In the same hotel where California Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger held his 2003 election night party, the California Nurses Association danced in a conga line this Nov. 8 celebrating the ballot box spanking they helped give Schwarzenegger.

In these off-, off-year elections, right-wing candidates and initiatives crashed and burned across the country, starting with California ballot questions, governorships in New Jersey and Virginia and “intelligent design,” aka creationism, in Pennsylvania.

Bush had showed up in Virginia to campaign. The GOP loss there is a direct smack in his face.

At the heart of these victories is organized labor, the main nemesis of the corporate ruling class. That’s why California nurses were dancing.

True, some results were steps backward, like the re-election of New York’s GOP corporate-agenda mayor, Michael Bloomberg, or the passage of an anti-marriage-equality amendment in Texas. Obviously, the labor and people’s movement has some big struggles ahead.

But the stunning defeats for the Bush/corporate/right-wing in a string of closely watched contests send a big message. And in several interesting local races, left and progressive candidates were elected.

Nov. 8 was the first opportunity voters had to express their anger at the war in Iraq, the disgraceful response to Hurricane Katrina, deepening corruption and corporate cronyism.

The people’s movement to restore humanity to government and defeat the Bush regime took a significant step forward this Election Day. But it can only a take a short break to catch its breath.

Uprooting the right-wingers in Washington and in state houses next year is going to be a war, with an enemy entrenched, rich and arrogant with power. But, as this year’s elections show, while the ultra-right coalition is beginning to crack, the people’s forces are coalescing. Nov. 8 demonstrated the power of grassroots unity based on issues.

However, unity is only a five-letter word without courage and reasoned boldness. Recent dramatic actions by Senate Democrats, sensing the public anger over the lies that led to war, may signal the kind of leadership that can win voters’ confidence in 2006.

This time next year that conga line celebration might stretch across the country.