'People moving to the right' idea is a hoax

By Jarvis Tyner, Chair of the CP USA Commission on Legislative and Political Action
In People's Weekly World, 10 December, 1994, p. 17

The capitalist media is working overtime to convince millions of Americans that Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm, along with their right-wing wolf pack, now have the support of the majority of people. This interpretation of the elections is designed to demoralize us and make us passive in the face of the coming attack. On the contrary, the elections do not represent an ideological shift to the right by the majority of people - not even by a majority of those who voted.

The fact is that only 38 percent of the voting age population came out to vote and 62 percent stayed home. Only about 20 percent of the over-18 population in fact voted for Republicans. How is this supposed to accurately represent the views and ouflook of the majority of people?

This was one of the most racist, anti-working class, dirty elections campaigns ever. The ugly tone and dirty tactics came mainly from the extreme right, spreading the lie that it is the racially oppressed, the poor and immigrants who are the source of our problems. Their dominance of the election atmosphere contributed much to turning off millions of potential voters. Many voters didn't want to come out, because the very real problems they confront were ignored. The two "J' words - jobs and justtice - were left out.

Thus, voter mobilization became very difficult. How do you mobilize the labor vote alter the NAFTA betrayal? And after what Ciinton did to Lani Guinier, his inaction on a jobs bill while going all out for the crime bill, and with the cities still crumbling - how was the African American vote to be mobilized? And with all the racist and anti-immigrant hysteria in the campaign, many progressive-minded voters of all races and nationalities were turned off.

On the other hand, high income conservative voters came out in bigger numbers. The well-financed Christian Right played a major role in this regard. This meant that the active electorate in 1994 tended to be more wealthy, less multi-racial less working class and more conservative. For example, in California, people making under $20,000 a year amounted to only 14 percent of those who voted, while those earning more than $60,000 made up 37%. Latinos were only 8 percent, African Americans 5 percent and Asians 4 percent of those who voted.

Among those who did come out to vote, most voted the way they did in protest of Clinton's failure to deliver the change he promised. The right-wing was able to channel a lot of the protest feeling in their direction, despite the fact that their program is really more of the same and worse.

In a time/CNN poll taken Nov. 9-10, when asked the question, "What is most responsible for the Republican victories in Congress?" 50 percent said disapproval of Clinton's job as president, 24 percent said opposition to the Democrats' program - only 12 percent said it was support for Republican programs. And 66 percent said they think things will be the same or worse with the Republicans running Congress.

The Democrats who were defeated tended to be the moderate and conservative. Dave McCurdy, chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, was defeated, as was Dan Rostenkowski and a number of of Southern Democratic "boll weevils." This even applies to Mario Cuomo in New York who, despite the impression of being a "liberal," racked up a 12-year record of consistent support for big business. Cuomo ran on his record, and that's why he lost.

On the other hand, 80 of the 87 congressional sponsors of single payer health care legislation who ran for reelection were reelected. None of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus were defeated, nor were progressive Latinos. Bernie Sanders, the only socialist independent in Congress, won with 70 percent. And Kennedy in Massachusetts, Lautenberg in New Jersey and Sarbanes in Maryland all won against ultra-rightists with big money.

Maybe most significant in this regard was the defeat of Ollie North in Virginia. The full mobilization of the African American community, labor and liberal voters defeated a well-financed national operation to put this ideological fascist in the United States Senate.

The right wing is misreading the real sentiments of the working people who are the majority of our nation. They hope the people will he confused and divided, so that they can ramrod through their racist and anti-worker policies. But they have another thing coming.

We in the Communist Party have been taking our own poll. We've been on the streets for many months, talking to working people and signing them up by the thousands on petitions for a jobs program and by the hundreds as new members of our party. Communist candidates also got a great response from voters in putting forward our "people before profits" program. That is the CPUSA public opinion poll. And it's backed up by the victory of the Jobs through Public Works referendum in Chicago which got 214,000 or 70 percent of the city-wide vote and carried every ward but one.

We can say that millions of people want jobs with affirmative action, to save welfare and the entire safety net, and peace not war. And they are ready to fight. This shows great potential for struggle. Contrary to what the political establishment and the media want us to believe, it is this direction - not to the right - that the great majority of people are ready to move in. political action.

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