Report on the 2006 Elections

November 16, 2005

I would like to begin by recognizing and appreciating our local candidates who are out in the field in this election cycle.

Through them we build on the legacy of the great Benjamin J. Davis, Communist Councilman from Harlem, and others who served the needs of working people valiantly in public office.

At this moment, what a great contribution our candidates have to make from the grass roots up, projecting bold solutions and building unity in the movement to defeat the extreme right wing.

We will learn a lot from the reports of these campaigns.

The raw racism and inhumanity in the administrations response to Katrina was horrifying, including for many people who had voted for Bush.

Bush, Rove, DeLay and Frist have no shame. Their thrust is to use Katrina to further their corrupt assault on the people.

Inexcusable poverty and inequality were laid bare.

Proposals to create good jobs, and finance the recovery by bringing the troops home and ending tax cuts to the rich would make sense.

Instead, this coming week Congress will vote on paying for the recovery by cutting $35 billion from programs that poor working people depend on for survival Medicaid, food stamps, education and housing.

This unwillingness and inability to take care of peoples needs, on top of the scandals and indictments of Bushs closest cronies, the growing opposition to the war, and escalating gas prices are having a cumulative effect, the reflection of a system in crisis.

Shifts in public opinion are beginning to take hold.

In this weeks polls, Bushs ratings were down to 30%. Two-thirds of the people said the country is on the wrong track. Democrats were favored over Republicans for election to Congress by eight points.

According to the AP poll, some categories of voters that Bush has relied upon are changing their minds. White evangelicals, Republican women, Southerners and suburban men were among those who had lost the most confidence in the President and do not like the direction of the country. One Republican was quoted as saying, We should get out of Iraq It seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

This fissure at the base is reflected in Congress where Bush can no longer count on lockstep Republican support.

The constant protests, rallies, town hall gatherings and information meetings in opposition to privatization of Social Security forced the Republican leadership to set that aside at least for the moment. We should be proud of the fight we put up along with the broad labor/peoples movement. But we shouldnt let our guard down.

Similarly, the outpourings against the war on Iraq gave rise to the Out Now caucus in Congress which is forcing the issue onto the floor, with a number of resolutions on exit strategy coming forth, and including a little Republican support although Congress lags far behind the clear majority of people who want the war to end now.

Bi-partisan letters have been signed by members of Congress to the President for reinstatement of Davis-Bacon worker protections (117), and for repeal of some sections of the Patriot Act (163), to name a couple.

The Congressional Black Caucus and members of the Hispanic Caucus and Progressive Caucus have been outstanding in pushing the envelope, and opening the door for pressure to be placed on every member of Congress to reject the Bush agenda item by item.

In this atmosphere, the potential to end Republican majority rule of Congress next year seems like a steep but more realizable possibility.

To recapture Congress, Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate.

The biggest determining factor in 2006 will be the ability of the labor movement, with core allies, African American, Latino, women, youth, to stick together and organize around key issues like ending the war, healthcare for all, good jobs with union rights and quality, public education.

The Iraq war veteran who ran for Congress in Ohio showed that by addressing the anti-war majority, and putting forward a program to change the priorities of the country, it was possible to nearly win in a Republican stronghold District.

To win the confidence of the voters, Democratic candidates will have to differentiate themselves.

Every issue, every organizing drive, every demonstration is part of preparing for the elections in 2006. The cost of home heating and electricity is an issue that affects every neighborhood and every voting precinct. From the demand for no shut-offs to the profits of oil companies, the Bush administration must be held accountable.

Next week union, retiree, womens and children organizations will be calling in to the Congressional switchboard demanding NO to budget cuts that hurt children and tax breaks for the rich, and YES to Disaster Relief Medicaid to provide health care now. We should mobilize our allies and members to call in and also to add the message to bring the troops home.

The demand for voting rights and campaign finance reform is also part of preparing for the 2006 elections.

The architects of the southern strategy may be under indictment for theft and corruption, but the southern strategy continues.

They are likely counting on capturing the Democratic stronghold of New Orleans and picking up a seat in Congress by disenfranchising the African American voters currently dispersed by the hurricane.

Those who have been displaced must be guaranteed the right to vote by absentee ballot, as put forth in the Displaced Citizens Voter Protection Act.

The fight in California to defeat Schwarzeneggers Proposition 75 and uphold the right of workers to participate fully in the electoral process is also a crucial battle against wholesale disenfranchisement that will have a big impact on the 2006 elections.

The anti-immigrant hysteria whipped up since 9/11 is also certain to be used in an attempt to split and divide the opposition. The fight for immigrant rights legislation will be an important part of unity building.

Between now and November 8 important races in New York (Mayor), New Jersey (Governor) and elsewhere will lay the groundwork for 2006. Our own candidates who are standing for election this year are also part of preparing for 2006, knocking on doors, speaking with voters about solutions for meeting peoples needs.

In 2004 the National Committee launched the Mid-West project. We said we wanted to participate with and add to the broad coalition, and at the same time strengthen our own base in key communities. It was a tremendous experience for the entire Party and the YCL. We learned a lot and got high marks from our coalition partners.

The mid west remains a battleground, as does the South. We should think through how to adapt the experience of the Mid West Project to the Mid-Term elections in 2006 around key Senate and House campaigns.

In addition, every state will have its own battleground election district. In how many election districts can we build a base of Peoples Weekly World readers who can be mobilized to vote and to get involved beyond Election Day?

Jarvis and Sam spoke of the tremendous radicalization process underway, crystalized by the Iraq war, Katrina, scandals in the cabinet and the energy crisis.

Going door to door in the recent election in the Fair Haven section of New Haven, we met a number of people, including some in their 70’s and 80’s who had never voted before, but who were now inspired to get involved by the work of the candidate, and her commitment, from getting trees planted to saving Social Security.

Many from all walks of life are seeking out our Party in order to be part of the all peoples front to defeat the extreme right-wing, and beyond that, toward achieving a social transformation in our country.

The 2006 elections figure largely in this titanic battle. They do not begin in January, they have already begun, they begin now.


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