NEW YORK — Members of the Communist Party USA national committee meeting here Nov. 10 heard Sam Webb, the party’s chairman, say that “in the struggle against the ultra-right we are at the cusp of a political conjuncture which could shift things in favor of the working class.” After “a quarter century of domination,” he said, the right is finally losing momentum.
In his report to the meeting, Webb noted the erosion of Bush administration control over Congress and of the administration’s ability to dominate politics at home and abroad. But, he warned, the right wing “is not a spent force. The threats against Iran and the continuing push for authoritarian rule here at home need to be taken seriously.”
The report described how “the broadly based labor-led movement has resisted Bush” from the beginning and how, as a result, “new forces came into play including antiwar and immigrant rights groups,” culminating, in 2006, “with an election victory that gave control of Congress to the Democratic Party.”
While that shift was not a “revolutionary change,” Webb noted, it helped propel critical debates along positive lines, adding impetus to the drive for diplomacy rather than military force and for government curbs on corporations that run wild, and to the drive for economic democracy and against racism.
Webb defined the 2008 elections as “a squaring off between the growing movement of labor and other democratic forces” and the far right. “At stake is our country’s future,” he said, calling for a “decisive defeat” of Republicans and increasing the Democratic majorities in Congress, especially the number of progressives.
Warning that it would be a mistake to equate the Democratic and Republican parties at this time, Webb said, “Defeating the far right is to the advantage of and critical to the survival and growth of the people’s movements.” Such an electoral sweep will “give people’s forces more leverage and independence,” he said.
He called for a strong emphasis on the fight to reverse the deteriorating economic conditions of working people.
The jobs, mortgage and housing crises and the entire economic struggle of working people must be brought into the electoral arena, Webb said. This includes the fight for manufacturing jobs, for union organizing rights and for universal health care, he said.
Joelle Fishman, chair of the CPUSA’s political action commission, also addressed the national committee members with a PowerPoint presentation on the stakes in the 2008 elections, which is available for public forums.
She warned that the Republicans can be expected to use the immigration issue to try to keep the far right in power. “Republicans hope to weaken labor’s multiracial mobilization with scare tactics that immigrants take jobs from other low-wage workers,” she said. “The root cause of job loss is pro-corporate trade and foreign policy and tax policy. Blaming immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere stirs up racial profiling and makes it harder for workers to join together and demand union rights for everyone.”
Fishman said the defeat of the Republican Party “could change the political map in our country,” and urged an all-out grassroots mobilization to turn out the vote and protect it from GOP dirty tricks.
The extensive discussions on the reports expressed a consensus that while the reports amounted to a call for some shifts in thinking and activity on the part of party members, the aim of a decisive sweeping out of Republicans in 2008 is of critical importance. Participants said such an outcome would make whoever wins the presidency feel great pressure to move in a better direction on a host of issues facing the people.
In the discussion, most felt that an absence of labor and independent progressive movements from election efforts could result in a close outcome, making a Republican defeat less valuable to the movement.