Newstalgia Reference Room - Peter V. Cacchione - New York's First Communist City Councilman - 1937

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Since New York City is at the epicenter of this latest political upheaval, I noticed that on this day (October 20, 1937) a member of the Communist Party of the U.S. was running for a seat in the City Council. Although no longer recognized as a legitimate political party (not since the Red Scare days of the early 1950's), it's interesting to see that in 1937 a member of the Communist Party ran for public office and won handily. The problems that beset New York were the same then as does the rest of the country now. And even though the Communist Party in the U.S. ran aground shortly after the Hitler/Stalin Pact in 1939, it was considered a viable alternative to the two-party system by enough people that he easily won his seat in the City Council.

Peter V. Cacchione was elected to the City Council, representing Brooklyn from 1937 to his death in 1947. And although not much is remembered about him, and even less heard about him, I thought this campaign speech for a Municipal election was an interesting glimpse into the times and circumstances of a country hot in the grips of social change.

Peter V. Cacchione: “In the last four years food prices in New York City have gone up 42%, Rents 38%. In the City Council I shall fight to curb meat, milk and rent profiteers and demand that they be forced to reduce their prices. I shall fight for municipally owned and operated Power Plants. In Jamestown New York, where they have a city owned plant, the rates are less than half what you and I pay for electricity in New York City. The unemployed and those on relief are the greatest sufferers in the high cost of living. Although there have been great increases in food prices, allotments for relief are the same today as they were three and four years ago. Mr. Davis, President of the United States Chamber of Commerce has stated that 50% of our unemployed can never hope to find employment in private industry. This means that we must extend, not decrease WPA and Work Relief jobs. In the City Council, I shall fight to see that this is done.”

I am, of course not advocating that we drag out and dust off the American Communist Party. But it's an interesting parallel to see the social conditions during that time echo the conditions we're currently in. How it's being gone about now is poles apart different than the solution posed by the Communist Party in 1937. But the basic premise is the same - Corporate entities are monopolizing our political climate and influencing policy and practices that are, by all intents and purposes, not in the best interests for those whom they're meant to serve.

An interesting slice of history by a figure you may not be at all familiar with. Not to mention an accurate depiction of Nazism. Contrary to all the misinformation you're hearing.

Please read your history books.

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