NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, and supporters of the party from around the Southeast traveled here Aug. 22 to talk with those attracted to a campaign meeting for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president in the Democratic Party primary.
Hart and the SWP got a serious hearing among those attending the rally of 3,000. Many stopped to talk at book tables hung with big signs saying, “Read About Socialism” and “Socialist Workers Party.” Eight people subscribed to the Militant, 130 got single copies and five books from Pathfinder Press were purchased.
Sanders and iconoclastic Republican candidate Donald Trump are drawing big crowds because people see them as different from the other bourgeois candidates, disdainful of politics as usual, at a time of acute crisis.
The first person Hart shook hands with was Paul Garbarini, a county worker distributing fliers for the Sept. 5 “Days of Grace” march and rally called by the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422 in honor of Walter Scott, Clementa Pinckney and other victims of racist and police violence (see calendar on page 4).
“I’ll put some of those fliers on my campaign table so we can work with you to build it,” Hart told Garbarini. “The SWP campaign is a voice for working people. My running mate, John Staggs, and I are workers at Walmart fighting for $15 an hour, a union and full-time work. Workers need a labor party based on the unions.”
“If only labor knew,” replied Garbarini. “They keep voting for the Republicans.”
“We have to make a class break from the capitalist parties, whether Democrats or Republicans,” said Hart. “I’m talking about taking political power, building a revolutionary movement, independent of the ballot box.
“The mass, dignified response here in Charleston to the racist massacre of Pinckney and other churchgoers in June is an example of what we see when working people lead,” he added. “The removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol came after battles led by African-Americans that transformed the consciousness of millions across the board and strengthened the working class.”
Tony Reyes, a construction worker who is Cuban-American, got an introductory subscription to the Militant and Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own. “We need change,” he said. “I’d get a few more books, but I got a $300 speeding ticket because of some racial profiling the other night,” Reyes said. “The cops were egging me on, giving me the Sandra Bland treatment.” Bland, 28, was pulled over and arrested by a Texas cop for a minor traffic violation. She died in police custody July 13.
“I know what you are talking about,” said Hart. “I’m active in the Black Lives Matter movement. Our protests across the country against police killings have pushed the cops back.”
Some people wanted to know how Hart differed from Sanders, who sometimes describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”
“Capitalism is the problem workers face. Sanders’ platform is for reforming capitalism,” Hart told a student reporter. “The SWP points to the example of the Cuban Revolution, where working people overturned capitalism.”
The press took note of the response to the Socialist Workers Party. A reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did an article about the SWP effort, with a prominent photo of the literature table.