PSL campaign sows the seeds of a new movement of poor and working people
Villar wins highest NYC mayoral socialist vote in nearly three decades
Nov. 4, 2009
After staging a vigorous campaign that spanned working-class neighborhoods in every New York City borough, Party for Socialism and Liberation mayoral candidate Frances Villar received 3,517 votes. Percentage-wise, the last socialist candidate to do better was in 1981.
“I want to thank every person who decided to use their vote yesterday to send a message to the banks and billionaires of this city that their time is up,” Villar said. “But our election campaign was not only about Nov. 3—it’s about today and tomorrow, building the movement we need for the society we deserve—a socialist society.”
The PSL was formed in 2004, and ran candidates Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear in the 2008 presidential elections. This was the PSL’s first mayoral campaign in New York City.
“For the last six months, our party’s activists and volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring the message that poor and working people can fight back,” campaign co-coordinator Yenica Cortes noted. “From collecting over 14,000 signatures in just two weeks in July, to holding dozens of street meetings and flyering team outings, we have reached tens of thousands of people in this campaign. The 200 volunteers we had out on Election Day was a fitting conclusion for a campaign that brought many from our class into the world of political activism and struggle for the first time. From today on, we will be working to build on that work for the struggles ahead.”
The PSL decided to run Villar—a 26-year-old Afro-Dominican student, worker and mother—to be, as a headline in the New York Metro called her, “the real face of socialism.”
The Bloomberg re-election
Although some 36,000 New York City voters did not vote on the Democratic or Republican party lines, over 1 million did. Bloomberg’s narrower-than-expected victory has led some to wonder whether Bloomberg was more vulnerable than he appeared, or whether the Democrats might have committed some tactical error.
Bloomberg poured at least $100 million into his reelection campaign, including the city council vote to overturn term limits, the buying of ballot lines, and campaign expenses. Although his investment ultimately paid off, it also had the impact of exposing for millions the corrupt nature of U.S. democracy—which is only democracy for the rich.
At the same time, Bloomberg’s chief opponent did not offer a fighting program to challenge the city’s wealthy elite. He embraced the dictatorial “mayoral control” of schools and the racist NYPD “stop-and-frisk” policies.
In fact, the Democratic Party leadership exists to protect the interests of the same class of bankers and billionaires as Bloomberg represents—despite the desires on many of the party’s members.
In the coming weeks and months, Bloomberg will turn from candidate to executive, continuing his programs of putting the burdens of the growing economic crisis on the backs of poor and working people. It is the challenge for socialists to provide a real fighting alternative for the hundreds of thousands who hoped to defeat the Bloomberg program by voting Democrat.
The PSL’s Frances Villar for Mayor Campaign aimed to take steps to help provide that alternative. The party will be building on those steps as the movement continues to grow.