Report to the CPUSA National Committee, June 28
In the main report to the national committee Sam Webb presented a deep, far-reaching analysis of the extraordinary stakes of the 2004 elections. This report zeros in on what it will take to defeat George Bush and the far right.
As the seemingly endless lies and betrayals of the Bush administration come into the light of day, the insidious nature of the right-wing agenda is becoming more widely understood. Many national leaders now speak of the intent of the Bushites to bankrupt government; dismantle every public entity from education to Medicare; destroy union representation, civil rights and civil liberties; appropriate the spoils of the earth and dominate the entire world.
This capitalism in the raw is harsh for millions of Americans who find themselves left without jobs or hard-won pensions, without health care or child care and with short-staffed schools, much less secure than three years ago. From the vantage point of our international neighbors, Bush is a nightmare pushing the world back to the brink of nuclear annihilation.
The crisis is forcing deeper thinking, beyond the post-9/11 fear factor, giving rise to a new level of anger and militancy. There is a growing sense that if the Bush juggernaut is not stopped in 2004, it will be a different world in 2008, in the words of Rep. Jan Shakowsky (D-Ill.):
* AFL-CIO head John Sweeney calls the Bush administration the most anti-union administration ever.
* Jesse Jackson calls Bushs racist policies the most radical right-wing shift in the last 70 years, a shift of wealth, privilege and power, leaving the choice in this election almost as basic as 140 years ago.
*The League of Conservation Voters recently gave Bush an F for performance on environmental issues, saying that he is well on his way to compiling the worst environmental record of any president in the history of our nation.
* Planned Parenthood initiated a protest against Bushs $2,000-a-plate New York fundraiser. Their leader said, Enough lies, enough hypocrisy, enough nominating right-wing judges to fulfill your conservative agendas, enough appointing those who would decide when a woman can and cannot have a child. President Bush, weve had enough!
The 2004 elections are about the very nature of our country. Will the choice be to strive towards the credo of, by and for the people or will any form of democracy be abandoned, giving way to the full force of outright corporate rule, racism and war? We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the best working class film ever made, Salt of the Earth. The messages of that classic are very much in tune with the tactics we are developing to push Bush out the door in 2004. The courageous Mexican-American women in the Salt of the Earth strike joined together and prevented the company from operating that zinc mine until the demands of the workers for safety and sanitation were met. They raised the whole community up with them and they won. At this moment, we are in the fight of our lives for the safety and well-being of our nation and the future of the world. Fear and division are the staples being utilized by Bush and Company. Only unity based on principle and platform can capture the hopes and dreams of voters old and new, build a sense of community, and open the floodgates to a massive movement for an America that puts peace, justice and human need above corporate greed. Possible to defeat Bush It will take an extraordinary united all-peoples front with a movement on the ground to defeat the Bush right-wing agenda in 2004. It can be done with the combination of the labor vote, the womens vote, and African-American and Latino vote, combined with the youth vote, the peace vote, the environmental vote, the senior vote, the farm vote, etc. all of whom are pledged to work as they never have before. Of course, the monopolized media is playing the right-wing song that Bush is already assured a second term in the White House. At this point the election looks close, but the momentum on the side of the labor and peoples forces has only begun to organize. The potential is there to change the tide, especially if the mass movements are linked to the elections. Some members of the Congressional Progressive, Black and Hispanic caucuses are working on the inside to challenge the Bush agenda in a way that gives a handle to organizing at the grass roots. For example, legislation to investigate the claim of weapons of mass destruction, to investigate Texasgate, to repeal sections of the USA Patriot Act, to restore the child tax credit, amendments to protect Medicare, on and on. Of special significance is HR-141 in opposition to a military policy of preemption, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and others. The Black Caucus has called for universal access to health care as an issue to unite Americans against the Bush administration for the 2004 election. The demonstration by the Alliance of Retired Americans, disrupting the Capitol, in defense of Medicare and a real prescription drug program is one great example of what needs to be done on a daily basis. Taking public action against each issue head-on at the national, state and local level will expose the Republicans and inspire the uninvolved to participate. The campaign One of the first appearances by all the candidates was before 1,000 AFSCME members in Iowa. The union held a national meeting of its political action chairpersons in every Congressional district. The meeting placed labor issues front and center in the debates. It is heartening that a number of leading progressives within the Democratic Party have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to reject the conservative, heavily corporate funded Democratic Leadership Council. (The DLC National Conversation is in Philadelphia July 27-28.) The DLC strategy of limiting their program to domestic issues, compromising with the Republicans, and supporting the president on war and terrorism was discredited in the 2002 Congressional elections. A similar approach in 2004 could cede the election to Bush. In contrast, grass-roots organizing on an anti-Bush peoples program was proven to be a winning strategy in 2002 in victories like that of community organizer Raul Grijalva in Arizonas 7th CD. The outpouring against the war on Iraq has changed the political terrain. The millions who protested around the country on Feb. 15th represent a new potential voting bloc to defeat the Bush doctrine. The DLC strategy of appealing primarily to swing voters left out most of the peace constituency, including the African-American community, young people, and independents who have abstained from electoral politics. The Take Back America conference in June showed a changing stance by progressive Democrats in attendance. Peace, taxing the rich, affirmative action, immigrant rights and civil liberties were welcomed into the agenda, as was a big-tent approach toward uniting with those independent voters and Greens who agree that the number-one issue at this moment is to defeat George Bush. As a result, MoveOn.org conducted the first-ever internet early presidential primary this week. It is noteworthy that every Democratic presidential candidate felt compelled to send a letter to the 1.4 million MoveOn members, who joined in opposition to the war. A total of 314,747 votes were cast. The top vote-getters were Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and John Kerry. No endorsement will be made at this time because no candidate got over 50 percent of the vote. Voters were asked to contribute to their favorite candidate and $1.75 million in contributions were reported. The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls is not monolithic. Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Rev. Al Sharpton are playing a radicalizing role. Sharpton is campaigning for constitutional amendments to guarantee the right to vote, to education and to healthcare. Kucinich has pledged his first act as president will be to repeal NAFTA and the WTO. He has introduced or cosponsored legislation to form a Department of Peace, to abolish the death penalty, and to end preemptive military policy, among many others. At the other end of the political spectrum is Sen. Joe Lieberman, former chair of the DLC. Just to set the record straight, Connecticuts largest and strongest unions do not consider Lieberman their favorite son. A Lieberman-Bush race would make it more difficult to engage those who have been disgusted by politics-as-usual, and would thereby make it harder to deliver a defeat for Bush. The remaining Democratic hopefuls fall in between. Dean won 43 percent of the MoveOn vote, undoubtedly for his stance against the war on Iraq, although he supports the bloated military budget. We should remain flexible through the primary season. At the same time, we should do everything we can to build up support for the most advanced candidates, who are playing an important role in helping shape the national debate. We should heed the remarks of Jesse Jackson at the Take Back America conference: Dont be too quick to dismiss a candidate as unelectable. Stick to your principles. Sometimes principles make the winner. Independents The historic national conference in Chicago of United for Peace and Justice opened up discussions within the peace community about moving into the electoral arena. The fact that only a third of MoveOn members voted in the early primary is an indication of the work that has to be done. As Sam Webb said, simply dismissing differences within the ruling class, and writing off all Democrats and Republicans as the same, leaves an open door for the Bush Doctrine to continue and escalate. Street heat alone will not change the administration policy. It takes a combination. Many peace activists, who are cynical about the political process, have come to recognize that in order to stop the Bush Doctrine it is necessary to defeat Bush. The potential of Neighbors for Peace organizations formed during the Iraq war becoming involved in the political process, and the plans of Cities for Peace to go into 13 swing states will be an important contribution toward developing a get-out-the-vote structure within the peace movement. The impact for political independence reaches far beyond 2004. Discussion is also taking place within the Green Party about whether to run a presidential candidate this year. A section of Greens have come to agree that the defeat of Bush is the number-one issue. Nationally, there are now 173 municipal seats and two state legislative seats held by Greens. Those who favor a presidential candidate narrowly argue for the need to maintain the third party spot. CPUSA Executive Vice Chairman Jarvis Tyner recently appeared on a panel in New York about the elections, which afforded an opportunity to exchange with many activists who voted for Nader in 2000. On the basis of Bush administration actions most of those in attendance indicated they were thinking differently now, and would not be prepared to vote for a Nader-like candidate in 2004. We would answer that the defeat of the Bush administration is a necessary immediate step toward preserving peace and labors and peoples gains over many decades. It will take the broadest possible peoples movement to bring out every possible vote to do that. We do not see the defeat of Bush as an end in and of itself or as an answer to the crisis of capitalism. But without the defeat of Bush in 2004 the damage to the people of our country and the world, the setbacks for peace, democracy and equality, will be much more fundamental and serious. It is in that context that we approach the 2004 election with an eye toward movement building for the long term, with a broad view of political independence. No third party will make a far-reaching impact for social change if it sits apart from labor, the racially oppressed, women and other peoples organizations that are unifying around life-and-death needs. ACORN and others are focusing on progressive ballot initiatives as a mechanism for getting out the vote. In Florida, they are sponsoring a Living Wage Initiative on the ballot. Ballot initiatives also have the potential for building unity among the broader left with labor and peoples alliances on the basis of issues. The independent get-out-the-vote structures that are established in the midst of this campaign could be a giant step forward for higher levels of political independence in the near future. The argument must be made that the greatest vote for peace and the environment is to defeat George Bush. The greatest vote for the rights of labor, women, African American and Latino communities and youth is to defeat George Bush. The greatest vote for national security and democratic rights is to defeat George Bush. Labor 2003-2004 targeted races Since 1996, the AFL-CIO has been consistently developing its own message, get-out-the-vote operation, and candidates. More than 5,000 union members now hold elected office. The AFL-CIO Labor 2003-2004 program is focused on the presidential election. Of the 34 races where senators up for re-election, 12 are considered competitive. Of those, most are in states that went Republican in the 2000 presidential race. Competitive Senate races:
* In states that voted Democrat for president in 2000 Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania (incumbent is Republican)
* In states that voted Republican for president in 2000 Alabama, Nevada (incumbent is Democrat), South Dakota (incumbent is Democrat), Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida. In addition, states Bush carried in 2000 gained in population and now hold more electoral votes. Including Florida, Bush won by four electoral votes in 2000. If he carried those same states in 2004, he would win by 18 electoral votes. Eleven states, including California, New York and Illinois as well as Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, are considered Democratic base states. They hold 161 electoral votes out of a total of 270 electoral votes needed to win election. With this in mind, the AFL-CIO is placing resources into 16 presidential battleground states where the outcome could be changed if more union members and their families turn out to vote. They are: Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine. In addition, four leaning states have been selected: Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Colorado. The city and state budget crisis are devastating, cutting to the core of human needs and safety. As these life-and-death struggles unfold, the Bush administration must be held accountable. With this in mind, resources will be provided by Labor 2003-2004 to municipal elections in 28 cities within the presidential battleground states: Arizona Phoenix, Tucson Florida Tampa Maine Lewiston, Portland Michigan Grand Rapids, Livonia, Sterling Heights, Warren Minnesota Bloomington, Duluth, St. Paul Missouri Kansas City, Springfield New Hampshire Concord, Manchester, Nashua New Mexico Las Cruces Ohio Akron, Canton, Cleveland area suburbs, Columbus Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Allegheny County, Beaver County, Greene County Washington Seattle / King County West Virginia Charleston Union drives to organize the unorganized are also part of the preparation for 2004. The Bush administration has vociferously placed barriers in the way of union organizing, in part because union members are more likely to vote Democratic. The national drives to organize Cintas and Wal-Mart make a significant contribution toward the 2004 elections by placing the right to organize as a top issue. A standard measure for members of Congress and local elected officials is whether they took an active stand with the workers. In the final analysis, labors role in defeating Bush lies in voter turnout. The truth about the Bush administrations war on working people has to be told again and again, until it is fully understood, as a guarantee that larger numbers vote on election day. In this regard, the Steelworkers union has joined with environmental groups to propose a massive job creation program (called Apollo) in the energy and transportation sectors,. Their members chose the main issues of concern. The question could be asked: would you rather have jobs under the Apollo program, or would you rather have Bush and lose even more jobs from your community? USWA President Leo Girard was firm in his message to the presidential candidates in regard to the coalition of labor and allies, emphasizing, If you want the presidency, you have to go through us. In 2000, the largest delegation to the Democratic National Convention after California and New York was AFSCME. Labor delegates played an organized role, pushing issues and networking with each other about how to strengthen labors electoral structures and independent role. A similar approach is needed in 2004. Labor, along with nationally oppressed and women, is at the center of the coalition required to defeat Bush and the right wing. Labors political action deserves full support and involvement. Unity against racism and bigotry The highest level of unity against racism and bigotry is required if Bush is to be defeated in 2004. There is a strong basis for a large vote to defeat Bush in the African American, Latino, nationally oppressed communities, which are under direct attack through lack of funding for infrastructure and schools, lack of decent jobs, and privatization of services. That vote is under attack by the right wing. There has been a setback in organizing for 2004 in relation to union outreach to allies in communities of color and women around the Partnership for Americas Future. This initiative was put together in a way that bypassed the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and all the other AFL-CIO constituency groups that have joined together to put forward their own proposal for the 2004 elections. Hopefully, a resolution is near at hand. As Sam Webb said, Taking the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the AFL-CIO constituency groups for granted imperils 2004 and labor unity. While Bush speaks boldly of being color blind, his entire presidency is founded on racism. The Bush campaigns Southern Strategy in 2000 conspired to repress the African American vote. Eligible voters in at least 25 states were turned away because their names had been illegally purged or had not been added in a timely fashion. In Florida, thousands of voters, largely from African-American, overwhelmingly Democratic precincts, were wrongly dropped from the voter rolls when a Republican-owned computer company said they were convicted felons. This year, both Alabama and Nevada have restored voting rights to ex-felons. The Rainbow-PUSH convention developed a counter-southern strategy, which includes a massive voter registration drive. We must not write the South off; it is the key to the emancipation of the whole country and the preservation of the Union, said Jesse Jackson. We must launch a new southern strategy of reconciliation, shared economic security and hope and healing. A united front for the 2004 elections cannot succeed without special attention to the issue of racial equality. No candidate will be able to prevail against Bush without a strong program against racism at the center of their campaign. Where we can, we have to help the best of the candidates take a stronger stand. The fact that after filing a brief with the Supreme Court to undo affirmative action, Bush had to change his stance after the Courts ruling, shows his vulnerability on this issue and underscores issues of racism as central in the 2004 elections. As someone put it: George Bush has got to go cause were not going back to no Jim Crow. The election to Los Angeles City Council of Antonio Villaraigosa and Martin Ludlow, Mexican American and African American labor leaders respectively, deserves study on how they built the unity to win. In Evelina Alarcons report to the CPUSAs Mexican American Equality Commission, she characterizes the election of the team as transforming the politics of the city and laying the basis for 2004. The attack on immigrant rights is another expression of racism by the Bush administration. Since September 11, promises of amnesty for Mexican Americans were abandoned, detentions have been carried out without due process, and repressive measures are on the agenda of state legislatures across the country. We are all immigrants. These measures make everyone less secure, as the Republican push for FTAA starves the countries of Latin America and forces more and more deadly border crossings. In this context, the labor initiated Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride has a tremendous potential for building Black-Latino-white unity and labor-community unity. Large, diverse, multiracial coalitions are forming in every state the ride will pass through. This can have a tremendous electoral impact, especially on voter turnout for the six million projected Latino voters. Dirty tricks We should have no illusions about what the far right will stoop to in the way of dirty tricks to win this election. It has been reported that Bush advisor Karl Rove is planning a comprehensive assault on the electorate ... using every political and governmental strategy available. We know some of what has already happened. * The image of Republican Congressional staffers posing as ordinary folks and physically disrupting rallies and vote counts in Florida in 2000 resulting in the theft of the presidency is fresh in my mind and chilling;.
* The use of organized Republican crossover votes to defeat Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) in the Democratic primary after she took the lead in calling for an investigation into the circumstances preceding 9/11;
* Tom DeLays role in using the Department of Homeland Security against Texas Democratic state legislators because they would not go along with a Republican redistricting power-grab;
* The attempt to rule out filibusters in the Senate for judicial nominees;
* The attempt to recall California Gov. Gray Davis and seize control of the largest state before 2004, shocking even mainstream reporters.
The Bush campaign plans to raise $200 million, twice as much as in 2000, to saturate the media. Father Bushs use of the racist Willie Horton television ads to win his election is not forgotten. Nor are the ties to such corporations as Enron and Halliburton. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman sounds the alarm about the nexus of money and patronage. Continued attempts to block likely Democratic voters and voters of color in 2004 can be anticipated. Voting rights groups are particularly concerned about the lack of a paper trail with computerized voting machines, eliminating the possibility of a recount. On the positive side, several states have passed legislation to allow election-day voter registration [Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Connecticut]. Of course, there are the Bush doublespeak deceptions: Curtailing funds to public schools under the banner of no child left behind; Undermining laws providing clean air, clean water, and toxic waste cleanups under the banner of healthy forests and clear skies; moving to privatize Medicare and Medicaid under the banner of prescription drug benefits for seniors. All these dirty tricks must be responded to and exposed. Bushs mantra of never-ending war to achieve security in fact makes us less secure. The Bush military doctrine, the dismantling of the social safety net and privatization of education and health care are responsible for the fact that we are less secure today than before 2000. The best answer to dirty tricks is educate, organize, and mobilize. Communist Partys Role The results of the 2004 election will have an impact on every aspect of life. Everything we do in the next 17 months, all issues and actions, must be related to building a movement for the defeat of Bush and the far right in 2004. The success of this movement can result in new strength toward winning labor and peoples candidates and government. We have a contribution to make exposing the imperialist interests and anti-worker goals behind Bush and the far right. We have a contribution to make exposing the racism at the core of Bush and the far right and projecting an equality program that builds unity to defeat the Republicans. We have a contribution to make placing the focus on inspiring those voters who have been disenfranchised, and those who have not participated, to make their weight felt in the political process. We have a contribution to make placing the movement to defeat Bush as a necessary step toward a movement for a peoples government in our country. The framework is our policy of an extraordinary united all-peoples front to defeat Bush and the right wing, which comes out of our experiences and our roots in the labor movement and working class communities. We have a contribution to make participating in the process of bringing together peace, civil rights, civil liberties activists with labor at the local level. A concrete way is around the many large, national demonstrations and actions building up toward the elections:
* Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, Sept. 20 to Oct. 4
* FTAA Ministerial meeting protest in Miami, Nov. 20-21
* Day of Action for a Voice @ Work, Dec. 10
* Reproductive Rights March on Washington, April 25, 2004
* The World Says No to Bush protest at the Republican National Convention in New York, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004. Our work should be carried out in such a way to result in larger clubs a bigger Communist Party and Young Communist League. So many people are questioning the whole capitalist system. We offer a vision for a fair, equitable and peaceful society. First off, to get there we have to build the movement to defeat Bush in 2004. Clubs that are rooted in neighborhoods and election districts provide the ability to add to the voter turnout in key wards and voting places, and to build an ongoing grass-roots response and initiative on issues, both immediate and longer term. The Peoples Weekly World/ Nuestro Mundo has a special contribution to make. The paper is our best vehicle to expose the lies and demagogy of the Bush administration and the right wing, which are geared toward luring workers to vote against their own class interests. A deeper analysis can achieve a new level of turnout to vote like a worker. We should use the paper strategically. By choosing key working class precincts or election districts for distribution, the paper can help lay the basis for establishing clubs and running candidates for local office. The 2004 election campaign is not something in the distant future. It is already in progress. Our work this summer and fall should be planned to lay the groundwork for getting out the vote next November. Those districts with Labor 2003 targeted municipal races, can become involved now with local labor candidates. Those districts where the Freedom Ride will pass through can get involved and help build that coalition now as a broad response to the Bush administration bigotry and attacks on civil liberties. Those districts with local coalitions for healthcare and other issues related to the budget crises, or with local peace coalitions, can begin now to work toward their involvement in defeating Bush in the 2004 elections. Conclusion The 400 richest taxpayers, who accounted for more than 1 percent of all income in the United States, doubled their share of the wealth, while their taxes were drastically reduced. Workers are being laid off, children and families are going hungry, while their safety net is eliminated. The Bush administration must be held accountable for their life threatening refusal to aid states and cities in the midst of historic budget crises. These policies are the greatest threat to the security and well-being of our country and our people. The Bush administration first strike preemptive war policy is a threat to the future of the entire world. Working class soldiers are dying in Iraq, but no weapons of mass destruction are to be found. Like the Planned Parenthood leader said in New York, President Bush, weve had enough. This is not the time to shrink back. In this season of struggle it is time to move forward on the basis of hope, not fear, to build on the defiance and confidence being expressed by labor and peoples forces. Yes we can Si se puede Push Bush out the door in 2004.
Radical Ideas. Real Politics.
Push Bush Out the Door in 2004
Report to the CPUSA National Committee, June 28