On behalf of our entire national staff, I want to welcome all of you to our annual holiday party. And we hope you had a restful, joyous, and peaceful holiday with your friends and family.
Our holiday celebration is a little late this year but late by design. There is method in our madness by waiting until the first week in January we figured we could get the last word in on 2002 and the first word in on 2003.
Thinking back and comparing this year with last year what strikes me is how different political life is now as compared to when we gathered together about this time a year ago. What strikes me is much things have changed in the course of a year.
Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not suggesting that the war danger is any less grave this year as compared to last year. In fact, the buildup of US military presence in the Gulf region intensifies and war looms on the horizon.
Nor am I suggesting that the aim of Bush’s economic policies have any other purpose in 2003 than to enrich the already filthy rich.
Nor am I suggesting that we should expect any change in attitude of the White House to union rights, civil rights, women rights, immigrant rights, gay rights, and democratic rights this year. Like last year it’s attitude toward people’s rights is still less is better.
I’m also not saying that Bush’s gang is gotten more sensitive to protecting the environment since our holiday get together in 2002. In the warped mind of policy makers at the White House and EPA they have never seen a Sequoia tree or a salmon or spotted owl that is worth of saving.
Nor am I claiming either that this administration is any less secretive this year as compared to last year- the nomination of Henry Kissinger the unmatched maestro of secrecy, intervention, and war crimes should tell us that this administration likes to do everything behind closed doors, out of public view. Glasnost is not a word that we are going to read on Bush’s lips.
This administration’s attitude to the needs of the poor, the homeless and the unemployed is also unchanged since last year’s party Bush left Washington without authorizing a continuation of unemployment insurance for 800,000 unemployed workers – 60,000 of whom are New Yorkers.
Nor is the position of the White House and its extreme right-wing counterparts in Congress toward corporate wrongdoing, corruption and thievery, despite the scandals that dominated the headlines this summer and fall, any different this year as compared to 2002. In their eyes, corporate thievery just a part of doing business, it’s the American way.
Finally we should not expect any about-face in the coming year by the administration in the fight for equality and against racism. Jesse Jackson said it best – with the forced departure of Trent Lott – the cover of the playbook has changed but the playbook itself remains the same.
So what is so different this year as compared a year ago what make this year more hopeful than last year?
In a few words, the people’s mood has changed. There is great and growing unease among millions this year as compared a year earlier.
At this time last year, the voices of dissent were muffled, there was next to no street heat, the peace movement was a faintly heard voice, people were scared and feeling insecure.
But as we say good-bye to 2002 and look ahead to 2003, a different and defiant mood is taking hold of millions of people from New York to California.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that people are not scared, not uneasy, and not feeling insecure any more – They are – but more and more they are scared, uneasy, and insecure because an adventurist, warlike, right wing administration resides in our nation’s capital, because the U.S. economy is stuck in the doldrums, and because deep budget cuts are taking place in nearly every state and city.
This shifting mood is turning into a material force of struggle against the anti-labor, racist, anti-people, and war driven policies of the Bush administration.
Strikes struggles are gaining ground and let’s give it up for the transit workers whose militancy and unity scored a tremendous victory for all of us.
The new peace movement is winning millions to oppose the military actions of the Bush administration in Iraq.
A broad based opposition movement forced Trent Lott to resign and exposed the racist underbelly and strategy of the entire Republican Party and the most reactionary sections of transnational capital.
Public opinion forced the insufferable war criminal Kissinger to step down before he stepped up.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is pressing on issues of equality and against racism.
The women’s movement and their allies are mobilizing their constituency to defend Roe v Wade and women’s right to choose.
This new material force of struggle is forcing Bush to reconsider the nomination of Charles Pickering to the federal court of appeals and other right-wing judicial appointments.
But this is not all. For this new material force that we see in our country is a worldwide phenomenon and is flexing its muscle and winning victories on a global level.
Look at the victory of Lula in Brazil.
Look at the determination of the people and government of Venezuela to defend their revolution.
Look at the continued success of the Cuban people at the head of which is the Cuban Communist Party and Fidel Castro. Que Viva!!!
Look at the worldwide movement to prevent U.S. military invasion of Iraq.
Look at the struggle in the UN by big and small nations alike against the policies of world domination of the Bush White House.
Look at the mounting demand worldwide for Palestinian statehood rights, the dismantling of the Israeli settlements, and a two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Look at the refusal of both states on the Korean Peninsula and in other countries in that region of the world to accept the hegemonistic plans of the Bush administration.
So 2003 promises to be a year of hope, a year of struggle, a year of unity, a year of people’s victories.
Let’s make it a year of peace, equality and prosperity! Another world is possible! We shall overcome, Si Se Puede, Happy New Year!