The Republican National Convention (RNC) will descend on St. Paul, Minnesota from September 1-4. Activists in the Twin Cities and around the country are gearing up for what will be among the largest demonstrations in the state’s history.

The demonstrations against the RNC will be a chance to show the massive opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the criminal, pro-corporate policies of the Bush administration. Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history. His legacy includes two brutal wars, the systematic use of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, historic attacks on civil liberties such as the Patriot Act and domestic spying, tax cuts for the rich and rampant profiteering by oil companies and military contractors.

At the RNC, Bush will pass the torch to fellow warmonger, Senator John McCain. Despite the immense opposition to the war in Iraq, McCain has promised to continue the war until the U.S. can declare victory. McCain has stated troops could spend “maybe 100” years in Iraq, saying “It’s not a matter of how long we’re in Iraq, it’s if we succeed or not” (CNN.com).

We need to build the biggest protest against the RNC to send the strongest message of opposition to the right-wing, pro-war Republican agenda.

Democrats an Alternative?

Many forces will seek to funnel the protests against the RNC behind the Democratic Party. However, the last eight years demonstrate how the Democrats are a completely ineffective vehicle to fight the Republicans. Rather than oppose Bush, they have enabled him every step of the way, voting to authorize the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and refusing to use their power to impeach Bush.

Those who want to stop the Republican agenda will have to look past the Democrats – to the independent power of workers and youth, organized in mass movements. Supporting the Democrats as the lesser of two evils compels activists to lower their expectations to what is acceptable to the Democrats – meaning what is acceptable to the corporate backers who run the show.

For example, in September 2004, half a million people protested the RNC in New York City. This came on top of the historic demonstration of over 1 million in defense of abortion rights in April 2004. The overwhelming mood of “anybody-but-Bush” and the capitulation of most of the organized left to this pressure meant that most of the energy of the protest was channeled behind the Democratic Party and John Kerry’s pro-war, pro-corporate campaign.

While millions in the U.S. And around the world will breathe a sigh of relief when Bush is gone, most of his policies are set to continue no matter who is elected. The RNC protests need to be a kickoff toward rebuilding militant, powerful social movements no matter who is elected.

The Protests

St. Paul has already become heavily militarized. Every officer on the St. Paul police force has been given a taser. The increased militarization is meant to intimidate demonstrators and increase the power of the state, in preparation for future struggles in which repressive force will be needed to defend capitalist interests against movements.

Socialist Alternative in the Twin Cities will be building all summer long for the mass march against the war on Monday, September 1, the first day of the RNC. We are also looking to take more direct action against the Republicans and their criminal policies. That’s why, on September 4, we are helping to organize a mass student strike against the RNC of high school and college youth.

The student strike is a way of saying no to business as usual while some of the leading war criminals are in town. It will help young people feel our collective power and send a strong message to the political establishment in this country – Republicans and Democrats alike – that we demand an immediate end to this brutal, unjust war. That we want funding for schools and good jobs, not hundreds of billions wasted on endless war for corporate gain.

It is through mass action, not by relying on politicians, that we can force an end to this war. A massive student strike can help convince students and workers throughout the country to take mass, direct action to stop this war (such as the May 1 strike by the International Longshore Workers’ Union).

We call on everyone who is opposed to the Republican’s corporate, pro-war agenda to mobilize for the biggest possible protests and actions in the Twin Cities this September. To get more information and join us in building the student strike and other actions against the RNC, contact mn@socialistalternative.org.

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