Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness
and peril and need,
The people will waken
and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats
of that steed,
And the midnight message
of Paul Revere.
– from “Paul Revere’s Ride”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As 5,000 delegates, 15,000 guests and thousands of media arrive in Boston for the Democratic National Convention, echoes of Paul Revere’s midnight ride in 1775 should fill the hall. The delegates are called upon to fulfill their historic responsibility at a time of peril and need in our country and the world. The courage of Paul Revere, and of other giants for democracy in our history, must be carried on against the lies, deceit, division and demagogy of the Bush administration and his right-wing corporate backers.
As the delegates arrive, the country remains sharply divided. On the ground is shock at the fact that our country was brought into war on a lie. Polls show over half of the electorate believes the war on Iraq was not worth it. Two-thirds oppose sending any more troops.
On the ground is anger at the loss of good union jobs, and the loss of economic security for most families except the wealthiest top few. On the ground, young people are demanding the right to education and a future. And concern escalates about safeguarding our democracy, the right to vote and to have every vote counted.
The Bush campaign is counting on a combination of manipulation and trickery to avoid answering substantive questions. The Republican convention will showcase moderates in an attempt to hide the administration’s right-wing extremist ideology. But the ground operation will set a tone of fear and bigotry, utilizing conservative ministers, anti-Castro Cubans, terrorist alerts, immigrant raids and personal attacks.
On his own issues – the war and terrorism – Bush no longer has majority support. Even a group of military commanders and diplomats have issued a stinging indictment.
Thousands greet the Kerry-Edwards ticket in rallies, worried about how they will make ends meet and take care of their families.
Yet the election remains neck in neck. The people of the country are still searching for a strong alternative based on hope not fear, inclusion not racism and division.
A forthright stand on the issues that labor, Black and Latino voters are most concerned about will strengthen the majority and help build a winning coalition strong enough to pull out the vote.
In battleground states, canvassing shows that many new voters and non-voters – Latino, African American, women, working and rural families, young people – who are not for Bush, are waiting to hear what the Democrats say about jobs, health care, education, the environment and the war in Iraq.
The war cannot be sidelined in this election, especially as opposition continues to grow.
“We cannot solve these economic and social problems without addressing U.S. foreign policy and its consequences,” says a resolution passed unanimously by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and to bring the troops home.
While this position did not pass the DNC platform committee, delegates for Dennis Kucinich succeeded in winning compromise language that calls for a reduction in troops with the goal of withdrawal.
In an attempt to discredit this outstanding effort, the media and those who say the Democrats are not radical enough, portrayed the Kucinich compromise as a “sell-out.” Actually, it is another opening to build grassroots pressure and organization in congressional districts and local communities.
A two-week education campaign has resulted in nearly 70 members of Congress signing on to co-sponsor HR 690, mandating an investigation into prison abuses in Iraq.
Over 400,000 non-unionized workers have joined the new AFL-CIO affiliate Working America around the issue of saving overtime pay.
Over 1 million women rallied in Washington for equal rights, pledging to register 10 new voters a piece.
It is on the issues that labor, peace and civic organizations will galvanize voters to the polls on Nov. 2. It is on the issues of fairness and democracy that the Bush administration and ultra-right control of Congress can be defeated. And, it is on the issues that a powerful movement can be built to continue the struggle for a new social order based on equality, peace, economic and social justice.
In 1775 a band of farmers and workers stood up to the strongest power on earth that represented wealth and control. They said, “We’re not going to take it anymore.” Like Paul Revere’s midnight ride 224 years ago, now is the time to sound the alarm: “The Bushies are coming!” The people will waken and listen to hear.
–Joelle Fishman is chair of the Political Action Commission of the Communist Party USA. She can be reached at email@example.com.