NEW YORK – An upbeat, fighting spirit dominated the June 28-29 meeting of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA. Fresh from picket lines, demonstrations for peace and justice, and day-to-day work in unions and community groups, more than 120 Party leaders from around the country concluded that the “most urgent task facing the working class and its allies in the next 17 months is mobilizing a broad people’s coalition to defeat George W. Bush and the ultra-right Republicans in the 2004 elections.”

Citing a new, “palpable, fighting spirit,” National Chairman Sam Webb said the 2004 elections were the “bulls-eye of the discussions” at recent conferences of the Campaign for America’s Future, Rainbow/PUSH, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Jobs with Justice, United for Peace and Justice, Win Without War, and a number of international unions. “Unity was an overriding theme. And there was no sense of defeatism,” he added.

Webb credited the peace movement for changing the political atmosphere. Massive peace demonstrations, he said, while not preventing the invasion of Iraq, drew “new forces into struggle on an unprecedented scale, empowered voices that had been either silent or barely audible, and gave legitimacy to all forms of public protest.”

Struggles for peace, economic justice, and an end to racism and anti-immigrant hysteria have never been more urgent, Webb said. “We have fought two wars in the space of six months and two bloody, costly, and coercive occupations have followed,” he said, pointing out that U.S. troops and innocent Iraqis and Afghans continue to die.

Webb said the Bush administration is seeking “unchallenged global dominance” through a go-it-alone strategy of unbridled military power, preemptive strikes, regime change, and economic domination. Especially threatened, he said, are Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. Webb denounced U.S. support for Israel’s “brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” and traced the devastating war in the Congo “to colonialism, a new international division of labor that marginalizes vast stretches of the African continent,” and to the racist indifference of ruling circles in the West.

On the home front, Webb lashed out at the Bush administration’s huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people and corporations. The resulting “mega-deficits,” he said, are providing a pretext for “cutting away at the entire social safety net.”

Webb also condemned the administration’s assault on immigrant rights, civil rights, and civil liberties, adding that a victory against Bush and the ultra-right will ease the war danger, slow down the erosion of democratic rights, facilitate the fight for healthcare and pensions, promote racial equality and help in the struggle to preserve the environment.

Webb argued that the differences between the Republicans and Democrats, while sometimes slight, are nonetheless critically important in the national election. “Even if the differences between the two parties are only an inch wide, given the extreme agenda of the Bush administration, a lot can happen on that inch,” he said, adding that working people should also be concerned about advancing the most progressive candidates in the primaries and promoting political independence, particularly at the local level.

In other business, the assembly:

• Approved a report by the Party’s political action commission mapping out action plans for work in the 2003 municipal and 2004 national elections.

• Held a panel discussion on immigrant rights, pledged all-out support to the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, and made plans for a party conference on the struggle for immigrant rights next fall.

• Appealed for mass support for the labor-backed Nov. 20-21 demonstrations in Miami against the NAFTA-like Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), the Dec. 10 International Human Rights Day actions for labor and human rights, and the spring march for women’s reproductive rights in Washington, D.C.

• Approved a proposal presented by Jarvis Tyner, CPUSA executive vice-chair, in a presentation on the National Question, that the party hold a one-day national conference on the fight against racism and anti-immigrant bigotry in early 2004.

• Greeted the Supreme Court decision on the University of Michigan Law School case upholding affirmative action as a victory; and hailed the Court’s decision on gay and lesbian rights as a great, long-overdue victory.

• Took steps to add six new members to the National Committee, including several leaders of the Young Communist League.

• Called for all-out support for the U.S.-Cuba Youth Exchange and other forms of solidarity with socialist Cuba.

• Focused on CPUSA party-building efforts in panel and workshop discussions and extended the membership drive until Sept. 1.

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