The White House is saying that the election results give a green light to its political and legislative agenda. Although the evidence to prove this is threadbare, there are ample reasons to be alarmed, as Bush and gang have never allowed facts to interfere with their spin on events.

With the momentum of the elections, the specter of war in Iraq and terrorism, and Republican control of all three branches of the federal government, the administration is quickly and recklessly pushing its reactionary, anti-democratic, militarist polices on our country and the world.

Not for a long time have we faced such dangers. Everything that we hold dear – our rights, our livelihoods, our lives, and a peaceful future for our country and world – is at stake.

In conveying the peril of the moment, we have to be frank, but also careful, so that we don’t paralyze or demoralize people. While acknowledging the dangers, we also have to point out that, first, Bush’s political agenda serves the interests of an exceedingly narrow social base camped out in the boardrooms of the most reactionary transnational corporations; and second, that a vast popular movement is gathering that has the capacity to slow down and reverse the right-wing offensive.

At the core of such a popular movement are the same forces that have been battling the right wing for two decades – the working class and its organized sector, racially and nationally oppressed people, and women. They are the main foundations of a winning struggle against the Bush administration in the period ahead, although they alone are not enough to turn the tide in a progressive direction.

Young people, seniors, environmentalists, peace activists, gays and lesbians, disabled people, farmers, rural America, small- and medium-sized business people and every other social grouping whose interests collide with the reactionary agenda of the White House, must find a home and voice in this popular movement.

In other words, a big tent, everybody-is-invited strategy is a requirement for victory.

Of course, it can’t be done without a broadly constructed program of struggle that appeals to the interests of the broadest strata of the population, and interconnects the democratic demands of the working class with the democratic demands of other social sectors.

Of decisive importance in this regard is the struggle for racial and gender equality.

In the course of these struggles the working-class and labor movement will not only deepen the many-sided unity of this broad front and earn its leadership role, but it will also deepen its political consciousness.

The Bush agenda

Right now, the political agenda will be set by the Bush administration, not by this emerging all-people’s coalition. Its immediate priorities will include war in Iraq, federal court appointments, homeland security, stripping hundreds of thousands of workers of their union rights, millionaire tax cuts, and an economic stimulus package.

In the longer term, this administration wants to impose a draconian political and economic order on our country and the world. It aims to radically redistribute wealth and power to the absolute advantage of U.S. imperialism.

For the time being, the Senate will be the main institutional structure to block the Bush legislative agenda, despite the fact that the most consistent and vocal opponents of Bush’s policies are in the House, and especially the Progressive, Black, Latino, women and the emerging labor caucuses.

Given that 60 votes are needed before the wheels of the Senate begin to move, the Democrats have the ability to throw a monkey wrench into the White House’s legislative agenda for the next two years, although the lesson in last week’s passage of the Homeland Security bill is that the backs of Senate Democrats will have to be stiffened by the people’s movements.

If Bush and Lott have it their way, they will peel off some Senate Democrats to their side, while moderate Republicans will be pressured to maintain Party discipline.

Assault on labor

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is taking steps to cripple the main class and social forces challenging its policies. While this is a wide-ranging attack, I want to single out the labor movement for a moment.

The present attack on the labor movement, orchestrated by the White House, is of a different order of magnitude than what we have seen in recent decades. To find something comparable would take us back to the passage of Taft-Hartley and the onset of the Cold War. The motivation is as much political as economic. It appears that the Bush administration is going to bring the full weight of the federal government down on the conditions and rights of labor.

Though the attack predates Sept. 11, it is also true that the assault on labor’s rights went into higher gear after that date. Under the guise of national security interests, the Bush administration and the Justice Department have invoked anti-labor laws to the advantage of the employers and to the detriment of airline workers, immigrant workers, longshore workers, and others.

Popular majorities

Saying all this doesn’t mean that Bush and the right wing will have their way. Nor does it mean that the struggles ahead won’t be mass or militant.

Broad popular majorities either exist or can be built in the course of struggle, and can be won, on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to the stacking of the federal courts with right-wing, anti-labor, anti-women, racist judges, to the privatization of social security, to an economic stimulus package, to protecting democratic, union, civil, women’s and gay rights.

And while the forms of struggle will vary, they must be of a mass character in view of the ferocious nature of the right-wing offensive. If it is Congressional lobbying, it should be mass. If it is petitioning, it should be mass. If it is a phone call or e-mail, or newspaper ad campaign, it should be mass. If it is a town hall meeting or vigil, it should be mass.

And if it is a march or demonstration, it should be mass.

It is likely that in the early going there will be no single center towards which all these varied forces will gravitate. Nevertheless, it is imperative to find forms that will unify the broadest possible array of class and social forces opposing the Bush administration. For now this is probably easier to do at the city and state level.

Finding forms for national coordination, however, cannot be put on the back burner. Organizational and political coherency at the national level is critical.

Sam Webb is the national chairman of the Communist Party USA. This article is excerpted from Webb’s Nov. 16 report to the CPUSA National Committee. The full text of the report can be read online at www.cpusa.org. The author can be reached at swebb@cpusa.org

PDF version of ‘Advancing the struggle for peace & progress’

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