“For the week ending May 9, just 32% of Americans approved of the way that George W. Bush performed his role as President. That’s down two percentage points from last week and the lowest level ever recorded.” – Rasmussen Reports

In less than a year, Cheney’s crooked evil smirk and Bush’s arrogance will disappear from the halls of power. Still, many of the serious problems we face after the Bush debacle will remain, no matter who is elected.

In fact, things could get worse with more budget cuts coming down the pipeline, a looming environmental disaster and a disintegrating occupation in Iraq. The recession doesn’t bode well for the job market. With the cost of many basic commodities going up and the value of the dollar sliding, the same amount of money buys less and less, which is a disaster for those on low wages, unemployed or on fixed income.

A May Gallup Poll states that, “just 15% of Americans describe current economic conditions as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ matching the low for the year. Additionally, 87% of Americans say economic conditions are getting worse.” Only 14% of Americans are “satisfied” according to Gallup polls. This is only the beginning of a recession that could last for years
and reach deeper into the economy.

While the news focuses on the primaries, many Democrats are maneuvering in Congress to authorize another $178 billion for war funding (on top of the hundreds of billions already handed to the Bush clique). This is money that should be spent to save our homes, give us healthcare and guaranteed living wages.

Will Barack Bring Change?

There has been a mood for serious change for years, reflected in the Democrats winning the 2006 mid-term elections on a promise to end the war and increase living standards. The war is still raging, and the economy isn’t exactly skyrocketing. Still, with Republican approval ratings plummeting, the mood for change could sweep the Democrats to further victories this year.

Barack Obama promises “change,” and his Presidency would bring change in many ways. He would present a more humane face to the world for the U.S. government. Obama is a capable and moving orator; that would be a departure from the current bumbling puppet President (to say the least). Obama is younger, more talented and more dynamic than most politicians.

Considering the history of racism in this country, from slavery to Jim Crow to mass unemployment, mass imprisonment and police brutality, a Black President would be a massive change.

But will his policies improve conditions for working people? Let’s take a quick look at Barack Obama’s voting record in Congress. Obama voted against single-payer healthcare and against caps on credit card interest rates. He’s voted for over $300 billion in Iraq war funding. Obama was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.”

Before Congress, Obama was an Illinois State Senator. After nuclear leaks in Illinois, Obama failed to regulate the nuclear industry. He was rewarded for that with huge campaign contributions and extensive fundraising by Exelon, an Illinois-based nuclear company. For a more in-depth analysis of Obama’s political record, see “Count Me Out: The Obama Craze” by Matt Gonzalez (http://www.counterpunch. org/gonzalez02292008.html).

The corporate interests behind the Obama campaign are the same big business interests that have funded both political parties for decades. Obama’s gotten more donations from Wall Street than any other Presidential candidate in history. That should tell us who he’ll side with when the demand grows to regulate corporate corruption and greed. At a time of record home foreclosures, one of Barack’s biggest campaign donations came from Goldman-Sachs, a massive banking institution (opensecrets.org). Unfortunately, it is the lobbyists and corporate donors who will still hold the real power in Washington no matter which candidate gets elected.

Whether with McCain or Obama, the next President’s cabinet will be packed with corporate executives and imperialist ideologues. They are key advisors to Obama; Cold War hawk Zbigniew Brzezinski is his main foreign policy advisor. His economic advisors are all connected to big companies. Corporate politicians can’t provide change that we should believe in, even if they are as talented as Barack Obama.

History shows that real change comes from organized fights against injustice. The famous abolitionist Fredrick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand, – and – without struggle, there can be no progress.” His words have been proven true by the labor movement, the battle for women’s rights and the fight to end segregation.

Fighting for Victories

Rather than funneling energy into a political parties and candidates dominated by corporate greed, we need to build movements for real change. The end of the Bush regime provides an opportunity to organize mass demonstrations to demand free national health care, pensions, democratic and union rights, and an end to attacks against immigrants. We should build a powerful movement for better wages and working conditions, direct actions to stop forced evictions, and strike action (like the longshore workers on the West Coast) to end the war in Iraq.

We also need to make the connection between social struggle and political representation. This can start by supporting anti-war anti-corporate campaigns like Cindy Sheehan’s run for Congress and Ralph Nader’s campaign for President. The unions could use their thousands of organizers and extensive resources to campaign for candidates that actually represent working people rather than squandering those assets on campaigns for rich Democrats.

It is a lot harder to build mass movements than it is to “hope” for a corporate politician to deliver “change.” Still, with a brief glance at history, it is evident that only determined ongoing struggles of ordinary working people can bring fundamental change. The two corporate parties will only enact policies that we need if they are threatened with a powerful social movement that exposes their monopoly on power and threatens to end it.

Big business will not concede anything without a demand, and there will be no progress without struggle. Our demands are for better living conditions and a sustainable future without war, racism and poverty. To achieve those basic goals, we’ll need to struggle for democratic socialism.

You Can’t Spoil a Rotten System – We Need a Party of Working People
Lots of people who want single-payer healthcare, an end to the war in Iraq, living wage jobs for all, and are fed up with racism and sexism still see independent left-wing candidates as “spoilers.”

Who’s spoiling what? In reality, it is the Democrats who have “spoiled” the fight against the Bush agenda. With the least popular President ever, with tens of millions of people fuming with anger against the wars and occupations, shocked by the negligent racism during Katrina and baffled by the tax cuts for the rich, the Democrats refused to fight the Bush agenda. They voted for war funding, didn’t stop rightwing judges from reaching the Supreme Court and granted tax cuts to the people that need them the least. The energy put into Democratic Party campaigns is taken away from struggles that can actually achieve real change. Then they have the nerve to call independent candidates like Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney “spoilers?”

Many people believe a vote for an independent candidate will spoil their chance to get a Democrat into power. They say that until an independent candidate can “guarantee” a victory, they should not run. However, a “viable” third party of working people won’t fall from the sky. It has to be built, and we have to start somewhere. If you don’t lay the foundation for a skyscraper building, then you can never get to the top floor. The time is now to support independent left-wing anti-war candidates like Cindy Sheehan and Ralph Nader, hopefully as a step towards what we need: a workers’ party.

A working class political alternative would run in elections. It would also campaign in the workplaces, the communities and the streets for ordinary people’s interests. It would be controlled by the members and activists through democratic structures. A workers’ party would rely on the strength of the struggles of ordinary people rather than taking corporate cash.

With a party of, by and for working people, we could begin to have a real say in politics rather than just being powerless onlookers while the corporations dominate the political system and our lives.

 

 

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