hope that is always the fuel of movements from the bottom of society, and it would put in place a regime that is vulnerable to those movements.  If there is political salvation in the American future, it can only be forged through the dynamic interplay between progressive social movements and elected politicians.”

In the Spring 2009 issue of The Democratic Left (Spring 2009) carries an article by Bill Fletcher, titled “What Now for the Left?” writes, “The left tends to either abstain from electoral politics; marginalize itself with small-party candidacies in partisan elections; or tail after the Democrats.  It is time for the left to invest in a different approach, one that I and others have called a neo-Rainbow approach, which emphasizes an independent politics and organization that operates inside and outside the Democratic Party.  Working the electoral arena that way opens up opportunities to develop a mass base and hearing for a left/progressive agenda.”

Solidarity argues that these approaches lead in the end to the subordination of the labor and social movements to the Democratic Party.  All of these positions suggest that the movements should push Obama forward and upward, rather than building a politically independent movement with the ultimate goal of pushing him and his party aside.  When leftists argue for supporting Obama and the Democrats, they disorient the movements and make it difficult to build the opposition needed to change foreign and domestic policy. As long as people think that Obama can be pressured to bring about health care reform, they will not build the independent movement that will be necessary to really make that happen.  The inside/outside approach, advocated by Fletcher, tends in practice to become an inside pressure group approach – unless there is a serious strategy to carry voters out of the Democratic Party.

The International Socialist Organization (ISO), in the March-April, 2009 issue of International Socialist Review carries an article about “Obama’s Mixed Message,” suggesting that his talk of change has not been fulfilled in his political agenda.  The ISR article continues, “Real change will be possible if and when the Obama Generation develops the political maturity and self-confidence to realize they don’t have to wait on leaders or symbols to bring about a better world: They can and must organize to make history on their own.”  We in Solidarity share this view, which is another way of arguing, as we do here, that we must have an independent social movement if we are to make significant change in America. Such a social movement we would argue must eventually find political expression in a working class party.

Solidarity acknowledges that many social movement activists identify and work within the Democratic Party.  We also know there is currently no viable, independent Left party to provide a political and electoral expression of our movements.  Thus, we work with these activists everyday to build militant movements to the furthest extent possible, regardless of the particular face of capitalist power in the U.S.  But we maintain that many of the crucial reform goals of these movements are incompatible with the dominant politics and historical role of the Democratic Party.  Looking for influence within – or relationship with this or that figure in – a Democratic Party administration or coalition will weaken and disorient the movements.

Organizing and Program

At the present moment, as we face a deep economic crisis, we find that there is a great disjuncture between, one the one hand, the sense that we need a political, economic and social program that speaks to the crisis, and on the other, the low level resistance and struggle in society.  We in the left have a wealth of historic programs we can draw upon from the socialist movement, while the crisis itself presents us with a ready made list of demands:

* Jobs at a living wage for all who need work.

* Housing for all who need homes.

* Health care for all without cost.

* Free public education K to Ph.D.

* Free and adequate public transportation.

To achieve these demands we can see that we would need a more elaborate political program:

* End the wars and use the military budget for social needs.

* Socialize and transform U.S. industry under the control of citizens, workers and consumers.

* End the carbon-based economy of coal and petroleum to stop global warming.

* Take up the fight for the rights of people of color, immigrants, GLBTQs, and other groups which suffer discrimination.

* Create a working class political party to fight for these measures.

We can also see that immediate demands and a political program, to really lead to change, would have to be organized and conceived in such a way as to lead to a transition to socialism.  Virtually all of the groups on the left have developed programs such as these, more elaborate and sometimes more elegant than the items listed here. What is missing, however, is the connection between the labor and social movement’s struggle and such a program.

We in Solidarity put our emphasis therefore not on the development of a program or the construction of a political party, but on the rebuilding of the labor and social movements at the grassroots.  We believe that at this time socialists should put their emphasis on rebuilding a layer of committed activists in the working class with a class struggle perspective, as well as reconstructing such a group within the social movements.  When movements become large and powerful, then programs take on real importance. Unfortunately in most parts of the country the movement does not have the size or strength to put forward a program except in the most limited way.

Sometimes even small movements facing big problems can and must put forward programs which speak to the magnitude of the issues and the needs of working people.  So, for example, rank-and-file Detroit autoworkers called for the take over of the failing auto companies by a public trust that would transform what had been auto into a new transportation and energy corporation organized along environmental lines with workers having significant involvement in the actual running of the new organization.  Such a program in that case put forward a vision of a different way of thinking about the industry, one which was transformative, environmentalist, publicly owned and worker managed.  Where such programs seem necessary and appropriate they should be advance, but such cases may be few at this time.

When movements—labor unions, immigrants, people of color, GLBTQ people, environmentalists—begin to intersect, then the combined movements begin to put forward programs which resemble those of working class parties.  We have not yet reached such a stage.

Left Unity

We in Solidarity believe that we can engage in this task together with other socialists who share our commitment to building the movement while discussing our commonalities and our differences.  We have found that in our work in the unions and social movements that we often share many of the ideals and methods of other left organizations and collectives which may not come from our political traditions.  Since 2007 we have been in discussions with a number of groups—the Bay Area Activist Study Circle, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, Left Turn, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the New York Study Group—and this summer will work together on the Revolutionary Work in Our Times Conference to be held in Chicago from July 31 – August 2.  We see a conference such as this as a way to advance our common agenda of building the movements.  We believe that a united revolutionary left will be essential in building the forces that can confront the crisis, challenge the Obama administration, and begin to create a revolutionary movement in this country.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers