March 21, 2020News
We are in unprecedented times with the deadly spread of the Coronavirus and the linked destruction of the economy. The current crisis is showing, with devastating sharpness, the chronic crisis we have been experiencing for decades.
- A healthcare system based on profit, with millions not covered, tests not developed, equipment not manufactured, supplies not available, and infrastructure unable to track illnesses
- A context in which workers aren’t paid enough to save for crises, jobs and entire industries are radically unstable, and less than 10% of workers are unionized, therefore unable to organize for collective health, safety, and economic protections during crises
- Profound institutional racism reflected in the incarceration rates of people of color, while public schools are systematically under-funded, police brutality continues, Black workers and immigrants facing unique barriers within labor markets, and ICE raids continuing
- An economy in which billionaires are richer than ever, inequality has never been greater, and, yet, the prevailing “common sense” is to bail out profit-rich corporations with no accountability
- The richest country in the history of the world without the political will to house the homeless
- A climate context in which those corporations most likely to be bailed out with no accountability are those most destructive to the planet
- Rising costs for families in virtually every aspect of life, including rent, mortgage, utilities, credit card debt, education, cost of living, etc.
During the Coronavirus crisis, we are seeing that we, as a society, are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us. Riddled by the problems above, created by both Republican and Democratic leaders, our social system has created massive vulnerabilities.
If Joe Biden is the Democratic Party nominee for US President, we expect that our UTLA governing bodies will overwhelmingly endorse him and that our members will vigorously campaign for him. Donald Trump is the most dangerous president the United States has seen in decades, and must be defeated. We are proud that our UTLA members worked with others across the country to set the tone by demonstrating in front of hundreds of school sites in Los Angeles on the day before Trump’s inauguration, and we will set the tone again in helping the Democratic Party nominee defeat Trump in November.
But, it is only March. The Democratic Party currently does not have a platform that addresses the short-term of how we get through the Coronavirus crisis, or the long-term of how we address the above chronic issues.
Bernie Sanders is the candidate who has most deeply addressed these issues, and how we need to re-imagine and re-construct our society – healthcare for all, strengthening health and all infrastructure, expanding unemployment benefits, ending under-employment, guaranteeing basic income for all, increasing unionization, ending the incarceration state, abolishing ICE, funding schools and social services, taxing the rich, re-allocating within an enormous military budget towards human needs, creating corporate accountability, winning comprehensive immigration reform, supporting green and life-sustaining industries, addressing homelessness, building free universal pre-school, protecting Social Security, and taking on rising household costs for families. It is for these reasons, last November, after a robust internal process at school sites and in regions, that the UTLA House of Representatives overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders.
The Democratic Party needs Bernie Sanders to stay in the presidential race right now. If he wins the nomination, this will be good in many ways. If he does not win the nomination, this crisis shows that his ideas must be foundationally embedded in the Democratic Party platform and plans. This will be a necessary disruption of the status quo in the Democratic Party and will give us a chance to re-construct our society based on the common good.
If Sanders’ ideas are not foundationally embedded in the Democratic Party platform and plans, it is much more likely that Biden, if he is the nominee, will lose to Trump. When Trump jumps ahead of Democrats on cash payments to families during the crisis, when Democrats cruelly argue for means tests, and when Democratic leaders are guided by tight relationships with corporations and billionaires, it undermines the Party’s ability to speak with moral authority to the poor, working class, and middle class people who will be foundational to defeating Trump.
No matter who the nominee is, the actual movement around Sanders must be deeply included in platform development and plan implementation. As Sanders says, “Not me, us.” The fundamental truth that we need social movements to bring about the change we need will remain the same.
We know from history that crises force change. Sometimes, this is change that reinforces inequality and vulnerability, as happened in 2008 with the economic collapse. Corporations were bailed out, the rich got richer, foreclosures on working class people’s homes increased, private equity and financial speculation led to even more accumulation of wealth, and working class and poor people saw virtually no gains.
But, crises can also bring progressive change. In the Great Depression, social and labor movements forced Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and also worked with him, to create social safety net programs that had never been seen before. They were imperfect programs, but unprecedented and based on a necessary re-imagining of society.
To end the Coronavirus crisis, and protect us into the future, we must re-construct society. Bernie Sanders and his movement staying in the race right now, and being deeply embedded in platform development and plan implementation, is critical to this re-construction process. It will start with defeating Donald Trump.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President
Cecily Myart-Cruz, UTLA NEA Vice President
Juan Ramirez, UTLA AFT Vice President
Gloria Martinez, UTLA Elementary Vice President
Alex Orozco, UTLA Treasurer
Arlene Inouye, UTLA Secretary