The Socialist Party of Michigan is running two candidates in the November Elections; Matt Erard for 53rd District State Representative and Jacob Woods for State Board of Education. The SPMI is also presenting an analysis of some of the non-Socialist Party campaigns we think are of particular interest to Michigan working people. Matt Erard for 53rd District State Represenative
Jacob Woods for State Board of Education
Vote No On Proposal 2!Click Here to Download the SPMI 2006 Campaign Flyer For Printing and Distribution
Both Socialist Party of Michigan Candidates Will Appear on the November Ballot
The Socialist Party of Michigan is fielding two candidates in the November 2006 elections: Jacob Woods who is running for State Board of Education and Matt Erard who is running for 53rd District State Representative in Ann Arbor. Woods and Erard are running on full socialist programs based on public ownership, worker control, and democratic economic planning; giving Michigan workers an alternative the ever increasing war mongering, outsourcing, union-busting, falling wages and benefits, growing inequality, and attacks on essential social programs that have characterized conditions in the state and nation since the last elections in 2004.
As a result of Michigan’s obscenely undemocratic ballot-access laws designed to keep socialist candidates off the ballot, the Socialist Party of Michigan has been so far unable to achieve ballot access in the state since it was re-chartered by the Socialist Party in 2000. Despite this obstacle, however, the Democrats and Republicans who designed these laws have been as unsuccessful at keeping SPMI candidates off the ballot in 2006 as they have been in the preceding two elections.
SPMI State Representative candidate Matt Erard became qualified for the November ballot on July 19th after an extraordinarily arduous four-month petitioning effort to be placed on the ballot as an independent. Despite his nomination and affiliation with the Socialist Party, Erard’s name will be listed on the ballot as a candidate with “No Party Affiliation” due to the fact that Michigan is among a minority of states that does not allow candidates from parties without ballot access to designate a party name on the ballot once they have qualified as independents.
The 2006 campaign of Matt Erard will mark the first time in decades that a Socialist has qualified for State Representative in the city of Ann Arbor. “Whether or not we win the election in November, the fact that Ann Arbor voters will have a Socialist alternative on the ballot for this office is a victory in and of itself” Erard said.
Although Erard noted that Ann Arbor has historically been an overwhelmingly Democratic city, he argued that rampant capitulation and participation by the Democratic Party in recent years in war mongering and attacks on democratic and economic rights have caused widespread disillusionment with the Democratic Party among progressive voters and increased recognition of its status as a corporate appendage.
SPMI State Board of Education candidate Jacob Woods became qualified for the November ballot on August 6th after getting the nomination of the Green Party of Michigan at its 2006 state nominating convention. Unlike Green-Socialist relations in a number of other states, the Green Party of Michigan has traditionally been very friendly to the Socialist Party of Michigan out of solidarity with many of the party’s demands and recognition of the anti-democratic nature of Michigan’s ballot access laws. For the past three elections, the Green Party of Michigan has allowed Socialist Party candidates to have spots on its ballot line even while campaigning as dual-Socialist Party candidates on socialist programs. In 2002 the Green Party of Michigan nominated SPMI candidate Dan D. Karam for 26th District State Representative. In 2004 the Green Party of Michigan nominated SPMI candidates Ben Burgis for Michigan State University Board of Trustees and Lisa Weltman for 14th District Representative in Congress. The nationally-defunct Natural Law Party of Michigan similarly allowed the Socialist Party ticket of Walt Brown for President and Mary Alice Herbert for Vice President to appear on its state ballot line in 2004.
Woods hopes to use his campaign to tie the crises facing the Michigan educational system to the economic crises and inherently undemocratic nature of the capitalist system. A socialist system would not only guarantee free quality education from cradle to grave, but would radically change the current structure of our schools to emphasize democratic cooperative decision making by teachers, students, faculty, and community residents and free our educational system from the corporate interests who seek to privatize and underfund our schools while keeping them structured as standardized and indoctrinating intellectual assembly lines.
The website of the campaign of Matt Erard for 53rd District State Representative can be found at [link]. The website of Jacob Woods for State Board of Education can be found at [link]
A Few Additional Candidates to Consider: SPMI Statement on Other 2006 Campaigns of Potential Interest to Michigan Working People
The Socialist Party USA Constitution requires approval from the Socialist National Committee for state affiliates to endorse non-Socialist Party candidates. Since the SPMI did not receive such approval from the National Committee this year, we are providing a critical analysis of some of the non-Socialist Party 2006 campaigns in Michigan which we feel come closest to providing a working people’s alternative to the capitalist candidates in their respective races. While numerous Socialist Party of Michigan members have individually endorsed these campaigns, we as a party cannot endorse any candidates this year who have not been nominated by the Socialist Party.
Green Party of Michigan Stop the War Slate
The Socialist Party of Michigan gives critical support to the program of the following Green Party of Michigan candidates running on the 2006 Stop the War Slate: David Sole for U.S. Senate, Kevin Carey for State Board of Education, Lauren Elizabeth Spencer for State MSU Board of Trustees, Michael Merriweather for WSU Board of Governors, Kristen Hamel for 1st District State Representative, Lloyd Clark for 32nd District State Representative, Kyle McBee for 13th District State Senate. We particularly take note of the candidacy of Kevin Carey who is running along with our own candidate, Jacob Woods, for State Board of Education due to the radical demands in his individual campaign platform, his past educational work with the SPMI, and his support of the SPMI’s call for United Left Front discussions and activism.
The Stop the War Slate is running on a decisively pro-working class platform that emphasizes many of the most urgent common struggles of working people in the current period. The stop the war slate platform does not limit itself to the imperialist wars abroad but also offers concrete demands in opposition to the domestic wars on civil liberties, oppressed peoples, immigrants, the environment, and the American working class. The Stop the War Slate succeeds in providing an alternative to the disenfranchisement of the working majority by the Democratic and Republican parties whose candidates would never dream of raising any of the demands in the Stop the War Slate platform. Unfortunately, however, it provides the illusion that simply voting for an alternative party willing to raise these issues can bring forth genuine change. While the Stop the War Slate attempts to link the sections of its platform in opposition to various forms of war, it fails to provide any analysis or denunciation of the system of which all of these wars are merely a product.
The platform immediately calls into question who is waging these interconnected wars. One is pressed to wonder if the framers of the Stop the War Slate platform simply assume that they’re coincidental. Unfortunately the Stop the War Slate has chosen not to provide the class-based systemic analysis to answer this question. The several Stop the War Slate candidates who are members of the Workers World Party warrant particular criticism for this opportunistic omission since they cannot claim ignorance or disagreement with such a connection. No where does its program make clear that is the capitalist class that is waging these wars against working people at home or abroad nor does it ever mention the potential of the working class to collectively resist.. No where does its program call for the international unification of working people against the capitalist system, or even for social ownership and worker control of major industries.
The program highlights many elements of the problem, but does not provide real solutions. It is a list of symptoms that fails to acknowledge the disease or the cure. The Socialist Party of Michigan fully supports the platform of the Stop the War Slate, but we urge its candidates stop hiding their underlying socialist convictions. Transitional demands, which compose the entirety of the Stop the War Slate platform, are severely limited when those who propose them relinquish their duty to connect them to the revolutionary path that can truly lead to their realization.
James Wolbrink for 5th District State Senate (Green Party)
The Socialist Party of Michigan also critically supports the program of the campaign of Green Party candidate James Wolbrink for 5th District State Senate. Wolbrink’s is particularly deserving of acknowledgement as the only Green Party of Michigan candidate calling for social ownership and worker control of the economy. The first plank in Wolbrink’s platform states “Businesses should be either publicly owned or owned by employees, but should always be run by employees (yes, this can and does work).” Wolbrink additionally highlights that the owners of industry control all of society’s dominant institutions including the state and calls for an extensive restructuring of political, economic, and social institutions in the interests of working people.
Despite his rather cogent analysis of the capitalism at the macro-level, however, an explicit analysis of the class struggle cannot be found on his website While his campaign expresses opposition to the captains of industry and support for workers who he correctly identifies as anyone who must work for a living, at no point on his campaign website does he identify either the owners of industry or working people as social classes. It therefore goes without saying that his campaign platform is lacking in any analysis that the working class is the only social force that lead the way toward the central demands in his platform. One similarly must wonder why a candidate who is calling for economic democracy and worker control of all businesses is ostensibly afraid to use the term socialist.
Wolbrink’s platform is also weak on issues of civil rights and the liberation of women and oppressed peoples. While Wolbrink’s platform calls for full human and civil rights for all people, it says nothing about the issues of racism or sexism and lists no demands or support for movements that address these issues. For a candidate who seeks to represent working people in Detroit, a city that is 80% African American and plagued by systematic racism, this is particularly neglectful. To say nothing about affirmative action or a woman’s right to choose at a time when both these rights under widespread attack is also an inexcusable oversight.
While we commend Wolbrink for making economic democracy and workers’ rights the cornerstones of his platform, we urge him to recognize that socialist candidates will never be more successful by opportunistically hiding what we are or where we stand on the potential of the working class for self-emancipation. We additionally encourage Wolbrink to reevaluate the Civil/Human Rights Section of his platform and make sure from now on that such vital issues are never overlooked in any future campaigns.
Jerome White for 12th District Representative in Congress (Socialist Equality Party)
The Socialist Party also gives critical support to the campaign program of Jerome White who is running as the Socialist Equality Party candidate for 12th District Representative in Congress. White is running on a full socialist program which provides a systemic analysis that clearly makes the connections between economic exploitation, imperialist war, and the fundamental assault on democratic and economic rights that characterize the current stage of the capitalist system. Additionally the SEP 2006 electoral program shows a clear understanding of the need for an independent, international working class movement as the only solution to the attacks on working people around the world that result directly from the current social order.
While the 2006 program of the Socialist Equality Party candidates claims that it “opposes every form of nationalism, ethnic and religious chauvinism, and racism,” however, it condemns what it refers to as “racial politics” and “racial constituencies” and subsequently expresses opposition to all affirmative action programs. During a year when a state ballot proposal seeks to roll back a tremendous amount of the progress that working people have achieved against institutional racism and sexism over the course of decades, such a position could not be more backward or reckless.
For the SEP to deny the legitimacy of a working class “racial constituency” is to deny the existence of white privilege altogether. At every economic stratum white working people, while oppressed as members of the working class, are entitled to an unspoken privilege which their brothers and sisters of color are denied. While the Socialist Equality Party argues that affirmative action divides the working class, it fails to recognize that the alternative is a working class immensely more divided by the lack of any institutional measure to counter white racial privilege. It is a backwards logic that holds that racism can only be countered through a unified working class and socialist transformation without recognizing that every measure to combat racism and white privilege must be realized before such a unified movement to lead this transformation can ever come into being.
While the Socialist Equality Party notes that modern affirmative action programs often disproportionately benefit the more economically privileged among oppressed minority peoples, the solution is clearly to strengthen such programs, not to abolish them! As long as the white segment of the working class is willing to divide itself from oppressed minorities over affirmative action, it is too socially backward to ever join the working class movement that can lead a socialist transformation. The capitalist class fears the strengthening of affirmative action programs, just as it does reparations, because these programs will help to break down the barriers of institutional racism that truly divide the working class in the long term. It is precisely this reason that capitalists have chosen to put the elimination of public sector affirmative action on the November ballot.
The Socialist Equality Party’s 2006 electoral program is also weak on the issue of feminism and women’s liberation. As with racism it fails to recognize patriarchy as an interconnected, but independent system from capitalism that must be combated directly through feminist movements and direct institutional measures such as affirmative action. Although the SEP’s program at least expresses opposition to racism, instead of expressing opposition to sexism, it only expresses opposition to discrimination on the “basis of sex.” The program is therefore devoid of any recognition of sexism as a system of male privilege or the deep interconnection between gender and power that permeates throughout society’s institutions.
We urge Jerry White and the rest of the Socialist Equality Party to renounce its reactionary position on affirmative action and to recognize the direct struggles toward the elimination of racial and gender privilege as essential components of a socialist transformation.
GPMI Stop the War Slate Website
James Wolbrink for Michigan State Senate
Jerome White for Congress