CLEVELAND - The tide is starting to turn, and we can be hopeful that 2014 will truly be a Year of Action for democratic and progressive victories. Here are five reasons why:
1. The right wing is in turmoil. The Republican Party, the political arm of the extremist wing of corporate power, is torn by sharp internal squabbles while its most popular potential candidate for president, Chris Christie, is mired in ever deepening scandal. Its former presidential candidate, John McCain, has been censured by the Arizona Republican Party for being too liberal. Its congressional leaders face growing mutiny and are unable to formulate any coherent policies on jobs, health care, immigration or foreign policy. In practice the GOP program has been reduced to advocating war, austerity and the dismantling of democratic institutions and rights.
2. The right wing was weakened in the 2013 elections. The GOP war on the rights of women caused it to lose control of Virginia, while further losses occurred in mayoral elections in many cities including Boston, New York, and Dayton and Toledo, Ohio. Right-wing ballot initiatives were stopped in Colorado, Cincinnati and in Ohio's Ashtabula County. The rapid expansion of states enacting marriage equality laws in 2013 also reflected a major weakening of the ultra-right.
3. Angered by the Republican logjam in Congress, people are taking to the streets. Mass actions by labor in support of low-wage workers and raising the minimum wage erupted in 140 cities. Labor is also urging mass campaigns to extend unemployment benefits, stop job-killing trade agreements, and reform immigration laws. The Steelworkers union has made jobs and rebuilding the infrastructure its top priority. The Moral Monday movement has galvanized the African American community and its allies in the South while mass actions are also growing to protect the environment, to establish marriage equality and to defend the health and reproductive rights of women.
4. Right-wing ideology has lost its clout. People are no longer diverted by phony concerns about government debt and budget deficits; the conversation has changed to much more fundamental questions of wealth and income inequality. This was the core of President Obama's State of the Union speech and Obama has vowed to make these issues the top priorities for the remainder of his term. In this he has the backing of Pope Francis who will be meeting with Obama at the Vatican in March.
5. A quiet radicalization of mass thought patterns has occurred. According to numerous polls, tens of millions of Americans now have a positive attitude toward socialism and a negative attitude toward capitalism. The Pew poll found this includes the majority of African Americans, youth under 29 and liberal Democrats. Important expression of these attitudes were last November's election of a socialist to Seattle City Council, campaigning on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the election of a very progressive mayor of New York despite massive red-baiting. There is growing unity among left and socialist groups around the need to build a broad coalition to defeat right wing extremism.
The Communist Party USA has popularized this policy and scheduled its 30th national convention for this coming June in Chicago to assess all these trends and the possibilities for building a transformational mass movement. All are invited to join this discussion beginning Feb 1 at cpusa.org/discussion-2014 and on the party's Facebook page. You can also contact convention organizers at these sites if you wish to attend or help build this important event.
Build the mass movement! Break the GOP stranglehold on Congress! Make 2014 a year of historic progressive action!