This Battle Can Be Won!

 
July 8, 2006

Report to the National Committee of the Communist Party June 24, 2006

There are 19 weeks until Election Day, Tuesday November 7.

Perhaps nothing underscores the significance of these mid-term elections more than the reality of 2500 killed and 18,000 maimed needlessly in Iraq, 100,000 Iraqi civilians lives lost.

And then on Thursday, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives used the opposition of a small Klan-type group of legislators as an excuse to hijack the long-awaited vote to re-approve the Voting Rights Act, potentially denying and disenfranchising Black and Latino voters in the South.

And on Wednesday the Senate failed to get the 60 votes necessary to increase the minimum wage, while a third of children live in poverty, a quarter of manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office, and cities and towns across the country are in crisis, being forced to choose between health care and schools.

The latest polls say only 20% approve of the performance by the Congress, only 37% approve of the performance of the President, and only 35% believe the country is on the right track.

This election is a struggle to save our democracy and change the direction of our country.

This election is a struggle to bring out the deeply felt democratic traditions of the people and inspire voters weary of the political process because of the dominance of the ultra-right.

It is a struggle to develop center-left unity that can win conservatives away from the extreme right-wing. It is a struggle to strengthen the all peoples coalition and within that to strengthen the left and the Communist Party.

We are called upon to be in the streets, with allies and friends, going door to door for unity.

At the last National Committee meeting we said the defeat of the extreme right-wing is at the heart of the class struggle at this moment; that the defeat of the right-wing is a necessary and crucial step toward achieving a better life, bigger dreams and building the movement for socialism.

We said that defeating the Republican majority in Congress would constitute a turning point and provide a qualitatively stronger terrain of struggle against the dangerous anti-democratic Bush administration policies and authoritarian abuse of civil liberties and civil rights.

We reaffirmed the necessity to build a broad, all-peoples front in order to gather the strength required to defeat the extreme right-wing. Within that front we recognized the necessity to raise up the role, contributions and increase the size of the Communist Party and Young Communist League.

We projected that a peoples upsurge would make it possible to change control of congress, and that such an upsurge could emerge from the growing mass movements to end the war, for equality for immigrants, health care for all, and to raise the minimum wage, etc.

Immediately after our March National Committee meeting the signs of this upsurge became evident.

One week after our meeting, the immigrant rights upsurge against HR 4437 emerged in Chicago, and then Los Angeles and over the next two months millions filled the streets all across the country, cities and towns. So beautiful, working people, mothers and children, saying we, too want equality. Allies saying, we are all immigrants. The movement was powerful enough to make an impact on the debate in Congress.

On April 29, a quarter million marched in New York to end the Iraq war, with large contingents of union members participating. Buses and trains came from near and far. The follow-up lobby day plus growing opposition to the occupation has forced members of Congress to speak out for ending the failed war policy. And, although withdrawal did not have the votes in the Senate, yesterday the Biden amendment prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq was passed.

This election is a referendum on the policies and practices of the Bush administration, implemented with the collaboration of the Republican majority in Congress.

These policies are designed by and implemented on behalf of the biggest, greediest, most corrupt corporate interests in the country, like Haliburton, Wal Mart, Delphi, Boeing, to name a few. They have looted the US economy to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars through war and military buildup, and through broad tax breaks that benefit all corporations and wealthy people, and through specific special-interest tax breaks, contracts, revolving-door arrangements that benefit specific companies and individuals with close ties to the administration and Republican congressional leaders.

The Bush Administration/Republican leadership is also attempting to institutionalize these policies, to make it difficult for future administrations to change policies. Legislation already passed like the bankruptcy law and changes in the tax structure, and legislation still pending like tort ‘reform’, permanent estate tax repeal, and new budget rules mandating deep cuts in Medicare, veterans’ benefits, etc. As well in the executive branch and judicial branch, through stacking government agencies with right-wing pro-corporate ideologues.

The effect is to tilt the whole playing field in the class war that corporate America has been waging against the rest of us. They are trying to enshrine in granite that corporate ‘rights’ are absolute, and that the working class has no rights that corporations are bound to respect.

If the Republican majority is defeated in November it will mark an important beginning to shift the balance of forces and create the conditions for a decisive blow to the ultra-right. If the Republicans continue to control Congress it will be a very dangerous situation domestically and internationally.

Our working class worldview and analysis must become more and more part of the mix in the giant battle of ideas taking place. We are called upon to up the ante on our ideological work, especially when millions are becoming radicalized by objective conditions, as dangers from the reactionary right-wing increase.

Some of the challenges we face and contributions we can make include:

Developing argumentation and tactics that answer right-wing racism, bigotry and fear in order to forge a united center-left voter turnout that will change control of congress and then continue to mobilize;

Developing argumentation and tactics that bring the mass movements for peace and immigrant rights into the electoral fight to register new voters and bring out long time voters to change control of congress;

Integrating electoral work with organizing grass roots mass movements;

Making the connections between grass roots local elections and referendum campaigns, and the fight for city and state funding, with targeted Congressional campaigns that can change control of congress;

Contributing to the development of independent political forms and candidates along with labor, African American, Latino, women, youth and others (seniors, environmental, peace activists);

Developing specific steps to enlarge the fighting capacity of the Communist Party and Young Communist League by dramatically increasing the readership of our press and grounding our clubs in working-class neighborhoods, election districts and workplaces.

Why it Matters Who is in the Majority

The political party that is in the majority in the House and in the Senate controls the debate, determines which bills will come to the floor and what the rules of debate will be.

Under Republican leadership these past several years, the democratic process has been scrapped. Important bills have come up in the dead of night, have been voted on before there was time for anyone to read them, voting times have been extended until Republicans could get enough votes to pass repressive measures, and committee meetings have been held without informing Democratic members.

With a Democratic majority, eleven of the twenty House Committees would be chaired by members of the Progressive or Black Caucus. 45 of 92 House sub-committee chairs would be members of the Progressive, Black, Hispanic or Asian Pacific Caucus.

Scores of bills that have been prevented from moving forward could be considered and enacted. Of course, the opposition will be fierce from business interests, and massive public pressure and support will be required. But the circumstances, the terrain of struggle, will be qualitatively improved. It will be possible to begin fighting for an expansion of rights, instead of just defending what has been won in the past.

Legislation crucial to improve the lives of working people that has been stalled in Republican controlled committees would be acted on with new chairs, all of whom are members of the Progressive Caucus.

The Judiciary Committee would be chaired by John Conyers (D-MI) instead of James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). On the docket are HR 636 Censuring President Bush, HR 9 Voting Rights Act, HR 5151 Freedom of Choice Act which would codify Roe v. Wade, and HR 2092 Comprehensively Reform the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was introduced by Sheila Jackson-Lee and is the strongest pro-immigrant bill pending. She would chair the Immigration Sub-Committee.

The Committee on Rules would be chaired by Louise Slaughter (D-NY) instead of David Dreier (R-CA). Waiting to be heard is HR 635 to Create a Select Committee for Possible Impeachment.

The Ways and Means Committee would be chaired by Charles Rangel (D-NY), instead of Bill Thomas (R-CA). Waiting to be heard is HR 676 Health Care for All and HR 4197 The Hurricane Katrina Recovery Act.

The Education and the Workforce Committee would be chaired by George Miller (D-CA), instead of Howard P. Buck McKeon (R-CA). Waiting to be heard is HR 1696 Employee Free Choice Act, the right to unionize; HR 1704 The Second Chance Act to assist young people after incarceration; HR 5150 Reverse the Raid on Student Aid; and HR 551 the Student Privacy Protection Act regarding turning over names of students to the military.

The International Relations Committee would be chaired by Tom Lantos (D-CA), a member of the Progressive Caucus, which has been chaired by Henry Hyde (R-IL). Before this committee are eight bills dealing with redeployment and withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The Republican leadership has kept all of these bills from getting on the calendar.

With a Democratic majority in the House, Nancy Pelosi would become the first woman Speaker. She and Harry Reid, who would preside over the Senate, have already announced bills that would be voted on in the first week of a House-Senate Democratic majority: Enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which Bush has shelved Raise the minimum wage Make prescription drugs affordable Cut interest rates for student loans in half Repeal billions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich and oil/ energy corporations.

If the forces of the all peoples front are successful in defeating the Republican majority on November 7, this victory can be expected to unleash big, new energy that can bring people in the streets massively to push hard on Congress for a more advanced program.

Struggle in the House and Senate

Even with Republican control, it is notable that some hard-fought grass roots campaigns have been able to win temporary victories including protecting ANWR, keeping the 2007 budget from final passage and forestalling the elimination of the estate tax.

Overall, right-wing Republican strategists are collaborating with House and Senate leaders to manipulate the agenda in Congress between now and the elections. They are using the legislative session, which ends in September, as an arena to define the issues on their own terms. Their strategy is to force votes on wedge issues and use them on the campaign trail in a way that will motivate right-wing turnout while smearing Democratic candidates in order to suppress their vote.

The Republican leadership scheduled votes on amendments to the US Constitution banning gay marriage and flag burning. They then attacked Democrats in swing districts who voted against those amendments.

War on Iraq

Karl Roves strategy is to keep the Iraq war/fear of terrorism as the number one issue in the campaign, as a means of whittling away the peace sentiment and vote and building strength for the Bush administration.

If Democrats are bold, and take heed of the overwhelming peace majority and the lack of confidence in Bush administration policies, then the tactics of the right-wing can be undercut. Voters will respond positively to candidates who forthrightly reject the Republican ideological onslaught of hysteria and bigotry.

The past two weeks have been a real battleground on the Iraq war within Congress.

The sham debate on the war in the House, which did not allow any amendments, was an attempt by the Republican leadership to force votes in favor of Bush administration policy. A No vote was characterized as cut-and-run, unpatriotic and disrespectful to the troops.

Yet in polls a few weeks ago, 30% of the troops favor immediate withdrawal and 70% favor withdrawal by the end of the year. This is the support they are requesting.

Nancy Pelosi received big applause for saying those days of Republican intimidation are over, and explaining that her No vote on the resolution is a true show of support for the troops. In all, 75% of Democrats voted No. Within hours, the Republican National Committee sent out emails in targeted races attacking Democrats as weak on national security and the war on terror.

Speaking from the floor, Dennis Kucinich concluded with a battle cry for action: The president will not bring an end to this war. This Congress will not bring an end to this war, absent the Murtha Resolution. But the American people will certainly bring an end to this war. They will do it in the streets. And they will do it at the ballot box. The American people will become the Out of Iraq Caucus.

As a result of mass pressure, the Democrats are beginning to act strategically in Congress. During debate on the defense spending bill, Murtha offered an amendment to prevent funds from being used to establish permanent bases in Iraq. An attempt to remove that language was defeated 376-50. Making it clear that it was the Bush administration who had pushed for removal of the language, Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus said, I hope that the White House will not again weigh in behind the scenes to try and reverse this decision.

The Senate is also a battleground. The weight of the peace movement and progressive forces has created a new dynamic. At the Take Back America conference John Kerry was cheered for his admission that he was wrong to have voted for the war. His amendment a few days later for withdrawal by the end of the year was voted down, but other amendments are coming forward. (Voting yes: Akaka, Boxer, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Inouye, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy, Menendez, Wyden).

Hillary Clinton was booed at the Take Back America conference for disagreeing with a date certain for withdrawal and not having any alternative proposal. At the New York State Democratic convention, delegates had voted for a withdrawal resolution while at the same time endorsing Hillary. In reaction, she signed onto a bill with Reid and others this week for partial re-deployment in 2006, requiring a plan from the President for continued partial redeployment thereafter. (Reed, Levin, Feinstein and Salazar).

These initiatives in the Senate and the House give momentum to grass roots organizing within the election campaign that ties the need to end the war to the $250 million a day the war costs which could be spent for job creation, health care, full funding for public schools, infrastructure, renewable energy and rebuilding the Gulf.

The difficulty navigating the amendments through the Senate and House strengthens the argument that as we struggle to end this war we must also struggle to end the Republican majority/White House rule of Congress.

This election is a referendum on the Bush administration war policies. If control of Congress goes from Republican to Democrat there is no way to interpret that other than as a repudiation of the Bush war policy. Those in Congress who have been leading for withdrawal will have new leverage. The centrists will also have to heed public opinion. The Republicans will be in a much weaker position to defend their policy. The main way to register opposition to the war on Iraq and to the Bush administration war policy is in the November 7 elections.

We can anticipate that fear-of-terrorism rhetoric by the right-wing will be very thick in close races. It has to be challenged in order to be undercut. A good example is the way Lynne Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, handled her primary challenger who objected to her strong stand against the war. She was attacked for being a liberal and a socialist. You know what? she said, If being for peace and representing the needs of the people in my district means Im a liberal or a socialist, then so be it. She won overwhelmingly not just on the basis of her reply, but on the basis of her years of commitment and delivering for the District.

Immigrant Rights

Manipulation of the immigration reform debate is also a top program of the right-wing in this election. Republican strategists are portraying undocumented immigrants as criminals and terrorists and baiting Democrats who support comprehensive reform.

This racist, fear mongering approach was played out in the June 6 special election in Californias 50th CD, San Diego County, where Republican Duke Cunningham was sent to jail for corruption. Democrat Francine Busbys main issue was against corruption. Her position on immigration was to support the McCain bill. The Republican candidate was Brian Bilbray, a national anti-immigrant leader of FAIR. His single issue was border control and enforcement-only.

The Republicans poured $5 million into that race. They employed their 72 hour program of intensive campaigning in the three days before election. On Saturday, they made a frontal attack by publicizing a statement out of context that Busby made to young people, leaving the impression she favored voting rights for the undocumented, which would be illegal. Their goal was to stir up confusion and bigotry at the last minute and motivate their own base to come out and vote.

With it all, in the special election Busby got 45% of the vote in a district with 30% Democratic registration. Bilbray got 49% of the vote, not even reaching half. There will be a re-match in November.

We should consider a rapid response team approach to these aggressive ideological sneak- attacks that may come at any point in a campaign. Advance thought and preparedness could be developed by labor with all sectors of the core of the all peoples front in each election district so whatever happens, the response can be onto the offensive.

Before being sworn in, Bilbray immediately joined the anti-immigrant caucus in Congress chaired by Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

In five of our targeted Congressional Districts, the Republican incumbent belongs to this anti-immigrant caucus (Doolittle and Bilbray in California, Bartlett in Maryland and Sweeney and Kuhl in New York). This caucus of 100 is much larger than most Minutemen demonstrations across the country!

The Bilbray election is fueling anti-immigrant tactics within Congress. House Republican leadership says they will delay a conference committee to reconcile the punitive House bill (HR 4437) and flawed Senate bill (S 2611) in order to hold hearings on the Senate bill across the country. They will most certainly use the hearing process to try and whip up anti-immigrant hysteria during the election campaign period, and poison the entire atmosphere.

The racism is very thick in this debate. During a lobby day in May, Senator Santorum (R-PA), who is number one target for defeat, shocked a group of Mexican American clergy from Los Angeles when he told them bluntly he would not support comprehensive immigration reform because he doesnt want the country to be like Los Angeles.

While Bush is portrayed as compassionate for supporting comprehensive reform, the reform he supports is only profit oriented. He and the Republican leadership in Congress want a combination of punitive enforcement and super-exploitative guest worker programs, escalating the militarization of the border by sending the National Guard, and building detention facilities at the benefit of Halliburton and other corporations.

Among pro-immigrant forces, including in the labor movement, there are different opinions about guest worker, about strategies within Congress, and about mass tactics. If the punitive enforcement legislation is to be stopped and the anti-immigrant election baiting is to be undercut, unity will have to be built.

And unity can be built based on the common principles of legalization and a path to citizenship, family reunification, labor rights, due process, and civic participation along with the short term goal of ending right-wing Republican control of Congress.

It is part of a long-term project of the right-wing to tie immigration to peoples fears and anxieties about declining living standards and declining quality of life. The AFL-CIO has made excellent statements, but they agree a lot remains to be done to educate and mobilize union members. It requires examining U.S. trade policy and the role of multi-national corporations in depressing wages and working conditions. It requires raising class-consciousness of the people and an understanding of the class dynamics of capitalist globalization.

A lot of work remains to be done to engage all sectors of the all peoples front in the struggle for immigrant rights. There was little discussion on immigrant rights during the Take Back America conference, although the issue will surely impact on the elections. The organizations of the all peoples front including labor have to educate and mobilize their memberships on the basic issues in the immigrant rights struggle and how to turn bigotry arguments around.

A weakness in tackling the fight against racism leaves the field open to the far right. We must not cede any ground in immigrant baiting or in racism against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Pacific, or Native Americans. Our partys role is to show white workers how they are hurt by racism when one worker gets less everyone gets less and forge Black-Brown-white unity that can win.

Wedge Issues and Ballot Initiatives

Karl Rove has been given free reign to shore up the elections to maintain Republican majority control of Congress. His strategy remains the same as 2004

1. Manipulate divisive wedge issues to maximize voter turnout from the right-wing Republican base and win over swing voters;

2. Reach into the base of the Democratic Party to peel off as much support as possible.

In addition to the war and immigration, the issues of taxes, affirmative action, gay marriage and abortion figure big into his strategy. State ballot initiatives on these issues have become a tactic to frame the elections locally. Door knocking and speaking with voters at the grass roots will help find the ways of combating wedge issues that can reach out and win the votes needed to change congress.

TABORMI

Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limit initiatives will appear on the ballot in several swing states including Michigan. Republicans have dropped the effort in Ohio. TABOR takes advantage of the legitimate anger of workers who are overtaxed at the state level.

TABOR places attention on spending limits, instead of directing the anger at changing regressive state tax policies which have let the rich off the hook and almost eliminated taxes on big corporations; and federal policies which pass costs to states and cities. The de-funding of cities, and massive cuts in services, has created an urban crisis.

In reality, who can afford health care or education or retirement security on their own?

The ownership society hoax is a key ideological struggle. There is no individual solution to the basic problems we face. Only social, collective solutions based on unity of the people can improve the quality of life. We need a government that will be responsive and provide the means for universal healthcare, quality education, etc.

Affirmative ActionMI

Michigan has been targeted for a ballot initiative that would eliminate affirmative action. The right-wing chose this state because there are several Congressional Districts that could swing Democrat, and Democrat Jennifer Granholm is up for re-election as governor. There are Delphi plants in Michigan where the workers are in a battle for their lives.

Instead of joining together to demand good jobs for everyone and place the blame on the corporations where it belongs, the ballot initiative targets Black workers. The purposefully confusing wording and the way in which the signatures were collected is now being challenged as fraudulent. As a means of raising working class solidarity, our Michigan Party is projecting the possibilities of a broadened approach to the annual Labor Day parade, the largest in the country, that would embrace equality and become a giant unity parade.

Gay Marriage BanSC, TN, VA, WI

The Gay Marriage Ban initiative was used in Ohio and other states in 2004 to blunt the vote for Kerry. In 2006 the initiative will be on the ballot in South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin with the same dangers. From a working class perspective we reject all forms of bigotry and discrimination. It was the right-wing, not the Catholic church, that published the 2004 Catholic voter guides which said it was a sin to vote for Kerry because his support for the right to choose and his lack of opposition to gay marriage were immoral. In the Bible immorality is often linked to poverty. Poverty has increased dramatically during the Bush presidency, as a result of the frontal attack on the working class. It is the Bush administration that is immoral.

Minimum WageAZ, CO, MO, MN, NV, OH

Having been ravaged by right-wing ballot initiatives in Ohio in 2004, the labor movement, America Votes and a broad array of organizations have come together in coalition to place a pro-worker referendum on the ballot to raise the minimum wage. Ohio has the second lowest minimum wage in the country. This referendum is enabling labor and progressives to reach into the southern and rural areas of the state that went for Bush. It involves the farmers for the first time, and churches that are concerned about poverty.

Rep. Sherrod Brown, in a tight race to defeat Republican Senator Mike DeWine, mentioned the importance of the minimum wage ballot initiative at the Take Back America conference. He said his program is Which side are you on issue-by-issue. If the minimum wage were raised 500,000 people with 200,000 children would increase their income in Ohio. This effort is reaching into the 10 poorest counties that voted for Bush.

Last week the Republicans put out an e-mail media blast against Brown saying that he claims to be mainstream but he supported gay rights. The news was that it didnt get picked up. Browns analysis is: The voters in the 10 poorest counties who voted for Bush are getting it. They arent voting Republican this time. They have the same hopes and dreams for college for their kids, for healthcare for their parents, for peace. He reported that as he goes through the state with his mainstream progressive message the crowds grow. There is a passion for change in OH.

And we could add a passion for change in the United States!

In the absence of Congressional action, and with the strategic goal of reaching out to sectors that voted for Bush against their own self-interests, minimum wage ballot initiatives are also taking place in AZ, CO, MO, MN, NV.

The highly successful Karl Rove electoral strategy of mobilizing their base through state-based ultra-right, neo-fascist agenda must be blunted and defeated in the 2006 congressional and 2008 presidential election years. The issue of health care for the people is a key issue that can defeat the right-wing agenda. It is already winning voters in California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other states and cities. No one piece of legislation is capturing the spirit of voters, but together they yield a patchwork quilt that can smother and defeat Rove-ism; and continue to build the movement for a national health program that puts people before profits.

Status of Campaigns

Our target races are election districts in which we will do some work. Some are in areas where we have Party clubs. Some are in parts of the state where we do not have organization. This is our collective contribution toward the 15 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate that have to change to achieve a Democratic majority.

Our target list does not represent all races that are in play. It represents those races that the Party Districts and clubs are planning to participate in. It is a changing list, and it is a growing list, as more and more Congressional Districts become possible to win.

Overall at this time there are at least 55 House races in contention and 20 Senate seats are considered to be in play.

Peace Candidates

Since our last meeting, many primaries have been held. Looking beyond our own targets to the primaries in general, there were a number of peace candidates. They did not tend to win, but they got respectable votes and several successfully influenced the debate.

In IL-06, Christine Cigalis got a strong vote, but did not win over Tammy Duckworth. Cigalis is more progressive and had run before. At first she did not want to endorse Tammy Duckworth. After some consideration Cigalis did endorse Duckworth, responding to supporters who stressed that the main need is to change control of congress.

Peace candidate Marcy Winograd in CA-36 got 37% of the vote against Jane Harmon in the Democratic primary. Harmon has frequently voted with the Bush administration. After the primary Harmon voted No on supporting the Bush agenda in Iraq. The campaign involved union members, peace activists and others. Adam Schiff in CA-29 also voted No after peace candidate Bob McClosky received 17% of the primary vote.

In Northern California, former Congressman Pete McClosky came out of retirement to challenge incumbent Richard Pombo in the Republican primary as a peace candidate. He received a third of the vote.

There were also some outright victories for peace candidates.

In Montana, State Senator Jon Tester who has a very strong labor, environment and peace record won a landslide victory in the US Senate primary over a Democratic Leadership Council candidate who was favored to win. Tester will challenge incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns who is considered the second most vulnerable in the Senate.

In Iowas First Congressional District, union-backed lawyer Bruce Braley, attacked for being too aggressive in opposing the war, won the primary for a critical open seat that had been held by a Republican. As soon as the seat was rated the most likely in the country to switch, Karl Rove traveled to Iowa.

In Kentuckys Third Congressional District centered in Louisville, John Yarmuth won a three-way primary. He calls for withdrawal from Iraq and for taxing the rich.

At the municipal level, former Congressman Ron Dellums, a courageous champion of peace and justice, won election for Mayor of Oakland, on a campaign against the ultra-right which inspired broad participation.

In Vermont, many town meetings voted for impeachment. In Wisconsin, on April 4th, 24 of 32 cities, towns, and villages voted for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, In November, seven communities in Illinois will have referendum questions calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

There are upcoming primaries in several states. I am only going to speak about one, and that one is the challenge to Joe Lieberman, which has been called the Fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.

About three months ago, Ned Lamont a businessman from Greenwich who is opposed to the war in Iraq, announced he would run. He describes himself as somewhere in-between left and center.

Connecticut has three Congressional Districts where fairly progressive Democrats are challenging vulnerable incumbent Republicans. The biggest concern from the local perspective was re-directing energy and resources away from those races. Lieberman has the endorsements of most unions, but the endorsements do not necessarily go very deep. It is anticipated that there is very little danger of a Republican victory in this race.

Pretty quickly it became clear that Ned Lamonts campaign was no ordinary thing. Nationally, Lieberman has angered progressive Democrats by ignoring the peace majority, not supporting the filibuster against Alito, and collaborating with the Bush administration. There was a very fast excitement from MoveOn and Democrats for America and they both endorsed Lamont.

At the State Democratic Convention, Lamont amazed everyone when he received a third of the votes, twice the number required to wage a primary. He pledged to support whoever wins the Democratic primary, and addressed the importance of winning the three House campaigns. Lieberman has not ruled out bolting the Democratic Party to run independent.

Lamont v. Lieberman is a surprise, a race in which anything can happen. Connected with the three House races, Lamont can make a positive contribution toward changing control and direction of congress. The Lamont campaign is creating a lot of energy that will spill over into the whole election process.

The 5th Congressional District in Connecticut where Republican incumbent Nancy Johnson is being challenged by Democratic State Senator Chris Murphy is another interesting example.

In 2004 the Working Families Party gained ballot access in the 5th CD, and they are now able to endorse Chris Murphy so that he will be represented in the ballot on two lines. Voting for Murphy on the Working Family line builds the strength of an independent party and platform.

The movement to elect labor and progressive candidates at the local level is taking hold among progressive Democrats. Groups like Progressive Majority and Wellstone Action are training and fielding local candidates from school board on up. The concept is to start from the local level and work up to higher offices from there, preparing the field for many more progressive candidates for Congress in the future.

We have been slow as a Party to elect more Communists at the local level. These campaigns can emerge most naturally from clubs that are immersed in a local precinct on a year round basis, living with the issues and conditions, representing people who are part of that neighborhood community. As important as the 2006 Congressional elections are, they do not trump building at the grass roots on immediate local issues. Both go together.

Many of our clubs are not in a swing Congressional District. But if they are connected to people and organizations where they are, it is possible to educate and excite about the chance to change control of Congress and perhaps organize a mobilization day or two into the swing CD. It could be an exciting outing and club recruiting tool. Bringing home that experience could even serve to inspire running a local candidate in the club concentration area in the future.

An increasingly important elective office is Secretary of State, whose job is mandated as protecting voting rights and election practices. It is fresh in our memories that in Florida and Ohio the Secretaries of State served as a blockage to voter protection in 2000 and 2004. In Minnesota the DFL candidate for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, of the League of Rural Voters could play a valuable national role.

The voter protection movement is a very important one, as are the movements for publicly financed campaigns, instant runoff voting, voting machine paper trail, etc. In every target Congressional District this year, the forces of the all-peoples front need to engage with election officials and guard against vote theft.

At the Take Back America conference, this was the first point of five that Jan Shakowsky (D-IL) put forward to her fellow Democrats as part of the coordinated plan to win Congress:

1. No theft
2. Get out the vote of Democratic base
3. Reach out far beyond the Democratic base to answer wedge issues
4. Mobilize for targeted races
5. Resist the temptation to gripe about the Democrats

Strategy and Tactics in the All-Peoples Coalition

This election will not be won or lost by the Democratic Party, which in most parts of the country has very little on the ground. This election will be won or lost by the labor movement, the African American, Latino, women, youth voter organizations and the broader all peoples front that has so much to gain and everything to lose if the direction of the country is not changed, and for whom the Democratic Party is the only tool to win control of Congress at the time.

This election is not just about what happens on November 7. It is about building a broad, labor and peoples movement that can not only challenge candidates but that can build the strength to challenge and change policy.

It is fortunate that the AFL-CIO and Change to Win have come to an agreement and will be sharing a joint election strategy, sharing lists, turfs, etc. Just moving union members to vote is not enough, because the numbers arent there. The Labor 2006 plan urges union members to reach out to their families and neighbors. It is in collaboration with Working America the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which is active in six states (FL, MO, OH, PA, MN, WA) going door-to-door and inviting workers who do not have union representation to join. In addition the America Votes coalition represents the core constituencies of the all peoples front and is collaborating with the Labor program in nine states (AZ, CO, MI, MN, NH, NM, OH, PA, WI).

Unlike past campaigns, Labor 2006 will remain active after November 7. The plan continues through the presidential election and on into 2012 redistricting. The labor movement is developing a political program with a stronger grass roots component and a long-term view.

African American organizations like Rainbow Push are gearing up for voter registration and get out the vote drives, as are Latino organizations like Southwest Voter Registration Project and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, two sponsors of a National Latino Congress September 6 to 10 which will map out a political agenda and train for voter registration and mobilization. Youth organizations are preparing to mobilize as well, and the YCL is a part of that mix. Womens organizations like Emilys List and NOW are in the thick of the Congressional elections, fielding a number of progressive women candidates and helping to fund others.

Fulfilling the slogan, Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote, the immigrant rights movement is preparing for a massive voter registration and citizenship campaign, Democracy Summer, which kicks off July1. The goal is one million new voters and new citizens by November. This bold initiative involves whole families and communities including voter education and turnout. The We Are America Alliance and other pro-immigrant forces come out of the immigration reform struggle in Congress with a deeper realization of the vicious nature of right-wing control, and with a new determination for the elections. Their program includes mega-marches in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC September 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Democracy Summer deserves our full support, including helping broaden out the unions and other organizations involved.

The peace movement is getting more involved in the electoral arena. United for Peace and Justice is planning house meetings in key congressional districts. Cindy Sheehan will revisit Crawford TX (Aug 16-Sept 2) and then move her camp to Washington DC in September.

Within the peace movement, there is a tension between the idea of only supporting candidates who stand for withdrawal, and the broader strategy of getting Republicans out of the majority control. Peace candidates make a great contribution toward shifting the debate, and hopefully they win. But after the primary, if a peace candidate is not on the ballot, this is not an election to sit out. Without changing control of congress it will be extremely difficult, if at all possible, to end the war on Iraq. It is necessary to look beyond the strengths or weaknesses of any individual candidate who may not embrace a withdrawal platform, to the total goal of changing control of Congress as a peace vote.

At the same time, there is a need for more advanced candidates to influence the process, and where possible to win election. A similar guideline applies in the immigrant rights field.

Strategic discussions in the Party would be helpful, involving peace groups and individual activists, about how to work in and with the peace movement to develop the understanding that it is necessary to vote out the Republicans. We should be helpful in building grass roots support around the initiatives for withdrawal coming from the Senate, as well as legislation that will be put forward by Sen. Reid to curb the Bush administrations potential rush into war on Iran.

Our Role and Plan of Work

The 2006 Election Resource Packet presents some practical ideas about how Party Districts and Clubs can prepare for and participate in the 19 weeks to Election Day. The situation in each area is different, so this guide is simply meant to provide ideas for discussion to sharpen our strategic goals and carry them out.

Perhaps the most important aspect of these 19 weeks is how we work in such a way that at the end we have new contacts and friends who we can invite to join the Communist Party and YCL, and new contacts in labor and peoples organizations with whom we can continue to collaborate, and maybe even new clubs.

The Peoples Weekly World, Political Affairs and Dynamic are crusaders for democracy in this election period. Our paper reaches out with ideas of unity, pro-union, peace, equality and socialist alternative ideas. The wider the circulation, the greater our contribution to defeat of the extreme right-wing.

The ideas are:

1. Bring the assessments and approach to the elections from the National Committee meeting back to your Party District and project a plan of work through Election Day. Bring the discussions to clubs, members, contacts, and to the YCL in your area. Discuss with the YCL possible coordination of activity.

2. Review targeted Congressional races for any adjustments. Which race(s) can contribute toward a gain of 15 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate? Analyze local Governor or State Legislature races and ballot referenda that clubs are involved in to see how those efforts relate with the campaign to change Congress.

3. Determine the plans of labor and other coalition partners (African American, Latino, women, and youth organizations, immigrant rights, peace and senior groups) in the targeted election campaign(s). Make assignments to work with labor and coalition forces on mobilizations, phone banks, door knocking, etc.

4. If the targeted election district is in an area where there is no Party organization, plan out how to involve members, friends and organizations from club concentration areas for mobilizations into the targeted campaign. If there is a club in the targeted election district, discuss with that club how the rest of the Party can participate in a way that moves their work forward.

5. For clubs not in targeted election districts, look at races in your local area and figure how to relate work there (or statewide races) with those in targeted election districts.

6. Plan out a specific Party-PWW building component of the election work. For example: – Choose a development or small neighborhood within the targeted election district – Choose one (or two) comrades to build a PWW door-to-door route in that neighborhood – Make a plan to register voters, bring campaign materials, get-out-the-vote on the route – Develop a list of people in that neighborhood we can talk to as the Party, invite to a meeting or event, involve in activity, and bring closer.

7. Plan to send one or more stories to the Peoples Weekly World assessing the election campaign and/or issues that working people are facing in that area. Distribute the edition with local story to coalition partners and as appropriate within the election district, and within other club concentration areas to help get more volunteers.

8. Be on the alert for dirty tricks, and/or divisive tactics by the right-wing. Discuss with coalition partners ready response to use of bigotry, and plans for voter protection including an approach to election officials.

9. Begin early on to ask that whoever can, should take the day off on Election Day to work in the campaign. Guaranteeing that every supporter votes is the key to winning. Make a group plan for election night returns celebration!

Proposal

We would like to propose that the Party issue a popular piece of literature in quantity by mid to late August placing our position in 2006 elections, who we are and what we stand for.

The brochure could present our analysis of the elections and issue a call for unity.

The defeat of right-wing control of our government is what history puts on the agenda for us at this time. There is no way around the task of ending Republican control of the House and Senate if we want to take the next step for basic change in our country, including for higher levels of political independence.

There is a great momentum building up. Galvanizing the Party and all the forces within the peoples movement for this great challenge means this battle can be won! S Se Puede!

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