Ralph Nader made it on the ballot in 34 states this year. But
that’s an enviable figure compared with the Socialist
Equality Party, whose presidential ticket is eligible in just five

The SEP presidential and vice presidential candidates, Bill Van
Auken and Jim Lawrence, are running on a simple platform:
withdrawal from Iraq, declining emphasis on private property and
free and universal health care. Yesterday, top members of the
party, including Lawrence, addressed students and area residents in
the Michigan League.

Lawrence, 65, has worked at General Motors plants in Ohio for
more than 30 years. As a member of the United Auto Workers, he
opposed policy he considered exceedingly pro-corporate and
protested the labor union’s ties with the Democratic

Lawrence discussed the trials of striking auto workers at GM
factories in the United States and Europe. “For the people
from Michigan — I don’t have to paint you a picture of
the jobs we’ve lost,” he said. He urged the audience to
rally against the global production system, arguing democracy and
capitalism cannot co-exist. “The SEP is based on
international unity of the working class,” he said.
“Become a part of this fight for your freedom and your
future,” he urged.

David North, chairman of the editorial board of SEP’s
World Socialist Web Site, blasted what he referred to as the
“so-called liberation of Iraq,” labeling President Bush
as “a man of no culture” in the process. North, who was
referred to as “Comrade North” several times during the
presentation, said the Iraq war was “illegal.”

“If we imparted upon the Bush administration standards of
international law that were applied to the key officials of Nazi
Germany, they would hang,” he said. He emphasized the need to
bring the troops home immediately.

“But it’s backward to think that John Kerry
represents a serious alternative,” North said. He rebuked the
Democratic presidential nominee for his unwillingness to discuss
Iraq in the first six months of the campaign. “The
‘anyone but Bush’ approach is terrible,” he

North argued that today’s two-party political system fails
to represent working people. “The Republican and Democratic
parties are merely divisions within the ruling class,” he
declared. North said the 400 richest Americans collectively own $1
trillion of wealth, and that John Kerry is one of them.

North said the SEP is a completely independent third party that
does not exist solely to pull Democrats further left. He described
the socialist party as an international grass-roots movement of the
working class to replace the institution of private property, a
“social contradiction” he maintains caused the recent
“breakdown of democracy.”

This election cycle, the party has fielded candidates for
legislatures in several states. Tom Mackaman, a 28-year-old
graduate student at the University of Illinois, detailed the
process by which he made the ballot for the Illinois 103rd
Congressional district. He said the state’s Democratic
authorities, intent on denying his candidacy, tried to strike down
a majority of the 2000 signatures he collected. “They
attempted to disqualify my own signature,” he said.

Daniel Green, an LSA sophomore who was in attendance, received
the presentation warmly. Although he doesn’t plan to join the
party, he said he agreed with the SEP ideologically. “We need
to build a movement of regular people, working people, common
people, and that’s exactly what the SEP is doing.”

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