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Build the mass struggles of the oppressed! [SAIC leaflet for the DNC]

The following is a leaflet which the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee plans distribute in Denver during the upcoming Democratic National Convention and the mass actions against it. If you plan to be there, look for us--we'd like to meet you.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans!

In the midst of the made-for-TV convention extravaganzas, Barack Obama remains ahead of McCain in the presidential election campaign. He has more support than McCain among financiers, business owners and professionals; and massive contributions have been poured into his campaign by the big capitalists and Wall Street. And, along with cash, the establishment has also given Obama fawning reportage and breathless praise. This is being done because the rich now want to put a "friendly" face on their program of stepped-up imperialist banditry abroad, coupled with political reaction and economic bleeding of the masses of people at home. In doing this they hope to defuse the growing anger that has grown up against the policies of Bush and the Republicans, and thus be able to continue their program with as little change as possible.

Real change is not going to come from choosing between the candidates of the super rich, Obama and McCain, or even voting at all. Real change will only come through political work to advance the mass struggles of the exploited and oppressed people.

Putting a new face on the ruling-class program of attacking the people

Since the decline of the mass movements of the 60's and 70's the ruling class has succeeded in driving down workers' wages and conditions, and taking away democratic gains won through decades of hard struggle. Today they want to take more, and the attacks on immigrants, national minorities and women form the point of the wedge they use to divide the masses, keep them disorganized, and thereby drive everyone down.

During this class offensive the role of the Democratic Party has been to wring their hands and make excuses while womens' reproductive rights are whittled away at the state level. It has stood for "community policing," and the racist and police-state "war on drugs." It ended "welfare as we know it" under Clinton. And today it stands for stepped up attacks on immigrants. It has no serious program for dealing with the accelerating environmental crisis. Aided by the treacherous union leaders, it wants the workers to make more concessions in order to save the profits of the rich. And it stands for more domestic government snooping and repression in the name of "war on terror."

Meanwhile, as beneficiaries of the massive protests and rebellions of the 60's, a Black elite has grown up in the country; part of which has entered the capitalist parties to act as tools to politically divert and suppress the struggles of the masses. This first took the form of Black mayors presiding over gentrification, slashing of city budgets, and continued racist police murders. More recently, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice became part of the Bush Administration. And now it's taking the form of ruling-class support for Obama, who is seen as its best hope for suppressing the masses at home while continuing imperialist adventures abroad.

Obama and McCain promise more war

In the name of "war on terror" the ruling class is bent on using military might to dominate oil and gas resources of the Middle East, and to defend and expand spheres of influence everywhere. But it now prefers an administration that will engage in diplomatic arm-twisting with greater subtlety than Bush has, while pursing the same aims. In fact, while Obama postures as anti-war, he's united with McCain on the future of U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan: Both see a permanent military presence in Iraq, and both support the redeployment of tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan. And in the Senate Obama has repeatedly voted for war-funding, and his "withdrawal" plans would leave tens of thousands of troops plus over 100,000 mercenaries to "fight terrorism" in Iraq. He also proposes expansion of the war machine by 90,000 troops.

On Afghanistan, Obama has actually been criticizing Bush from the right for not pursuing the imperialist agenda there viciously enough. Now, with U.S. monthly casualties higher in Afghanistan, he wants to shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. But Bush and McCain also recently came out for such redeployment, though they claim that it's because the "surge worked", not because the U.S./NATO faces severe troops shortages. Obama also stands to the right of Bush in threatening raids into Pakistan (which have already begun), and he rivals Bush and McCain in his threats to "strike [Iran] hard."

They want to step up racist attacks on immigrants...

The ruling class is whipping up an anti-immigrant hysteria in order to scapegoat immigrants for the unemployment caused by capitalism, and to justify draconian immigration "reforms" that would turn immigrants into virtual slaves. Thus, Obama agrees with McCain in supporting further militarization of the border with Mexico, with 700 miles more fence and stepped up patrols. He proposes a near impossible set of hoops for undocumented immigrants to jump through---waiting 10 to 20 years, meeting strict work requirement, and paying substantial fines. Meanwhile McCain denounces even this "path to citizenship" as "amnesty." And while Obama has said that ICE raids "terrorize communities," he does not say that he would stop or even scale them back. And when he calls for punishing employers who hire undocumented immigrants, this means more raids plus some slap-on-the-wrist fines for employers. So when he speaks to immigrant audiences against "terrorizing," this is really just election-year sweet talk.

Before other audiences, however, Obama preaches hatred of undocumented immigrants, i.e., they should "pay a fine, learn English, and get to the back of the line for citizenship... illegal entry cannot go unpunished." But such measures, combined with ICE raids, simply force undocumented immigrants further into the shadows, and force them to accept whatever rotten conditions their employers see fit to hand out. They're a direct attack on at least 12 million people in this country, with families being torn apart, and people left with nothing. And they also act to drive down conditions for all.

...And expand the growing police state

Obama voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act, which vastly expanded the government's powers to spy on anyone without oversight. He voted for the expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), granting immunity to telecom companies that violated the law and assisted NSA spying on U.S. citizens. He boasts of his support for the COPS program, which makes local law enforcement departments into spying, anti-terrorism and Homeland Security officers. He criticizes Bush from the right for his supposed under-funding of the FBI; and he calls for beefing up its anti-terror and gang policing. Meanwhile, Obama is nearly silent against racist police murders, and makes only grudging statements on the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks and other minorities. And as if that weren't enough, he sides with the white racists in blaming Black fathers for the economic status of their families.

The alternative is political work to advance the mass movements of the oppressed

As Barack Obama has rushed to the right by more openly revealing his reactionary program this summer, still more people are looking for a political alternative. To contain this, various "lesser evilists" are using the threat of McCain to scare people into voting for Obama, and promoting voting as the highest form of political activity. Others may admit that Obama is "not perfect," but rally the masses behind an orientation of just putting pressure on the Democrats and lobbying from the street after they're elected. (These supposedly realistic paths have only resulted in capitalist politics moving increasingly to the right for decades.) Meanwhile, independent candidate Ralph Nader and the Green Party's Cynthia McKinney promote themselves as alternatives to the war candidates of the super-rich. But in the House, former Democrat McKinney voted for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2005, while Nader has had shifting stands on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and joined in the establishment's demagogy about immigrants "taking jobs." Moreover, they do not stand for building the kind of militant mass movements necessary to achieve the progressive reforms they talk about.

The real political alternative lies in work to develop the struggles against imperialist war, police brutality and murder, wage-concessions and home foreclosures. It lies in work to develop the immigrant rights movement, the environmental and other progressive movements. And it lies in work to develop protests like those at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Political work is needed to better organize these struggles, and to link them together against the common class enemy. And this, in turn, requires consistent exposure of the role the Democrats and their allies play in undermining the mass struggles of the oppressed.

This is the truly realistic path: looking to ourselves and the class struggle to break the chains of imperialist oppression and exploitation.

Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
August 22, 2008