When the Republicans won the midterm elections, we in Socialist Alternative argued that this did not represent a turn to the right in society. It was fueled by an anti-incumbent mood reinforced by a massive abstention by progressive voters. The contradiction was expressed in the number of progressive ballot measures that passed, even in states that voted Republican.
But it was absolutely inevitable that the Republican Party, particularly its right wing, would see this as a mandate to go on the offensive against working people. Look what is happening now:
- A Texas judge, ruling in a lawsuit brought by 26 overwhelmingly Republican-led states, has blocked Obama’s executive order which lifted the threat of deportation for up to five million foreign-born workers and youth. The whole program is now on hold, perhaps indefinitely. This is an absolutely devastating blow to people who though they finally could begin coming out of the shadows.
- The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives was preparing to pass legislation banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but they were forced to drop this because of a revolt among Republican Congresswomen! Instead, they passed a more confusing piece of legislation restricting federal funding for abortion services that, while not openly labeled a ban, is effectively an abortion ban for large numbers of poor women. Already, in 89% of counties in the U.S., particularly in the South, there are no abortion providers at all. But it is clearly the aspiration of the right to go even further by overturning Roe v. Wade and dealing a massive blow to women’s rights.
- And, as reported above, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin who launched the assault on public sector workers’ collective bargaining rights in 2011, now wants to finish the job by making Wisconsin a right-to-work state. The new Republican governor of Illinois wants to go down the same path.
While the Democrats will oppose the Republicans in the courts, at least on some fronts, all of this points to the urgent need for massive social struggle to rebuild a powerful labor movement in the U.S. It also points to the necessity of building a political force that genuinely represents working people and the poor that would inspire people to vote in their interests – rather than settling for the lesser evil or simply staying home.