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Friday, Dec. 29, 2006 at 1:35 PM
BREAK WITH THE DEMOCRATS
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH THROWS HIS HAT IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RING
BREAK WITH THE DEMOCRATS-AND A CAUTIONARY TALE
In the normal course of events I do not give a tinker’s damn about what bourgeois politician, Democratic, Republican or Green, throws his or her hat into the presidential ring. Whether Evan Bayh is out or Bill Frist is out or Hillary “Hawk” or Obama the “Charma” is in or out or John Kerry is in and out takes more time and effort than it is worth. While I do confess to a sporting interest in the odds on such candidacies and will even wager a small bet on such propositions there is more than enough work for this writer to do propagandizing for a workers party that fights for a workers government. However, during the week of December 12th 2006, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich once again threw his hat into the presidential ring. That interests me, but not for the reasons the reader of these lines might think.
Congressman Kucinich is now an old hand at being the extreme left Democratic Party candidate for President, having made the same run in 2004. With about the same chances. That is, unfortunately, about the same chance as our having a viable workers party candidate for President in 2008. But that is another question for another time. Congressman Kucinich represents, as mentioned about, the most extreme left of the Democratic Party. If we are ever to get a chance for a workers party in this country we will have to peel off those elements of the Democratic Party that the Congressman appeals to. Does anyone really think that our fight today is to peel off those people attracted to Hillary? Or even better, from the Republicans? Grow up, please!
So what are our prospects today? This is the real reason that I am interested in the Congressman. Moreover, I have personal experience with the pressure from the Democratic Party we are up against in our struggle for a workers party. If you will recall the 2004 Democratic Convention was staged here in Boston that summer. Congressman Kucinich did not, for his own personal reasons, withdraw his candidacy until the eve of that Convention so that he was freely accessible at various political functions in the city. At one such function I was able to speak about the need to break with the Democratic Party and develop a programmatic- based party centered on the needs of working people. His response and the response of those around him, not unexpected by me, was that it was necessary to remain ‘viable’ in the Democratic Party if all the good things that working people need are to have any chance of success. I also remember some looks of disbelief as if I was proposing that the Congressman break with the Democrats to lead some revolutionary communist party out in the hills. And that is the rub.
Congressman Kucinich is, as I am, a son of the working class, the dirt-poor part of it, to boot. He is also my near contemporary so that he knows some of the same feelings that I had about being left out of the “American Dream” in the so-called golden days of America in the 1950’s when we were growing up. However, our paths depart at that point. Well, that is politics and such things happen. The point is that if there had been a viable workers party in those days I would not be writing about the Congressman’s marginal Democratic Party campaign today. And in the final analysis that is what this commentary is all about. If we do not fight for a workers party now then the next generation’s Democratic Kucinich will be giving some future workers party advocate the same run around. Let us get serious now.
In the summer of 2006 I wrote a commentary about writing in workers party candidates based on a program for the fall 2006 elections. With the hoopla already starting for the 2008 election cycle I repost that commentary below with that same intention of getting thoughtful leftist to use the 2008 campaign to further our propaganda needs.
A MODEST PROPOSAL-RECRUIT, RUN INDEPENDENT LABOR MILITANTS IN FOR THE 2006 ELECTIONS.
IN THIS TIME OF THE ‘GREAT FEAR’ WE NEED CANDIDATES TO FIGHT FOR A WORKERS GOVERNMENT.
FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS- BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
All “anti-parliamentarian”, “anti-state”, “non-political” anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist brothers and sisters need read no further. This writer does not want to sully the purity of your politics with the taint of parliamentary electoral politics. Although I might remind you, as we remember the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, that your political ancestors in Spain were more than willing to support the state and enter the government when they got the chance- the bourgeois state and the bourgeois government. But, we can fight that issue out later. We will, hopefully, see you on the barricades.
As for other militants- here is my modest proposal. Either recruit fellow labor militants or present yourselves as candidates to run for public office, especially for Congress, during the 2006 election cycle. Why? Even a quick glance at the news of the day is calculated to send the most hardened politico screaming into the night. The quagmire in Iraq, immigration walls, flag-burning amendments, anti same-sex marriage amendments, the threat to separation of church state raised by those who would impose a fundamentalist Christian theocracy on the rest of us, and the attacks on the hard fought gains of the Enlightenment posed by bogus theories such as ‘intelligent design’. And that is just an average day. Therefore, this election cycle provides militants, at a time when the dwindling electorate is focused on politics, a forum to raise our program and our ideas. We use this as a tool, like leaflets, petitions, meetings, demonstrations, etc. to get our message across. Why should the Donkeys, Elephants, and Greens have a monopoly on the public square?
I mentioned in the last paragraph the idea of program. Let us face it if we do not have a program to run on then it makes no sense for militants to run for public office. Given the political climate our task at this time is to fight an exemplary propaganda campaign. Our program is our banner in that fight. The Democrats and Republicans DO NOT RUN on a program. The sum of their campaigns is to promise not to steal from the public treasury (or at least not too much), beat their husbands or wives or grossly compromise themselves in any manner. On second thought, given today’s political climate, they may not promise not to beat their husbands or wives. You get the point. Damn, even the weakest neophyte labor militant can make a better presentation before working people that that. In any case, this writer presents a five point program that labor militants can run on (you knew this was coming, right?). As point five makes clear this is not a ‘minimum’ program but a program based on our need to fight for power.
1. FIGHT FOR THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. TROOPS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST NOW (OR BETTER YET, YESTERDAY)! U.S. HANDS OFF THE WORLD! VOTE NO ON THE WAR BUDGET! The quagmire in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East (Palestine, Iran) is the fault line of American politics today. Every bourgeois politician has to have his or her feet put to the fire on this one. Not on some flimsy ‘sense of the Congress’ softball motion for withdrawal next, year, in two years, or (my favorite) when the situation is stable. Moreover, on the parliamentary level the only real vote that matters is the vote on the war budget. All the rest is fluff. Militants should make a point of trying to enter Congressional contests where there are so-called anti-war Democrats or Republicans (an oxymoron, I believe) running to make that programmatic contrast vivid.
But, one might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the ‘popular front’ days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the war in Iraq fight for this position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (ya, those progressive Democrats) who unanimously voted for the last war budget get a free ride on the cheap. Senator Hillary “Hawk” Clinton desperately needs to be opposed by labor militants. Closet Republican, Democratic Senator Lieberman of Connecticut should not take his richly deserved beating on the war issue from a dissident Democrat. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.
2. FIGHT FOR A LIVING WAGE AND WORKING CONDITIONS-UNIVERSAL FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL. It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less families, can live on the minimum wage of /hr. (or proposed /hr). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. We need universal free health care for all. End of story. The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s, go a long way to turning the conditions of labor around.
3. FIGHT THE ATTACKS ON THE ENLIGHTENMENT. Down with the Death Penalty! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants who make it here! Stop the Deportations! For the Separation of Church and State! Defend abortion rights! Down with ant-same sex marriage legislation! Full public funding of education! Stop the ‘war on drugs’, basically a war on blacks and minority youth-decriminalize drugs! Defend political prisoners! This list of demands hardly exhausts the “culture war” issues we defend. It is hard to believe that in the year 2006 over 200 years after the American Revolution and the French Revolution we are fighting desperately to preserve many of the same principles that militants fought for in those revolutions. But, so be it.
4. FIGHT FOR A WORKERS PARTY. The Donkeys, Elephants and Greens have had their chance. Now is the time to fight for our own party and for the interests of our own class, the working class. Any campaigns by independent labor militants must highlight this point. And any campaigns can also become the nucleus of a workers party network until we get strong enough to form at least a small party. None of these other parties, and I mean none, are working in the interests of working people and their allies. The following great lesson of politic today must be hammered home. Break with the Democrats, Republicans and Greens!
5. FIGHT FOR A WORKERS AND XYZ GOVERNMENT. THIS IS THE DEMAND THAT SEPARATES THE MILITANTS FROM THE FAINT-HEARTED REFORMISTS. We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are still reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.
Why the XYZ part? What does that mean? No, it is not part of an algebra lesson. What it reflects is that while society is made up mainly of workers (of one sort or another) there are other classes (and parts of classes) in society that we seek as allies and could benefit from a workers government. Examples- small independent contractors, intellectuals, the dwindling number of small farmers, and some professionals like dentists. Ya, I like the idea of a workers and dentists government. The point is you have got to fight for it.
Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good now. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies at this late date write-in campaigns are possible. ROLL UP YOUR SHEEVES! GET THOSE PETITIONS SIGNED! PRINT OUT THE LEAFLETS! PAINT THOSE BANNERS! GET READY TO SHAKE HANDS AND KISS BABIES.
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE 2006-2008 ELECTION CYCLE UNDER THE HEADLINE- FORGET THE DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS, GREENS-BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
FOR MORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY AND BOOKS REVIEWS CHECK MY BLOG AT- Http://markinbookreview.blogspot.com/
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