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by John Parker & Teresa Gutierrez
Saturday, Jul. 10, 2004 at 4:32 AM
While the Democratic Party's voting base is turning against war and corporate domination, Kerry is trying to drag everyone in the opposite direction.
WWP CANDIDATES SAY:
NO TO BUSH LITE, YES TO AN INDEPENDENT WORKERS' VOICE
If Sen. John Kerry were the subject of a beer ad, it might go something like this: "Bush lite--fewer promises, same bad taste."
Let's get real. Democratic candidate Kerry is no savior of poor and working people. He's hardly a "lesser evil" at all. While the Democratic Party's voting base--people of color, women, lesbian/gay/bi/trans people, labor and other working-class people--is steadily moving in an anti-war, anti-corporate direction under the blows of the Iraq occupation and the economic crisis, Kerry is busily trying to drag everyone in the opposite direction.
What a difference 12 years makes. In 1992, then-Democratic candidate Bill Clinton promised a peace dividend, a massive jobs program, national health care, an end to the persecution of lesbians and gays in the military, and much more. Of course, he betrayed every single one of these promises when he came to office. Clinton's strategy was to pose as a progressive while carrying out the right-wing agenda of the capitalist ruling class for war, privatization and repression.
Fast-forward to 2004. John Kerry isn't even bothering to make those kinds of promises to get elected. He's openly pro-war and pro-occupation. He pays lip service to gay rights and immigrant rights, but opposes same-sex marriage and supports police roundups of immigrant families. Kerry and the Democratic leadership are counting on people's fear and anger at George W. Bush to override common sense and make them vote for their candidates, whose program is fundamentally the same as the current Commander-in-Thief.
It's no secret that Bush and the clique around him are dangerous. Millions of progressive people feel obliged to hold their noses and vote for Kerry in Nov ember to get Bush out. But the truth is, Kerry's goals are nearly indistinguishable from Bush's.
Kerry's support among Black, Latin@, Asian, Arab and Native voters is weak, and with good reason. Kerry has surrounded himself with a nearly all-white retinue. He either hasn't seriously addressed the issues of highest concern to the oppressed communities and other workers--like jobs, health care and education--or else he has taken an opposite position, like his support for the occupation of Iraq.
Kerry has given workers and progressive people plenty of reasons to oppose him.
* Trying to shore up support among Latin@s, Kerry addressed the National Council of La Raza June 29, promising a "comprehensive immigration reform bill in his first 100 days as president" for undoc umented workers to get citizenship more easily. Hours later, he stabbed immigrants and Latin@s in the back.
Speaking on the Telemundo TV network, Kerry said he opposed issuing drivers' licenses to undocumented workers, the same position taken by right-wing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even worse, he came out in support of the racist raids by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now part of the so-called Department of Homeland Security) that are terrorizing immigrant families from Texas to California. (Los Angeles Times, July 1)
* Also June 29, Kerry spoke at a meeting of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH organization, his first attempt to reach out to a Black civil rights organization. Kerry tried to ride the coattails of the 40th anniversary of the civil rights law of 1964, but the best promise he could come up with was a tuition tax credit for college students and a vague promise to give additional federal aid to states that keep tuition increases below the inflation rate. (Chicago Tribune, June 30)
If Kerry were serious about supporting the Black community, this would have been the perfect opportunity to announce a massive jobs-creation program to address the double-digit unemployment facing African Americans. But no. Not a word, either, about the heinous police brutality against Stanley Miller, a Black man, captured on videotape in Los Angeles. No apology for his support of the racist war of aggression against Iraq, or for the fact that he wants to keep U.S. military personnel--overwhelmingly working class and youths of color--in that occupied country indefinitely. No change in his position to send even
more youths to kill and die in Iraq.
Earlier, Jesse Jackson complained that while he was prepared to campaign for Kerry, he had not been asked to. The truth is that Kerry doesn't want his campaign to be associated with the memory of the great civil rights struggles or any progressive movement, including Jackson's populist challenges to the Democratic Party mainstream in 1984 and 1988. Reverend Jackson, we have a proposal for you: Come and campaign with us, the candidates who embrace this legacy and are really fighting for jobs, peace and social justice!
Kerry has uttered not one word about the scandalous 2000 Florida elections that publicly exposed the disenfranchisement of thousands of African American voters. When members of the Congressional Black Caucus were seeking the support of just one senator to support their petition challenging the Florida vote that gained Bush the presidency, Kerry and the other 99 senators were nowhere to be found.
* Kerry is moving to assure the super-rich and the corporate monopolies that he will carry out their goal of world domination, only with more finesse and savvy than Bush. A new Kerry policy paper, reported in the July 2 Boston Globe, documents these aggressive plans that echo the current occupier of the White House. They include "forceful action" against Iran, full support for Israel's construction of a 425-mile apartheid wall to imprison the occupied Palestinian population, and a pledge to isolate Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders.
Add this to Kerry's earlier threats to Cuba, Venezuela and other sovereign countries trying to remain free of U.S. domination. Add it to his June 29 pledge of support for the new U.S.-puppet regime in Iraq: "I believe it is critical that the president get real support, not resolutions, not words, but real support of sufficient personnel, troops and money, to assist in the training of security forces in order to be able to guarantee a rapid real transition, and most importantly, in order to provide adequate security on the ground."
Kerry's message is clear: more war, more money for the Pentagon, more body bags. Anyone feel a draft?
* The Democratic Party is moving to block candidates to the left of Kerry from getting on the ballot, even if they have successfully navigated the biased state laws designed to keep third parties off. On July 2, Ralph Nader, who is running a progressive reform campaign, accused Kerry and the Democrats of "dirty tricks" to keep him off the ballot in Arizona. Based on a minor technical error in the complicated petitioning process, the Democrats got a judge to invalidate 70 percent of the signatures gathered by Nader supporters and ban him from the November ballot. The pro-war Democratic leadership fears Nader will attract rank-and-file Democrats with his anti-war platform. (Associated Press, July 3)
These are only the most recent offenses. Don't forget that Kerry, who is from Massachusetts and who takes the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community's support for granted, opposes same-sex marriage rights. Don't forget that this former federal prosecutor voted for the USA Patriot Act and, unlike more than 300 cities around the countries, has not demanded its repeal. Don't forget how he showed his contempt for the whole working class earlier this year when he willfully skipped a Senate vote on extending unemployment benefits. His vote would have passed the amendment; instead it went down to defeat, and millions of jobless workers have suffered.
What about Boston? This major city in Kerry's home state is the site of the Democratic National Convention, where he is expected to become the party's official nom inee. Has Kerry done anything to address the pressing issues for workers and oppressed peoples there? No, he hasn't.
Kerry hasn't taken a stand against the racist forces, led by Mayor Thomas Menino and City Council President Michael Flaherty, who are trying to re-segregate the city's public schools under the slogan "return to neighborhood schools."
With one call to Menino and Gov. Mitt Romney, Kerry could end the stonewalling that has prevented Boston school bus drivers and monitors, teachers, firefighters and others from getting a decent contract. All he would have to do is threaten to pull the DNC out of Boston. Instead the Democratic Party and Kerry campaign are putting pressure on the unions to accept a rotten compromise. So far, the unions are standing tough with community support.
No one should be surprised that the "progressive" Kerry is so indifferent to the struggles of people of color, LGBT people and union workers on his own turf. After all, Kerry is a wealthy member of the ruling class in that old-money state. His wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, is a billionaire and heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune. If Kerry becomes president, his family will be the richest ever to occupy the White House.
That's why workers need their own voice in this election, the Workers World Party election campaign: John Parker, an African American man from Los Angeles, for president, and Teresa Gutierrez, a Latina lesbian from Queens, N.Y., for vice president.
We are two workers, two people of color, two socialists, two longtime fighters against war and for the rights of all poor and working people. We stand for everything Kerry does not: Immediate withdrawal of the troops from Iraq, abolishing the Pentagon, same-sex marriage rights TODAY, a massive program to create living-wage union jobs, and much more.
Join us in the streets of Boston July 25 for the National March on the Democratic Convention to Bring the Troops Home Now, sponsored by the ANSWER coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). We'll be there, not to pressure Kerry to be more "reasonable," but to help expose him as the corporate stooge he is. We'll be there to join with all those who are organizing an independent fight-back movement. That's the best way to change the political climate, no matter who is in the White House.
John Parker & Teresa Gutierrez
Workers World Party candidates for president and vice president
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