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Open Communist Runs for City Council in California

By Center for Political Innovation6/21/2022
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California recently held its midterm elections and, as usual, in our current system, the results did nothing to excite the state’s working class. There was, however, an interesting development in Southern California’s city of Long Beach. 

Communist Party USA (CPUSA) member Steven Estrada ran for City Council of Long Beach’s District One on an openly Communist ticket. While his opponents in the race for City Council claimed they would address issues like fixing local tourist attractions and addressing vague budget proposals, Estrada’s campaign focused on housing, employment, public transportation, and a safe community for the residents of Long Beach, with detailed plans on how to achieve such goals. Estrada finished third in the election with 8.32% of votes behind established local politicians. 

Some may see the results of the election as a failure, but those familiar with the long struggle of the working class can see how openly running as a Communist and receiving such a percentage in the United States should be considered a victory. With gas prices reaching $7 in some areas of California and the state’s continued negligence of homelessness, an increasing amount of working class people will be open to political campaigns similar to that of Steven Estrada. Estrada is not alone in running openly as a Communist, as Vermont Party of Communists USA (PCUSA) member Christopher Helali also received significant support in his campaign for Senate. Many on the left claim running in local elections as a Communist is a waste of time, but Helali and Estrada, like Vladimir Lenin, understand the importance of using popular elections to bring their message to the masses. As Lenin wrote in his book Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder:

“…participation in parliamentary elections and in the struggle on the parliamentary rostrum is obligatory on the party of the revolutionary proletariat specifically for the purpose of educating the backward strata of its own class, and for the purpose of awakening and enlightening the undeveloped, downtrodden and ignorant rural masses. Whilst you lack the strength to do away with bourgeois parliaments and every other type of reactionary institution, you must work within them because it is there that you will still find workers who are duped by the priests and stultified by the conditions of rural life; otherwise you risk turning into nothing but windbags.”

While so-called “socialists” are busy flipping tables at book fairs or arguing online, serious Communists like Steven Estrada are reaching out to the working class at bus stops and laundromats, where the masses are. As long as Washington continues to deprive the working class of housing and employment among other needs, messages from those like Estrada will continue to gain popularity.