Socialist Worker

Who's to blame this time?

Issue No. 1927

By Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair

THERE ARE many reasons for what is an overwhelming Republican victory across the board. They range from delusions about the potency of electronic organising to the fatal deficiencies of Kerry himself.

You can troll back over the past 15 months and find scarce a headline or news story bringing good tidings for Bush.

The economic numbers remained grim, as they have been all year. History is replete with revolutions caused by a rise in the price of bread. This year the price of America’s primal fluid—oil—on which every household depends, tripled.

But Kerry and the Democrats were never able to capitalise on any of these headlines, a failure which started when Democrats in Congress, Kerry included, gave the green light to the war on Iraq.

Kerry conclusively threw away the war and WMD issues in August. When he tried a chord change in September it was too late, and even then his position remained incoherent. He offered no way out. More tunnel, no light.

It was like that for Kerry on almost every issue. Outsourcing is a big issue in the rustbelt, yet here Kerry was forced to concede that he had voted for the trade pacts and still supported them.

All he offered, aside from deficit busting, was some tinkering with the tax code.

The Republicans played, on the ground, to the bedrock members of their party, and got them to the polls.

The Kerry campaign conducted an air war from 30,000 feet, bombarding the population with vague alarums and thinking that “Anyone but Bush” would pull them through.

There was indeed a lot of popular animosity towards Bush, but the Democrats could never capitalise on it. The crucial machinery of any political party is organisation—its capacity to rally its supporters on the big day. In this crucial area the Democratic Party is in an advanced state of disrepair.

The SEIU union wasted $70 million of its members’ dues money attacking Ralph Nader.

A grotesque amount of energy went into trying to suppress the Nader vote. They did suppress it, and this gained them nothing, except perhaps the destruction of the Green Party.

What will the Democrats do? You can already hear the party’s leadership cranking up its message that you can only beat the Republicans by outflanking them on the right.

The Nader alibi has gone. The Democratic Party and its leaders have nowhere else to look than in the mirror. They would do well to examine Nader’s critiques, but we bet they won’t.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair edit CounterPunch, the US radical newsletter and webzine. Go to www.counterpunch.org for a longer version of this article.


Don’t mourn...organise!

By United for Peace and Justice

IN THE wake of Bush’s election it’s time to regroup and take the long view. The bad news is obvious and awful, but the good news is that our movement continues to grow.

Here at United for Peace and Justice we share with millions of people around the country—and millions more around the world—a sense of horror about what happened on election day.

The largest grassroots electoral mobilisation in memory was not strong enough to unseat George Bush. We are upset by the outcome, and disgusted that the politics of fear have been so fine tuned by Karl Rove and company.

We are outraged by the voter intimidation, vote suppression and other tactics of disenfranchisement used before and on 2 November. But we are not totally surprised by the outcome of this election.

For more than 40 years the right wing has been planning, organising, fundraising and executing strategies for taking control of this country. With Bush and the so called “war on terror”, they have found the perfect instrument for consolidating their power.

At the same time, every day we are inspired by the outpouring of energy and creativity around the country. In the past few years the peace and justice movement has been reignited. At least 500,000 people marched in New York City on the eve of the Republican national convention.

Our long term hope lies in this grassroots upsurge, and to win we need to take the long term view. We share the frustration and anger of so many activists, but the truth is that the peace and justice movement is not yet strong enough to successfully change those in power.

That does not mean we are giving up or going away. On the contrary, as we take a moment to catch our breath and get some needed rest, we are already beginning to sort through the lessons of this election and our recent past.

In the days and weeks ahead we’ll all see lots of analysis about what happened. We encourage you to organise discussions about what happened in the election, and where we should be headed as a movement.

United for Peace and Justice always knew that our work to end the occupation of Iraq would not be immediately affected by the outcome of the presidential race.

We are preparing to move into a period of much more focused organising on the Iraq war, working with local groups around the country on implementing plans to reach the people we don’t usually talk to.

Working together has made it possible for us to make a significant contribution to the larger social change movement.

The months and years ahead will not be easy, but we are hopeful that our common efforts will bring us closer toward a world where justice triumphs and peace prevails.

United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 800 national and local US anti-war groups. Go to www.unitedforpeace.org for more details.


Fear led people to vote for Bush

By Bill Fletcher

THE BUSH campaign focused on fear and religious values in order to advance its neo-liberal agenda. Fear, appropriately manipulated, can lead people to vote against their own interests.

It was quite noticeable that the Bush campaign had no defence of its domestic agenda. Nevertheless, using the shield of post-9/11 fear, plus concern in sections of the population about so called moral values, the neo-liberal agenda has been advanced.

To put it another way, millions of people are prepared to accept a neo-liberal agenda, despite or irrespective of its consequences, because they have accepted the Bush administration’s arguments about national security and morality.

The Democratic Party’s approach of attempting to compete with the ultra-right on its own terms continues to fail. While Kerry challenged the Iraq war, he was actually late in doing so, but also never challenged Bush’s approach to the so called war against terrorism.

The ultra-right within the Republican Party is very well organised and ideologically solidified behind an agenda. There is nothing comparable on the left and progressive side within the Democratic Party.

The leadership of the Democratic Party continues to advance notions about moving the party further to the right, but this demoralises the base rather than energising it.

Bill Fletcher is a longtime African-American activist in the labour movement. He writes here in a personal capacity.


Act now against war

By Ralph Nader

THE 2 November is not the end, it is a new beginning. The challenge to the two-party system that is choking political expression and response in the US will continue and grow.

If the parties want to continue losing significance in attending to the country’s necessities, they need only continue to place the interests of big business before the interests of the people.

The re-election of George Bush would not have occurred had the Democrats stood up for the needs of the American people. Tens of millions of Americans have been left out of the political process because their needs are being ignored.

Many of these people did not even bother to vote because they feel unrepresented. Others ended up voting against their own personal interests for George Bush because of the absence of clear attracting policies by the Democrats.

As the votes are analysed we will find that significant percentages of union members, low income earners, seniors and women will have voted for the president. These people voted against their interests because the Democrats did not put their interests on the table, and issues like gay marriage, abortion and guns swayed them.

It is now urgent for the peace movement to be reawakened. They have sidelined themselves in this election by their silent support for a candidate who has become aggressive on the war.

The US is on the verge of a major offensive in Fallujah that will result in mass civilian deaths, and likely lead us further into a civil war behind a puppet government against the resistance to US occupation.

There is no time to delay in order to protest at the intensification of the Iraq occupation. The time to act was yesterday. Not only is the Iraq war an illegal, fabricated one, but it is draining resources needed to deal with necessities for the American people.

The straitjacket of the political duopoly needs to be broken. This campaign exposed the ballot access barriers that confront all third party and independent candidates. It is time to challenge the shared monopoly of the two parties at every level, and to do so consistently.

Ralph Nader ran for US president as an independent candidate. Go to www.votenader.org for more details.

Click on the names for more reactions to the US presidential elections, including Michael Albert,

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Roger Burbach


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