Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Socialist Worker May 11th 2007

The American SW continus to focus on immgrant struggles with a lead on The new sanctuary movement by Lee Sustar: 'A NEW faith-based movement to “awaken the moral imagination of the country” hopes to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants whose deportation would break up families.'

Mike Marqusee comments on the departure of Tony Blair.

There is an interesting piece on The left turn in U.S. politics by Sharon Smith, explaining 'that a leftward shift in consciousness is having an impact on mainstream politics.' This starts with Hillary Clinton leading 'a congressional charge to repeal the authority of Congress bestowed in 2002 upon George W. Bush to wage war on Iraq', contrasting this to her role as a key member of the “National Security Democrats”: embracing 'the Bush Doctrine’s strategy of pre-emptive warfare and the conservative legacy of Republican Ronald Reagan'.

But now better established opponents of the war are gaining on Clinton in the popularity stakes: 'An NBC News/Wall Street Journal opinion poll released on April 25 showed both Obama and Edwards closing in on Clinton’s lead. While she remained 12 points ahead of Obama in March, her lead shrank to just 5 percent in April, with only a 36-31 percent margin. Support for Edwards, just 15 percent in March, rose to 20 percent in April."

The Article continues:
'MOST PRESIDENTIAL candidates may not yet recognize the emerging--and seismic--shift in U.S. mainstream politics, precipitated from below. But opinion polls clearly show that mass consciousness is far left of center, as economist Paul Krugman noted on March 26 in the New York Times:
According to the American National Election Studies, in 1994, the year the Republicans began their 12-year control of Congress, those who favored smaller government had the edge, by 36 to 27. By 2004, however, those in favor of bigger government had a 43-to-20 lead.
And public opinion seems to have taken a particularly strong turn in favor of universal health care. Gallup reports that 69 percent of the public believes that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage,” up from 59 percent in 2000.
The main force driving this shift to the left is probably rising income inequality. According to Pew, there has recently been a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who agree with the statement that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

In a CBS News Poll conducted on April 9-12, fully 66 percent of respondents said they “disapprove” of the way Bush is handling the situation with Iraq.

The current “race to the left” among both Democrats and Republicans can only be understood in its historic significance. The political pendulum is swinging left at a rate not seen since the 1960s, when Sen. Robert Kennedy, who built had his political career as a rabid anti-communist during the 1950s McCarthy era, resurfaced as an antiwar presidential candidate in the late 1960s.
The Republicans and Democrats have historically coexisted as the twin parties of capital. Big business prefers the Republicans’ “Plan A” to aggressively assert its self-interest. But it can always rely on the Democrats’ “Plan B” to salvage its interests when popular dissent threatens to revolt.

The Democrats’ historic mission is to absorb social anger into its electoral folds. Today, the Democratic Party is fulfilling this mission--but this also opens up the possibility for further reform. Yesterday’s “do-nothing” Democrats have evolved into a team of reformers, dragged kicking and screaming by an angry electorate, but responsive to further pressure from below.
The Democrats’ current shift leftward should therefore be viewed cynically. But there is also a discernable difference between “Plan A” and “Plan B,” which merits acknowledgement.

Those who seek social change should not rely on politicians of either party, but at the same time, should recognize that mainstream politics is shifting leftward due to pressure from below. That pressure must continue for real reforms to be achieved.

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