SEATTLE - Members of the Communist Party of Washington State - they could be called "Evergreen Reds"- gathered in convention here April 3 to applaud the enactment of the health care reform bill and to step up the fight for jobs bills to ease the state's double-digit unemployment.
Juan Lopez, chair of the Communist Party of California, drew warm applause when he described as a "huge victory" the enactment of health care reform, calling it a step toward the universal, comprehensive care that the party has long advocated. He pointed out that the bill also took the federal college student loan program out of the hands of the banks and returned it to U.S. government control.
"We have the winds at our back going into the midterm elections," Lopez added. The health care vote has "re-energized the movement that elected Obama. Not one Republican voted for this bill."
The importance of the upcoming midterm elections "cannot be overstated," he said, warning of the danger posed by the "teabaggers," the upsurge of the armed militias and the Republican's fanatical drive to wreck the Obama presidency. "We're starting to smell the putrid odor of fascism," he said. "Racial slurs, threats of physical violence. The people's movement has responded. They are saying: This is outrageous! We are not going to stand for it!"
Lopez added that "the big issue is jobs. This is a major crisis. People are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care."
The challenge, he said, is to build a broad majority movement for "the right to a job, the right to health care, housing, education."
State Chairman Marc Brodine noted in his welcoming remarks that the "Communist Party of Washington State has been active in the struggles of the Pacific Northwest for all of the 90-year history of the Communist Party USA."
Sitting in the room listening were Irene Hull, 101, and Will Parry, who turns 90 later this month, both being honored by the labor movement and the senior movement, for their decades of service to the working people of Washington State. But also attending the convention were half a dozen delegates in their twenties or late teens.
A student at the University of Washington majoring in math said he read Karl Marx's pamphlet,"Wages, Price, and Profit" proving that the wages he was earning on his part-time job, "didn't add up," that the boss was pocketing some of his pay. "So I decided to join the Party." His younger brother said he too read some Marx and Engels and decided to join.
Another youth from Yakima said he had observed the poverty level-wages paid to farmworkers in the region, some of them his personal friends, and decided to join. These personal comments triggered a lively discussion of socialism and the struggle to end exploitation and oppression.
The convention approved resolutions in support of a ballot referendum to establish a state income tax on those earning more than $200,000 coupled with a 20 percent reduction in property taxes. The state legislature is now grappling with a $2.8 billion budget deficit.
The convention also approved a resolution to join in the struggle to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling that opens the door for unlimited corporate bankrolling of political candidates. Another called on the party to participate in the April 10 immigrant rights demonstration in Pioneer Square.
Reelected with two new additions was the State Committee of the Washington State CP and a three-member delegation to the CPUSA's national convention in New York City May 21-23.