2004 Elections Update — 10/03 National Board Meeting

BY:pww@pww.org| December 17, 2003

Report to National Board CPUSA

Our thanks go out to Scotty Marshall for that excellent report yesterday. It created a great discussion, which dealt a lot with the 2004 election especially labors vital role. So in effect we have been discussing the subject of this report for one day already.

The slogan in his report, ‘All Out to Defeat Bush’ must become a living-fighting slogan for us. What we need is a class struggle approach to the ’04 elections to help guarantee that the enormous power of the multiracial US working class, especially its organized sector, the racially oppressed along with other allies is felt in the street and at the ballot box next November 2nd.

Before I go on, I should explain that Comrade Joelle, the chair of the Political Action Commission, could not attend this meeting so I was asked by the National Board to deliver this collective report.

381 Days To Go

Comrades, Let me start off in the style of Henry Winston, the late National chairperson of our Party by saying we have 381 days to help build a movement strong enough to defeat Bush and the Republicans in Congress.

Can it be done in the next 381 days? Absolutely! The question we must answer is, What must we do to help make that happen?

A Strategic Struggle

The road to freedom in Nelson Mandela’s words is no easy walk. This is a tough struggle. Bush and the Republicans have record amounts of money and the media. They fight hard and dirty because they really don’t have the people. But the main reason they can be defeated is because they don’t have the people.

The main obstacle we face today on our road to freedom is the right wing Republican president and the right wing Republican majorities in the Congress and the Supreme Court. Removing this obstacle is not easy. We have been fighting this fight since before the Reagan years. But we should not lose hope. It’s a big historic task that the entire democratic and progressive forces
face. It is not a struggle for Socialism per se. But to break the right wing strangle hold on our nation is a strategic struggle that must be won on the road to new freedom and socialism.

An Update from June

In this report we did not want to repeat what was in Joelle’s fine report to the national committee last June nor her excellent guide to action. That all remains quite relevant and is in harmony with Sam’s outstanding report, which received the widest circulation of any report of a US Communist leader in modern times. That report has been very well received.

In this report we mainly want to update the Party and discuss what are the new features of the great struggle at this stage. What has changed since our NC meeting?

I think things have moved to the left since then.

As little as a few months ago, the Bush Administration and his Republican guards believed that they could win the 04 elections based on anti terrorist war hysteria and the fact that we had 120,000 US troops in harms way in Iraq and who knew where else in the world by next November.

They thought that this election debate could be won based on phony patriotism, anti Arab racism and a mass hysterica based on fear and revenge over 9/11. Bush wanted the Republican Convention in New York in order to once again use the tragic events of September 11, 2001 to promote his election. Bush believes he can win running as the 9/11 president.

Back then, what I call Bushs Republican guards, Karl Rove; Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Richard Cheney thought that the war would be an asset in their efforts to give Bush a second term.

Since then however, the war has not gone as they projected. US casualties are far greater then they predicted. The US armed forces are increasingly not seen as liberators but as an occupying army in Iraq facing a growing resistance and mass chaos.

And now with the revelation that they have lied about the weapons of mass destruction and therefore about the purpose of going to war in the first place, the war issue has become a liability for them.

Recent polls show for the first time that if the election were held today a plurality of voters would prefer one or more of the Democrats running for President to George W. Bush even though it is only by a very slim margin right now. The point is that Bush is generally going down in popularity and in public confidence.

All those massive demonstrations before and since the war that some said would not have any effect actually laid the basis for the rise in public skepticism, the growing opposition among Democrats in the Congress and those running for the Presidency. This and the international isolation of the Bush policy have created a deepening political crisis for this administration.

Bush is now back to his pre 9/11 poll numbers. I don’t care what spin you put on it, this is bad news for Bush, the Republicans and pro Bush Democrats seeking reelection next fall.

Bread not Bombs

Despite mass support for the troops, the $87 Billion for the war is not popular today mainly because of the state of the US economy and the fact that most local and state governments are near or in bankruptcy and the federal government is doing nothing. So education, health care and nutrition, housing, mass transit funds are all being cut back but they want Billions to finance murder and mayhem in Iraq.

War, Racism and Democratic Rights

To further the sad irony that is their failing policies, while adamantly opposing Affirmative Action here at home the results of their policies are promoting it on the front lines of Iraq. Where because of the poverty draft, there are disproportionate numbers of Black and Latino soldiers and therefore casualties on the front line. It’s really a racist policy.

And while the Bush administration opposes providing health care for millions of children here, they are for it in Iraq to bribe the people into accepting US domination.

At the same time they’re proposing to spend billions on massive public works in Iraq to rebuild what they’ve destroyed, they are opposed to spending for desperately needed job creating public works here at home. In Iraq apparently we can afford to spend endless sums but here at home everything has to be cut back.

This administration is asking working families to sacrifice their vital social services so that they can give corporate welfare to Halliburton and Bechtell in order for them to help Bush and his big oil friends steal the Iraqi people’s oil.

Since Bush has been in the White House, we have lost over 3.3 million jobs and mass unemployment is plaguing every region of the country as we currently suffer through a jobless so called recovery. And while hunger, homelessness and poverty increase, this administration is calling on the people to sacrifice by giving the wealthiest of the wealthy more trillions of dollars in tax welfare.

Currently there is 11.9% unemployment among African Americans with a 40% rate among Black youth. That’s double the rate for white youth. For every Black youth that graduates college there are 100 in prison.

To top this off the administration is out to intimidate and silence all dissent in the country by taking away democratic rights through the infamous Patriot Act and Homeland Security.

We must never forget what White House Budget Director Bolten is quoted as saying (NY Times 8/26/03) that President Bush in his frustration, trying to get his programs passed, often says life would be a lot easier if it (the US) were a dictatorship. But it’s not and he’s glad it’s a democracy.
Imagine what is going on in the thinking in the White House if those words could be contemplated much less uttered out loud. Imagine the political atmosphere in the White House if this is some kind of an on-going joke in Bush’s inner circle? Dictatorship is no joke.

From all of this it is clear why we have no alternatives. Bush must be defeated on November 2, 2004.

In summary, several things have brought about this deepening crisis in theBush election effort.

1. The unprecedented growth of the domestic and worldwide peace movement.

2. The deep concern and growing resistance of the US working class to increased joblessness, economic insecurity and cutbacks.

3. The new anti racist immigrant rights movement and its unity with labor leading to higher levels of Black, Brown, white, yellow and red working class unity.

4. Once again this administration has over reached. They have gone too far. They have lied and deceived the American people. They have tried to stifle dissent even to the point of exposing one of their CIA operatives.

We don’t know what the future may hold but at this point, things are moving to the left.

The impact of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Rides all over the country has been very positive. Even though the 2004 elections were not the main issue, the100,000 in Flushing Meadows Park were a real set back for the Bush election effort and their anti immigrant policy.

The comrades in California are right, while there was a set back in the recall election it should not be read as a shift to the right. For one thing in that same election the racist Proposition #54 was defeated two to one. The vote was rather a protest against the economic situation and an
administration that voters felt did not respond to the crisis. This same feeling is all over the country and could very well backfire against Bush in 2004.

Even with Swartznegger, Bush is going to have a hard time winning the nations largest state. If the economy doesn’t improve, it’s going to be a very rocky ride for Conan the Barbarian too.

Build the All Peoples Anti Bush Front; Power will Concede

A broad diverse all peoples anti Bush electoral front is forming. It is affecting all stratums of the people. Labor is on an all out push to defeating Bush and the Republicans. But even sections of the business community are opposed to the right wing excesses of the Bush gang.


-Many of the nations leading economists are opposed to Bush economic policies.

-Most environmentalists are opposed to Bush anti environmental polices.

-The civil liberties movement, women’s movement, youth and students, seniors movements are all opposed to Bush’s policies.

-All the Civil Rights organizations are opposed to Bush’s racist anti immigrant policies.

In fact in every major area of foreign and domestic policy this Administration faces some level of crisis.

The trust gap between this administration and the people is growing wider and wider every day.

The two best selling books are Joe Conason’s Big Lies and Michael Moore’s Hey Dude, Where’s my Country. Those books are flying off the selves.

The forces to defeat Bush are in motion. Our job is to help them grow stronger and broader. We have to help them find a unified anti Bush electoral strategy for 2004. We must not be split like in 2000 and in California recently.

Bush was defeated in 2000 but it was too close so he was able to steal the election in Florida KKK fashion and who knows where else they cheated. They don’t fight honestly.

Gore and Nader won 52% of the vote for President. That 52% is the Center left majority of the electorate. After 3 1/2 years of Bush polices that majority has grown.

Many lessons have been learned from the 2000 experience and the 3 1/2 years. New assessments are being made in all quarters.

It’s obvious that the wealthy have decided to give Bush more money then any presidential candidate has ever had again because they know he is facing great opposition from the people.

The Democratic Contenders

The phenomenal growth of the Dean movement shows that there is something new out there. It is a new spirit of protest; a determination to make a change, a fear of this administration’s extremism. It is a deep concern about the war, the future of democracy and the nation’s salvation. Tens of thousands are being motivated today to act to save the country from the disaster that is the Bush policies.

The current polls show that among likely Democratic voters Dean is still ahead at 29% with Kerry at 19%, Gephardt and Lieberman both at 6% and Clark at 5%. The results for the other Democratic contenders were not mentioned.

Those who are most likely to vote in the primaries are the people who are paying the most attention to the issues and candidates. The fact that Dean is ahead among those Democrats is recognition of the fact that he has not gone too far to the right and is considered electable.

Among Democrats in general the polls show Clark is ahead but slipping. I think Clark’s main reason for running was to stop Dean.

The main reason many are making reassessments is because of the impact of Dean. Especially Kucinich, Moseley Braun and Sharpton are the best on the issues. They are playing the crucial role of pressuring from the left.

When he has run for office in NY in the past, Sharpton’s tactic has been to run to the left in the primaries (building up a lot of support) and then sharply criticize the nominee and basically sit out the general elections, which means he is AWOL when it really counts. If he is the loyal
Democrat that he says he is, his fellow Democrats need to pressure him to commit to supporting whomever is the candidate after the convention.

Mosley Braun is good on most issues but her rhetoric is not as left as Sharpton and Kucinich. It’s good that there are two African Americans (one a women) running. In itself it forces a struggle against racism and male supremacy.

Kucinich has the best overall program among the Democrats. His official announcement speech recently was historic. It truly crossed the class line on many vital issues. On the war, he has come up with an exit strategy to bring the troops home. On health care, worker rights, civil rights and other issues he breaks new ground for Democrats.

The only reason he is not higher in the polls is because the media has boycotted him. And that’s because he has a real people’s program. He just qualified for federal matching funds and he has a chance to make a respectable showing in the primaries. There should be Kucinich delegates at the
Democratic Convention.

Reassessment on the Left

A lot of progressives view his campaign as a good vehicle to push the debate to the left. Many Nader 2000 voters are this time backing Kucinich. We are not endorsing any among the Democrats but in order to keep the anti Bush forces united the pressure from the left should be friendly pressure.

Already Nader says he will not run if Kucinich gets the nomination. That’s better then his position in 2000.

In general new assessments are being made among left forces. Forces in the peace and justice movement are far more conscious of the need to defeat Bush this year then in 2000. I recently read a letter from left forces, some of whom supported Nader in 2000, calling on the left to put aside sectarian notions and unite against Bush.

Clearly some important tactical lessons have been drawn after 3 _ years of Bush; the war, the economy, the threat to democracy etc.

Some comrades may say, We don’t need these sections of the left to win. First of all these are activists and they are capable of working to move many times their numbers to vote. The 2000 vote was much too close. Every anti Bush vote counts.

Confidence in the People

The reason the right practices such extreme demagogy is because if they told the truth about their policies, they would be rejected by the vast majority of the American people. Every time they make big mistakes and expose their real policies they get clobbered.

In Joe Conason’s book, Big Lies he points out that while the word liberal has been demonized on the issues, poll after poll shows that the great majority of the US people are basically liberal to progressive. That has been the nature of the US people since the New Deal especially.

In many ways the policies of Karl Rove and company are to use liberal sounding rhetoric to push reactionary policies. They want to change the basic political nature of the US people. We, on the other hand, must have confidence in the US people that the vast majority can be won to vote against Bush and his party.

Lesser of Two Evils

As I said I agree with the California comrades, the recall was not a shift to the right by California voters. It was however, a warning to the Democrats. If they are not willing to fight against the Republicans’ program and offer a real alternative, the voters are not going to give them their votes. There is a limit to the lesser evil vote. That is why it’s so important to not allow the Lieberman types to win the nomination.

At the same time, we know that the Democrats are not going to produce a perfect progressive candidate. There will be serious shortcomings even among the best candidates but in this struggle, the cause is much bigger then the candidates.

Yesterday someone mentioned that they did not see labor making any real gains in the right to work states until we repeal 14B. I do not believe that. In fact continuing to make gains in those states now (no matter how limited) is how they will repeal 14B.

By the same token, I do not believe that we can’t make big progress in defeating the ultra right at the polls before we have a viable national third party in place. Making progress now is how we will build the mass confidence that a third party is possible.

What We Must Do

The 2003 November elections will also figure into the mix, and we should play a part in the coming days. The 2003 elections are not unimportant, for example, there are still some important municipal races like in Philadelphia.

The proposed New York City Charter change that will be on the ballot is a real challenge. In typical demagogic style, the Republican mayor
Bloomberg is proposing to eliminate primaries so that it will be more possible for wealthy Republicans like himself to win office in liberal NY. It is done under the name of non-partisan but it’s really an attempt to stop the election of a majority liberal and progressive city council and mayor. Labor and other progressive organizations are pushing hard to defeat it.

The Young Communist League is part of a national youth action day on November 4th one year before Election Day 2004.

It is important to develop tactics of unity that will build grassroots and coalition pressure around the issues. The issues of taxes and jobs are being manipulated by the right wing, as they continue to claim that tax cuts and incentives to business create good jobs.

There is a need for working-class solutions to be brought forward that unite the majority being hurt (employed, unemployed, multi-racial, etc), around such demands as tax the rich, massive public works jobs, rebuilding industry, labor law reform and immigrant rights, election reform including proportional representation and public financing of elections etc.

A clear expose of right-wing demagogy and racist divisions is necessary to build the level of unity required to turn the country around. As we have seen, they will stop at nothing to grab and consolidate power. The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride is an excellent example of building broad unity. We need a popular Communist Party program for the 2004 elections.

Our Role

1-Participate with labor and allies. A number of international unions have held large national conferences, listened to the Democratic presidential candidates, and are making plans to send political activist union members out to key states. Many other organizations are also gearing up. We should be deeply involved in pushing these efforts forward and building the broadest possible coalitions that can win. Especially at the local level where the full impact of the Bush tax cuts and cuts in human needs plays out.

2-Determine our own concentration races. The proposal has been put forth that the Mid-West region constitute a special concentration in the 2004 elections with the goal of emerging from the election struggle with a stronger political and organizational footing at the grass roots, clubs, recruiting, PWW readers, YCL. In addition we should consider possibly Florida and one other state in the South. Also special approaches for California, Illinois and New York have to be developed.

Organizing Our Work

3-We are still in the process of forming an Election 2004 Committee.

4-The Political Action Commission is now starting to meet regularly and preparing to develop work with the 2004 election committee to plan for the January national conference.

This conference will take place at the time of the NC meeting. The goal of the conference is to achieve our best contribution toward building the broad front required to defeat Bush and to take back the Congress from the right wing. At the end of this month, the Political Action Commission will bring a proposal to the National Board with more specifics. Initial thoughts are that this should be a conference to which we invite allies to participate around specific workshops etc. and to which the national committee members and club leaders are invited.

Finally, We have four comrades running for local office this year and in each case they have the support of broad diverse sections of the voters. They all have a good chance of winning. Lets give them a rousing applause!

They are to be congratulated because they are leading the way to what we need to also do in 2004. These local races are a good place for us to field candidates as part of the grass roots and coalition work we are involved with. We can lay the basis toward fielding more such local candidates in 2005, with a conscious approach toward club concentrations in the 2004 elections.


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