US Elections

George Gruenthal

George Bush has overseen some of the most reactionary attacks on working and oppressed people at home and abroad. Under his administration, millions of workers have lost their jobs, as U.S. corporations move abroad to super-exploit people in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The number of people in the U.S. without health insurance has risen to about 46 million. There is a record government deficit of $372 billion, made worse be Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. There have been massive cuts in funding for health care, education, veterans’ benefits and other social services.

Bush has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, leading to the deaths of some 50,000 people in those countries, as well as of some 1,000 U.S. troops, overwhelmingly workers and largely people of colour. Bush has stepped up attacks on immigrants, especially those from predominantly Muslim countries. He brought the ‘Patriot Act’ into law, and attacked the right to strike and to organise. This has all been down under the false cover of the ‘war against terrorism,’ which is really a war in the interests of the U.S. oil and other monopoly corporations. These companies want to shore up their control of raw materials and exploitation of labour of peoples around the world.

Bush has overseen the privatisation of industry in Iraq in the interests of the big corporations. About 150 U.S. corporations involved there and in Afghanistan have received government contracts worth on the order of $51 billion. Some of the largest include:

The oil services giant Halliburton (of which Vice-President Cheney was CEO), the main company charged with restarting the oil industry in Iraq. It, including its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, has received contracts that are potentially worth $11.4 billion. In 2003, it received Defense Department contracts of $4.3 billion.

Bechtel, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction firms. It has contracts to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, worth over $1 billion. This includes reconstruction of the port of Umm Qasr, though which Iraq’s oil used to flow and is expected to flow once again if the U.S. can "pacify" the country.

The oil monopoly Chevron (now merged with Texaco), of which National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was a long-time Board member. It has claims, together with other oil companies, particularly U.S. and British, on Iraqi oil.

The U.S. government under all administrations, Republican or Democratic, has represented the interests of the big monopolies. As part of this, people move back and forth between top government positions and executive positions on the major corporations. This is nothing new.

But as the government is caught in increasing contradictions at home and abroad, it is threatening moves in the direction of fascism. While attacking democratic rights, particularly the right to protest, Bush is already floating ‘trial balloons’ about possibly postponing or canceling the 2004 elections in the event of a ‘terrorist attack.’ Remember that Bush was selected, not elected, in 2000 after the massive invalidation of votes, mostly of African Americans, in his brother Governor Jeb Bush’s state of Florida. Also remember that the 2001 primary elections scheduled for 9/11 that year were postponed in New York because of the terrorist attacks that day.

Kerry Supports Bush’s Agenda on All Essentials

However, Democratic candidate John Kerry has no essential differences with Bush’s agenda. He, like the vast majority of Democratic members of Congress, supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has been calling for more troops to Iraq, though as a sop to anti-war sentiment and the demoralisation of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, he is now talking of bringing some home in the months after he assumes the presidency, presumably after replacing them with UN, NATO or ‘allied’ troops. He is also more likely than Bush to be able to re-institute the draft to provide a larger pool of troops for duty abroad. He also voted for NAFTA, the Patriot Act and Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. As the richest member of Congress, he can be expected to continue and even step up attacks on working people at home.

There is a significant section of the ruling class that is turning away from Bush. Last June, a number of career diplomats and retired top officers in the armed forces signed a statement criticizing Bush for alienating the U.S. government both from its old allies abroad and from large sections of the people in the U.S. The statement said, ‘Never in the 2 1/4 centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted.’ The signers of the statement included Admiral William Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan, and Marine General Joseph Hoar, who led U.S. forces in the Middle East in Bush’s father’s presidency. And just this August, retired Admiral and former CIA director Stansfield Turner called President Bush ‘somebody who has misled us into two wars.’

Not that any of these people have any differences with the basic aims of U.S. imperialism for world domination and exploitation. They just feel that the way Bush is carrying these out has caused too much resistance, from the heroic people of Iraq to increasingly dissatisfied and militant workers at home. Many of these forces have turned to Kerry as a ‘kinder, gentler Bush.’ But a continuation of the same policies under Kerry with a more human face is not in the interests of working people in the U.S., much less of oppressed people around the world.

No Cancellation, ‘Postponement’ of Elections or Election Fraud

Even though both the Republican and Democratic candidates represent the same interests and the same essential policies, we must not tolerate any interference in the elections. Any cancellation, ‘postponement’ or massive fraud would be a significant step towards fascism in the U.S. The German Nazis used the burning of the Reichstag (German parliament building) in 1933 to out an end to bourgeois democracy in that country. They tried to pin the blame for the fire (which they themselves and their dupes had set) on the communists to make the Communist Party, and later the Socialist Party and the trade unions, illegal.

We must not let a similar incident happen here. When the 2000 presidential elections depended on the votes cast in Florida, the question of a recount was brought up in Congress. According to its rules, for a Congressional debate to take place, it had to be raised in both the House and the Senate. Although members of the Congressional Black Caucus raised it in the House, not one member of the Senate would support it. Not even Vice-President Al Gore, from whom the election was stolen, was willing to stand up against this fraud. This is demonstrated graphically in the opening of Michael Moore’s progressive film Fahrenheit 9/11. The Democratic Party as a whole refused to oppose this massive fraud, and thus conceded the election to Bush.

Any interference with or fraud in the 2004 election must be met by massive opposition. All forces opposed to fascism, from revolutionaries, independents, or even the Democratic (or Republican) Party must unite to oppose such a major attack on our democratic rights.

New York City Working People’s Voice

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