Editor’s Note: CPUSA co-chair Rossana Cambron’s presentation was made at the district convention of the Northern California district September 7th.
We had a great 31st convention: there was a new energy that grew stronger throughout the three days. The question now is where do we go from here? It was clear at the convention that we must grow if we are to have the same impact and relevance as we did during our first 100 years.
Where and how do we begin? Changing society has to be seen as a step-by-step process: a marathon not a sprint.
As we celebrate our first 100 years, it is good to reflect on the impact our party has had on the social development of this country and there have been many. Our party’s work against racism, Jim Crow laws and for racial integration is second to none! Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, the formation of the most important and militant unions – the party was a key player. Let’s not forget the Party has been fighting for immigrant rights since the 1920’s and 30s. Some may say, “Why don’t we do more of what we did then? Let’s go back to those days.”
But one of Marx’s core principles says that all things are in constant motion and ever changing. Our analysis must focus on what is new in the class struggle. What are the current balance of forces? What are the new and emerging movements and most importantly, where is the pulse of the working class at this moment in time? How can we move them forward? How do we build consciousness to the point where they see socialism as something necessary and attainable and are willing to devote time to make it happen?
Today we see that there is a growing favorable sentiment toward socialism, especially among the majority of youth, even though there might not be clarity as to what it is or how you get there.
The removal of Trump is the critical first step towards dismantling the right-wing structures that put him there
Our Party for the last several decades has said that the greatest threat and obstacle for our class moving forward has been the rise of the extreme right in this country. Since 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan, we’ve seen the extreme right steadily prepares the groundwork, grow their forces, build the structures and engage in the battle of ideas that ultimately, culminated in the election of Donald Trump, the most openly racist, fascist, xenophobic president in modern times.
Our Party sees the removal of Trump and his minions as the critical first step towards dismantling the right-wing structures that put him there.
Now, a little clarity on our Party’s position on elections: Our Party does not support candidates from other parties, we support movements. We cannot get caught up and bogged down on a candidate’s personality or warts but rather what are they willing to fight for or be pressured to fight for.
The question should not be, who do you like for president or Senator? The question should be, which candidate’s election will create the most favorable conditions for our class’s ability to move forward?
Remember, our vote cannot be an emotional decision. It must be a strategic decision. With these critical elections just one year away, it’s all hands on deck!!
Our Party does not support candidates from other parties, we support movements.
The upcoming 2020 elections is where we begin to gather people together to come out and vote to remove this boulder of reaction out of our way. We should get involved in election work, both at the presidential level and at the local level. Both allow us to explain to people that who they vote for has consequences and that not voting also has consequences. Precinct work is also a great opportunity to learn what is on the minds of working people, an opportunity to speak to people outside of our choir and to give Marxist analysis on the subject. Precinct work also allows party members and the party to build grassroots relationships and coalitions.
If your time is limited, look for opportunities, even small ones, to speak to your co-workers, family and friends on the importance of voting and why it makes a difference. Use social media to express your position, to give it a deeper level of understanding about what the 2020 election signifies.
In determining what is the best candidate to support we need to make analysis that answers a vital question: Which candidate brings together the broadest coalition of all the forces needed to isolate and defeat the right and offers a vision for the future and bringing people together?
The Green New Deal offers an opportunity to spread hope.
The CPUSA Political Action Commission is preparing some materials to assist us in this effort.
Another important focus for us is climate justice. The Green New Deal offers an opportunity to spread hope in this country, especially among our youth, who feel less and less that they have a future.
My granddaughter who is 12-years old made such a comment, saying that she did not know how long she would live because of all this climate change. There are many like her, and at the same time there are many who are now taking action, demanding change such as the Youth Climate Strike.
On March 15, 2019 one-and-a-half million students from 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries on all seven continents participated in the Student Strike for Climate.
On Friday, September 20, they will kick start a week of climate action with a worldwide strike for the climate. The Labor Network for Sustainability is joining them. You can go to the Labor Network Sustainability site for more information.
As a kickoff to the next 100 years our members are being asked to participate in this action and to also hold special discussions in their clubs and districts on the Green New Deal and develop a plan of work around the issue.
By the way, Bernie Sanders has released his Green New Deal plan which is similar to the one that has been introduced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but goes deeper in addressing workers concerns of losing their jobs. For example, fossil fuel workers will be guaranteed five years of a worker’s salary, housing assistance, job training, healthcare, pension support and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.
Our Party’s education commission will be hosting classes on Oct 20 and 27 at 8 pm eastern, a two-part webinar. Marc Brodine focuses on how to build a massive worldwide movement to create fundamental change. His book Green Strategy focuses on the principle that real environmental solutions require democratic control of economic decisions.
We have a rich history filled with organizing, mobilizing, and establishing popular fronts etc. Today we find ourselves needing to take these tasks to a deeper level: to spread the message of a better world but in a way that resonates with working people, one that gives youth hope because many feel they do not have a future.
In our mass work, there are many activists that we see as potential members of our Party, but why should they join? The answer is because what we are fighting for is for permanent solutions, the meeting of our basic needs; a livable wage, education as a right, universal healthcare etc. Also, because our vision of economic and political democracy, a people oriented humane society, as well as our strategy and tactics (especially the popular front) to get there makes us unique in this struggle.
We need to spread the message of what a socialist society would look like.
We need to spread the message of what a socialist society would look like in the US. It takes extra work on our part to pick an organization or movement you are passionate about and recruit from there as you establish solid relationships.
New members today want to get involved but not necessarily by first attending a meeting, but by contributing something tangible. For example, by flyering, joining a picket line, or designing graphics with a message.
There is a continual increase in new members who almost as soon as they sign up on the website, send us an email, asking,”What can I do?” or “I just joined. Can you connect me to other member?” Younger members now joining have concluded that the CPUSA is the organization they are looking for, they see that we are a serious organization and one that works toward fundamental change.
Almost weekly I am sending materials to a new member who want to begin the process of starting a club in their area.
Among the new members are trade unionists already involved in their union. We have new members who are active in other organizations, but ready to give some of their time to the Party.
Granted there is no perfect new member but neither are we perfect. We are a Party that is made up of workers. We are all learning together for our common goal of bringing fundamental change to this country. We strive to emulate the type of society we are trying to build and treat each other with respect.
The National Board has established an organizational department that will focus on providing support for clubs and districts but the bulk of the Party’s work still falls on the club and/or districts. The Org Department will also provide support to new areas where members are ready to start the process of establishing a new club. The Org Department will work to find the most effective way that clubs and districts can share experience, material and ideas with each other as well as hold them accountable on implementing national decisions.
It is key that we all work in unison at this moment in time, that we focus on the greater vision that has little to do with our own personal desires and more to do with the goal of building our party in order to bring socialism to this country.