Indiana Dispatch: Mayor Pete and Elections, No! Revolution, Yes!

Photo: Pete Buttigieg, presidential candidate and former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

By the Michiana Incendiary Support Committee

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to share a statement written by a brand new Incendiary Support Committee based out of a region of Northern Indiana, known to locals as Michiana, making a clear call to uphold the 2020 Election Boycott.

With the Democratic primaries coming up, and a general election not long after that, it is important we address the nature of the elections and plainly state our position. The entire strategy of the Democratic Party has been to manipulate the very real anxieties and struggles of working class people in order to advance their own imperialist agenda. For Hoosiers*, this has resulted in further impoverishment at the hands of Democrats, such as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who have cooperated with Republicans to sell reforms all while flexing their status as the sole so-called “opposition” to the Republican domination of our state.

Nationally, watered-down social democrats, such as Bernie Sanders and those representing the “Green New Deal,” work to confuse the people and win over their support through promises of policy reforms and bribes for the petty bourgeois and uppermost sections of the working class. Those in the Democratic “establishment” such as Biden and Buttigieg prefer a brute-force tactic, fearmongering the alternative if they are not elected. Ultimately the whole field of candidates can only promise one thing: the preservation of oppressive bourgeois rule, and the nightmare of imperialist aggression it maintains throughout the world.

For the people in the region of Northern Indiana, known to us as Michiana, the issue is far closer to home. Campaigning for the Democratic nomination, ‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg, has risen to the national spotlight as a ‘centrist’ alternative to the ‘radical’ social democrats. Recent success in primaries has elevated his status to one of the frontrunners in the pack of Democratic candidates.

Buttigieg was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011 on an unremarkable platform based around infrastructure concerns and “economic stimulation” of the city. What was notable at first glance were the margins by which Buttigieg was elected. He received 74% of total votes in 2011 and 80% in 2015, overwhelming his opponents. But Buttigieg attempts to conceal how spectacularly these elections demonstrate the large-scale abstention from voting among the people of South Bend. The overall eligible voter turnout, in a city of more than 100,000 people, was only 20% in 2011 and 14% in 2015.

Nevertheless, with the active support of such a narrow sliver of the city’s population, Buttigieg kicked off his profoundly unpopular mayorship with the introduction of the “1000 houses in 1000 days” initiative, which was intended to spur development in the city and attract investment. The initiative, with its gimmicky name, was merely a deception. It was not intended to build, but rather destroy homes.

In an attempt to address “urban blight” in the working class neighborhoods of the West Side, home mainly to Black workers and other oppressed groups, the order was given to either repair or destroy more than 1000 homes deemed “unsafe” by municipal authorities. In the end, more than 60% of the 1122 homes assessed during the 1000 day campaign were destroyed, translating to hundreds of families being forced to relocate or pushed onto the streets. Now the number is much higher, with the amount of homes affected closer to 2000.

What’s more, almost no precautions were taken in the destruction of these homes, and the secondary effects of this campaign of demolition throughout working class communities were felt in the tons of dangerous materials (asbestos, lead paint, animal feces, etc.) being aerosolized, poisoning those left in those neighborhoods.

Predictably, his infrastructure programs have done little to actually improve conditions for working people in the city, the benefactors of this initiative have been the urban developers, hungry for the empty plots his initiative has helped create. In a survey, less than 19% of South Bend residents reported that they were satisfied with the outcome of the initiative. His policy of “beautification” and “stimulation” are nothing more than focused efforts to annihilate working class communities.

In spite of his dubious reputation, he’s attempting to brand himself among Michiana residents as a “local boy” in his bid for a national office. We know whose interests he really serves, it is the same as all other candidates: the bourgeoisie. The people are not blind to this, but still they are threatened with the alternative to voting for him or another democratic nominee: a continuation of the Trump presidency.

elkhartgraffiti
Recent graffiti seen in Elkhart, Indiana reading “Don’t Vote, Revolt” a slogan from the 2016 election boycott campaign.

The Democrats have leaned heavily upon the “damage done to our democracy” to push people into supporting them in the electoral farce. In an embarrassing illustration of this tactic, Buttigieg solemnly issues meaningless statements, telling a CNN town hall audience that, “the shape of our democracy is the issue that affects every other issue.” He attempts to boost Democrats’ self-image as defenders of liberal bourgeois democracy against Trump, but can only speak in the empty babble of a bankrupt politician.

What resistance has been provided by Buttigieg and the Democrats? None, only the same bourgeois rule and imperialist aggression. We know there is no “new” government that serves the people’s interests so long as the old state survives, and that the only way to demolish the old state is through the revolutionary movement of the working class guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism. That is why we urge the transformation from electoral abstention – which is already ubiquitous in Michiana – into an active, revolutionary boycott of all bourgeois elections.

We find it fortuitous that the Indiana primary is scheduled to take place on May 5, coinciding with the 202nd anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth. This gives the date two meanings: for the reactionaries, and their social fascist lackeys in the irrelevant Indiana DSA, it represents yet another opportunity to bury Marx, and smother the interests of the proletariat in favor of imperialism. For the progressive people and workers of Indiana, it represents a call to take up the spirit of Marx and confront the electoral farce with revolutionary opposition. While Buttigieg expects a hero’s welcome on May 5, working class Hoosiers will be sure to show him, and all other candidates, that no enemy of the people can freely campaign here without revolutionary resistance!

Elections, No! Revolution, Yes!

Don’t Vote, Fight for Revolution!

*’Hoosiers’ is a local term for someone from the state of Indiana.