By Neal Resnikoff – Nov 9, 2020
Those many, many people anxious to have a government based on peace, justice, and democracy should be cheered up. It is clear that many others in the country are increasingly conscious that the results of the elections will not be sufficient to deal with the serious problems facing us. There are important lessons about what we need to do now.
We know main problems facing us:
• more than 235,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 and nearly 10 million people have been infected;
• there is a lack of free and available testing for covid and flu shots and safety measures;
• a few billionaires increased their wealth by $930 billion in the last six months during the COVID-19 pandemic;
• close to 62 million people have lost their jobs with little to no governmental support;
• some 98,000 businesses have permanently closed;
• more than 12 million people have lost employer-sponsored health insurance;
• people do not all have access to affordable and quality health care;
• 22 million people have reported not having enough food;
• one-sixth of all renters have reported being behind on rent;
• global warming/climate change will wipe out life on the planet if not dealt with firmly and quickly;
• the U.S. government has over 800 military bases around the world and is interfering in country after country and threatening wars and overthrow of governments;
• public schools are being turned over to profit-making corporations;
• immigrants are being treated inhumanely and unjustly;
• there is rampant racism;
• there is terrible police misconduct and violence without accountability.
Everywhere people are making clear they see that elections will not decide these issues, and that they will be settled only by the people fighting for our rights.
There is broad discontent with the whole set up that exists in the U.S. and suppresses the people’s striving for socially just change.
More than 20 million people have participated in the continuous protest movement demanding justice since May 2020 when George Floyd was killed by police. The negative reaction of the capitalist government has resulted in a further profound questioning of the existing racist system and the ruling class system as a whole. There has long been the slogan, Whose streets? Our streets!
Demands are not limited to securing the firing of a few police or changing a president, governor, mayor, or Congress people. Masses see that far more significant change is needed, with control by the people a central element. In Chicago tens of thousands have demanded an elected police board to run the police.
There is a movement in Chicago and across the country to deal with poverty and the right to housing, health care and jobs, and providing measures to beat back COVID-19. There are organizing efforts focused on governmental budgets and people having a say in how public funds are being spent, whether for policing, militarization, incarceration, wars, health care or housing.
Many people have seen how the entire process is undemocratic and unequal. Even so, anti-war candidates or third-party candidates are running for office to give expression to the people’s drive for empowerment. In Cook County over 200,000 people voted for progressive third-party candidates for various offices.
The heroic resistance movement has been carrying on without let-up despite the violence of federal, state and municipal government forces pitted against the people.
Postal workers and teachers have been organizing for safe working conditions. They have been an integral part of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and are fighting efforts to privatize the post office and public schools. Teachers are standing up for education as a right and a public service, and postal workers for the post office to be expanded as a public service. This drive reflects a general recognition of the concept of control and decision-making by the people for the common good.
The example of the nurses across the United States organizing vigils the week before the election to mourn the dead and fight for the living shows the consciousness of the movement. The nurses are targeting all elected officials for their failures concerning COVID-19. Many have planned actions for after the elections as well.
Warehouse, meatpacking and cannery workers have also organized walkouts and other actions demanding respect for their right to health and safety.
Worker strike levels are high, with over 1,160 strikes since March. The high number of strikes is partly due to the strength of the broad movement for equality and rights, anger with unsafe COVID-19 conditions. There is a strong sense among workers that they are upholding their social responsibilities and that government and businesses have a duty to do the same.
People are fighting to decide matters such as an economy geared to eliminating poverty, and politics that guarantee the right to housing, health care and a livelihood. They want control of budgets, such as cutting the huge police budgets and, instead, to use the money for social services and meeting the needs of the people.
The recent call and preparations for a possible general strike by a wide array of unions means an interest in active worker involvement in political life and aiming for control of public policy and getting more organized as a working class than they have been for a long while.
Many people have been bringing out the connection between U.S. government wars and aggression abroad and state violence against the people at home. People have been calling for an end to all the violence by the capitalist U.S. ruling class, at home and abroad, and for a peace economy.
There is increasing debate as to what the so-called U.S. “democracy” means. There is widespread opposition to a system that excludes candidates from third parties, produces candidates people do not like, makes it difficult for workers to run and be elected, continues to suppress voters in many ways and, overall, keeps the people out of power. The concept of the Electoral College rather than a popular vote is obviously a tricky method employed by the ruling class to maintain maximum control.
It was clear in this year’s presidential election campaign that there were the usual manipulative election efforts backed by billionaire money. There was propaganda to embroil the people by lining them up behind one candidate or the other of the two main parties of the capitalist U.S. ruling class. Of course, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are willing to solve the problems facing the people. They have differences over how best to enable big banks and corporations to make maximum profits and keep down the people’s resistance. This includes keeping down those who favor socialism in word or deed.
Government at all levels has shown itself to be racist and thoroughly undemocratic. This is evident in the elections themselves, as voter suppression of various kinds is widespread and the whole set up is racist and discriminatory and obviously designed to keep the narrow private interests in power.
We need to do all we can to enable the people’s determination to exercise control over all the decisions in the country, to achieve a real democracy in the U.S.
We need to have discussion and debate on achieving government of, for, and by the people in the U.S. We need to encourage people to see that it is possible to keep matters in their own hands, and organize for that. It is very important that people are fighting to decide matters, such as having an economy geared to eliminating poverty and a politics that guarantees the right to housing, health care and a livelihood.
There is discussion about how the U.S. Constitution does not serve the interests of the people and how a new constitution is needed that will encourage a society of peace and justice, an economy that serves the people, and a real democracy.
We need to ensure that people become increasingly politically conscious and organized.
We need to counter the pressure on people to see no way out of the current situation or to be silent on important issues like police impunity, injustice, impoverishment, inequality, the environment, and war and peace.
People need to be speaking out; expressing their concerns and demands and organizing for that.
Please consider working with the Chicago Anti-War Coalition to build a conscious and active people’s movement, a movement that recognizes people need to get organized independently of the parties and politics of the rich, of the big banks and corporations, of the U.S. capitalist ruling class.
Neal Resnikoff is a Chicago based long-time anti-war activist and member of the Chicago Anti-war Coalition (CAWC). Resnikoff is also an organizer for the community group Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice.