A Crucial Election for the U.S. and the World

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I was on a labor walk this Saturday and found union people of all backgrounds, private and pubic sector, ready to vote and ready to help get out the vote.

They understood the dangers in this election much better than they had in 1980 or in 1994, and much better than I had in 2000 when I supported Ralph Nader for President. But they were worried and for good reason – ultra right candidates like the one in my congressional district, who advocates the elimination of virtually all labor and social legislation – social security, Medicare, the regulation of business, and a 23 percent national sales tax to “replace” the income tax, were bombarding them with printed material and negative local TV ads.

Mass media has given these far rightists a good deal of publicity, taking their statements  at face value, while at the same time, labor’s campaign against the Republican right and the painstaking work of progressive organizations like Move on have  been largely invisible.

Contrary to the usual rightwing shibboleths, it seems to me that mass media is either consciously or unconsciously building what political scientists call a “bandwagon effect” for the Republicans, that is, encouraging voters for the GOP and discouraging voters against them by pointing to all the signs of their “coming victory.”

Elections are mobilizations of voters first and foremost. If the people who voted for President Obama two years ago because they sought to end the Bush era and save the U.S. from a catastrophic depression come out and vote, the Republicans will gain nothing and quite possibly suffer losses in a number of contested seats.

If those who opposed President Obama in 2008 because a. they feared that he would a) act to eliminate the tax giveaways of the Bush administration which benefitted the rich and no one else, b) revive regulation of business which had been undermined massively over the last 30 years, and c) the idea of an African American president regardless of his qualifications and policies was something they would never accept (an important point rarely dealt with here but widely understood internationally) come out as they are expected to do and the others don’t (which the media, as if to bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy is highlighting) then Republican gains, even a Republican victory will be likely.

Such a victory will put the Republicans in a position to launch a “third wave” of Reaganism, repealing the new national health care legislation, attempting to launch new draconian budget cuts in all areas concerning social welfare, and attempting to enact new anti-labor legislation. While I don’t think that President Obama will follow the road of Clinton and collaborate with such policies – I believe he will stand up and veto them – we can at best expect political paralysis at the national level.

If a significant number of misnamed “tea party Republicans” are elected to Congress, the ability of the “respectable” Republican right who have used them as they used the religious right since the 1970s, to control them will also be limited.

As the conservative German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, said to President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s once someone like Joe McCarthy gets some power, it is difficult to control him and keep him from controlling you.(Adenauer, an anti-Nazi conservative, I and others believe, was alluding also to Hitler, whom his fellow conservatives and the upper classes helped to fund against the Social Democrats and Communists as a sort of insurance policy, not necessarily to establish the racist dictatorship of capital which the Nazis eventually established after they made large gains in German elections).

A great deal is at stake tomorrow and we should do everything we can right up to the last moment to get out the vote.

At the same time, realizing the dangers, we should not be dispirited, whatever happens in the elections. A Republican defeat should lead us to demand in a stronger, more unified voice and action that the Obama administration begin to “bail out” the people and sweep away the dead weight of the last three decades. A Republican victory should lead us to close ranks against the inevitable GOP political blitzkrieg, to resist at all levels rightwing Republican initiatives and prepare to reclaim Congress and restore the presidency in 2012.

Photo courtesy elleinad Flickr, cc by 2.0

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  • I have been running around and unable to respond to these statements.
    First, calling the Democrats every name in the book, many of which they deserve, won't change them or accomplish anything. The people won't save themselves by anger and demoralization
    The capitalist class is committed to austerity as a solution to its problems.
    Kimberly Wilde is right about Cuomo's calls for austerity, but the small left parties she mentions in New York have no electoral strategy to stop him.
    Also, state's like New York and New Jersey where I live can't even begin to deal with the economic crisis without a different relationship to the federal government and the federal government both restructuring the way public services are financed and absorbing more of the costs that states and localities have to fund
    Obama hasn't represented a "third wave of Reaganism. If he did, there would have been no counter-cyclical stimulus, which has been undermined if not sabotaged at the state level in many places--new tax cuts ala supply side economics instead of a commitment to end the Bush tax cuts; and further erosion of regulation instead of attempts to strengthen regulation
    We will a left with brains and courage, not a left that that is the flip side of the put downs and unfocussed anger that the well financed Right, encourages in their media

    Posted by norman markowitz, 11/05/2010 6:13pm (7 years ago)

  • It is very,very good to put this election in a world context.
    Never before has the fate of humanity been more at peril.
    Never before has there been greater opportunity to rescue humanity from this peril.
    Europe,Asia,Africa and the Americas are starting to move towards rational peaceful working peoples' economics,with an eye toward environmental sustainability.
    This is not an easy move,and bigger and bolder communist parties are needed everywhere to complete this.
    Unity in and with the United Nations is needed,along with work to change the U.S. Congress further in 2012,for progress and a decisive break from the disasterous political and economic policies,corresponding to the "third wave" of Reaganism and a third racist"red scare".
    This will damage the working peoples' interests,perhaps irreparably,in the Americas,Europe,Asia and Africa.

    Posted by peaceapplause, 11/02/2010 2:21pm (7 years ago)

  • Obama is the ‚Äúthird wave of Reaganism".

    In New York, it is Andrew Cuomo who wants to enact the third wave of Reaganism, and put the government of NY on an austerity budget.

    If you care about labor and working people, than, in New York, you should vote: Green Party, Freedom Party, or heck, maybe even Rent Is 2 Damn High Party.

    But, we, the progressive electorate, can not afford to rubberstamp more Reagan-esque Democrats like Obama and Cuomo.

    Posted by Kimberly Wilder, 11/02/2010 8:14am (7 years ago)

  • I voted for Obama.

    The country is shithoused; keeping the same congress in charge will make it easier for them to keep spending us into deeper debt.

    GOPs and Dems are the same thing with different color ties; the only thing the people can do is keep the revolving door in D.C. spinning fast enough to keep them all dizzy. I'm voting GOP, and once they build up steam I'll vote Dem again.

    Resolve to massive GOP gains today, and stop drinking the Kool-aide that the Dems are the answer to anything. They are probably the most dis-unified political conglomerate in American history, (which is precisely why I like them to be in charge more often than not; the GOP is too efficient), and they couldn't bail themselves out of a paper bag.

    The only people that can save the people are the people ourselves. There will be no bailing out the people: all politicians -- left or right of the aisle -- are nothing more than liars and paid for to be that way. We oughta know: we keep paying them to tell us what we want to hear.

    Get back to work everyone.

    Posted by Average Joe Bama, 11/02/2010 4:10am (7 years ago)

  • "c) the idea of an African American president regardless of his qualifications and policies was something they would never accept (an important point rarely dealt with here but widely understood internationally)"

    Thumbs down

    Posted by jeremy, 11/02/2010 3:53am (7 years ago)

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