Until September, it appeared the elections were moving toward a blow against the Bush administration and its ultra-right policies. The economy and corporate scandals, the crisis in funding health care, education, and Social Security topped the list of concerns of working people, favoring the Democrats over the Republicans. Unemployment and jobs, federal government use of racial profiling, and attacks on affirmative action, the right to choose and constitutional liberties were the issues of the loose but growing coalition of labor, the racially and nationally oppressed, women and others concerned about the direction of the Bush Administration.
Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, in a speech last May, advised Republicans to make the “war on terrorism” the basis of their campaigns. The administration is pursuing the “wag the dog” strategy with a vengeance, even though the actual all-out attack on Iraq to achieve “regime change” is apparently set for the December-February time frame.
There is a daily drumbeat in the media, which Bush’s Sept. 12 UN speech launched, of why we have to attack Iraq. They have succeeded in centering the media on the subject the Republicans consider most favorable to them: Iraq and the “war on terrorism.”
The Communist Party’s policy in the elections has been to render the ultra-right Bush administration and Republican Party a rebuff, especially by ending their control of the House and preventing their regaining control of the Senate. Only by the Democratic Party winning control can this rebuff be registered. Our party realizes the Democratic Party also represents a section of the transnationals, though not the most reactionary section.
In the elections we seek to advance the struggle for peace (to prevent an attack on Iraq) democracy, equality, economic security and socialism. We also seek to further independence from the parties dominated by the transnationals, moving toward a people’s party capable of contending for electoral power. Such a party will have to be based on labor, African American, Mexican American and the other racially and nationally oppressed peoples, women and youth.
The election is a referendum on the Bush administration. The outcome will either impede the present war drive and reactionary direction or will give it impetus. The Communist Party works in coalition with the widest forces for the former objectives, while distributing its own election material and running candidates for local offices. Among those with whom we cooperate are the Working Families Party and the Green Party, when their campaigns are aimed at helping defeat the ultra right. Unfortunately, sometimes the Green Party runs candidates who help elect the ultra right, as in Minnesota, where a Green candidate may help defeat Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.).
Sam Webb, CPUSA national chair, pointed out that the Iraqi war push is connected not only with the elections and U.S. oil interests, but with demonstrating to the world the new international doctrine of the most reactionary sector of the U.S. transnationals. (9/21 PWW/Mundo) That doctrine asserts that since the U.S. has such overwhelming military power it can win whatever it seeks internationally, whether by threat or use of that power, unilaterally. Bush also asserts the U.S. will never again allow another power to approach our military strength. That doctrine makes it even more imperative that the electoral objectives of the CPUSA be realized. Even more is at stake – the peace and very existence of the world.
The fact that most of the Democratic Party leadership wrongly decided the safest way to get elected is to go along with some form of the Bush request to authorize military force does not change what an electoral defeat for the GOP would mean. It makes the task more difficult, but far from impossible. It makes these next weeks even more crucial for the widest array of democratic forces, the left and the CPUSA to act in a most urgent way, both to defeat the war drive and the Republicans in the elections. All members of Congress should be urged to support the Barbara Lee-Dennis Kucinich Resolution for a peaceful solution with Iraq.
While the polls indicate a small majority supports war on Iraq, there is great unease about many aspects of it. People will respond on many different levels. The Bush administration now admits the war cost will be $200 billion or more, making it difficult to win money for extended job benefits, health, education, and Social Security benefits, to make up for city and state funding cuts, etc.
Bush is seeking the right to launch an attack on the unproven claim that Hussein is acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and that some time in the future he will seek to use them, because he is an “evil man,” which all undermines basic rule-of- law concepts.
Given such a “right” to make war, which everyone else can equally claim, the very existence of the world will be greatly threatened by such a “right of pre-emptive self-defense.” Not only the U.S. and Bush Administration, but Israel, France, Russia, India and Pakistan could make such claims.
All these issues will move people into action. Only a universal policy of reduction and elimination of such weapons can increase international security.
There are tactical difficulties in fighting the war danger and beating the Republicans in the elections, but basically these two tasks now move in tandem and are inseparable. To defeat the war danger, it is necessary to defeat the Republicans and to defeat the Republicans, it is necessary to fight the war danger.
Daniel Rubin is a member of the Communist Party’s education commission. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org