This is not a good year to be running for election or reelection to the U.S. House or Senate as a Republican. George W. Bush’s approval ratings are at record lows, the economy is in the tank, gasoline prices and mortgage foreclosures are skyrocketing and the Iraq war grinds on without end. The GOP has lost special House elections in three congressional districts they have held for decades in Illinois, Mississippi and Louisiana. And Democratic candidates are ahead in 35 “battleground” districts now held by Republicans.
We are facing the real possibility not only of a landslide election of Barack Obama as president but a landslide that delivers a veto-proof, pro-labor, pro-peace majority in the House and Senate races as well. Even in Miami, three rabid ultra-right Republican members of the House — Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are facing a stiff challenge.
But nothing is being taken for granted. The assumption is that it will take a tough, hard fight to overcome the GOP’s massive money machine, their slime and smear campaign tactics, and the advantages of incumbency.
The AFL-CIO laid out its election year strategy at a June 25 news briefing. It is targeting Senate races in Alaska, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia. Victory could mean the 60 Senate votes needed to end Republican filibusters. The labor federation is also focusing on 60 House races, again seeking the majority needed to break the back of GOP obstructionism. The labor movement will deploy at least 250,000 volunteers seeking to reach 13 million union workers and their families.
The biggest obstacles in our way are not the sneaky and racist tactics of Republican spinmeister Karl Rove. They are our doubts that real change is possible, a lack of confidence in the people, a failure of imagination, political inertia and just plain laziness.
This is an election in which the doors are wide open to the broadest, deepest grassroots participation by anyone who wants to help mobilize a sweeping majority vote Nov. 4 to win the White House, the House and Senate.