The Bush administration and the extreme right have been ruthless in their attacks on youth and our quality of life. They have shown us that capitalism offers no real future. As they continue to dismantle everything that our parents and grandparents fought for and won; as they offer up our generation to die in an unjust war; as they turn a blind eye to hurricane-ravaged communities that have already been torn apart by racism, poverty, police brutality and unemployment — we have a choice to make.
Will we sit back and allow the far right to destroy our future or will we stand up together to build another world?
The answer is obvious. It’s our future they’re playing with, and youth must unite with the broader democratic and labor-led struggles to defeat the far right — particularly cronies of the Bush administration currently occupying Congress!
We know that it is only through socialism that we can secure real, lasting democracy, equality and peace. But in order to get there, we have to first play our part in defeating the most reactionary policies that threaten all we have won. Youth have a powerful role in this coalition, and it is this decisive victory that will put all of us in a better position to fight for and win a real people’s agenda.
Yes, we can condemn Bush, meticulously repeating our frustrations over and over to an empty U.S. Capitol building at yet another Saturday afternoon demonstration. But talking about our demands alone never got us anywhere. We must also act, taking strategic advantage of opportunities to widen our struggle and increase our chances of winning our broader goals.
The 2006 elections are one such opportunity, encompassing more than the usual back-and-forth between spin-doctors and not-so-charismatic candidates. Indeed, this year’s elections provide us with a strategic opportunity to turn Congress into a voice of opposition against the extreme right and the Bush administration. And surprisingly, doing this does not require that much of a shift, according to recent congressional floor votes. It was only by two votes that Congress cut prescription drug coverage for seniors dependent on Medicare, and by only two votes that Congress passed the biggest cut in student aid for higher education in U.S. history. Likewise, local and state elections are just as important in winning better schools, jobs and lasting peace, including important school board and gubernatorial races — kicking the far right out of our backyards.
Not convinced? Well consider this.
If the radical right wing of the Republicans were to return to office on Nov. 8, we can imagine more youth being sent to war overseas, more tax breaks to the rich while social programs are eliminated, more erosion of labor laws, more empty mandates like No Child Left Behind, and increased privatization of our public schools — starting, of course, with those in New Orleans.
With a Democratic majority in Congress, John Conyers would chair the Judiciary Committee, bringing forward bills for impeachment and for expansion of the Voting Rights Act. Sheila Jackson-Lee would chair the Immigration Subcommittee. She is the author of one of the better immigration bills. Charles Rangel would chair the Ways and Means Committee, strengthening consideration of Medicare for All and expanding Katrina relief. George Miller would chair the Education and the Workforce Committee, bringing the Employee Free Choice Act to a vote and halting the congressional attacks on public education, opening the doors for a real No Child Left Behind law. Such an altered climate of struggle would give us increased room to organize youth, our parents, our teachers and others to fight for comprehensive education reform, expanded affirmative action, and good jobs and fair wages.
Is it enough for us to simply “call” for these things?
Again, the answer is clear. Another world is necessary — so necessary that we cannot pass up any one fight sitting down — including the fight for Congress! It’s time for us to go on the offensive! As communists, we know that capitalism will not fix itself, and that, in fact, this is one of the many steps along the road to socialism. Thus, all youth must engage in the 2006 elections with intentions of winning, turning Congress into a voice of opposition to the far right and preparing for the future stages of our fight. It is the only way to win back our schools, good jobs and a lasting peace. It is the only way to real democracy and full equality. We invite you to join the struggle to beat back the extreme right through the elections. Youth demand a future, and we demand it right now!
Erica Smiley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is national coordinator of the Young Communist League USA. Jessica Marshall (email@example.com) is a member of the YCL National Council and former national coordinator.