After a long and bitterly contested battle, the forces of inclusive democracy came out on top yesterday…
An African-American president was re-elected to the office of the Presidency, the Democrats unexpectedly strengthened their hand in the Senate and House, and victories, including big ones for marriage equality, were registered at the state level.
Moreover, the balance of forces – that is, the ground on which people fight going forward – has shifted in a progressive direction. And thanks in large measure goes to what might be the most notable development in this election - the emergence of a multi-racial, male-female, working-class-based electoral coalition that has the potential to transform America in the years and decades ahead.
The Communist Party said a year ago that the 2012 elections would be the main front of the class and democratic struggle, and subsequent events have confirmed that fact.
Indeed, we argued that defeating right wing extremism was the key to moving the whole chain of democratic struggle forward in the coming period.
Conversely, we said that a victory by right-wing extremism would set into motion a far-reaching assault on the people’s living standards, rights, and organizational capacities, the likes that we’ve never seen.
Had Romney won the Presidency and the Republicans the Congress, it would have accelerated to warp drive a capitalist class counterrevolution – a reversal of seventy years of social progress. In a matter of three months time, the entire body of social legislation dating back to the New Deal could have been expunged…
Above all, what was decisive was the unmistakable election imprint of a rainbow working-class based electoral coalition, which has the potential to effect a process of long-term political renewal and realignment the likes of which we haven’t seen since the New Deal coalition of the 1930s…
This was not a vote for savaging social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; or rolling back domestic spending; or resolving the budget crisis on the people’s backs.
It was instead a vote for jobs, housing relief, withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, an end to U.S.-led wars in the Middle East, the preservation of the package of benefits and rights that the American people now enjoy, equal pay for women, health, and reproductive rights, infrastructure renewal – marriage equality, a larger commitment to public education, a tax system in which the wealthiest families and corporations pay a much larger share, reform of our punitive and anti-democratic immigration laws, a reduction in the unconscionable inequality that sets us apart from other advanced capitalist countries, and, not least, an America that stands for fairness, tolerance, and decency…
Without catching its breath, the AFL-CIO and its allies are organizing actions against a bipartisan resolution that falls on working people. But organized labor can’t do it alone.
The coalition that mined the country for votes over the past several months and the rainbow electorate that elected the president and defended democracy yesterday must spring back into action. Tens of millions must be mobilized. Diverse forms of struggle must be employed. Not everyone has to be an Obama voter. The fight to get the anti-austerity message heard above the din of the major media is a real challenge. But it can be done.
Whatever the outcome of this immediate battle, the struggle to put the people’s needs and nature before corporate profits and war spending will be a long one. This still- emerging multi-racial, working-class based coalition will experience victories, like we did on Election Day. But it will also encounter defeats. The main thing is that it never lose sight of the necessity of deepening and extending its reach, unity, and multi-racial, class-based character.
The task isn’t to replicate the movements of the 1930s and 1960s, but today’s activists would do well to draw the lessons from those movements and adapt them to current conditions.
Both have much to teach, but given the concentrated corporate economic and political power that the American people are up against, today’s movement has to eclipse them in terms of scope, depth, and class and anti-racist understanding and unity. We are at the dawn of a new era.