Senator Sanders got it right

The passage of the debt ceiling bill marks a dangerous moment for the workers movement in this country. As Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has so clearly pointed out, this "debt ceiling compromise" is, in fact, a sweeping victory for the wealthy, the largest corporations and banks and the ultra-right. There is nothing in it for working people that is worth the terrible price being paid. It locks us into austerity, cuts and no new revenue.

It allegedly preserves Social Security, which the Democratic leadership and the White House should never have even allowed on the table, as it does not contribute to the deficit in a real way. Whatever issue there is with Social Security could easily be fixed by raising Social Security taxes on higher incomes.

Medicare is allegedly secure from cuts but only if the "Debt Ceiling Committee of 12" (the special bipartisan joint committee of Congress) can find enough extra cuts to prevent the automatic, across the board cuts to everything provided for in the debt ceiling bill.

If this were a union negotiated deal, it would clearly be a "sell out" of the rank and file workers. If this were a union struggle it would be time to organize a rank and file committee to wrest leadership of the struggle from those who sold us out, without undermining the union.

It is true that the right wing of the capitalist class is the originator and big winner in this struggle. What is also true and crucial is that in the class war we are locked into now, this loss is even more important than all the individual union struggles put together, and so betrayal of the rank and file in this debt ceiling struggle is more serious than in any single unsavory contract negotiation.

Most rank and file activists I know see no alternative to the president and his party in 2012 to defeat our howling enemies of the ultra right and the Republicans (the "vanguard party of the capitalist class").

In the winner-take-all arena of U.S. politics it is true that the president and his party are the only ones capable of defeating the ultra right and the Republicans so they are the only realistic choice in the voting booth in 2012.

It is also true that the president and his party are governing in a way that is discouraging and angering multitudes of his working class supporters. The sense of betrayal is strong in many quarters. The possibility of defeat at the hands of the "stay at home voter" is stronger now than before. When it comes to voting, people are more inspired by hope for change than disgust with tea party lunacy.

The president and his party allowed the debt conversation to dominate the political conversation rather than a job-creating stimulus. They essentially took the struggle for stimulus off the table in a serious way, and so locked us all into a low growth, jobless austerity.

We can no longer allow the Democratic Party and it's leaders to set the agenda for the struggle against the ultra right. Conciliation, compromise, bipartisanship with these ruthless Republicans is absolutely senseless for us. The workers movement needs to stir up street heat, "Wisconsin style" times 10.

In the realm of the political discourse we need to intensify the attitude of meeting the Republicans head on, defeating them rather than conciliating them, both politically and ideologically. We can trust no one outside the workers movement to do this for us.


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  • Great article. The emphasis on building the working class and mass base independently of the structures of the Democratic Party is spot on. If the White House and the Democrats get pressure only from the right, they will respond only in a right-wing way. A good example is the struggle for immigrants' rights in which, not only has the question of legalization for non-criminal undocumented immigrants completely disappeared from the legislative agenda, but the administration has also responded to right wing, anti-immigrant pressure by increasing the pace of arrests and deportations. How can this fail to discourage voters, especially Latinos and other minorities, who have friends, relatives, neighbors and coworkers who are directly caught up in the crackdown? How can this contribute to a massive turnout against the GOP in 2012?

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 08/08/2011 11:47am (4 years ago)

  • Great, very solid article, Phil! You have put into your piece exactly what I'm hearing literally everywhere out in the real world. Among the state leaders of ARA, most have stated that they cannot now support Obama due to this incredible sellout. That does not change the upcoming difficult choices we are facing. People are reacting to the reality, NOT as another article states (that he "had to negotiate"), but that he set up the commissions, manned them with our worst enemies, and then and only then, "negotiated," unfortunately mostly with himself.

    The ONLY thing that can change the difficult synario you mention above is building of a truly independent labor-led movement (I think you could call it "Ohio-style" as well), but funded, built and led, mobilizing regular people on the fight for jobs. We have in brief periods (St/Union, the Debt speech) been able to apply pressure and shift his approach somewhat. What has become crystal clear is that WITHOUT this type of pressure Obama isn't just negotiating poorly, he's giving the ultra-right even more than they ask for, up to and including the destruction of Social Security & Medicare.

    It is much, much worst than just bad negotiating. It is, we must now say, that Obama has adopted the positions of our ultra-right wing corporate enemies, trying to gain some temporary gain by taking their issues. This is extremely dangerous! It has now put us in a situation where we cannot (legally) win! Any possible gains now will automatically be placed before this "super committee" of congress, whose marching orders are already defined as cutting the people's programs.

    Blindly following the Democrats (as opposed to voting for them as a tactical approach, while building our own independent movement to fight for our issues), was never correct. In today's crisis it has become suicidal!

    Posted by brucebostick, 08/07/2011 9:35pm (4 years ago)

  • This article gets it right! Thanks!

    Posted by Christopher Richardson, 08/05/2011 4:38pm (4 years ago)

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