Correction appended: A previous version of this article misspelled Joseph Kishore’s name and incorrectly stated when the Los Angeles and New York conferences will be. A previous version of this article also incorrectly stated the net wealth of the 19 wealthiest Californians and misidentified the title of the International Students for Social Equality.
The Michigan League Ballroom became a hub of political discussion this past weekend as members of the Socialist Equity Party came together to discuss the party’s current place in national politics.
Co-sponsored by the International Students for Social Equality, the World Socialist’s Website and the SEP, the members gathered for a conference titled “The Fight for Socialism Today.” The conference is one of three annual events, the remainder of which are slated to occur in Los Angeles and New York later this month.
The conference brought together more than 150 people, including the executive board of the SEP and people from across the country and cities in Michigan, to discuss the current state of affairs within the political party ans to vote on resolutions. The resolutions determine the stances the SEP will take on various issues the party deems relevant to the current state of American political affairs.
The conference attendees said the Socialist Equality Party’s primary motive is to take action against “big business parties.”
Joseph Kishore, the national secretary of the SEP, opened the event by discussing the economic state of the nation. He used the state of California as an example, noting that the net wealth of the 19 wealthiest Californians is $136 billion, while the state faces a debt of $26.8 billion.
Kishore added that one in four children in the United States lives in poverty and the SEP is a voice for those children and also a “voice for the working class.”
He then detailed a series of resolutions to be voted on the following day, centering on topics such as the working class, young people and defending democratic rights. After Kishore spoke, audience members had the opportunity to make statements in support or against the various resolutions.
Many speakers referenced the presidency of John F. Kennedy and former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s era of the Great Society as examples of preferable governmental involvement. Those who presented also expressed their concerns about the Democratic Party and the current administration.
Speaking on behalf of the party, Kishore said Obama “emerged as the candidate of change” but has not improved the country since former President G.W. Bush’s administration. From expansion of tax cuts, to three wars, to ignoring the middle class as a whole, it is more of the same,” he said.
LSA senior Larissa Benjamin, president of the Students for Social Equality, said she thinks if more people understood the party’s stances on issues, they would be more inclined to identify with the group and its movement.
SEP Chair David North said in his closing remarks that the party doesn’t support either the Democratic or Republican parties, calling them “hostile to the advancements of social equality and human rights.”
In an interview following the conference, Kishore said it is important the Social Equity Party continues to take an active stance on political issues.
“This is a society that is dominated by a tiny layer of the population: the Democrats and the Republicans. The experience of the Obama administration has demonstrated that the Democratic Party is no less representative of the working class than the Republican Party,” Kishore said. “Members of the working class are being driven down.”