"Certain conspiracy-addled commentators want you to know that scary Kenyan Socialists are secretly plotting to overthrow America as you read this newspaper. In the face of such panic, surely no Socialist would be brazen enough to run for office — especially here in heartland Ohio... Enter Dan La Botz."
That's how a short article from the Cleveland Scene begins, describing the campaign by Socialist Dan La Botz for the Ohio Senate seat. While no Kenyan, La Botz is running on a principled, anti-capitalist campaign, as outlined by the "radical ideas" he espouses, such as "the right of Americans to full-time jobs at a living wage, universal access to health care, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and opposing prejudices like racism, xenophobia, and homophobia." Sardonically, they add, "Yes, there’s no room for this brand of nutbag thinking in our fair corner of the world."
Among the political mainstream, with their corporate sponsors and narrow ideological dogmatism, those ideas certainly are radical. But for someone like my father, a factory worker for thirty years who was laid off during the 2008 economic crisis, a "full-time job at a living wage" with "access to health care" isn't exactly a revolutionary message. For someone like my father, a white man with an adopted black son, my brother, "opposing prejudices like racism" isn't a radical demand either. The thing is, my father is not alone.
Everyone knows Ohio, and it's many urban centers like Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus, have been hit hard by unemployment and declining living standards. Many folks are looking toward the future in a sense of despair, with the economic indicators relatively bleak for anyone making under a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. Frustrated, many people are turning to alternative political voices, or turning away from politics all-together.
This is not a bad thing. We should reject the corporate platform of the Democratic and Republican parties, with their ideological commitment to corporate capitalism and big business. However, we need a political organization, a vehicle through which can articulate the demands, the needs, and the hopes of working class people.
Unfortunately, many have turned not to the left, where there is a noticeable absence of well-organized political structures, but to the right, where corporate populism, a sort of fake grassroots has taken hold. I am, of course, talking about the infamous Tea Party.
As the Cincinnati City Beat, in an article endorsing Dan La Botz for Senate, explains so lucidly, "on a political level, the Tea Party simply is a “populist” cover for the Republican Party's desire to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminate the estate tax for the wealthy, deregulate Wall Street firms that almost drove the country into financial ruin and protect profits for health insurance corporations."
No doubt that. City Beat continues:
"We're angry that our health insurance premiums skyrocket while coverage gets scaled back and insurance corporations report record profits. We're angry that BP can dump millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and get away with it. We're angry that the Supreme Court equates corporations with personhood and now allows businesses to pump even more money into an already corrupt political system. And we're angry that this country has spent more than $1 trillion and endured more than 5,000 dead soldiers to fight largely unsuccessful wars in the Middle East."
And, I should add, for any of us with a conscience that extends beyond our national borders, we are angry that hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And we are angry that our tax dollars go to funding an immoral, illegal, and illegitimate, and horrendously violent occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state.
But best of all, I think City Beat sums up many of the feelings Ohioans share about the Senate race here, when they say they're "unexcited about the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, and squeamish about the GOP nominee, former Cincinnati area Congressman Rob Portman."
Disgusted with the mainstream choices, the City Beat has openly and courageously endorsed a Socialist candidate. Besides the fact that he "supports radical democracy, the democratic control of the economy by the majority of Americans instead of by a small minority," part of the reason they want Ohio voters to choose La Botz is the likely chance that the "heads of those on the Far Right who consider Obama a socialist would explode, and that could be fun to watch."
I couldn't agree more.
And, for those of you following the election, you should know that Rob Portman, the Republican, is ahead in the polls. So far ahead, in fact, that Lee Fischer, the Democrat, has essentially dropped his campaign. You could still vote for him, but it would be a waste. A huge waste, in fact, when he has no chance of being elected.
Instead, I urge everyone to read the open letter by Dan La Botz to Progressive Democrats, which I have copied here:
Dear Friends and Fellow Progressives,
In the Senate race, the Democratic Party in Ohio has largely ignored your wishes, crushed your hopes, and now abandons you to the Republican Rob Portman. In the beginning, when many and perhaps most of you wanted Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to be the Senate candidate, the Democratic Party organization used its power and its money to push Brunner aside and impose Lee Fisher as the candidate. Now, as we approach election day, Lee Fisher has apparently thrown in the towel, giving up on his race and turning his remaining campaign funds over to the Democratic Party to use for other races where they think they still have a chance.
What are you going to do with Fisher having failed so badly and now going down to defeat? I know that you won’t vote for Rob Portman or for the Libertarian or Constitution or party candidates who are perhaps even further right than he is. But I am afraid that you might waste your vote by casting it for Lee Fisher. This would be squandering your vote.
First, of course, as you know it was Fisher who pushed Brunner and the progressives aside. Second, Fisher refused to take a strong stand on issues that concern us progressives, like getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Third, even the Ohio AFL-CIO didn’t endorse Fisher (look at the mailing you got or go to the website and you’ll see his name is not on the voting card: http://www.ohaflcio.org/2010endorsements.html) Finally, Fisher ran a lackluster campaign failing to go out and fight for the principles you believe in.
And now Fisher is anywhere between 10 and 20 points behind in the polls. He doesn’t stand a chance of winning. If you vote for Fisher now, you just waste your vote. It won’t harm the Republicans. And worst of all it will convince the Democrats that they don’t really need to pay attention to progressives like you, since you’ll always bite the bullet and vote for them anyway.
So, this year, don’t knuckle under. Send a message to the Republicans, to the Democrats and to Washington. Let them know that you’re tired of being dragged to the right, that you want a progressive alternative. Vote on November 2 for Dan La Botz, Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate. You won’t be alone. Cincinnati’s CityBeat has endorsed me and progressives around the state have let me know they’re voting for me.
Thanks for giving this some thought. Look at my website and you'll see we believe in many of the same things. I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other soon at the same demonstrations against the war, for immigrant rights, for gay rights, and for all the other things we believe in. Take care.
Dan La BotzSocialist Party candidate for Senate
If that doesn't sway you to vote, I don't know what will. La Botz recently mentioned that along the campaign there has been a "willingness to discuss Socialism," and we on the left should not forgo this opportunity to push for radical change
Let's take advantage of this moment. If you want your vote to actually mean something this time, get out there November 2nd, vote Dan La Botz for Senate!