No time to retreat


While much will be said about the 2002 elections in the days and weeks ahead, one immediate conclusion that we should draw is that the outcome is no clear-cut mandate for the Bush administration’s right-wing agenda. There was no sea change in the political landscape of the Congress – a tilt to the right to be sure, but no right-wing electoral landslide.

The Republicans regained control of the Senate and maintained their majority position in the House. But that does not mean that most Americans support a punishing war against Iraq. Nor does it mean that they favor the stacking of the Supreme Court with right-wing, anti-labor, anti-women, racist judges.

Nor does it mean that they gave a green light to privatizing social security. Nor does it mean that they back hollowing out affirmative action and labor laws. Nor does it mean that they endorse overturning Roe v. Wade. Nor does it mean that they advocate more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Nor does it mean that they support either the militarizing of the economy or turning our young people into cannon fodder for oil profits.

While the fallout from Sept. 11, Bush’s appeal to people’s fears rather than their hopes, the limited vision of Democratic Party candidates, and the role of money and mass media in our nation’s politics have left the electorate divided, it does not follow that tens of millions have fallen irretrievably into the hands of the right wing.

To the contrary, public opinion polls and real life experience suggest that broad popular majorities can be organized around issues such as jobs and economic security, universal and affordable health care, social security and pension protection, immigrant rights and racial and gender equality, peace and disarmament, and a humane and non-belligerent foreign policy

On Election Day a broad people’s movement made the difference in many races, but was not quite able to determine the overall outcome. The inescapable challenge for that movement – at the core of which is labor, racially and nationally oppressed people, and women – is to regroup and reach across the election divide to the millions of people who desire a safe and secure life.

Of course – and herein lies the great danger – the Bush administration will spin the elections to claim a popular mandate and move quickly and aggressively to utilize its control of all three branches of the federal government to impose its reactionary, anti-democratic, militarist and imperial policies on our country and the world.

Its immediate agenda is to invade Iraq using overwhelming military force, push through the Senate its right wing nominees for the Supreme Court, and make permanent the tax cuts to the rich and wealthy.

But a united multi-racial people’s movement can block and stop Bush and the most reactionary sections of transnational capital if we mobilize a broad movement ranging from “street heat” to political action. The Nov. 5 elections were a setback, but not a call to retreat. With unity and struggle, the right wing in Washington and in corporate suites can be defeated and victories can be won.

PDF version of ‘No time to retreat’