December 4, 2022
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The Democratic Party, identity politics and the Los Angeles City Council scandal

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Leaked audio of leading Democratic Party politicians in Los Angeles, California, making racist statements about African Americans, indigenous people, Armenians and Jewish people has generated widespread popular anger in America’s second largest city and thrown the political establishment into crisis.

The Democratic Party, desperate to contain social opposition, has responded with well-rehearsed posturing of moral outrage and the usual shopworn calls for the exemplary punishment of individual malefactors. But far from being a case of a few bad actors, the incident exposes both the reactionary character of the racialist political strategy of the Democratic Party and the rottenness of American capitalist politics as a whole.

On October 9, an individual anonymously posted audio of a conversation held last fall between the head of the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO, Ron Herrera, and three Democratic members of the Los Angeles City Council: Council President Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo.

The conversation took place at the county headquarters of the AFL-CIO during a meeting to discuss “redistricting,” the process by which the politicians representing the city’s elite carve the population into racial enclaves and distribute the spoils of government power.

Employing the crass language of racial tribalism, Nury Martinez referred to the black child of a rival City Council member as a “changuito,” the Spanish term for “little monkey.” Saying the child “needs a beatdown,” she added, “Let me take him around the corner.” She attacked former Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón for being “for the blacks.”

In a discussion related to which faction of the local elite should control the area around Koreatown, Martinez (2020 salary = $207,000) mocked the area’s indigenous immigrants, who are impoverished, often undocumented and come from the southwestern Mexican state of Oaxaca, as “short little dark people” without shoes. These comments expose the Latino bourgeois politicians in the Democratic Party as hostile to the defense of immigrants’ rights.

The stench of racism and chauvinist reaction hangs over all the parties of capitalism. In Pennsylvania, Republican candidate for governor Doug Mastriano denounced Jewish schools in an openly anti-Semitic attack on his Democratic opponent, who is Jewish. Racialism and nationalism are intrinsic to bourgeois politics. In every country, the ruling class perceives and explains the world in racial terms and aims to maintain its domination by fomenting antagonisms within the international working class.

In the Los Angeles audio, City Council President Martinez disparaged “the white members of this Council” and noted with striking eloquence that they “will motherfuck you in a heartbeat.” The Council members describe other individuals by the color of their skin (example: “Was she a black lady?”). Herrera states proudly that the meeting participants are forming “a little Latino caucus of our own.”

During the same meeting, AFL-CIO head Herrera referred to Jewish state Assemblyman Richard Katz as “Katz and his crew,” stating obliquely that they “have an agenda.” Martinez responded affirmatively, saying the judíos—the Jews— “cut their deal with South LA” and “are going to screw everyone else.”



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