The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Another politician who can read the polls

Feb 16, 2004

For the moment, John Kerry is riding high in the Democratic primaries. Exit polls report that Kerry voters put jobs as their highest priority, along with their disagreement with the war in Iraq.

If things continue as they are, the odds are that in November the contest will be Bush vs. Kerry. What could workers expect from one or the other of these two men?

Workers can judge Bush by direct experience, and the experience is all bad.

But workers have no experience with Kerry – only his record and speeches.

Senator Kerry stood with Bush in preparing public opinion for the invasion and also on the vote to go in. Now he claims he voted for the invasion because he was misled. Tens of millions of ordinary citizens in the U.S. and also around the world were not misled. If Kerry felt under-informed, he could have gone and asked any of those citizens who took to the streets against this war.

If Kerry really were ready to stop this war, at the very least, he would today pledge to bring the troops out of Iraq as soon as he took office. Instead, Kerry's own website gives as his goal in Iraq "building a lasting coalition to support our operations" – practically the very words of Bush and Powell today! Houdini himself could not make the troops appear back home out of a "supporting our operations" hat.

When it comes to jobs, Kerry is equally long on nice speeches and short, not to say misleading, on direct proposals.

He proposes giving companies a tax credit if they hire workers; he proposes helping new energy companies start up; he proposes to add and improve companies' technology; and he proposes to stop laying off teachers. In other words, he proposes that the government continue Bush's practice of giving handouts to corporations and expecting workers to believe that jobs will eventually trickle down. We have seen how well that worked – for Bush and his friends!

These are not serious proposals to deal with a national disaster; they are the worn-out phrases of a career politician who knows how to promise much – and deliver nothing.

A president ready to deal with the national disaster of joblessness would first of all issue an order that no company that's made a profit be allowed to lay off any more workers or close any plants. Period. Second, companies claiming they weren't making profits would be put under government control with continuing jobs, wages and benefits guaranteed. Third, the vast sums today funneled by government to all the various corporations would be diverted to create real jobs for the unemployed, doing the work needed to rebuild and modernize the school buildings, highways, water systems, electrical grids, and other infrastructure that is falling apart all around us due to age and lack of maintenance.

Kerry proposes none of those things – he doesn't even hint at it, too busy putting corporations at the top of his agenda.