The political lessons of the Detroit mayoral elections

Published on WSWS, by  D’Artagnan Collier, SEP candidate for Detroit Mayor, 6 August 2009.

I want to thank everyone who supported and volunteered for the Socialist Equality Party’s campaign for Detroit mayor, along with the more than 1,200 people who voted for me in the primary elections on Tuesday.

This vote is very significant. Despite a virtual media blackout of our campaign, a significant layer of the Detroit working class made a conscious decision to vote for a socialist candidate. 

Long before the election was held, the political and media establishment had already selected its candidate – current mayor and multi-millionaire businessman David Bing. Bing received 74 percent of the vote on Tuesday, and he will face Tom Barrow, who received 11 percent, in run-off elections in November.

More significant than the percentages going to each candidate, however, was the mass abstention by the working class. Only 17 percent of registered voters in Detroit went to the polls. This means that Bing received the vote of only a bit more than 10 percent of the electorate …

… At the center of my campaign for mayor was the fight for the unity of the working class—across all racial, ethnic, and national boundaries. In our campaign literature, we resolutely rejected identity politics, which has been used to divide workers and prevent opposition to the capitalist system. A tiny black elite that controls Detroit has benefited enormously from these policies, while the conditions facing the vast majority of workers of all races are now worse than ever.

The fight for this program does not end with the elections. It has only begun. Representatives of the ruling class in Detroit are now congratulating themselves that they successfully installed their mayor of choice. They believe that they can now carry out their assault on the working class unimpeded. But they are shortsighted. The elections only set the stage for major class battles to come.

In the months ahead, the Socialist Equality Party will campaign relentlessly to organize and lead working class resistance in Detroit and throughout the country.

For those of you who supported my campaign and voted for me, I urge you to take the next step: study our program and make the decision to join the Socialist Equality Party. (full text).

(Click here to find out more about how to join the Socialist Equality Party).

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