The Spark

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

AFL-CIO to spend 44 million to defeat an enemy of working people
– only to replace him with another enemy

Mar 15, 2004

On March 12, the leaders of the AFL-CIO announced they plan to spend a record-setting 44 million dollars to defeat George Bush. They say that under Bush nearly three million jobs have been lost; nearly all new jobs created have been low-paid, part-time or temporary; on-the-job health and safety regulations have been attacked; overtime pay requirements for millions of workers have been eliminated; education and health care have been short-changed; millions of workers' private pensions have been trashed and Social Security has been endangered; environmental protection rules have been weakened; laws and regulations that women, black people and other minorities have used to fight against discrimination have been attacked.

At the same time, the corporations and the rich have gotten huge tax breaks.

Of course, Bush really is a rotten, lying, unscrupulous representative of the wealthy. And yes, he is an enemy of working people.

But what about John Kerry and the other Democrats the AFL-CIO is proposing to campaign for?

In fact, they have supported and continue to support the same basic anti-worker policies as the Bush administration. Not just under Bush, but under Clinton before him, for example, most of the newly created jobs were low-paid, part-time or temporary. Health and safety regulations have been chipped away by Clinton, Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter before him. Democrat Carter even attempted to break a miners' strike in 1978 which had as one of its goals protecting safety legislation the miners had won.

Cutting taxes for the rich, and cutting spending for working people and the poor, have been a bi-partisan effort. Income taxes for the top federal bracket, for example, were cut by Democrat Kennedy, by Democrat Johnson, by Republican Reagan (with the support of Democrat-controlled House of Representatives), by Democrat Clinton, and Republican Bush. Democrat Carter cut unemployment benefits and food stamps. Republican Reagan cut every social program (again with the support of Democrats in Congress). Clinton made huge cuts in Medicare and welfare. Bush has picked up where Clinton left off.

And then, there are the wars. The Democrats supported Bush's decision to send U.S. troops into both Afghanistan and Iraq. John Kerry supported both wars. Today, running for president, he may criticize Bush's handling of the war, but he has never once said he would bring U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as he took office. In fact, just the opposite.

When leaders of the AFL-CIO use union money and activists to support the Democrats, they simply delay the day when working people can change the current political situation.

Why not use union money and activists to put up workers' candidates for office? Why not expose the deceit and corruption of both the Republicans and Democrats? Why not call on the workers to mobilize in the streets against the attacks coming from both parties?

In short, why not devote all the time, energy and money which will go into this coming campaign to enable working people to appear politically in their own name, for their own fight?