The 2012 election has become a battle on the basic direction of our country; whether it will be more democratic or more oppressive. Whether the it will be Bush II on steroids; a government which will intensify the Bush offensive against labor and people of color, or will it open the door to a new era of democratic advance. Nancy Pelosi in a speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference asked the question, “Will we have a government of the many or a government of the money?”
Millions of working people, of all races and nationality see this election as a battle over what kind of democracy will we have.
The African American people show a high understanding of what’s at stake in this election. Polls show that 95% oppose the policies of Romney and Ryan and their coalition of the extreme right.
Some comrades know that with the BRC we were actively registering voters in Harlem for many weeks. In that in grass roots activity you get a good idea of where people are at politically.
Not surprisingly there were a few people who registered Republican and an occasional a person would come by and expressed their dislike or disappointment with Barack Obama. Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of the people of Harlem we met, were not only in support of Obama enthusiastic in their support. They were really “fired up and ready to go”. Most people thanked us for being out there. The phase I heard the most “we’ve got to reelect the President the Republicans will mess things up”.
Another experience was on Obama’s Birthday. Over 500 people gathered in front of Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem to celebrate. Largely by email and word of mouth. They sang Steve Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” and chanted “Yes we can” and “4 more years”. Then they lined up did this dance they called the “Obama wiggle”. It was quite a spontaneous demonstration for the President. Everyday, working people you met on the streets of Harlem are particularly angry at the Republican racist attacks and their sabotage of Obama’s domestic programs.
The election of Barack Obama continues to be an enormous source of pride especially in the African American community. He remains very popular president among a majority of the US population. From the perspective of the fight against racism in particular and against the right wing in general, the president’s personal popularity, his enormous support and feelings of racial pride are very important.
GOP: Party of racism in the new Millennium
The media often talks about how the Democrats are not winning over “hard working middle class white people” It a way of trying to push their program to the right and away from the struggle against racism. They rarely talks about the fact that the Republican Party is moving towards becoming virtually an white only party. You saw their convention…That’s their party; a Party of rich middle aged white men.
A Pew poll taken in June 2012 showed that from 2000-2012 the percentage of Republicans who are white has remained at 87%. This is (from an article by Charles Blow in the NY Times, June 7, 2012). The poll further showed that the number of Democrats who are white have dropped nine points from 64% in 2000 to 55% this year. This may reflect the growth of black and brown registrations.
These differences are deeper then race. The poll showed that blacks and Latinos are far more likely to believe that poverty is a result of circumstances beyond a person’s control rather than a result of lack of individual effort. Also the poll showed that “87% of both blacks and Hispanics believed that government should guarantee everyone enough to eat and a place to sleep. Fifty two percent of whites also agreed. That view has become a majority view in the country.
Contrast that to Romney’s notion that half the country is free-loaders who don’t want to work.
The poll also showed on the Presidential race that 90% of Romney’s supporters are white. Only 4% are Latino (Hispanic), and less than 1% are black, 4% other.
Obama supporters are 57% white, 23% black, 12% Latino (Hispanic) and 7% other races. One has to ask, in this historic election struggle, which party’s racial composition most reflects the nation? It is clearly not the Republicans.
Pat Bucannon’s a prominent Republican media personality. Came out with a book last year that really shows the deep reservoir of racist ideology within the Republican Party. The book is called “Suicide of a Superpower”. In one chapter entitled “The end of White America, “Bucannon says, “Mexico is moving north’. He ask, “Has our passivity in the face of this invasion imperiled our union?” This book is like a call for race war. It’s a Neo Fascist book coming from this prominent Republican ideologue. These views seem to be quite at home in the ranks of the GOP, Tea Party, Libertarian Alliance.
The African American Vote
In 2008 130 million people voted. It was the largest voter turn out in the history of the United States. Obama won majorities among the following groups of voters; Catholics (56%, women(62%), youth(66%), labor households, Asian(62%), Latino (67%), Jewish(78%) and African Americans (95%).
Because African Americans voted in as a bloc for Obama, that vote had an impact beyond its numbers especially in big cities and in the battle ground states.
While some have been predicting that African American support for Obama’s in 2012 would not be as strong as it was in 2008, recent polls show that it remains in the 95% range. The actual number depends on the turnout of course.
I don’t think it means that African Americans are satisfied with the first 4 years but I think it shows a high personal regard for the President and above all a strong rejection of the racist and anti working class policies of the Romney/Ryan ticket.
If you look at the impact of the Stimulus package, the Auto Bail out, and saving and creating jobs especially in the public sector, the several extensions of unemployment benefits and the “middle class” tax cuts, Obama’s policies have helped many African American families survive. Much more needs to be done but and if the unrelenting Republican opposition had not been there, the impact of the Obama policies would have been much greater.
For many decades, our party has been calling for a plan on the level of the post war Marshall Plan to meet the deep going poverty in the Black and Brown communities of our nation. The private sector is not interested in such a plan. Obama’s Jobs Bill, that calls for public works jobs is a good start. The entire movement needs to push hard to pass this Bill to meet the urgent life and death situation.
Life has been extremely hard these last four years but there is a real feeling among black folks that the problems; the deep financial and economic crisis, mass unemployment etc. were fundamentally caused by the Bush policies and the main opposition that’s blocking government action are the Republicans.
Currently one out of seven African Americans are jobless. One out of 10 Latinos. The black unemployment is double that of whites. Latino rate is 40% higher than for whites. Over 30% of African American youth are out of work and in some big cities and communities it is 50% and higher.
Our view has been on the vital issues Obama should have rallied the people and confronted the Republicans more and try to compromise with them less. The Republicans are not for compromise. They have rejected every piece of legislations to help the working class and the jobless especially after 2010.
Their priority was to “make Obama a one term President” as Mitch McConnell openly admitted. Their approach, “Let the unemployed suffer, Obama must fail.”
In States where the Republicans rule thousands of public workers were fired, wages were cut and in the chaos public unions where under attacked. Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio…. They are using this crisis to drastically cut wages and destroy unions. To bring Obama down, they are willing to sabotage the economy as Sam Webb entitled his recent article. They don’t care if the make millions of people suffer
This is a party that now claims to be for helping the middle class?
While the unemployed received little or no relief, what do the Republicans say, “hang on we have to give the rich more wealth first, and defeat the unions and cut services and after all that, maybe then you’ll get a job”.
In the meantime 600,000 public workers were fired. One third of African American workers are in the public sector, these lay offs hit black public workers hard. The mortgage crisis (which was sparked by the racist sub prime scam, as Joe Sims’ article pointed out).
The massive loss of family wealth, pensions and savings, together with these mass layoffs hit the black and Latino communities like Katrina hit New Orleans. So many families and young people were devastated. The increase in drug-related gun violence in cities all across the country is rooted in the astronomically high unemployment, cut in education, in health care, and other vital services evictions and foreclosures and outrageous levels of poverty in black and Latino communities….
Comrade, our slogan; “Poverty and Racism Kills” needs to be revived.
There is a sharp racist edge to the Republican policy of denying relief to the unemployed, the foreclosed, the hungry and the homeless… Remember food stamp President. The policies of the Republican Party are steeped in racism and indifference to the plight of the people.
The youth and students who can’t get work and can’t afford tuition. This hits, youth of color extra hard. The Republican war on women has a sharp racist edge. Who can lest afford contraception? Rich women have always been able to have abortions even when it illegal but it is poor and working class women and women of color who will lose the right to contraception and to choice if the Republican have their way.
That’s why the last poll showed African American are 95% for Obama and a unheard of 0% for Romney. Imagine a major party in our country with it huge multi national, multi racial population, receiving a 0% from the over 40 million African American people.
In this the most racially mixed country on the planet the African American people who had to fight their way up from slavery standing almost unanimously against the Republican/Tea Party candidates for Congress and the Romney/ Ryan ticket. What a powerful stand for equality and justice.
Strategic position of the AA vote and Voter Suppression
The Republicans know full well the strategic role of the Afircan American vote. In battle ground states, Florida, North Carolina, Va. Pa. NJ. Ohio, and Wisc. the AA voters make the difference.
The Black vote is decisive to a Democratic victory.
The rise of the Latino vote in the South is also key. In North Carolina for example, since 2008 the Latino vote has more than doubled to 91,000 from 44,000. The AA vote in NC, grew by 300,000 in that same period. These new multi racial movements growing in the south against the wave of vicious anti immigrant bills are very positive development. Muti racial class unity is key to transforming the South politically and it is happening (Pat Buchannan).
The Republicans have launched the most aggressive effort to suppress the African American, Latino, youth and student vote in US history. For African Americans it is like the return of Jim Crow elections but not just in the South and it’s aimed more than African Americans. There are 178 laws introduced in 41 states with millions in Koch Brother’s dollars to spend in their obvious attempt to steal the election. If they win in November and continue to control the Supreme Court majority, in practice the Voting Rights Act could be made completely ineffective.
The reality is that the number of cases of real voter fraud are very few unless you count what the Republicans did in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004 Presidential race. This year it’s not just forcing people to get voter IDs it canceling early and same day voting and purging voter list. If they would succeed in all the states it is estimated that as many as 5 million democratic voters could be prevented from voting.
The argument that some have been making that only a small number of voters will be effected has proved to be not true. Just this Tuesday the courts in Pennsylvania ruled that the voter ID law could not be put in effect for this election because the number of people who need IDs was so large that the State could not provide them before November 6th. They law is planned to be implemented in 2013.
That was a still a victory. Just like the rejection of the Texas Bill and the more restrictive voter registration procedures in Florida. And of course what the people of Ohio who vote down their Republican voter suppression law. Before the election there will likely be more rulings against the bills. But in some cases it will be too late.
But all is not loss. There is a huge nation wide civil rights type movement that has sprung up to counter the attempt to suppress the right to vote. It see itself as the continuation of the historic struggle of the 60’s.
The Republicans in defense of their brand of Capitalism basically sees the American people as having too many rights and they are out to role them back including the right to vote. Basically, democracy itself is under severe attack including labor’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights ect.. It is so important that there is a real movement that is preparing to take steps now to avoid being denied the right to vote. Labor and people’s org. must organizing to counter the massive voter intimidation that will be carried out by this “True Vote” the Koch brother funded outfit that is planning to put 1 million voter intimidators at the polls on election day. To challenge voters in mainly Democratic districts right to vote.
Does it matter who wins?
For those who think it doesn’t matter who wins in November, you must explain why 95% of African Americans. Nearly 70% of Latinos despite Obama’s mixed immigration policies, majority of women, youth, students and labor households. After the 47% remarks and the Ryan/Romney threat to Medicare Senior are moving towards the Democrats too. Among these are some of our most politically sophisticated, class-conscious voters. They know the difference. They know what’s at stake.
The very diverse Obama electoral coalition that set a record in turn-out in 2008, is being mobilized. This election debate is centered around domestic issues and from the health care issue to marriage equality and democratic minded voters see miles of difference between Obama and Romney. And everybody is talking no repeat of 2010. They are preparing to continue the struggle in the post election.
On the voter suppression this is a basic democratic question and calls on the vest majority of American people to speak out and protest what the Republicans are trying to do.
The ruling class is split on this question. Our basic understanding of strategy includes taking into account any and all divisions in the ruling class.
Victory for the working class is not possible without this understanding.
On Tuesday’ (date) NYTimes there was a full page ad by the founder of the supper wealthy Dreyfus Fund. Billionaire William Louis- Dreyfus speaking out forcefully against voter suppression. He was appalled to hear his ruling class friends bragging that Romney would win because of voter suppression. In the ad he said,
” If the election will be decided by this effort (voter suppression (JT), then a poison will have been injected in the blood of our democracy. And that represents as great a danger to our democracy as has ever existed from within our borders. If that effort succeeds, we will have become a false democracy.
He then pleaged to donate $1 million to counter the effort in the courts.
This is part of the answer to those who see no difference between Obama and Romney.
Churches are organizing early voting, the unions are putting hundreds of thousands of GOTV workers going door to door. Trade unions and democratic minded people … They will be in a position to take on the racism and red baiting of the Republicans. The effect of this hard core grass roots work could be very positive in the long term struggle against racism and for higher levels of class unity and labor militancy.
The cover of the recent issue of the Teamster Magazine has the slogan, “If Romney wins, Workers lose.” If the Republicans win democracy will lose. If the Democrats win the White House and Congress the fight will still be to keep the pressure on. And the people will fight. But we will be in a better position to fight if the Republicans are defeated. Certainly for democratic minded people it is morally unacceptable if they steal another presidential election.
Congressmen John Lewis, defined the bottom line on how to fight-back against voter suppression. He called on Obama supporter to “Vote like you have never voted before” and I would add and keep up the fight in the post election!
Congressman Lewis was part of the panel at the huge town hall meeting at the CBC Foundations Legislative Conference; At the meeting the panel was ask by the moderator, “what would Martin Luther King say about this moment?” Cong. Lewis responded with, “He would say, ‘Be grateful for the progress we have made. The election of Barack Obama was not the fulfillment of the dream. It was only a down payment. Continue the struggle”
Another member of the panel added ” He would say. Get off your Butts and make some noise”
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