A major tactic of the ultra-right over the last four years was courting the religious right, the “evangelical” crowd, pouring our tax money into both Black and white churches under the pretext that they are the best sources for dispensation of charity. This has been going on in violation of the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.
With the religious right as their base, they concentrated in small town, rural America, deriving millions of votes from these areas. The dominant farm organization, the Farm Bureau, representing the largest farms and agribusiness, has always been reactionary, a base for the Republicans. Organizations representing small farmers, such as the Farmers Union, are politically progressive, but they are relatively small and could not penetrate very deeply into the general farm population.
But in this election a new element was added: the Catholic Church. The church itself attacked the strongest base of support for Kerry and progressive Democrats — workers and their families — and it opened the doors for the political right to penetrate that base. Millions of workers, particularly in the industrial sector, are Catholics. Some labor leaders told me they were very upset by what they heard in church before the elections.
We should not, however, overlook the fact that millions of Catholic workers did not follow their church leaders, and voted for Kerry. Walking house to house among Italian workers in Ashtabula County, Ohio, we found that over 90 percent supported Kerry.
A coalition of conservative, ultra-right forces has emerged, controlled by the most reactionary transnational corporations. It has built a mass base among the electorate, allowing for successful attacks on democratic rights and living standards of the American people, a massive transfer of wealth to the rich and most reactionary corporations, and the waging of war for world domination.
However, four years of reactionary policy and program coming out of the Bush administration has, in turn, forced a polarization of political forces. This has led to the rise of a powerful mass movement fighting for democratic rights, economic justice, peace in the world, and preservation of our environment.
In the face of a billion-dollar multi-faceted attack encouraged by a compliant mass media, 56 million people voted for Kerry. The movement built to elect Kerry is based on numerous political currents and organizations, the most powerful being organized labor, combined with civil rights, professional, educational, environmental, and peace groups, with an emerging youth and student movement.
The fight to defeat Bush and elect Kerry brought together a coalition of political forces in the voting rights movement. It has a strong political base among progressive Democrats, who have already begun to outline a fightback in speeches and interviews by figures like John Edwards and Nancy Pelosi.
A few days must be allowed for activists and fighters to work through their disappointment, get back on their feet, and get to work for election 2005. State governments dominated by right-wing Republicans have to be won, like the “take back Ohio” campaign already started.
Expect street heat to be escalated, with renewed economic battles over wages and benefits, to save Social Security from the Wall Street brokers and bankers, to end war and foreign policy based on American imperialist domination of the world.
Of course, there are those of weak heart and the ill-informed who were in for a thrill and quick fixes, but they will be in the minority. The majority look forward to seeing the Bush gang exposed, with their lies and escalating attacks on the welfare of the American people and the world.
Hope is on the way!
Wally Kaufman is an officer and activist in the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans. He can be reached at email@example.com.