A consensus is forming that progress in meeting human needs in our country is impossible as long as George W. Bush remains in the White House and the extremist Republicans control all three branches of government.

It underlines the enormous stakes in the 2004 elections. Bush-Cheney, Tom DeLay and their ilk will resort to every dirty trick to steal this election.

Their aim is to shift the burden of capitalism’s economic crisis to the backs of working people, destroying jobs, cutting wages, terminating health care and pensions, privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education.

They would nullify affirmative action and rollback the gains of African American, Latino and all racially oppressed people.

Women’s rights are under brutal assault. The doctrine of preemptive war, using even nuclear weapons, threatens humanity for the sake of U.S. empire.

The quagmire in Iraq is costing thousands of U.S. and Iraqi lives and billions of dollars to fatten U.S. corporate coffers and enforce U.S. global domination.

A grassroots movement to stop the ultra-right offensive is springing up, led by the AFL-CIO and its 14 million members. They are committing their brains and muscle power and millions of dollars to defeat Bush and the ultra right at the ballot box.

African Americans, Latinos and other people of color, the women’s equality movement, civil liberties groups, environmentalists and peace organizations, youth, seniors, family farmers, GLBT groups – all are part of the coalition against the right in the 2004 elections, as is the Communist Party USA.

Our party’s strategic vision of an “all-people’s front” against the corporate ultra-right resonates in slogans like “Tax the rich” and “Cut the Pentagon budget.” We say use those billions to create jobs, universal health care, and quality public schools.

As part of that effort, we are holding a day-long conference on the theme, “Build Unity to Take Back Our Country in 2004! Defeat Bush and the Ultra Right!” in New York City on Jan. 31.

We will examine the task before us to defeat Bush and the ultra-right in Congress and to build the CPUSA as a unique contribution toward strengthening the broad people’s movement.

In roundtable discussions with our members and representatives from organized labor, the African American and Latino peoples’ movements, and from women’s, youth, environmental, and peace groups, we will discuss and plan:

• How can we work more effectively in the grassroots movements to engage them in the elections?

• Can we help organize voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts?

• How can we inject more advanced, anti-monopoly demands that help promote the forces of political independence?

• Can we help push forward better candidates, including trade unionists, people of color, and women?

• What about using the 2004 elections to lay the basis for local CPUSA candidates in 2005?

• How can we build the Party and recruit many new members in this election campaign, which will help strengthen the people’s movements?

Among the many exciting initiatives we will discuss is a concentration project in the battleground states of the Midwest, where many believe the outcome will be decided.

The ultra-right has unlimited corporate cash and control of the news media. They are skilled demagogues who hide their real agenda under a mask of moderation. They use racism to divide and conquer.

The challenge is to expose their reactionary, anti-people agenda, as the voters of Philadelphia did in the landslide reelection of Mayor John Street in the face of FBI dirty tricks.

We must enter this battle united and filled with a fighting spirit, confident in our cause. A decisive victory over the right in 2004 would open the way for the forces of political independence to go on the offensive for more advanced demands.

For more information about Communist Party’s electoral conference, visit www.cpusa.org or call (212) 989-4994.