Socialist candidate gets hearing at Trump event
Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy, left, talks with Jordan Strange about fight to win jobs and higher wages in line for Donald Trump rally March 11 in Chicago.
BY DAN FEIN
CHICAGO — The organized disruption that forced the cancellation of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rally here March 11 “was a blow to free speech,” Socialist Workers Party candidate for president Alyson Kennedy said. “Shutting down political expression is inevitably turned against workers.”
Kennedy’s statement stands in stark contrast to the celebration of the disruption on the left and among liberals who are increasingly shrill in charging Trump with being the spearhead of a rising racist and fascist movement. This could be “remembered as the dawn of the resistance,” declared Washington Postcolumnist Eugene Robinson March 14.
Republican rivals Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich said they opposed the disruptions, but argued they are Trump’s own fault, suggesting his politics encourage violence.
None of this has derailed Trump’s campaign. He won four of the five primary elections held March 15. Rubio, a senator from Florida, suspended his campaign after losing to Trump in his home state by a wide margin. Trump’s loss to Ohio Gov. Kasich in Ohio was expected. In all these states Trump won a big vote from working people.
Far from representing a rising rightist movement, Trump gets a hearing from workers and others who have been battered by the effects of years of the world capitalist economic crisis, and who are looking for something different from “establishment” politicians they know offer no solutions.
It’s for similar reasons that Bernie Sanders continues to get a substantial response. He got nearly half the vote in both Illinois and Missouri, even as the media is declaring that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic nomination virtually sewn up.
On the day of Trump’s rally, several thousand people demonstrated outside while others entered the meeting room. Their goal was “for Donald to take the stage and to completely interrupt him. The plan is to shut Donald Trump all the way down,” Quovadis Green told the Associated Press.
When a campaign staffer announced that due to safety concerns the rally was canceled, those who organized to disrupt it erupted in cheers, celebrating their victory over free speech. Some chanted “Bernie, Bernie,” waving Sanders campaign signs. A few Trump supporters confronted them. The big majority of those who had come to hear Trump looked incredulous, upset he wouldn’t be speaking.
Fight for unions, jobs, wages
SWP candidate Kennedy had wide-ranging discussions with many workers and young people who came hoping to hear Trump. She handed a campaign flyer to Jordan Strange, an 18-year-old student from Naperville, as they waited in line to get in. The Socialist Workers Party campaign “is part of the struggles of working people,” she said, “including the fight for $15 an hour and a union at McDonald’s and Walmart.”
“But McDonald’s is not a job for life, it’s a job for teenagers,” Strange said. “Shouldn’t we concentrate on creating jobs instead?”
“We need both,” Kennedy replied. “Workers of all ages make low wages and work part time or are unemployed. I took a leave from my job at a Walmart to run in this election. We must fight to increase wages for everyone, and also fight for a government-funded public works program to create jobs, build schools and medical facilities, child care and recreation centers, replace crumbling infrastructure and other things working people need. And unions are essential, a first step to relying on our own strength as a class.”
Fernando Garcia, an engineer at a local sheet metal factory, came to the rally with his son Eric, a brake press operator at the same plant. “I don’t know who I’ll vote for,” Fernando Garcia said. Like many there he came to hear what Trump had to offer.
“Trump is not a politician. He is not bought off,” said Eric Garcia, who was wearing a Trump campaign button.
Kennedy responded, “No Democrat, Republican or other capitalist candidate will do anything about the attacks against the working class. They talk about getting the ‘best deal’ to ensure profits keep flowing to the U.S. capitalists.”
Fernando Garcia agreed. “Under Obama the border crossings are more dangerous, resulting in many deaths” of immigrants, he said. “The government has increased its border patrols.”
After the rally was cancelled, Kennedy saw the Garcias walking to their car. “I don’t agree with Trump,” she told them, “but I don’t agree with what happened tonight. Freedom of speech protects the right of workers to speak out and organize.”
“This will just mean more votes for Trump,” Eric Garcia said.
The next day Kennedy campaigned door to door in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst. While much of the discussion was about Trump’s rally being broken up, topics ranged from police brutality to Syria to the effects on working people of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Kennedy told Derek Dedman, a 20-year-old broker for a logistics company, about the fight against the cold-blooded police killing of cattle rancher Jack Yantis in Idaho, and showed him an article about it in theMilitant. “You hear about the police killing Blacks, but you never hear about things like this,” Dedman said.
Police killings are a class question, Kennedy said. “The police protect the interests of the wealthy by keeping workers in their place. But because of the protests more cops are being charged. This shows we can have an impact.”
Bojka Milanovich told Kennedy about the devastation her country, the former Yugoslavia, faces today. Rival fragments of the disintegrating Stalinist regime went to war in the 1990s, using nationalist demagogy to grab territory and resources. Washington and its imperialist competitors in Europe intervened militarily to advance their interests, adding to the carnage.
“The Socialist Workers Party campaigned against the U.S. bombing assault on your country,” Kennedy said, “and we oppose their intervention in Syria today. They don’t care what happens to us or the Syrian workers, they’re only protecting their imperial power in the Middle East.”
“We should get out of Syria,” Milanovich replied.
“I work in a hospital and see the abuse of workers, especially immigrants,” she said. She made a $10 donation to the campaign and got a copy of New Internationalmagazine with the article “Capitalism’s Long Hot Winter Has Begun,” which describes the roots of the growing capitalist conflicts and depression conditions that mark the world today.