The Columbus branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) expresses its support for the efforts of local activists in Represent Columbus and the Issue 1 campaign to reform representation in the Columbus city council, which will be decided in a special election on August 2nd.
If passed, Issue 1 would amend the city charter to establish a ward system for city council, in which council members would be elected by and represent specific neighborhoods, and increase the number of council members. In the current system, seven “at-large” council members are elected by the whole city.
We support Issue 1 because Columbus neighborhoods deserve a formal mechanism to elect their representatives directly and hold them accountable. This a basic democratic right, and the fact that it does not exist for working people in Columbus illustrates the limits of “democracy” under capitalism.
Over the last weeks, the Democratic Party and many of the city’s largest corporations have waged a widespread misinformation campaign, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Issue 1. The bitter opposition of the city’s political and corporate elite to any measure that could potentially threaten their one-party stranglehold clearly demonstrates why we cannot afford to tie ourselves and our movements to the anti-democratic Democratic Party. Instead, we should dedicate our efforts to building and bringing together independent struggles against all forms of oppression and exploitation.
We have worked alongside many members of Represent Columbus to this end in the Black Lives Matter movement and other struggles over the last years, and we look forward to continuing our grassroots work together in the years to come. Without such movements, the corporate elite will continue to dominate politics in our city even with a ward system, as examples from cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Boston, among many others, have shown.
The struggle for democracy has always been at the heart of the revolutionary socialist tradition. As socialists, we support all efforts to expand democratic rights within the system as it exists, such as Issue 1. But we also envision and fight for a world where genuine democracy is possible, in which the immense majority of people, not an elite few, collectively determine how to run society in the interests of all working people.