The passage of the debt ceiling bill marks a dangerous moment for the workers movement in this country. As Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has so clearly pointed out, this “debt ceiling compromise” is, in fact, a sweeping victory for the wealthy, the largest corporations and banks and the ultra-right. There is nothing in it for working people that is worth the terrible price being paid. It locks us into austerity, cuts and no new revenue.
It allegedly preserves Social Security, which the Democratic leadership and the White House should never have even allowed on the table, as it does not contribute to the deficit in a real way. Whatever issue there is with Social Security could easily be fixed by raising Social Security taxes on higher incomes.
Medicare is allegedly secure from cuts but only if the “Debt Ceiling Committee of 12” (the special bipartisan joint committee of Congress) can find enough extra cuts to prevent the automatic, across the board cuts to everything provided for in the debt ceiling bill.
If this were a union negotiated deal, it would clearly be a “sell out” of the rank and file workers. If this were a union struggle it would be time to organize a rank and file committee to wrest leadership of the struggle from those who sold us out, without undermining the union.
It is true that the right wing of the capitalist class is the originator and big winner in this struggle. What is also true and crucial is that in the class war we are locked into now, this loss is even more important than all the individual union struggles put together, and so betrayal of the rank and file in this debt ceiling struggle is more serious than in any single unsavory contract negotiation.
Most rank and file activists I know see no alternative to the president and his party in 2012 to defeat our howling enemies of the ultra right and the Republicans (the “vanguard party of the capitalist class”).
In the winner-take-all arena of U.S. politics it is true that the president and his party are the only ones capable of defeating the ultra right and the Republicans so they are the only realistic choice in the voting booth in 2012.
It is also true that the president and his party are governing in a way that is discouraging and angering multitudes of his working class supporters. The sense of betrayal is strong in many quarters. The possibility of defeat at the hands of the “stay at home voter” is stronger now than before. When it comes to voting, people are more inspired by hope for change than disgust with tea party lunacy.
The president and his party allowed the debt conversation to dominate the political conversation rather than a job-creating stimulus. They essentially took the struggle for stimulus off the table in a serious way, and so locked us all into a low growth, jobless austerity.
We can no longer allow the Democratic Party and it’s leaders to set the agenda for the struggle against the ultra right. Conciliation, compromise, bipartisanship with these ruthless Republicans is absolutely senseless for us. The workers movement needs to stir up street heat, “Wisconsin style” times 10.
In the realm of the political discourse we need to intensify the attitude of meeting the Republicans head on, defeating them rather than conciliating them, both politically and ideologically. We can trust no one outside the workers movement to do this for us.