Soviet cogitations: 1910 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Jun 2003, 23:38 Old Bolshevik
24 Jul 2006, 14:16
Marching Around in Vain? Why the Elections Matter Source: Dynamic, magazine of the Young Communist League.
Readers of this publication donâ€™t need to be told what problemsâ€”war, increasing poverty, joblessness, cuts in education funding, etc.â€”exist today in our country and our world. The question that needs to be answered is: What should we do? How can we turn the situation around?
The problem is not that there is no movement against the attacks on democracyâ€”on the contrary, the movement has been growing tremendously.
A major marker of this movement has been the rising number of demonstrations on many issues, especially against the war and in favor of just immigration policies. April 29 was the most recent example, where hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets demanding â€œpeace, justice and democracy.â€ After that was May 1, when millions marched and demonstrated for the rights of immigrants. In 2004, there were a number of demonstrationsâ€”against the RNC, the March for Womenâ€™s Lives. In 2003, there were the huge marches before the war started and just after it started. In all of these demonstrations, youth made up a huge contingent. For years previous to this, these kinds of protests and rallies were few and far between.
There are other examples of young people getting into motion: The youth contingents of the groups that went to do political and practical work after the government failed to protect the people of New Orleans, one of our most culturally rich cities, from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. There is the re-growth of the Hip Hop activist movement, as represented in organizations like REACH Hip Hop and the National Hip Hop Political Convention. All around, you can see signs of a movement springing to life.
This change has been reflected in opinion polls. Bush, once thought to be unstoppable, now hovers somewhere in the mid-30 percent region in job approval ratings.
Our movementâ€”young people together with our alliesâ€”has won important victories. At least for now, we have stopped Bushâ€™s plan to gut Social Security. There is a real possibility of a victory for immigrants coming soon.
But still, we have suffered many defeats. Though we had the largest demonstrations in decades against the Iraq war, including the largest-ever student strike, Iraq was invaded. Though we have continued to demonstrate to demand withdrawal, U.S. troops are still in Iraq. We fought for quality education, but student aid was still slashed.
Why? Are we marching around in vain?
It would be a mistake to say that our demonstrations and protests have been uselessâ€”they havenâ€™t. We have seen that they have had some effect. Imagine what this country would be like if the peopleâ€™s movements had simply rolled over and played deadâ€”thousands more probably actually would be.
The problem is this: we have been in defensive mode. The demonstrations and mass outpourings have been against things: against war, against Social Security privatization, against education cuts and against new attacks on immigrants. We have been in a defensive mode for years, and have won major victories. But these victories are mainly in stopping bad things from being done. We havenâ€™t had the opportunity to go on the offensive. We havenâ€™t yet had the chance to fight for more rights, instead of fighting only to protect what we have.
The problems of war, poverty, cuts to social services and inequalities in education are systemicâ€”they are all part of capitalism, the profits-before-people system that runs most of the world today. But whoâ€™s in power determines how easy or difficult it is to fight back and win immediate relief for working people.
Bush and the extreme right-wing dominate the Presidency, the Legislature and the Judiciary. This makes it harder for our demonstrations to have an impact â€“ they donâ€™t have to listen. For example, in 2004 saw the biggest demonstration for womenâ€™s rightsâ€”ever. And now we have an anti-choice Supreme Court.
Another example: There have been growing calls to censure or impeach Bush because he violated the Constitution and international law by bringing the American people into a war based on lies. But who is going to impeach him? Congress has to do it, and Congress is dominated by Bush allies.
This leads to one conclusion: We have to change the political scene. Our chance to do this is now, in the lead up to the 2006 elections.
Can we actually do it? Yes. The Republicans need to lose 15 seats in the House and/or six seats in the Senate for their stranglehold to be broken. In New York alone, there is a strong possibility of taking four seats from the House Republicans.
Victory is in sight. The Republicansâ€™ house is in disarray. They have been tarnished by scandals and corruptionâ€”Abramoff, DeLay, these names represent losses for the Republicans. Increasingly, polls show, the American people are turning against the Republicansâ€”even on issues of security, which they successfully exploited in the past for political gains.
There are some who say that electoral politics are useless, that this is merely a diversion. It is more important to do â€œrevolutionaryâ€ work, whatever their version of that may be. They claim we should avoid fighting for immediate relief and instead â€œwork for socialism.â€
Sure, we should work for socialism, but what does that mean? Writing about it and talking about it? And? There are lots of little groups and â€œpartiesâ€ that have this perspective, but they are doomed to failure. Right now, the American people are in motion against the Bush administration and its crew in the other branches of government. This is movement towards deepening democracy, and, objectively, as it progresses, against capitalism. But, if you misjudge where people are at, you end up standing on the sidelines shouting slogans that no one pays attention toâ€”as you might see many groups doing at major demonstrations.
And then there are those who reject electoral politics on the grounds that all politicians are corrupt, or that elections are a dead end. Instead they demand more demonstrations, more â€œaction,â€ more militancy, and so on. But this hasnâ€™t worked.
Demonstrations are vital â€“ thereâ€™s no doubt. But how can we turn these massive actions into offensive, instead of defensive, actions? It comes back to defeating the worst of the worstâ€”the Republicans.
Who, then, should we work with to defeat them? There are all sorts of third-parties out there with very nice ideasâ€”the Green Party and others, for example. However, with a few exceptionsâ€”like the Working Families Partyâ€”working to get candidates from these parties elected right now puts you into the same category as those who want to advocate for socialism right now: You end up standing on the sidelines.
The answer to the question of which political party to work with is, for now, the Democratic Party. Right now they are the vehicle to beat the extremist right wing given the current political realities in this country. The Democrats are the political party that has ties to all of the necessary forces for change â€“ labor, women, people of color and youth. They also have contingents of environmentalists, LGBTQ, seniors and other communities that are working to challenge the extreme rightâ€™s agenda. They are the political party behind which all of the groups that oppose the extreme rightâ€™s policies can come togetherâ€”from corporations with business interests that run counter to the right wing agenda to the peace movement to the working class. The Green Party, Socialist Party and most other third parties have virtually no connection to the vast majority of the peopleâ€™s movements. It is because of this fact alone that their politics lead to a dead end.
The Democrats are a mixed bag. They will never be a revolutionary party. The corporations inside of it will never allow it to be turned into anything that could fundamentally transform society, or even to challenge corporate power. Itâ€™s vital to remember to focus on developing political independence and power for the anti-corporate forces that operate both within and around the Democratic Party. But this can be done without giving up the potential to use the Democrats to defeat the extremist right and help to move that struggle forward.
Itâ€™s important to fight for the most progressive candidates possible, and the most progressive polices as well, but given the current situation, it is just as important not to dwell too much on the shortcomings of this or that candidate.
For example, some organizations have called for people to sign a vow that they will not support any candidate that does not take a position of withdrawing from Iraq rapidly. This is a mistake. What option does that leave for the well-meaning person who has taken the vow, but lives in an area where both the Republican and the Democrat are bad on the war? Either working for some third-party candidate who will not win, or staying out of the elections altogether. Either way, the Republican extremists gain.
While itâ€™s unpleasant to work on a campaign of a candidate who has bad policies, it may be necessary. It is important to not just work with progressive Democrats, or moderates, but even centrists. The reason for this is a look at the big picture.
If the Democrats take a majority in the House, for example, the heads of all of the committees will automatically change. Any good bill thatâ€™s in the Senate or Congress now is bottled up in committees, because the chairsâ€”all of whom are Republicanâ€”are able to decide which bills are released to the floor for debate.
John Conyers, who so bitterly fought against the theft of the elections in 2000 and 2004, would be in charge of the judiciary committeeâ€”a huge turnaround in itself.
The chair of the Education and Labor Committee would be George Miller who complained recently, â€œInstead of addressing the challenges facing students and parents, Congress and the administration have decided to cut funding for federal student aid programs to finance tax breaks for the richest Americans.â€
We have to get out and defeat the Republican ultra-right, fighting for victories of Democrats, even the â€œbadâ€ ones. Doing that will achieve a Democratic sweep; allow us to take at least one of the branches away from the extremist right wing. This would open up the possibilities of actually impeaching the president. While it would be a minor victory for a â€œbadâ€ candidate here or there, it would be a major victory for all of the communities and movements that are currently using the Democratic Party to advance the peopleâ€™s struggles.
And as for the demonstrations? All the better. Our mass demonstrations can go from being defensiveâ€”trying to hold the line against extremistsâ€”to being offensive, where we start to fight for the things that we actually want. When weâ€™ve successfully beaten the extreme right weâ€™ll actually be able to solidify and move forward an independent, anti-corporate political agenda that wonâ€™t tie us to working with any corporate party.
Soviet cogitations: 10592 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53 Ideology: Marxism-Leninism Philosophized
24 Jul 2006, 23:58
Bush and the extreme right-wing dominate the Presidency, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
For the legislature (109th Congress of US): Senate: 55% Republican, 45% Democrat House: 53.1% Republican 46.2% Democrat
Hardly Republican dominated.
The problem is this: we have been in defensive mode.
Thats an intresting point.
The problems of war, poverty, cuts to social services and inequalities in education are systemicâ€”they are all part of capitalism, the profits-before-people system that runs most of the world today.
And that won't be much different if a Democrat was in office.
The answer to the question of which political party to work with is, for now, the Democratic Party.
Another intresting point, but I don't think that all the socialist/communist should be voting for the Democrat Party. Also saying "vote democrat" actually might make people think of that party as a solution. The Democrat Party is not a solution to the problems we are fighting against.
Soviet cogitations: 16 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2006, 23:01 New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
26 Jul 2006, 18:23
I think the important thing to understand is that their goal isn't to get the Democrats elected, that's just a tactic. They don't see the democrats as a solution.
Also the YCLUSA does a lot of cool stuff other than supporting the democrats.. lots more than that.
A CPUSA organizer had a good explanation of why they don't just run as the CP. It's on their website somewhere, an mp3 of a panel discussion at the convention..
I don't know what they're up against or enough about their parliamentary system, im not from the usa, so I wouldnt make the call of whether it's a good idea or not. Certainly in Canada, it would be a terrible strategy and would just put us back in the long run if people don't see us on the ballots as an existent party. We got lots of attention by running. (Example, January are our elections, check out this website graph: http://communist-party.ca/webstats). We have also got people elected into parliament, like Fred Rose. But I can't apply that same strategy for the states... Does anyone know how it went when they did run?
Soviet cogitations: 10592 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53 Ideology: Marxism-Leninism Philosophized
27 Jul 2006, 00:09
Eugen V. Debs wrote:
Needless is it to say for me to the thinking workingman that he has no choice between the two capitalist parties, that they are both pledged to the same system, and that whether the on or the other succeeds, he will remain the wage-working slave he is today.
page 21 in Ronald Radosh's Debs, Great Lives Observed.
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