GOP can be beat in November, CPUSA says

NEW YORK — Ending Republican majority control of the U.S. House and Senate in the midterm elections Nov. 7 “is a battle that can be won,” said Joelle Fishman, chair of the Communist Party USA’s Political Action Commission, speaking to a meeting June 25 of the party’s national committee.

She pointed out that it will take a Democratic pickup of 15 House seats and six Senate seats to end the Republican majority, clearing the way to move long-stalled bills calling for an end the occupation of Iraq and for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to facilitate union organizing.

“Defeat of the ultra-right Republicans is at the heart of the class struggle at this moment,” she added, “a necessary and crucial step toward achieving a better life, bigger dreams and building the movement for socialism.”

Present were CPUSA leaders from across the nation who reported on their work in the labor, immigrant rights and peace movements to mobilize a powerful voter turnout Nov. 7. The recent demonstrations for immigrant rights and an end to the Iraq war have made possible a November victory that seemed a long shot last fall, Fishman said.

Bush seeks to “enshrine in granite that corporate ‘rights’ are absolute and that the working class has no rights that corporations are bound to respect,” she said.

A GOP defeat “will make an important beginning to shift the balance of forces and create the conditions for a decisive blow to the ultra-right.” But if the Republicans retain their House and Senate majority, she said, “it will be a very dangerous situation domestically and internationally.”

Terrie Albano, editor of the People’s Weekly World, called for a September through December fund drive to raise $200,000 for the paper and a subscription drive to win 300 new readers. “We have a message of solidarity and ‘it takes a struggle to win’ victories,” she said. “It takes knowing who the main enemy is and working like hell to defeat them.”

Judith Le Blanc, a leader of United for Peace and Justice, said, “A change in Congress will make it more possible to end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home.” She urged a greater effort to mobilize the peace majority in the 2006 midterm elections.

“The Republicans are united in a policy totally at odds with the views of the people,” she said. “Eight months ago, two Democratic senators were for withdrawal. This week, 39 voted for withdrawal.”

Rick Nagin, an Ohio CP leader, said the labor movement and other progressive forces are using a ballot referendum to raise Ohio’s minimum wage to reach out to voters in rural and southern Ohio, a bastion of the Republican Party. The referendum could prove decisive in Rep. Sherrod Brown’s drive to oust Republican Sen. Michael DeWine, Nagin said.

Rosalio Muñoz, leader of the Southern California CP, hailed the millions who have marched for immigrant rights. “Without the profound change in the AFL-CIO policy of recent years, the present upsurge couldn’t have taken place,” he said, urging support for “freedom summer” to push for legalization and a path to citizenship for 13 million or more immigrants.

Pending before the meeting was a proposal to transfer the CPUSA archives to the Tamiment Library in New York. Michael Nash, director of the Tamiment, told the meeting of plans to preserve and make the archives available to scholars and a far wider public. After a lively discussion, the proposal was approved by an overwhelming vote.

John Rummel, leader of the Michigan Communist Party, reported on the grave crisis in the auto industry centered on former GM subsidiary Delphi’s drive to slash wages as low as $10 per hour. He called it a “race to the bottom … a period of unprecedented theft from the working class to the rich.” The question looming is whether the Delphi workers will walk out on strike, he said.

Jarvis Tyner, CPUSA executive vice chair, reported on the dramatic renovation of CPUSA headquarters in New York’s Chelsea district. This is already turning the eight-story building from a major expense to an important source of rental income, he said.

The crowd gave standing ovations for both Erica Smiley, incoming national coordinator of the YCL, and Jessica Marshall, who is leaving that post.