Dubya cops a drubbing

Dave Walters reports from San Francisco on the US midterm elections.

The US electorate - usually a minority of the American people, since less than 50 per cent of the citizens here ever vote - has set up what at least can be considered a massive opinion poll consultation: Americans want the US out of Iraq. They also tend not to like the ‘in party’, the Republicans, for various reasons - corruption, sexual scandal (this, by US standards, can mean almost anything, such as cheating on one’s spouse) and numerous other political peccadilloes.

The Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. George Bush will be a lame duck president for the next two years - a sorry sort of animal, politically limited in his ability to force through legislation when he gets into fights with the Democrat-controlled Congress. Not a good thing for the Republicans, but it will certainly put the spotlight on the Democrats, who are divided over the concerns of the American people on any issue, be it Iraq or immigration.

One of the tidal shifts in this election has been the dramatic desertion of the Republicans by Latino voters. Here is an analysis by Joaquin Bustelo, a noted contributor to the Marxmail discussion list:

“According to the corporate media’s exit poll, two years ago the Republicans got 44% of the Latino vote, and the Democrats barely 53% - the first time Democrats had gotten less than 60% among Latinos in a national election since exit polls made such statistics possible. This year, according to exit poll figures apparently noticed only by CNN’s Spanish-language network, the Republican vote among Latinos crashed to 26%, and the Democrats got 73%, a full 20-point improvement on the 2004 figure.
“The national Congressional exit poll indicates the election result was 54% Democrats, 46% Republicans. The increase in the Latino vote for Democrats was about 1.5%, which would have left the Democrats shy of the 53% that election wonks had calculated the Democrats would need to take the House (53% because ‘structural advantages’ - gerrymandering - give the Republicans in effect a built-in lead).”

This sort of shift back toward the Democrats, once it is internalised, often results in a sort of re-evaluation of Republican attitudes on the subject of racism towards Latino immigrants (please note that Canadians are the second largest group of ‘illegal aliens’ in the US - people who actually do compete with ‘middle class’ Americans, but they are never mentioned).

Elements of the far-left stood in various guises in this election, with similar results. Todd Chretien, a member of the International Socialist Organization running as a Green for the US Senate in California has 106,000 votes, or 1.7 per cent, with 93 per cent counted. Peter Camejo, the ex-Trotskyist, now financial consultant Green candidate, received 148,408 votes, or 2.3 per cent.

Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn-born left liberal who has for over a decade represented Vermont’s No. 1 congressional district, is now the first US senator to declare himself a “socialist”, even though he will work as part of the Democratic Party caucus.

Sanders notwithstanding, American workers, who by and large stayed home this election, are still without their party. The US needs a mass labour party. Watch this space for analysis of specifically socialist candidates in these elections once all final results are in.


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