What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago Republicans were popping champagne, giddy with success. Now the bubbles have turned to blues for their corporate ultra-right coalition.

With unions as the hub, the American people united to save Social Security. No small undertaking with Bush attempting to drive a wedge between generations to deliver on his promise to the banks and Wall Street to let their snouts deeper into the public trough. The people won because they were able to connect, convince and commit, even in the so-called “red states.” Because of disunity in the people’s ranks, Bush was able to pass a Medicaid prescription bill that benefits only the pharmaceutical corporations. Many have drawn the lesson: when narrow self-interest replaces unity, we all suffer.

Republicans sipping champagne in December 2004 would not have predicted that in a matter of months the U.S. people would reject Bush’s Iraq war. Labor, for the first time in its history, joined Gold Star families, veterans and millions more demanding a rapid return of the troops and an end to the occupation. Many divergent streams have joined the mighty river of the U.S. peace movement, leaving congressional Republicans facing the 2006 elections with trepidation.

And not even nine Bush visits to the Gulf Coast could cover up his administration’s racism and gross inhumanity and his effort to use Katrina to promote his racist, anti-working-class agenda. While not yet fully organized, the working-class people of the region, Black, Brown and white, reject corporate Republican leadership and demagogy that continues to leave them stranded.

There is good reason to pause during the holidays, sip a little champagne of our own. The challenges in 2006 are real and tough. Bush’s grassroots power rests on his ability to play on fear, create confusion and appeal to selfishness and racism. Sections of the working class were influenced by such ideas to vote against their own self-interests. Winning back these people is key to dismantling the mass base of reaction in 2006.

Have a cookie, visit relatives and friends, exchange good cheer. We’ve earned it. We are ready for the next round.