No on recall, no on Prop. 54

Californians will go to the polls Oct. 7 and be asked whether or not Gov. Gray Davis should be recalled and, in the case of Proposition 54, whether the state of California should totally ignore race as a factor in any of its affairs. To both the recall and Prop. 54 we say a resounding “no.”

The recall isn’t about Davis. The recall is about something larger than Davis. It’s about an ultra-right power grab and the Bush administration positioning itself to steal the 2004 elections. Such far-right power grabs are also taking place in other states like Texas and Colorado.

California is a solid Democratic voting electorate and is the most populous and racially-diverse state in the country. In the last years, and even the last months, the Democratic majority California legislature has passed progressive, pro-working families, pro-immigrant laws, signed by Davis, which corporations and the far right are anxious to repeal.

California has also the fifth largest economy in the world, so it would suit these big moneyed interests to have politicians who would serve them and not the interests of working people, racially and nationally oppressed, immigrants and women. Davis has certainly responded to the pressures and demands of the labor and people’s movements, another thing the far right hates.

Prop. 54 is a cynical attempt by anti-affirmative action proponent Ward Connerly to further cover-up the fact that race and in particular racism is still prevalent in government and business. This proposition would prohibit the state from collecting any information concerning race, ethnicity, color or national origin, which would prevent proving patterns of racism and discrimination. Like in the arguments against affirmative action, Prop. 54 exists in a make-believe world, suggesting that if we all are just color-blind racism will just fade away. Prop. 54 continues the far right’s divide and conquer strategy and should be resoundingly defeated.

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Adding fuel to the fire

Two reports by the Census Bureau – one showing a 1.7 million increase in the number of people living in poverty and a second showing a 2.4 million increase in the number without health insurance – paint a harsh picture of growing economic hardship and insecurity for America’s working families.

But there are also some big winners, a fact made abundantly clear in a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the CBO, the gulf between rich and poor more than doubled from 1979 to 2000. The after-tax income of the top 1 percent of taxpayers in 2000 averaged $862,700, triple the $286,300 they had in 1979. By comparison, the after tax income of the bottom 40 percent averaged $21,118, up barely 13 percent from 1979.

The policies of George W. Bush are adding fuel to the fire. Tax cuts for the rich; corporate cronyism at the expense of workers and retirees; privatization and cuts in health, education, veterans’ benefits; draining the treasury for an unjustified war.

These reports provide the background against which many of the 2004 electoral battles will be fought. And it’s not just “will be” – battles are already under way in the halls of Congress: on taxes, prescription drugs for seniors, further attacks on Constitutional liberties, more billions for the occupation of Iraq.

And they can be won. The Sept. 24 poll by Zogby International shows that Bush’s negatives at 49 percent nearly equal his positives at 50 percent, and that a growing number of people question the direction in which the country is headed. And last but not least, a majority of Democratic presidential hopefuls have become more aggressive in their criticism of Bush.

The challenge before the Dump Bush movement is to find the way to build a powerful majority firestorm out of the flames of discontent that are beginning to blaze across the country. For our part we see this as our number one task between now and Election Day 2004.