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My Speech at the May 3rd, 2022 Rally to Defend Roe V. Wade

Tuesday May 3rd, 2022

Sisters, brothers, siblings

We are facing the single biggest attack on women and reproductive rights in most of our lifetimes

And this right-wing supreme court has also given every indication that if they succeed, if we allow them to succeed, in eliminating Roe V Wade, they plan to carry out draconian attacks on LGBTQ rights next.

To defend against these attacks, we need to build for an escalating series of actions that 

bring in more and more of the working class.

At the same time, we must go on the offensive against the right wing, here and everywhere

And to win, we need to draw on some lessons from history

How Roe v Wade was won in the first place?

It was never due to some benevolence or wisdom of the justice system.

Like all victories for the working class under capitalism, it was wrenched from the hands of the powerful by powerful mass movements.

The Supreme Court at the time was in fact majority Republican, majority sexist, majority racist, majority bigoted, majority right wing. And yet not only the majority of this court, but also the majority of Republican justices, voted for Roe v. Wade in a 7-2 decision. And that was because of the power of mass movements. For the record, one of the two judges who voted against Roe was a Democratic Party appointee.

Abortion rights were won not because Supreme Court judges reawakened one morning as feminists.

It was not because of the leadership of the Democratic Party.

It was because of the massive combined pressure of the women’s movement, civil rights movement, anti-war movement, labor movement and militant strike action by union workers. Literally millions were out on the streets of America. 

The ruling class and the courts feared even greater social upheaval, and even greater threat to the stability of their system of capitalism, and that’s why they were forced to concede.

That’s exactly the kind of fear we need to instill right now in the ruling class, because without building the fever pitch of mass movements that would create that fear in the hearts of the ruling class, we will not be able to stop their attacks on abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, workers rights, and their assault on the planet.

My organization, Socialist Alternative, is organizing protests like this one today in Seattle, around the country – thousands of people have already attended. Other organizations are launching events as well – and we should try to work alongside one another in order to build a fighting approach, while not allowing the Democratic establishment to co-opt this fight – because we know that would be a dead end.

We need to build on tonight with an escalating series of mass rallies and marches, nonviolent civil disobedience, student walkouts, and workers carrying out work stoppages and strike actions.

We need clear demands for our movement, and we need to go on the offensive.

First and foremost – we demand hands off Roe v Wade!

Reproductive care and free gender affirming care for all – on demand and free! 

For that, we demand a national Medicare for all system, and we need to tax Wall Street.

We demand an end to attacks on all LGBTQ people including our trans community.

We demand an end to sexual harassment in our workplaces and schools, and establishing democratically elected committees of students and workers with the ability to hold the powerful accountable.

We demand a full cancellation of all student debt, all college education should be free.

And we demand a socialist Green New Deal, including taking the big energy corporations into democratic public ownership – because we can’t control what we don’t own. 

Using these demands as our program, we need to immediately begin building for the national day of action on May 14th, which has been called by Planned Parenthood.

I’m glad that Planned Parenthood is stepping up now, though it’s unfortunate it took this leaked document for them and the other Democratic Party aligned organizations to take action.

We need the labor movement to become an integral part of this fight. It’s important several unions have endorsed tonight’s rally that my office and Socialist Alternative initiated. 

We are seeing a nationwide resurgence of labor struggle, including the historic drive to unionize Starbucks and Amazon.

We need to connect the movements for women’s and LGBTQ rights,  to the movement of workers fighting for unions and for good contracts to our fight because we are all part of the same working class, and our power lies in united class struggle.

It would be powerful if workers at Amazon and Starbucks here and nationally – were to organize to go on strike on May 14th to walk out and join our protest.

Talk about scaring the ruling class, that will scare the ruling class.

We need broad working class unity in our movement around the fight to defend Roe V. Wade, the ruling class wants us divided.

We can learn from recent social movements – both from positive lessons and also the mistakes even though it is uncomfortable. 

The BLM protests in 2020 were incredibly powerful.

Nationally, we did win a rare measure of justice for George Floyd’s family – though it did not bring him back, nor the thousands of others murdered by the police. 

We did win, here in Seattle, the historic Amazon Tax to fund affordable housing – through the Black Lives Matter Movement, but given the scale and energy of the BLM movement, it was also a setback that far more wasn’t won I believe it could have been, had we brought in the wider working class, had broader demands like democratically elected community oversight boards to hold the police accountable, had we brought that forward, and consciously worked to avoid divisions in the working class.

And most importantly, we could have won more had a section of BLM leaders not tied their hopes to the Democratic Party, who in the end totally sold us all out.

We must understand in our movements that we can in no way rely on the Democratic Party.

That has been on full display these last months as the Democrats have completely refused to bring any kind of strategy to defend against this historic attack, we didn’t need this leaked document to know what was coming our way right?

As Biden and the Democrats, who started with high approval ratings after Trump lost, completely failed to deliver.

The failures of Biden and the Democrats are so absolute, that they have paved the way for their own shellacking in the November midterms.

And they have ushered in the potential return of Trump to the White House in 2024.

Biden administration, and the Democrats in Congress, utterly failed to follow through on their promises to working people.

They totally abandoned Medicare for All and even the so-called public option.

They abandoned the $15 minimum wage – and in reality that should be more like a $25 minimum wage.

Abandoned the Green New Deal, despite human civilization itself facing an existential threat.

And it’s sad to say but Bernie Sanders and the Squad enabled all of this by dropping their own program and building an alliance with Biden and Pelosi rather than building mass movements to fight back.

Democratic Politicians held a rally earlier this afternoon in Queen Anne. 

They had one Democratic Party politicians after another go up to the microphone, not one offered any strategy to defeat this historic attack

So what was their strategy?

Everyone, from Pramila Jayapal to Rebecca Saldaña, had pretty much the same thing to say – “Vote Blue” in November they said, “Vote Blue.”

This is after Jayapal herself, as the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has given progressive cover for the countless failures of and betrayals by the Biden regime.

In addition, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, informed the crowd “In WA state these rights are not in jeopardy.”

This is outrageous! 

This is an utter lack of solidarity with millions of women and LGBTQ people around the country.

And you know what? I am also afraid this could turn out NOT TO BE TRUE AT ALL on the basis of the bankrupt approach that Democrats have taken – unless we build powerful movements that go on the offensive to defeat this attack now.

This is how we got here in the first place – with a party that doesn’t know how to fight, that doesn’t want to fight, that is more afraid of its base getting organized than anything else.

A party that will go all out to marginalize or drive out genuine progressives, as they do every single day. 

A party that prioritizes the stability of the capitalist system and profitability of the wealthiest above all else – above women, reproductive rights, workers rights, LGBTQ rights, and above even the continuation of human civilization as we face climate catastrophe.

We need a new party for the working class.

One that fights tooth and nail to defend reproductive rights, workers rights, LGBTQ rights and against racism.

One that bases itself on building social and workers’ movements – one that isn’t afraid to call mass protests.

One that is not in bed with Wall Street.

One with democratic structures – where elected officials can be held accountable, or thrown out if they’re not.

A party in which elected officials only accept the average workers wage, as I do, and donate the rest to social movements through a solidarity fund.

I would like for my office to no longer be the only elected office in the country with a solidarity fund that donated $20,000 to help unionize Amazon as we did a week ago.

There were high hopes in the Squad when they were elected.

They could have worked together to build a mass left alternative based on fighting movements, but they did not.

Bernie and AOC are now calling for us to defend Roe v. Wade legislatively.

That is all well and good except that the balance of power in Congress and the Senate does not add up, so it’s a fool’s errand.

They should be calling mass movements around the country.

Let’s have no illusions in our movement about the justice system, about the Supreme Court, the courts generally, the police, the Democratic Party or the institution of capitalism that they are all engaged in protecting. 

This is a system run by and for the billionaires.

The system of capitalism will never end sexism, racism, attacks on LGBTQ people, or working people.

We need to fight for a different kind of society – a socialist society, and we need to make that part of our fight, right now.

I hope you will join us on May 14 – for the national day of action called by Planned Parenthood.

If you’re a student, and you’d like to organize a walkout next week, Socialist Alternative is building for them around the country next Friday on May 13.

So if you’re a student, and you want to do that, don’t leave tonight without talking to somebody from Socialist Alternative. 

And if you agree with what we are fighting for, then join this movement, not just for tonight, but to actually defend Roe v. Wade, defeat these attacks and actually win a better society, a socialist society. 

Solidarity.

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