The people of South Central Los Angeles need a representative in the California State Senate who will advocate for the working class. This fact became more evident over the past year as the government sat idly by while people suffered. Tens of thousands of Californians have died after contracting COVID-19. Many more have lost their jobs and access to health care and may face eviction or foreclosure in the coming months. COVID-19 alone did not cause this immense crisis.
California, where the “progressive” Democratic Party holds a super-majority, has become the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic. The state’s Democrat-controlled legislature is clearly unable and unwilling to protect Californians from the biggest threats to their livelihoods: unchecked spread of a deadly virus, record unemployment, and a looming wave of evictions and foreclosures. Meanwhile, thousands of Californians have hit the streets to demand an end to racist police terror, only to face batons, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and jail sentences.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation and Peace and Freedom Party are running a third-party socialist campaign for the State Senate in District 30 to challenge both major parties’ disregard for ordinary people throughout this period. Ernesto Huerta, a 19-year-old member of the PSL, is running on a five-point program to immediately address today’s crises:
- Cancel the rents and mortgages
- Free health care to combat COVID-19
- Defund the police and end police brutality
- Reparations for African-Americans and oppressed people
- Full rights for immigrants
This five-point program is especially crafted to address the issues afflicting California’s State Senate District 30. This district comprises large sections of South and Central LA, including parts of the Westside and Downtown. Neighborhoods included in the district are Westmont, Hyde Park, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Culver City, Palms and Mid City. This region faces routine police violence, lack of housing, employment, and health care services, and increased health risks due to pollution from nearby active urban drilling sites.
In addition to the five-point program, Ernesto also advocates for the socialist reorganization of the economy to reverse climate change and environmental destruction. His policies include closing the Inglewood Oil Fields and Aliso Canyon and Playa Del Rey natural gas facilities, banning fracking in California, ending industrial and factory farming and massively expanding public transport.
Ernesto is committed to his socialist program, citing his previous work and disappointment with the Democratic Party: “I became disillusioned with the Democratic Party after they waged war against Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Sanders was only asking for simple reforms, concessions to alleviate the pain of working people. Even so, the Democratic Party was willing to tip the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton, and now Joe Biden, so that they could prevent a strong working-class movement from coming to power in this country.
“They may have temporarily stopped a working-class movement but their reliance on candidates who do not address working-class issues also helped pave the way for Donald Trump. When the election season ended, I began to understand that the Democratic Party was no friend of the working class. The Democratic Party was born to defend capitalism and slavery, it was created by the rich for the rich. The Democratic Party is a ruling-class institution, it was not designed nor will it ever be redesigned to dismantle the system of oppression which birthed it.”
Working class needs party of its own
In 2018, Ernesto left the Democratic Party and joined the Party for Socialism and Liberation with the belief that the working class needed to build a political party of its own. The PSL is unlike the Democratic Party or any other left-leaning political formation in the country. The PSL educates and trains its recruits, transforming them into skilled organizers. Members are then tasked to go back into their communities to wage political campaigns against injustice and to popularize socialism.
As an organizer with the PSL, Ernesto helped build alliances with other socialist groups like the Peace and Freedom Party. The PFP was founded in 1967, a key year for struggle, when the Democrats were leading the United States in the war against Vietnam, and oppressed communities within the United States were agitating for their rights. As a result, there was a massive voter registration drive, placing the PFP on the California ballot in 1968. It remains the only socialist party with ballot access in California.
PFP’s ballot status has been a vehicle for many social justice leaders, like members of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, to run working-class electoral campaigns in California. Ernesto now continues this tradition with his socialist campaign for State Senate.
Ernesto has lived in District 30 for most of his life. His family immigrated from Mexico to California, where Ernesto was born. They moved to South Central LA when he was nine years old. Ernesto has witnessed firsthand the failure of the super-majority Democratic governance to provide for people’s basic needs in his working-class community. For years, he has fought alongside his community against injustice.
Ernesto has been on the frontlines fighting against police brutality, lack of education, and the exploitation of low-income tenants. He helped bring together organizations and families to demand justice for Dijon Kizzee, Andrés Guardado and Anthony Weber — young men who were murdered by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. In Inglewood, Ernesto successfully helped organize a group of parents to stop Warren Lane Elementary School from being permanently shut down. In Slauson and other parts of South Central, he worked alongside tenants and tenant organizations to document health and human rights abuses by big landlords. Unlike career politicians, Ernesto has gained the experience to lead through his permanent contact with social movements and the working-class community of South Central.
“We need to organize as a class in order to make sure our society reflects our interests, because we are the ones who are most affected by the decisions made in D.C. We are the ones who keep society running day by day. We are the ones who go to war for them. We are the majority, of not only this country, but of the world. It is time that we have a society that is built by and for the working class. A society where everyone’s needs are met and planned for. A society where the common person holds political power and has the opportunity to really make something out of themselves. This is what we stand for — we are the Party for Socialism and Liberation.”
Learn more at Ernesto’s campaign website.
Join the Party for Socialism and Liberation in supporting Ernesto Huerta’s campaign on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in California. Follow the campaign on Twitter @huerta4sd30 and Instagram @huerta4sd30 for updates.
Featured image: Ernesto petitioning for signatures at UCLA to help secure a spot on the ballot for socialist presidential candidate Gloria La Riva. Credit: Jonathan Kim