Friday, November 5, 2010

Workers World: What The Elections Weren't

Editorial From The Latest Issue Of Workers World

The election returns are still coming in as we write this, so we reserve comment on those questions that can be clarified once there is more data. However, there are several important observations that can be made, even at this early hour.

This midterm election came as workers in the United States were trying to deal with a third year of major job losses, foreclosures and evictions, and a significant rise in poverty.

At the same time, the Wall Street billionaires claim to have turned the corner — on profits, not on hiring workers or on the general state of the economy. And so we can read once again about the millions and even billions of dollars channeling into the pockets of the already very rich, even while at least 30 million unemployed and underemployed workers literally don’t know when they’ll ever get a decent paycheck again and tens of millions more are fearful that they, too, can fall into the abyss. With their families, this adds up to a third of the population.

Where was this expressed in the election? If we look at the campaigns run by both Republicans and Democrats, how much hope could be gleaned from what they said?

Did any of them even whisper about the need for a government jobs program that would take the huge government revenues amassed from taxes on workers and spend them on hiring people into real jobs at real wages? That would have gotten a response. But who can get excited about promises that tax breaks to corporations and the rich will somehow produce jobs? Isn’t that what both Democrats and Republicans have prescribed over the last two years — and it hasn’t worked? So only the corporations that stand to make millions from these tax breaks are excited — and they’ve funded this election like money was water.

Considering all the hope expressed by the majority of voters in 2008 that racism could be overcome and discrimination and oppression be a thing of the past, did any of the “major” party candidates take a strong stand against the fear-mongering and scapegoating by Fox News and the Tea Party types? Did they stand up for the rights of immigrants, women, Black people, Latinos/as, Native people, Muslims, lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people? Or were they running for cover from the racist and xenophobic lies of the right-wing, even as the economic crisis takes its fiercest toll on people of color, devastating once-booming cities like Detroit and Cleveland?

The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are still under the gun, their countries occupied by foreign troops using futuristic weapons to keep the people from exercising their right to real self-determination — which can never be imposed by invaders and their political puppets. Does either “major” party admit to what so many people already know in their bones — that these are wars for oil; that Wall Street and the Pentagon have a vested interest in the region and will spend our young people’s lives and trillions of our dollars pursuing fabulous profits while budgets at home are cut to the bone and the environment is degraded even further?

Much has been written about how potential voters in this election, especially young people who were the strongest supporters of Obama in 2008, are disgusted, demoralized, anxious, disillusioned and scared. It has not been reported yet how this affected the turnout at the polls. Did many formerly Democratic voters switch to Republican — or did they just stay at home? Did some workers even wind up opting for Republicans out of fear and anger with the incumbents?

Either way, they will have their eyes opened soon. Whether it’s Republicans or Democrats who control the House and Senate, the layoffs will continue. The foreclosures will continue. Capital will continue to run to where wages are lowest and profits are highest. This crisis of capitalism is not going away and neither big business party has an answer for the working class.

In New York state, this election saw the emergence of a promising new party, the Freedom Party. It represents a break with the Democrats by Black and Latino/a forces that is reaching out to the masses on the question of self-determination for these oppressed nations. The party got tens of thousands of signatures to be on the ballot. Hopefully, it will continue to challenge the racist powers that be.

The way ahead is uncharted. But all of history tells us that material conditions determine consciousness. It was the wretched conditions for labor in the 1800s that led to the development of Marxism, scientific socialism, the first unions and the first international organizations of the working class. It was the whip of racist reaction that led to the movements for civil rights and Black liberation. It was the oppression built into capitalism that led to the struggles for women’s rights and LGBTQ liberation.

Now the whole working class in this country, including all its specially oppressed sectors that take the lead in consciousness and organization, faces a long, hard struggle against a vicious capitalist, imperialist system in decline. Breaking out of the political straightjacket of the two-party system becomes imperative as this class struggle intensifies.

In New York, three upcoming events will help push the envelope of struggle. The first two occur Nov. 6 at St Mark’s Church on the Bowery. From noon to 4 p.m., activists will meet for a regional conference building for an April 9, 2011, anti-war mobilization. Then, from 6:30 to 8:30, the first national meeting of the National Committee to Stop FBI Repression will be held. (see

Threading through these problems and looking at what comes next will the focus of the Workers World Party’s National Conference on Nov. 13-14 in New York. We hope to see you all there.

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