Ray O. Light
Some Revolutionary Lessons of the 2006 U.S. Congressional Election
"…Engels is most definite in calling universal suffrage an instrument of bourgeois rule. Universal suffrage, he says, … is ‘the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the present-day state’
"The petty-bourgeois democrats…expect just this ‘more’ from universal suffrage. They themselves share and instill into the minds of the people the false notion that universal suffrage ‘in the modern state’ is really capable of ascertaining the will of the majority of the toilers and of securing its realization."
(Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1917)
By now, the peoples of the world are well aware that the U.S. elections of November 2006 resulted in a repudiation of the policies of the George W. Bush Administration. In both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives the Democratic Party achieved a majority at the expense of Bush and the Republican Party. But what kind of changes in U.S. government policy can the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world expect after the new Congress is seated in January 2007? Will United States troops be pulled out of Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan, the Philippines, Colombia and other places where they now defend the global U.S. Empire?! Will the lethal claws of this imperialist monster be cut or retracted by the "more humane and reasonable" Democratic brain helping to guide it?
Recent issues of Northstar Compass, Toronto-based organ of the International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet Peoples, have included diverse and even contradictory articles assessing the significance of the electoral defeat of the Bush-led Republican Party in the 2006 election. For example, the latest issue (December 2006) includes an unsigned article entitled, "Is there a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans?" This article asserts in its opening that, "The election results in the US that saw the Democrats replace the Republicans in the Senate and in the Congress as the ruling party, should not be celebrated at all, since both parties are hell-bent for the New World Order…" By contrast, later in the same issue, in a brief column, U.S. political prisoner Ana Lucia Gelabert refers to this same event as an "earthshaking victory."
From the standpoint of the proletarian revolution, both these positions have a kernel of truth. At the same time, both are one-sided. The repudiation of George W. Bush and the Republican Party by the voters is something worth celebrating. It is a long overdue expression of U.S. popular opposition to the policies of this arch war criminal and his party. *
*For example, according to the November 9, 2006 Wall Street Journal, "in exit polls on Tuesday… 55% [of voters] said that the U.S. should move to pull out some or all troops from Iraq." And in Chicago, 95% voted "yes" on a "bring our troops home" ballot initiative.
Iraqi Resistance Is Key to Republican Defeat
But the election result, to the extent that it was a victory for the U.S. and world proletariat and oppressed peoples, was largely based on the achievements of the heroic Iraqi Resistance which has thwarted the plans and dreams of U.S. imperialism to occupy Iraq, expropriate its oil reserves, maintain and consolidate U.S. domination of the Middle East and thereby maintain its hegemony in the world capitalist economy. The U.S. population, in its overwhelming majority, had been willing to support regime change, oil seizure, and occupation of Iraq, without even a pretext of provocation, until the Iraqi Resistance made the cost of such activities higher than the people of the U.S.A. are willing to pay. Consequently, Gelabert’s long wish list of social justice goals that she believes can be accomplished on the basis of consolidation of the 2006 election victory are just that, a wish list, since the principal source of the victory was not the U.S. proletariat and people but the Iraqi people in their liberation movement against U.S. led imperialism.
In fact, it is striking that the repudiation of Bush, represented by this decisive Republican defeat, was carried out in the 2006 election when Bush was not even a candidate for office rather than in 2004 when Democrat John Kerry ran against Bush on the basis that he would do a better job defending the U.S. imperialist empire. Kerry didn’t challenge Bush at any level. Facing a phantom candidate in a year in which his Presidency was not even subject to a vote, but with the U.S. population having two years more experience facing the Iraqi Resistance in the Iraq War, Bush was repudiated through the massive vote against his Party.
Iraqi Resistance Fuels the Split between Bush’s Mass Base and His Real Base
The growing strength of the Iraqi Resistance over the past several years has thrown the Bush Regime on the defensive. It provided the condition for splitting apart the Bush consensus. Beginning with Bush’s abortive nomination of his personal attorney, Harriet Meiers, to be a Supreme Court Justice, there have been a series of defeats for Bush based on the contradiction between his mass base of right-wing fundamentalist Christians and his real base among the most aggressive and expansionist sectors of U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism. Meiers represented an insurance policy for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al against the future possibility of indictments from larceny on a grand scale to war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere. But Meiers was not a sufficiently right wing religious zealot to suit Bush’s mass base, so Bush was compelled to appoint Samuel Alito who met the right wing’s ideo-religious criteria.
An even more major fissure within the Bush-Republican camp occurred around the stunning news that Bush had made a mega-deal with Dubai World Ports to privately run six major U.S. ports. At the time, as throughout the period since 9/11, Bush’s mass base has been filled with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim chauvinist hysteria needed by the Bush Regime to carry out the war against the people of Iraq. These reactionary U.S. masses felt betrayed by Bush’s loyalty to the Middle Eastern ruling sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates. Again, they forced Bush to back off and the UAE government allowed their friend and business partner, President Bush, to renege on the contract already signed.
The 2006 Election and the Question of Immigrant Rights
The heroic Iraqi Resistance was also at the heart of another key reason for the Bush defeat in the 2006 Congressional Election, the massive defection of Latinos from the Republican Party. This defection coincided with the largest mass alienation of the right wing white fundamentalist Christians from the Bush-Republican camp. This is how it occurred.
The increasingly successful heroic Iraqi Resistance against U.S. imperialism provided the "breathing room" for the growing political and economic independence of the Cuban-Venezuelan led Latin American countries from U.S. imperialism and emboldened the governments of Iran, North Korea and especially Venezuela, whose anti-imperialist President, Hugo Chavez, later referred to Bush as "the devil" in his famous speech to the United Nations. The Iraqi Resistance also had a direct impact on the disproportionately large number of Latino U.S. troops in Iraq and the Middle East. All of the above, fueled by the heroic Iraqi Resistance, demonstrated that this Empire can be defeated. This emboldened millions of old and new Mexican and other Latino immigrant workers in the U.S.A. to generate millions-strong protest demonstrations during the Spring of 2006.
It was on this powerful basis that massive numbers of immigrants who initially opposed the Republican Sensenbrenner immigrant criminalization bill in the U.S. House went on to oppose the "liberal" bi-partisan Kennedy-McCain Senate bill, supported by George W. Bush, which proposed to regulate their labor over many years as a path to U.S. citizenship. Instead, these Latino immigrants began to demand amnesty or citizenship now!
In the 2006 election campaign, the Latino voters did not forget that it was Bush’s right wing Christian religious mass base that had brought forth the immigrant criminalization bill, even though Bush himself once again sided with his monopoly capitalist masters, his real base, and promoted the "liberal" alternative, alienating his mass base on a massive scale.*
*Ironically, on this front, it is likely that the defeat of Bush’s openly reactionary and chauvinistic white mass-based politicians and the new Democratic Party control of Congress will consolidate the rule of the dominant, less unstable sector of U.S. finance capital and facilitate the passage of repressive "liberal" pro monopoly capitalist "immigration reform" "guest worker" legislation, systematizing the growing attacks on immigrant workers in the U.S.A. and intensifying their super-exploitation.
Bush’s Mass Base "Dies a Thousand Deaths" on the Eve of the 2006 Election
The final straw for many of Bush’s mass followers was the disillusionment that flowed from two startling exposures on the eve of the 2006 election that expose the depth of decay and rot of the old and dying system, especially here in the belly of the beast, the current bulwark of world capitalism, U.S. imperialism. First, Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s pedophilia with regard to Congressional Pages while he was the House chairperson of the subcommittee tasked with protecting juveniles from pedophiles led to his resignation and to the disgrace of Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert for essentially covering up Foley’s sins. And secondly, just a few days prior to the election, came the startling forced resignation from a Colorado Christian mega-church of Reverend Haggard, who admitted that he had been having illicit homosexual relations with male prostitutes while he was the leader of the legislative campaign effort in Colorado to ban same sex marriages! Reverend Haggard was a national leader of the Christian evangelical’s organized support for Bush and the Republican Party.
Democratic Branch of War Party Wins Victory by Default
Thus, the "earth-shaking victory" was won, albeit by default, by the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party is indeed "hell-bent", just like the Republican Party, on defending the "New World Order." In fact, the Democratic Party politicians in Congress have been the chief enablers, the crucial supporters, of Bush’s war crimes against humanity. They have not even whispered about impeachment of Bush-Cheney for war crimes, financial scandal (Enron and Halliburton), etc. Last year Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold put forth a motion to censure Bush for his illegal attacks on civil rights and civil liberties and had practically no support even from his Democratic Party colleagues! Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, who will be installed as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives in January, announced during the election campaign and immediately thereafter that the Democrats have no intention of impeaching George W. Bush!!
Furthermore, Pelosi, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats, immediately upon becoming the majority party, reassured their monopoly capitalist rulers that Congress would not cut any of the Pentagon’s funding requests so as to keep the war in Iraq going. On December 5th, the Democratic leadership recommended to the Democratic Party caucus that it support the appropriation scheduled to be brought forth in Spring 2007 to continue full funding of the U.S. imperialist war in Iraq to the tune of $160 billion dollars more!
Loosening the Imperialist Grip to Get a Better Hold
In a November 12th article, while Brian Becker of the Party for Socialism and Liberation failed to make the dialectical connection between the successful Iraqi (and Lebanese) struggle against U.S. imperialism (and Israeli Zionism) and the 2006 elections in the U.S.A., he astutely observed, "…the dumping of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and his replacement by former CIA director Robert Gates inaugurates a shift in strategy by the Bush White House. It is a shift that almost every sector of the capitalist ruling class supports. The neo-conservatives are out. The old guard of the imperialist foreign policy establishment is retaking control." Indeed, President Bush’s dismissal of Rumsfeld, the chief proponent of reliance on high-tech weaponry and limiting the size of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and elsewhere, opens the door to U.S. military expansion in Iraq!
At the beginning of December, the Wall Street Journal reported that, "Outside the military, most of the debate is focused on a U.S. troop withdrawal. But inside the Pentagon, the recent dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given some new life to arguments by military officers who say the U.S. must pour more troops and money into the country to expand the Iraqi army…" In mid December, at this writing, reports are surfacing of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq, theoretically, to train the Iraqi Army, in line with recommendations from the Iraq Study Group led by Republican top functionary James Baker and Democratic bigwig Lee Hamilton. The outstanding Filipino revolutionary communist leader, Jose Maria Sison, as current chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) has summed up the Iraq Study Group’s Report as follows: "In brief, the US military forces are staying and digging in." Therefore, for the Iraqi people, whose heroic struggle and sacrifice led to this domestic defeat for Bush and the Republicans, the election victory of the Democrats could well mean an increased U.S. military presence in their country, at least for the short run.*
*One is reminded of the situation of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam during the 1964 Presidential election. The so-called "peace candidate", Democrat Lyndon Johnson, overwhelmingly defeated the Republican "war-monger", Barry Goldwater, in the election. Yet, years later, Daniel Ellsberg, a top state department and defense department functionary of the period, reported that the only options being considered by top government strategists at the time of Johnson’s landslide victory, were "Goldwater options". And the U.S. war in Vietnam was greatly expanded thereafter. So much for U.S. democracy!
Hurricane Katrina and the Afro-American Vote
Another important indication that it is "business as usual" for the U.S. imperialist government was the recent selection of the new head of the Congressional Black Caucus. Barbara Lee, the one member of Congress who had the courage to vote against Bush’s alleged "War on Terror" when he was at the height of his popularity and influence in the days following 9/11, had placed herself in consideration for this important post. Who better to lead the forty-three member caucus (all Democrats) than the person whose opposition to Bush had been so prophetic?!
Barbara Lee’s principled stand against Bush was even more clearly vindicated by the criminal treatment that the Afro-American people of New Orleans received from his Administration before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Katrina has been widely recognized as a wake-up call for the Afro-American people in the U.S.A., and, no doubt, played a huge role in guaranteeing that the Afro-American people continued to be the most anti-Republican Party voter base in the U.S.A. in the 2006 election. Despite all of this, the courageous Lee withdrew her name when Michigan Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick clearly obtained the votes of her colleagues to defeat Congresswoman Lee.
In addition, New York Congressman Charles Rangel’s proposal, immediately following the Congressional election, to reinstate the U.S. military draft (involuntary conscription), citing U.S. military overextension as a significant reason for his proposal, provides support and cover for the Bush-led bipartisan imperialist war on the peoples of the world.* No wonder Black political guru Ron Walters anticipates that the Congressional Black Caucus will "probably join Democratic leaders in charting a moderate course."
*Veteran Afro-American Congressman Rangel had previously attacked Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in defense of Bush when Chavez had justly denounced the war criminal Bush at the United Nations.
The proposition that the 2006 Congressional Elections in the U.S.A. represent a fundamental change in the workings of the U.S. imperialist empire is false. To the extent that the Democratic Party has gained strength at the expense of the increasingly isolated and exposed Bush and the Republicans, the monopoly capitalist and imperialist system in the U.S.A. is actually being provided room to maneuver and an opportunity to rebound. This is due to the fact that, while the old and dying are having great difficulty in ruling in the old way, the new and rising proletarian forces are insufficiently strong enough to bring forth the socialist future out of this political crisis of U.S. imperialism.
The proposition that the 2006 U.S. election reflected the "American people’s expectations that Bush and Cheney be convicted for their high crimes" has been put forth by such a valuable friend and leader of the U.S. and international proletariat as International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Chairman Jose Maria Sison, the outstanding Filipino revolutionary of our time. It is understandable that, given the common knowledge that Bush lied and manipulated the U.S.A. into an unprovoked war against the people of Iraq and is responsible for the widespread use of torture and arbitrary imprisonment in Iraq, Afghanistan, the U.S.A. and elsewhere, and that Enron and Halliburton, Bush-Cheney’s corporate masters, have been found guilty of all kinds of massive illegal fraud and corruption, a revolutionary with Sison’s rich experience might well expect that the U.S. population would be outraged, as his native Philippine society would. But U.S. society is itself parasitic as befits the chief oppressor nation in the world. Its outrage is mollified by its privilege vis-à-vis the oppressed nations. And the genuine anti-imperialist and communist left movement in the U.S.A. is still so small and weak that we were unable to make the issue of Bush’s criminalization and impeachment a popular political issue in the 2006 campaign. Pelosi’s assurance both during and after the campaign that a Bush impeachment was not part of the Democratic Party program underscores this fact.
The proposition that the 2006 U.S. election offered no reason to celebrate is, however, also false. The blow struck against Bush and the neo-conservatives as the most aggressive current representatives of U.S. and international monopoly capital and imperialism was real. Its principal source was the heroic Iraqi Resistance. And it was manifested not only in the votes of the U.S. electorate that defeated Republican candidates but also in the overwhelming vote for immediate withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq in referenda voted upon in Illinois, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, especially in urban proletarian centers. The 2006 election thus offers U.S. communists a wider and more fertile field upon which to rally the multinational U.S. proletariat to the banner of proletarian international solidarity with the oppressed peoples within and outside the boundaries of the U.S. imperialist state and for the socialist and communist future.
–Let’s follow up the election defeat of the Bush-ites with mass anti-imperialist pressure to help stop the unjust U.S. imperialist war and occupation of Iraq.
–Let’s carry timely militant working class demands into both upcoming national anti-war demonstrations in the U.S.A.: the January 27, 2007 United for Peace and Justice initiated demonstration; and the March 17, 2007 ANSWER initiated demonstration.
No to the #1 Exploiter of the World’s People!
No to the World’s #1 Terrorist!
Down With Bush-led U.S. Imperialism!
Down With the Democratic-Republican Bipartisan War on the Iraqi People!
No More Blood for Oil! Bring the U.S. troops home now!
Victory to the Iraqi Resistance!
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