Jobs, Free Public Services and Equal Rights for All!
Brazil Shows the Consequences If Workers Offer No Alternative
Statement of John Jay Arena, Jobs and Equal Rights for All Candidate for Essex County
On Tuesday, voters in Essex County will have the opportunity to vote for the world we want, not a lesser evil. A vote for my candidacy for Essex County Executive, for the Jobs and Equal Rights for ALL program, is a vote for a real workers’ alternative. And workers have no choice but to put forward a real alternative.
The lessons from the election of the fascist Jasir Bolsonaro as President of Brazil are clear: we can only defeat the rising tide of fascism by uniting all workers—immigrants and native-born, black and white, gay and straight—to fight for the world we want and need. We must unite our movements to take back the wealth from the real criminals—the billionaire class—to create good, well-paying jobs and free quality public services, from health care to education, for all. If we fail to provide a real solution to the crisis facing broad swaths of society, the fascists will fill the void with their racism and hate to pit one group of workers against another, to fill the pockets of the billionaires, to drag the world into a new dark age.
The road to Brazilian fascism confirms this lesson. In 2014 President Dilma Rousseff, of the former governing Workers Party, won a close reelection in the face of the deepest capitalist economic downturn in decades. But she offered no alternative. She “rewarded” her working class supporters by selecting a former IMF economist as finance minister, a move lauded by foreign investors. The University-of-Chicago-trained technocrat promptly delivered—for Wall Street—by instituting an austerity agenda that further worsened the plight of Brazil’s already battered working class. His “reform package” increased regressive gasoline taxes and ended electrical subsidies for consumers while slashing the Worker Party government’s flagship, “Bolsa Familia” cash transfer program, and other public services.
Far from satisfying the billionaire class, these concessions only whetted their appetite for more, while further alienating the Party’s working-class base. The billionaire class finally decided to remove the politically weakened Rousseff from office altogether and railroad the former president Lula—and prospective presidential candidate—to jail. The Workers Party, for their part, failed to mobilize its allied labor, peasant and housing movements in a strike against the “soft coup”. The failure of the Workers Party to provide any answers to the to the economic and political crisis opened the door for the fascist Bolsonaro to fill the void.
Today, the Democrats offer no real alternative to the vicious attacks on all workers of Trump and his allies. Many, like Joe D., openly collaborate with Trump. The Jobs and Equal Rights for ALL campaign is one of many efforts to build the real workers alternative that we need. On Nov. 6, vote for that alternative, vote for Jobs and Equal Rights for ALL.