Crunch time for the midterm elections

“It’s crunch time! The polls are open and today’s the day to cast your vote for candidates who will fight for working families, not candidates funded by the corporations that flooded this election year with record amounts of secret contributions,” read an AFL-CIO statement sent to 11 million union members across the country today.

The statement followed what has been the biggest push ever by labor and its closest allies in a midtermelection. They are hoping that their massive boots-on-the-ground operation, which has narrowed GOP margins in the polls in many key races will build a “firewall” that protects Democratic congressional majorities.

If they win a majority in the House, Republicans intend to claim there is no mandate for the progressive change that swept Barack Obama into the presidency and Democratic majorities into Congress in 2008. That claim is already being rejected by labor and its progressive allies.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said, Nov. 1, that during the last 21 months “a lot of hard stuff was done and hard problems were tackled in a short amount of time. The legislative agenda of the last 21 months was policy, not politics. It was designed to get stuff done for the country and, in that sense, its an investment in long-term political reward, not short term reward. Hard work that doesn’t translate into killing the other party in the next election.”

Even the Wall Street Journal, the day before the election, admitted that health reform, for example, was working.

“The number of small businesses offering health insurance to workers is projected to increase sharply this year,” the paper said. “The percentage of employers with between three and nine workers and which are offering insurance has increased to 59 percent this year, up from 46 percent last year.” noted that even the Obama administration’s bailout of GM, unpopular outside of Michigan and communities with auto workers, is working better than the bank bailouts initiated by former President Bush. The Treasury Department is on track to rake in multi-billion dollar profits from the gradual sale of its share of 61 percent of the company’s stocks.

The likely voter screens used by the pollsters point to significant GOP gains in the House. If those are wrong, analysts say, and there are large turnouts of young, African-American, Latino and first-time 2008 voters, a GOP takeover of either House would be unlikely.

Progressives are saying that even with a big GOP win it would be wrong to draw broad conclusions about a shift to the right from a midterm election in which older voters are over-represented and the rising generation that constitutes the nation’s future is grossly under-represented.

The GOP, they also note, emerges from this election with deep divisions that are reflected also in the world of big business where banks are overjoyed at the prospects of a Republican House giving them a break from the regulatory push of the last two years and other sections of business that worked with the administration on the stimulus and other programs.

As usual, this Election Day, the Republicans and the right, in general, are attempting to suppress progressive voters.

Americans for Prosperity has posted instructional videos on the Internet advising people how they can challenge voters and tie up lines at heavily Democratic polling places.

Progressives are saying that voters should not expect Republicans, regardless of whether they make gains, to actually work on major issues like job creation.

“After Tuesday,” said the Huffington Post’s Jonathan Weiler, “The Republicans will have no meaningful goal other than to do what they have tried to do since January, 2009 – obstruct whatever plans Obama and the Democrats have for dealing with America’s myriad problems.”

Photo: Art Perlo



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.