The following is reprinted from Liberation News with permission.
Around 30 community members rallied at El Cajon’s Wells Park in the early afternoon of June 6 for the campaign launch of José Cortes for Congress in California’s 50th District (representing east San Diego County). Speakers included local community organizers and Cortes himself, who acknowledged a long list of systemic social and economic issues facing the people of the 50th district and the working class more generally.
Cortes is a proud Latino and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Since joining the PSL, Cortes has led local actions and initiatives against racist police terror and discrimination based on immigration status. He has been on the front lines of class struggle for several years and also ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the last election cycle.
Though he entered the 2020 race late, Cortes was able to garner more votes than any other independent or “third party” candidate. However, only right-wing Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and now Republican incumbent Darrell Issa advanced past the primary due to California’s “top-two” rule.
In a June 4 interview about the campaign launch with Sean Blackmon and Jacquie Luqman of By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik (click here for the BAMN podcast website; the segment on José’s campaign begins at about 28:20), Cortes noted that “The only way we are going to get any attention to our campaign is not through the traditional bourgeois paths for Democrat or Republican candidates. The only thing that will give us our edge is the kind of mobilization we can do in our communities where we have been building power over the years.”
Community organizing for pro-working class reforms has accelerated in the face of outright neglect by Democrat and Republican officials throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Working class and oppressed people of San Diego have repeatedly taken to the streets in the past year to protest police terror and demand basic human rights such as housing, healthcare, utilities and quality public education. Inaction by government officials is leaving many in our communities to look towards a working class platform like Cortes’s: One that is dedicated to fighting for socialist revolution.
“We have high hopes this time around as a result of the mass shift in consciousness from the failure of the government at all levels to provide adequate healthcare or financial security, and even more so due to the 35-plus million people who took the streets last year to stand for Black Liberation and the hundreds of thousands of people who took the streets in solidarity with Palestine last month,” campaign volunteer Emily Von Gerichten told the crowd at Wells Park.
She continued, “Our campaign thinks that only with socialism, which is when the working class seizes economic and political power, can the crises facing San Diego, the U.S. and the world be solved.”
“It was when I met the Peace and Freedom Party and the PSL that I actually saw that change was something that was within our grasp, that it was something that we could actually access, that we could build movements capable of defending our human dignity and actually pronouncing it to the world rather than hoping a piece of paper will do for us,” Cortes said to his supporters in El Cajon.
–written by Carter Lum; photo by Zach Farber