By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Americans are celebrating the defeat of warmonger and angry rich guy John McCain. The voters wanted change – an end to war, lies and corruption. Many correctly saw McCain as the continuation of Bush’s failed policies, so they punished him in the voting booths. To be sure, McCain’s pathetic response to the economic crisis and defense of tax breaks for the rich sealed his defeat. Working and middle class voters are angry about the economy, opposed to the $700 billion bailout and looking for a leader who will “spread the wealth.”
This is the end of an era, the end of Republican rule. For more than 25 years the racist, reactionary, anti-working class agenda of the Republicans dominated the political life of this country. Since Reagan, everything progressive and good was under attack – from women’s right to choose, to public education, to social security. The social movements were very much on the defensive and fighting off attacks. We will need to continue to invest ourselves in movements for social change, but the political atmosphere will be different.
The big shift for the Republicans came not at home, but over in Iraq. The Iraqi resistance fought with their lives to defeat the Bush/Cheney plans for domination and oil profits. This stopped Bush and the Republican agenda dead in its tracks on the home front too. There were no more big attempts to roll back the reforms like social security, which working people won decades ago. For people at home and abroad, the defeat of McCain represents the American people’s rejection of the ‘Bush doctrine’ and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Across America, African American people and others are noisily celebrating the victory of Barack Obama, the first Black president. Did you see the victory celebration in Chicago? A great pride is bursting forth from African American communities and throughout the Black Belt South. African Americans are not alone in their joy either; all types of people are doing fist bumps and feeling good. Other oppressed nationalities that suffer racism and discrimination – Chicanos and Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans, Native-Americans and Asian- Americans are sharing the moment. Obama’s election represents a blow against racism and white chauvinism.
Obama’s victory is stunning and it also brings tremendous benefit to the Democratic party. It builds on elections two years ago when the Republicans suffered defeat and lost congressional majorities to the Democrats. The Democrats swept this election too, making their majorities stronger. Democrats will truly rule – hardly needing to consult with the Republicans to pass legislation.
There is a problem however, and it is not that one party is too strong. The problem is that the Democrats are the other party of big business. The Democrats are favored at this time by the billionaires and millionaires who actually rule the U.S. The wealthy elite rules the U.S. through the two-party system. It is true there is competition, but elections are largely predicted by who has the most money from the rich people. The defeat of the Republicans certainly marks a big shift, but it does not fundamentally alter the system or challenge the rule of the rich. The Democrats are the party of the $700 billion bailout that will tax working people to save bankers. The Democrats are the party that could have cut war funding and brought the troops home already. A million Iraqis are dead and the Democrats continue to fund the occupation.
So we need to continue the motion that defeated McCain and delivered the White House for Barack Obama. We need to build an understanding that a vocal, independent and active anti-war movement will be needed to bring ALL the troops home now. We need to bring the immigrants’ rights movement into the streets again, defeating both fear and the dreaded deportations that are breaking apart families. We need to prepare to rally and march and protest so workers can win legislation to make forming unions a simple democratic process without intimidation from bosses. And we need to fight every attempt on the part of the rich to shift the burden of the economic crisis on to the backs of poor and working people.
Who gets elected is important, but it is the masses that make history. We cannot just return to our living rooms to watch the History Channel. We must build every movement that demands peace, justice, equality and liberation.