Fight for Politics of Empowerment
On November 2, the U.S. held midterm elections. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the Senate were contested, as well as 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (all except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia), four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races.
The Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives as the Republicans won 239 seats, an increase of 60. Thus, the Democrats lose the position of House Speaker held by Nancy Pelosi (although she retained her seat), who will be replaced by Republican John Boehner. Prior to the election, the Democrats had controlled the House with a larger 255-178 majority, with two vacancies. In the 100-seat Senate, the Democrats lost six seats (the had a 57-41 majority prior to the election), but will likely retain a narrow majority. The Senate will have 51 Democrats, 2 independents who usually vote with the Democrats and 46 Republicans. The Alaska Senate seat is still undecided.
President Barack Obama is already talking about the possibility of gridlock. On November 5 he said, “We can’t spend the next two years mired in gridlock. Other countries like China aren’t standing still so we can’t stand still either. We’ve got to move forward.” He added, as he prepared for a 10-day tour of Asia, “This is a reminder as well that the most important competition we face…will not be Democrats and Republicans,” but foreign competition.
Electioneering by Republicans and Democrats alike this year was notable for its anti-China content. And as Obama indicates, the concern is not that of peace and relations of mutual benefit among the peoples. Instead, it is that of securing a dominant position for U.S. monopolies, especially in relation to China.
Obama’s emphasis on gridlock and that “we’ve got to move forward” also indicate that he likely will press forward by increasing executive rule. Indeed, it could be said that the win by Republicans favors Obama’s drive for increased power by providing the excuse of gridlock. By emphasizing that “we can’t stand still,” and posing the need to go forward in empire-building, especially in relation to China, Obama is positioning himself to take unilateral action as president and Commander-in-Chief. “Congress is in gridlock,” he is and will say. “We cannot wait.” “We must act,” and act he will, to strengthen the powers of the president.
It is clear that conflicts within the ruling circles are sharpening and potential “gridlock” is one indication that the old arrangements for sorting out these conflicts, including elections, are failing. It is necessary to be vigilant about what the Office of the President now does to increase executive rule, including efforts to rally the people behind the president and against a “gridlocked” Congress. It is a dangerous situation, where assassination again poses itself as a possibility and violence within the ranks of the ruling class can break out at any time.
More importantly, for the people what comes sharply to the fore is that the old arrangements are anti-people and anti-democracy. The necessity for new arrangements that favor the people and their drive to defend the rights of all at home and abroad is on the agenda. An electoral system that empowers the people is the necessity to open the path to progress. Politics of empowerment, of putting decision-making at the center, in elections and in all organizing, is needed.
Elections are regularly presented as a choice made by voters concerning who they want to govern and what they want done. This election in particular is being presented as a rejection of Obama and the Democrats. On the surface, that is what it appears to be, with Republicans winning a majority in the House of Representatives. What is kept in the shade is that the election does not give the voters — the people — control of the government. On the contrary, control is kept in the hands of the rich and their two parties, while anger and frustration among the people grows. The notion of choice makes it feels like there is at least some say, when in fact increasingly there is less and less of a say in governance at any level. And certainly no control.
How are people to exercise control over their lives when they have no control over the government on which they depend? We are all born to society and depend on it for our existence. Government is the representative of society, with the social responsibility to provide for the people by guaranteeing their rights. We have a government controlled by the biggest monopolies and organized to guarantee their continued rule. What is absent is control by the people. What is absent is a modern democracy, representing the popular will of the people and ensuring that it is the people who have control, have the legal power to implement their will.
New York State Governor’s Election
New Yorkers had seven candidates on the ballot for Governor. This in itself is an important accomplishment of the various third parties that participated. In a system rigged to favor Democrats and Republicans, getting on the ballot for a statewide race requires securing large numbers of signatures, including those from all areas of the state. It was also a situation where a number of unions, like the Buffalo Teachers Federation, did not endorse the Republican or Democratic candidate for Governor. Many recognized well that the eventual winner, Andrew Cuomo, plans yet another major anti-social offensive against the people of New York. He is targeting union workers, their wages and pensions as well as the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Third party efforts included those of the Green Party, the newly formed Freedom Party, as well as the “Rent is Too Damn High,” Party. As an indication of the growing rejection of the Democrats and Republicans, Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins won just over 58,120 votes. In New York, a party must secure 50,000 votes in the election for Governor to secure ballot status for the next election. The Green Party successfully did this and will be on the ballot for 2012 and 2014.
The candidate for the “Rent is Too Damn High” Party, Jimmy McMillan, who secured about 13,500 votes in 2006, this year won 40,900.
The Freedom Party launched their campaign a short four months ago and won 20,658 votes for their candidate for Governor Charles Barron. Buffalo’s Eva Doyle was the Freedom Party’s candidate for Lieutenant Governor.
Howie Hawkins said after the election, “We did it! Thank you! We got the Green Party a ballot line for the next four years with over 50,000 votes. Thanks to everyone who worked for this.
“We will continue to campaign for the Green New Deal of full employment, single payer health care, fully funded schools and colleges, a ban on hydrofracking, a clean energy transition to head off climate catastrophe and put New Yorkers back to work — and progressive tax reform to pay for it, starting with ending the $16 billion Stock Transfer Tax rebate to Wall Street speculators.
“Cuomo has promised to take a meat cleaver to state employees and social services. He has declared war on the labor movement. He indicated he will move ahead with hydrofracking next year after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) writes regulations. The Greens are the opposition to all this.
“We come out of this election much stronger than we went into it. We’re bigger, better organized, and have new allies in the labor, community, peace, and environmental movements. We now plan to keep organizing, mobilizing, and pushing for a Green New Deal between now and the next state legislative elections in the 2012 elections. We will also be working at the national level on bringing our troops home, cutting the military budget, immigrant rights, protecting social security and curtailing climate change.” Overall the Greens had their best showing ever for statewide candidates, including those for Senate and Comptroller. (For more information see www.web.gpnys.com)
Charles Barron, speaking for the Freedom Party, said “We are having a press conference to announce our founding convention on February 22 and 23 when we are going to hammer out our platform, our issues, develop our strategy for our political empowerment, and build our membership. The Freedom Party is here to stay. We are on the move.” He added, “We have to be very, very proud of all of us who worked hard to get to this moment. This was a grassroots effort with little money, but rich in the resource of commitment and vision. Fifty percent of New Yorkers just do not come out to vote. Even those with a $20 million campaign can’t bring them out, so we with no money and few resources did really, really well. We got 43,000 petitions [to get on the ballot] and 20,658 votes state wide. Four months ago, we were just an idea, then just last month we are there at Hofstraofstra winning the gubernatorial debate, and bringing our issues to the forefront.” These issues include the rights to jobs, housing and healthcare, opposing police brutality, defending immigrant rights, demanding the end of all U.S. wars of aggression and occupation and demanding reparations for slavery.
In order to get on the ballot, the Freedom Party, like any party wishing to run candidates, was required to gather 15,000 signatures of registered voters, (with 100 signatures each coming from 15 different congressional districts across New York State) from July 6, 2010 to August 17, 2010. Gathered by all volunteers, the Freedom Party submitted more than 43,000 signatures from all 29 Congressional Districts in New York State. (For more information see www.freedompartynys.com)
Many are hopeful that the Freedom Party will carry forward as an independent party and make a clean break with the Democrats. The Greens and Freedom Party are also planning to meet following the elections to discuss ways to work together in future campaigns so as to strengthen the opposition to the parties of the rich and help break their stranglehold on power. Voice of Revolution applauds these independent anti-war efforts and urges the Greens, Freedom Party and Rent is Too Damn High Party to work together by organizing public forums on the vital issue of empowering the people themselves to govern and decide. Let there be public debates and forums on rejecting the rigged electoral system and organizing to put in place a modern system of the people’s own making.
Anti-War Activities Planned to Oppose
Peace and disarmament are incompatible with NATO, the network "No to War —No to NATO" says. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a U.S.-organized and commanded military block, with troops waging war against Afghanistan. More than 650 organizations have worked together since joining forces to oppose the NATO summit in Strasbourg in 2009. At its annual meeting in Berlin in October 2009 the network decided to use the Lisbon Summit, where the new NATO strategy is to be adopted, for intensified actions against war and militarism.
In Portugal, a national coalition has formed, made up of the national anti-NATO alliance PAGAN, as well as other anti-war and peace organizations, environmental, human rights and social initiatives. This alliance has the support of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and of "Bloco" — an alliance of left parties and movements. The anti-NATO alliance has come into the public more in the recent weeks with the first successful events (see http://antinatoportugal.wordpress.com) and seeks to further support the participation of more organizations and initiatives.
The International Coordinating Committee of the network has worked together with Portuguese organizations on a proposal for a roadmap for the NATO Summit.
1. Regional and local actions from November 15 - 21, 2010. For this, a permanent public peace center for multiple activities will be set up on a central square in Lisbon;
2. A counter summit on Friday November 19 and on Sunday November 21, which will end with an International Anti-War Assembly. Opposition to NATO and its war-mongering strategy are the focus of this congress, along with an international analysis of the same. The organizations are to "intensely discuss peace alternatives. Actions of the peace movement are to be presented and further agreements for more and more intensive international cooperation should be obtained. There is also lots of place for discussion of our different positions; we want to learn from one another, so as to act more effectively together."
3. Support for a large international peaceful demonstration on Saturday November 20 in Lisbon.
An international action conference was held in Lisbon from October 14-17 to prepare and coordinate international participation.
Details for the entire program are being worked out and will be discussed further, including at the European social forum in Istanbul. More information and a timetable will be placed on the website www.no-to-nato.org where announcements of various protests can also be found.
The organizers call on all participants to think about preparations in each of the nations, how to increase the pressure on national governments and to get the topic of NATO more visible in the public sphere. "NATO and peace stand as complete opposites; whoever wants a peaceful and just world must reject NATO," says Reiner Braun, member of the International Coordinating Committee "No to War — No to NATO" and executive director of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA.)
The World Peace Council (WPC) and the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC) salute the peace loving people of the world and the peace movements which stand up and continue denouncing imperialist wars, illegal occupations and social injustice. We call upon them to continue and reinforce the common efforts and struggles against imperialism and its mechanisms, particularly against NATO, the biggest war machinery in the world.
The WPC denounces to the peoples of the world the crimes NATO has committed and goes on committing against humanity with the pretext of either the protection of "human rights" or the fight against "terrorism" according to its own interpretation.
NATO, since its foundation in 1949, has been an aggressive alliance. After 1991, with its new military doctrine it became the world "gendarme" of the imperialist interests. It has often been connected to bloody regimes and dictatorships, reactionary forces and Juntas. It participated actively in dismembering Yugoslavia, in the barbaric bombardment of Serbia for 78 days, in the overthrow of regimes through "orange revolutions," in the occupation of Afghanistan. NATO continues its plans for the "Greater Middle East," enlarging its range of actions through the "Partnership for Peace" and "special cooperation" in Asia and Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, as well as the "European Army."
All governments of the member states share responsibility in NATO, regardless of the leading role of the U.S. administration. Despite different approaches on some issues, which reflect particular views and rivalries, they always lead to the common aggressive confrontation with the peoples.
We condemn the policy of the European Union EU), which coincides with NATO's and with the Lisbon Treaty that goes hand in hand with it in the political and military fields. The Military expenditure of the EU in missions abroad has increased between 2002 and 2009 from 30 million Euros to 300 million Euros.
The peoples and peace loving forces of the world do not accept NATO in its role as world "gendarme." They reject any effort to incorporate NATO into the United Nations system. They demand the dissolution of this offensive military war machine. Even the pretext of the existence of the Warsaw Pact does not exist any more today.
The World Peace Council and its members will organize various national and international initiatives in dozens of countries against NATO and the new strategic concept it intends to adopt at the Lisbon Summit in Portugal. We shall organize, together with the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC), events and conferences in Portugal and central mass activities before and during the days of the NATO Summit.
Under the slogan: NATO — Enemy of the Peoples and of Peace — Dismantle It! the WPC is calling upon all organizations in NATO member States and the entire world to endorse this appeal underlining the following aspects:
• NATO has been an aggressive and reactionary force since its founding in 1949. The Warsaw Treaty was created later and was dissolved earlier.
• NATO's hands have been soaked in the blood of many peoples for 60 years and cannot constitute "a peacemaking force" within the UN framework.
• Despite the domination of the U.S., aggressions are waged together with other imperialist forces, which does not change the character of NATO.
• NATO is directly bound to the EU and vice versa, as a large number of EU countries are also members of NATO, as well as through the militarist traits and commitments embedded in the "Lisbon Treaty."
• All governments of NATO member countries bear responsibility for its action; they support its imperialist plans.
The NATO war against Yugoslavia in 1999 was a milestone for the new dogma at the time of its summit in Washington 1999. The fact that the EU was never a "democratic counterweight" to the US was revealed then.
NATO acts as a global policeman with collaborators on all continents, carrying out its plan for a "Greater Middle East" and actively intervening in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and elsewhere.
We fully support and endorse the Portuguese campaign Yes to peace, No to NATO which unites dozens of movements and social organizations. We call on all peace loving organizations to unite our voices and forces under this appeal and meet in November 2010 in Lisbon.
World Peace Council (WPC)