Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Election 2006: How to Defeat the Right [PA Archival Materials]
By Thomas Riggins

While the Bushies and the ultra-right neofacists continue to saturate the airwaves and the media with the message of their mandate to rule and the new Republican majority, a tsunami of opposition has been building up in the consciousness of the American people. If the left can properly surf on the crest of this wave the Congressional Republican majority will be washed away in the midterm elections next year.

This opinion is based on a newly released New York Times/CBS News Poll that was published in the Times last Thursday and analyzed by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder in a front page article entitled "Bush Doesn’t Share Public’s Priorities, New Poll Indicates."

We now know that President Bush is seen as not sharing "the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues."

This has always been the progressive "people before profits" attitude of the left towards Bush and now it is the opinion of the majority of Americans. Sixty three per cent of the people reject Bush’s domestic priorities and 58 per cent his foreign ones.

These numbers indicate a real possibility exists to translate this disaffection with the President’s right wing neoconservative agenda into an electoral victory for progressive forces. This will only come about if the left forcefully challenges and exposes each and every one of Bush’s reactionary initiatives.

The only drawback from this optimistic assessment has to do with the public perception of the policies concerning Iraq. I say this because "there has been an increase in respondents [it is now fifty three percent] who say that efforts to restore order in Iraq are going well."

This indicates that the left must intensify its attack on the government’s Iraq policy. Since the corporate media monopoly has soaked the collective American brain with news of a triumphal election and new birth of "democracy" in the Iraq, it is an even more compelling duty for us to expose this deceitful cover for the continuing butchery of the Iraqi civilian population by the US military in its role as the private security force of the oil conglomerates.

But victory or defeat in the midterm elections will not depend on Iraq (barring a qualitative change in the nature of the conflict). Since "all politics are local", it is the domestic damage to the American people themselves that will be the lever used to topple Republican domination.

The opinion of one of those polled that, "the president favors big business over the health and well-being and overall stability of the entire American population" is the message that must be stressed with maximum intensity between now and the elections.

Right now, fifty-one percent of the people are opposed to Social Security privatization. This rises to sixty-nine percent when they are informed that private accounts "would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits."

If the public can be convinced that this is indeed the most likely outcome of the private accounts scheme, then Bush is headed towards a complete defeat on this issue. A defeat that can be the foundation for a progressive program to rout him entirely.

Not even an advanced progressive agenda can be ruled out. The poll found that almost eighty percent of the American people believe "it was the government’s responsibility to assure a decent standard of living for the elderly." This belief is totally inconsistent with the thinking of the ultra-right neofascists that presently control this country.

In fact it is a confirmation of the thesis put forth by Sam Webb, the national chair of the CPUSA, in his "No mandate, no surrender" (available from PA) that the idea "we are two nations" split "into different worlds with different desires, values, and hopes" is a hoax.

The idea that the government should "assure" the well-being of the elderly, held by almost eighty percent (!) shows that the vast majority hold at least one position based on a broad progressive and humanist value that is even consistent with socialism. We must be able to demonstrate that this value is not only inconsistent with the Republican philosophy but incapable of achievement outside of the politics based on a broad center-left progressive coalition.

Bush’s approval rating is forty nine per cent. That is still too high for this enemy of the people to enjoy, but is far from a national mandate, as he claims, for his reactionary pro war political agenda.

This poll (it has a three percent margin of error, plus or minus), I think, shows that a real political opportunity to defeat reaction is at hand. If we can concentrate on the issues that are now upper most in the minds of most Americans, such as the war and especially Social Security and other domestic issues, and link these to a center-left coalition which includes other left issues (environmental problems, child care and education, unionization, unemployment, are a few others) there is no reason at all why the Congress should remain in the hands of the Republicans after 2006.

--Thomas Riggins is the book review editor of Political Affairs and can be reached at pabooks@politicalaffairs.net.

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