Jul 19, 2010
Bob King, the new UAW president, and Jesse Jackson, speaking for the Rainbow Push Coalition, organized a press conference in Detroit to announce a series of demonstrations and marches, a campaign calling on “national leaders to Rebuild America by focusing on Jobs, Justice and Peace.”
They called for the campaign to jump off with a march in Detroit on Saturday, August 28 – pointing out that it will be the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, known today for the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King. And they propose to follow that with demonstrations in other cities, culminating in an October 2nd demonstration in Washington. In 1963, the March on Washington was also prepared by a demonstration in Detroit, the Freedom Walk of June 23, whose 125,000 marchers made it the biggest civil rights demonstration up to that point.
Jesse Jackson called Detroit “ground zero” of a national urban crisis. Bob King said, “We have got to be out there in the streets fighting for social and economic justice.”
Yes, we are in a crisis! The standard of living of working people has slid backwards, three and four decades backwards – while a tiny, very wealthy minority grabs a still bigger share of the wealth our labor produces. Unemployment stays near Depression levels, while every company squeezes more work out of fewer workers. Social services, public services and education are starved for money and Social Security is under attack – so the government can hand over more trillions to the banks and biggest corporations. Lives and money are eaten up by wars that serve no purpose other than to fasten the grip of big American corporations and banks on the wealth produced in the rest of the world.
So, yes, it’s necessary that working people be out in the streets, demonstrating to make their voices heard.
And yes, it’s necessary to fight.
But to fight for what, and with whom? King and Jackson already made their intention known when they brought a few Democratic politicians to share the stage at their press conference.
The same Democratic Party, in Michigan, has been in charge of imposing a vast array of budget cuts, even while continuing to hand over billions to some of the biggest companies in the country. The same Democratic Party, nationally, has followed directly in the footsteps of George W. Bush, handing over the keys of the treasury to the banks, while setting up a commission to secretly prepare cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
So when workers go out in the streets to demonstrate, it’s necessary to denounce all those who have attacked our standard of living – Democrats and Republicans alike, and the biggest corporations and banks these parties serve.
And it’s necessary to demand an immediate answer to the crisis, the implementation of emergency measures: an end to all job cuts, including job cuts by state and local governments; an end to all wage cuts, including the hidden wage cuts of so-called “two-tier” systems; an end to the attack on retirees, including on their medical coverage and Social Security; an end to all cuts in social programs, public services and education – and a tax on the wealthy to pay for resuming necessary services; an end to all foreclosures, forcing the biggest banks who made off like bandits during the real-estate boom now to pay its costs.
King and Jackson certainly won’t want to embarrass the Democrats by putting such demands out there, but there’s no reason that workers massed by the tens or even hundreds of thousands can’t turn these demonstrations to their own account. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the streets can go a long way toward changing the social climate. Let the working class – called a sleeping giant for far too long – wake up!