Battle cry to defeat Bush greets New Year

For the movements on the ground determined to defeat Bush in 2004, the New Year came roaring in like a lion.

Recounting the attacks on Social Security, pensions, health care, and wages, William Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO president, got it right when he warned, “Unless you are a millionaire all these things and more are at risk.” Addressing a gathering of over 800 union presidents on Dec. 9, Burga decried the selfish individualism of the right wing as a symptom of “an over-ripe, nearly rotten, capitalist society and culture.” (See related story on page 8.)

The only rights the Bush administration recognizes are the rights of corporate power to be protected from the democratic actions of the people. This situation objectively places the working people of our country on the front lines.

From the Florida recount to the Texas redistricting and the California recall, democracy itself is under fire. Now, Republican strategist Karl Rove has his eyes on five open Senate seats in the South. The “Southern strategy” of using racist appeals to pull white voters against their own self-interest will undoubtedly be employed.

But if the Philadelphia mayoral election is any measure, old tricks may not work. FBI bugging of African American Mayor John Street galvanized the city, resulting in his overwhelming re-election, and giving rise to new working relationships between labor and community. The divisive right-wing messages flooding the airwaves in the rural South and Midwest, painting as “unpatriotic” anyone who disagrees with the occupation of Iraq, or with George Bush’s economic policies, may well backfire.

Voters in the Midwestern states, where election results were very close in 2000, are also special targets of the right wing, and Bush has been campaigning there heavily.

In the industrial states of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, economic devastation has been especially severe. The Bush administration must be held accountable for a record high 3 million manufacturing jobs lost in two and a half years in office. Some 337,122 families have been devastated by jobs lost in Ohio; 379,352 families devastated in Michigan; and 323,700 families devastated in Pennsylvania, leaving the numbers without health coverage and the numbers living in poverty way up, and resulting in bankruptcy for the city of Pittsburgh.

In fact, Bush’s policies are a disaster for the overwhelming majority in every state. And every state, every community, every campus, should be contested on that basis in the presidential, congressional and State House elections. Every vote counts, and every vote must be counted.

From the battles over Medicare in Congress to the 25,000 who rallied against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Miami in the last days of 2003, the fight is on. “The future of all social programs is at stake in the trade globalization battle,” Ruben Burke of the Alliance of Retired Americans told the Miami crowd, linking Medicare with the “free trade” issue.

The Ohio union activists who gathered last month are in the thick of the battle, working to expand the voting power of the labor movement by talking with and activating their members, and outreaching into the community. They know that Ohio is a key state to the national outcome, as do other peoples’ organizations.

MoveOn will do their part with a series of “Bush in 30 Seconds” TV ads exposing the administration’s lies to begin airing after the State of the Union Address.

As the Democratic primaries begin in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the campaign will take new twists and turns. One thing is sure. The way to defeat Bush is to take his policies head on, and present strong solutions for good job creation, universal health care, and ending the occupation of Iraq. The way to win this election is building the movement from the grassroots up in the labor, and people’s organizations, which can continue the fight the next day, on Nov. 3.

The year 2004 will surely go down in the history books as a pivotal moment in our country’s history. The greatest patriots are the workers, students, retirees and activists out on the campaign trail working to rescue our nation from the devastation wrought by Bush and the far-right since 2000.

Media pundits have been declaring the election in favor of Bush for months, contributing toward the Republican goal of suppressing the people’s voice and discouraging voter participation on Election Day. Don’t believe the hype!

Joelle Fishman (joelle.fishman@pobox.com) is chair of the Political Action Commission of the Communist Party USA. The commission is organizing a conference on the 2004 elections to be held in New York City on Saturday, Jan. 31. For information, visit www.cpusa.org.

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