The Communist Party USA and the 2004 Elections: Build the Party, Build the Coalitions
From the The Communist Party USA
Report to the National Committee, November 21, 2004
Sam’s great dialectical report gives the framework to analyze the election as a whole. The purpose of this report is to zero in on the work of our Party in the elections.
Our banner for 2004 was “Build Unity – Defeat Bush and the Ultra-Right.” Our method was an all-out effort with the broad labor-led democratic front against extreme right-wing reaction; and within that all-out for a bigger, stronger Communist Party and YCL.
Along with our allies, we can be very proud of great accomplishments that will carry us forth even in the dreaded and stormy waters of a second term for George W. Bush.
As Communists, we experienced, we saw, we knew the brutality of this crowd poised to rip any chance for a decent job, decent healthcare, decent retirement, or decent education from working class people; prepared to wage war on Iraq and the world for hegemony and control; armed with the poison of racism and bigotry and red-baiting meant to serve the fatal blow to any opposition.
History had taught us that to reverse this extreme reaction would take the broadest possible coalition of left and center forces with the strength of labor, African American, Latino and women at the core. We also understood that building the Communist Party as part of that effort would be the best way to secure the movement for the future, toward a more advanced program.
The correctness of the center-left coalition strategy soon became clear as a fantastic movement burst forth, activating many thousands of young people, and people of all ages who had never previously been engaged. New labor and people’s structures were the heart of the voter mobilization and turnout in this election.
When this movement came so close but not close enough on election day, union after union and organization after organization immediately rejected Bush’s claim to mandate and pledged to stick together, to build on what was done, to learn and broaden out, even in an unwanted and dangerous terrain of struggle.
Our strategy, and tactics adjusted to changing conditions, enabled our small Party to make a mighty contribution in this remarkable time. This year’s experience leaves us with new respect, new clubs in strategic locations, a growing grass-roots character, and hopefully somewhat better seasoned for the next phase of our country’s titanic battle.
Just about a year ago, at a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio with neighboring Communist Party districts, the concept of a national election concentration on the mid-west was developed.
Two months later, on January 31, in this hall, we held an extraordinary national conference which established our framework for the 2004 elections.
The conference was extraordinary because of the turnout of 250 plus multi-racial, multi-national activists from states large and small across our land. It was extraordinary because of the message of leaders from other organizations who came and called upon us, that our presence was much needed as Communists.
Remember the president of NY NOW telling us she wanted to see lots of red flags at the March for Women’s Lives. And the chair of ACORN and Working Families Party who called upon us as family to make our contribution known. Did we respond? YES, we responded!
Across the country, we rolled up our sleeves, in swing states and so-called safe states. In voter registration drives, local races and Congressional battlegrounds. Walking precincts and working phone banks out of union halls. In presidential battleground states from Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to Minnesota and New Hampshire, our folks were quickly tapped to help lead the work.
The centerpiece of our effort was the Mid-West Project, under the leadership of Scott Marshall and John Rummel. We knew that between OH, MO and FL, Kerry had to win at least one to get elected. We singled out OH and MO for summer brigades. The comrades in those states did heroic work hosting, organizing, and meeting the needs of the 75 Party and YCLers who came for week-long visits from nine states and the national office in July and August.
We worked on local campaigns, knocked on hundreds of doors and made thousands of phone calls with the AFL-CIO, ACT and others. We learned a lot and hopefully convinced some voters. I will always remember the LTV steel workers whose jobs had gone, very angry, very worried and also very appreciative that Labor Council volunteers were at their door.
In Missouri, comrades had the remarkable experience of teaming up with SEIU and Planned Parenthood to door-knock in the heat and humidity campaigning for John Bowman, and then go on to win. It felt like Mississippi Summer in the 1960’s.
The effort was so successful we expanded into the fall, with 72 more Party and YCLers, including 47 to Ohio and teams to Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, and New Hampshire.
We set the bar high with our goal of 100. In the end, over 147 participated. These numbers do not include union buses organized by comrades from Illinois to Wisconsin, Ohio and Missouri, and the many Party and YCL members who traveled to the Mid-West with union or other mobilizations from the East Coast states.
It must be brought out that Sam Webb took the summer and fall to travel continuously from battleground state to battleground state, meeting with districts and clubs, shoring up the Party, outreaching to friends and readers, and knocking on doors as a volunteer for the labor movement.
We developed a specific plan for election day, with national staff placed strategically in OH, FL, PA and WI, and regional efforts in AZ and NH. We helped bring voters to the polls, served as election protection observers, and just did whatever needed to be done.
The YCL did a fabulous job, with great energy and talent, connecting to youth organizing in the battlegrounds and attracting lots of young people to their ranks. In addition to mobilizing their members in the summer, the YCL staff worked on two campuses in Ohio to Get Out the Vote. They deserve a great big congratulations for their excellent contribution.
From the beginning, Ohio was at the epicenter of this election campaign, and the final results will be examined and discussed for some time. Wally will report, but it must be said that the Party there, as in Missouri, did yeoman’s work at every level and made a deep and abiding contribution recognized by the broader movement and that we pay tribute to today.
In the OH District Board report Wally emphasized “In Ohio, where 150,000 union jobs were eliminated since 2000, union members STILL MADE UP 35% OF ALL VOTES CAST IN THE STATE.” He said, “the organization of independent political structure within the trade unions went beyond anything ever done in the past, and provides the base for future struggles.”
We emerge from this campaign with new respect, but also with new members and new clubs. Our Party is growing and building in the heartland, transforming our entire organization. We will learn more from the districts, but here are a few highlights that were sent in to me:
• MO: State Rep. During the campaign to elect a worker as State Representative: A new club in St. Louis, with another in formation. A new YCL club and another by the end of the year. A total of 19 new members in the YCL and Party. An increase from 2 to 12 bundles of PWW/NM a week.
• MI: A new club in Saginaw emerged from a national/district team that helped on a local campaign which elected a township trustee. A new club in the Upper Peninsula formed after a visit by Sam. New clubs in Lansing and Ann Arbor will be formed by the end of the year.
• ILL: 27 new members and an increase in PWW/NM bundles to 2500 a week. This in the process of participating in the movement from Illinois to Wisconsin to put that state over the top for Kerry, participating in the historic election of Barak Obama to the US Senate, and the successful campaign of Melissa Bean, defeating incumbent Republican Congressman Philip Crane.
Read the rest here
For more about Planned Parenthood watch Maafa21 ( Clip below)
For more on ACORN – Click here