Maureen Taylor is a grass roots, working class activist who’s history goes back to the days of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in late 1960’s Detroit. She has been a leading force in fighting for the basic gut level interests of Detroit’s poor and destitute. The struggle against social problems such as unemployment, crumbling public schools, state takeovers of cities and school systems, high utility rates, utility shut offs, homelessness, vacant public housing going unused, sky high water rates, attempts to privatize water systems and other public services, etc., have been her constant political focus.
Maureen is the chairperson of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, which functions much like a union for poor and unemployed people struggling with the stingy and cold hearted social welfare system, utility companies, and various levels of government.
Maureen is currently running for election to a seat on Detroit’s City Council. The Primary election will be in early August, 2005, and the General Election will be in November. Maureen must finish among the top 18 candidates in the primary election in order to be eligible to run in the general election in November, where she must finish among the top 9 candidates. The Socialist Party of Michigan calls for Detroit voters to vote for Maureen in both the primary and general elections. She is the only candidate who is both genuinely independent of the Democratic and Republican Party machines and who also presents a program that addresses the real interests of Detroit’s working class and poor.
We of the Socialist Party of Michigan urge Maureen and her supporters to always keep in mind that the only way for a candidate like Maureen to get elected and to keep on message at the same time is to build a strong grass roots movement of the working people and the poor from below as the campaign moves forward. Getting elected is important, but it is even more important to not get caught up in the idea that getting elected is the most important thing, and that ideas for real change should somehow be “hushed up” during the campaign so as to attract middle class and
wealthy liberal voters. This kind of trap can only serve to blunt the message of Maureen’s campaign in the eyes of the working class and the poor and paint her into a corner of moderation that may prove very difficult to break from later on.
It is also important to strongly champion demands that defend city workers, such as no layoffs, no wage cuts, no cuts in city services, no privatization of city services, no outsourcing of city workers’ jobs, etc.
City workers will be among the most active, vocal, and militant Detroit voters this year. They are a vital source of potential support, and they must get a clear message from Maureen that she is their candidate, without a doubt.
Other issues that should be clearly raised are the issues of canceling Detroit’s bank debt to big bondholders and slashing the interest rates charged to the city by these banks. No other candidates are raising these issues in a strong or consistent way, and Maureen could get the jump on everyone if she puts these out front without hedging.
Likewise are the issues of the huge tax breaks (abatements), and the various subsidies that big corporations get from the city, and the state, for building things like stadiums, office buildings, etc. The justification for these “corporate welfare”
programs is that the companies will bring or keep jobs in the city, but the lie behind this has been exposed over and over again. These welfare programs for the rich must be ended.
Detroit tax dollars going to pay for the ever bulging Pentagon military budget and for the criminal war in Iraq are also vital issues for Maureen’s campaign. She has raised these issues in the past and we urge her to not let up in making those points.
We think that the above suggestions will help Maureen to have a better chance of getting elected, remaining fully independent, and building a grassroots movement
for real change. We commit ourselves to walk the walk as well as talk the talk of support.
In the final analysis, which we believe Maureen understands, we assert the idea that only a brand new social, economic, and political system altogether can lead to genuine and lasting solutions for the problems and oppressions faced by working people and the poor. A system where the heights of the economy are owned by the people and democratically controlled from below by workers and communities. A system where democratic planning for human needs will replace the never ending greed of the powerful corporate elite and their political servants. A system where democracy will be a day to day, moment to moment way of living, not an empty exercise of going to polling places once every two years to give over power to the two party servants of big business and imperial conquest. That system is democratic socialism. We work for the day when we can help to bring it into existence.