Thursday, April 17, 2008

For Peace, Jobs and Social Justice

The political pundits and think tanks continue to try to divide working class voters into liberals, progressives and conservatives; a new and shameful twist in trying to divide the working class along racial lines by political ideology as Democrats seek to explain their dwindling support in the polls in spite of massive working class rejection of the Republican Party.

It is almost like the Democrats are conceding defeat to the Republicans before the election is held as they attempt to affix blame for the defeat on working people rather than upon themselves.

But, this is nothing new, since the Democrats have been caving in to the Republicans for over thirty years now, and acquiescing to wars and driving down the standards of living of working people.

These same pundits and think-tank gurus continue to evade the problem of why so many working class people refuse to vote.

We think there is a reason why workers are not voting.

The reason is no one is bringing forward a progressive agenda based upon the needs of working people to solve pressing problems of rising food prices, home foreclosures and evictions along with high rents, poverty wages, plant closings, unemployment, the high cost of education, lack of access to health care, polluted & contaminated waters, land and air, the crisis of global warming and a dirty war for oil and regional domination in Iraq--- together with the robbery at the pumps... to name just a few of the problems, for starters, which the Democratic Party refuses to address.

Addressing these problems by bringing forward real solutions is not the same as acknowledging these problems which the Democrats are so eager to do as they continue to play political games with our lives and our futures.

Failure of the Democrats to address these issues with real solutions could lead to a defeat at the polls on Election Day. This would not be the first time Democrats have ignored the problems of working people only to snatch defeat from what should be a hands down, and overwhelming, victory.

In our opinion, the three key issues nationally, which should become the focus of the 2008 Election are:

  • The need to end the war in Iraq
  • The need for socialized health care
  • The need for the minimum wage to be a legislated real living wage
We want to know why Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have not articulated a very clear and specific program on these very basic issues of importance to working people?

A national organization called "Progressives for Obama" has begun to campaign for Obama. We don't understand why these progressives have done so while allowing Obama to leave these three issues off of his agenda.

What happens if Obama is elected and turns on these young voters who have become mesmerized with his baseless and meaningless calls, devoid of any specifics, to vote for "hope?" Will these young people revolt and coalesce around a progressive agenda; or, will they retreat in despair and discouragement from further political activity?

Here in Minnesota the issues of the Ford Plant closing has gone without being addressed by the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. The issue of the hydro dam which has powered this operation for over eighty years; and, most importantly, the jobs of two-thousand workers are at risk and in peril of vanishing forever.

As progressives, we ask: If the Democrats can not solve these very basic problems confronting working people, what problems can, or will, they solve?

As progressives, we believe both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama along with candidates for state legislative offices should fend for themselves until they can articulate very clearly what they intend to do towards finding solutions to these problems.

Here in Minnesota, we progressives don't believe any politician who refuses to publicly state support for S.F. 607--- legislation aimed at saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant together with the hydro dam and two-thousand jobs--- should be given any consideration by working class voters. If ever there was a "litmus test" for candidates to pass, it is on this very basic working class issue. To date, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has failed to pass this test.

Public ownership of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Plant and the hydro dam is the only solution... politicians have acknowledged all other alternatives have failed. It defies all reason and logic that these politicians would openly acknowledge and admit that saving this plant and the two-thousand jobs is what they want to do, but then cop out by failing to consider a very valid alternative to the plant closing: Public Ownership.

Failing to consider public ownership of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and Hydro Dam demonstrates a complete lack of confidence in anything other than private/corporate ownership.

This is dead wrong.

This lack of confidence in public institutions and public enterprises by elected public officials is what has created a breakdown in support for our public schools, public health care, public libraries and public infrastructure including the bridges, roads and highways.

Minnesotans understand public institutions, cooperatives and publicly owned enterprises are the key to human survival and an integral part of maintaining a quality life and high standard of living for working people. From food coops to support for a myriad of public institutions with a view towards the successful use of public ownership by our neighbors to the north in Manitoba whose government saved a huge bus manufacturing operation in Winnipeg, to the publicly owned Green Bay Packers owned by our neighbors to the east, to the long-standing successful example of the publicly owned bank of North Dakota, Minnesotans know and understand that public ownership is the solution to saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Politicians should stop lying that they have tried every way to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant when they have not even explored the public ownership alternative; nor have they bothered to consider that some kind of joint venture with the Chinese might be the solution as it was on the Iron Range with the taconite industry.

The Chinese could teach us a great deal about the benefits of publicly owned industries.

There is no reason why the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and Hydro Dam cannot produce a better, more environmentally friendly product under public ownership while saving two-thousand jobs than what the Ford Motor Company has done over the years; all the while having their corporate profits subsidized to the hilt by tax-payers as we never heard any complaints from the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, the Summit Hill Club or the MN DFL Business Caucus.

But, as soon as it is suggested that tax-payers should own what they have invested in through their subsidizing the Ford Motor Company's St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant we hear a scream in unison from this business community which dominates both the Republican and Democratic Parties that they will not listen to the pleas of the people to save this Plant; nor, the pleas from Ford workers to save their jobs.

If anyone wants to look at the real reason why the Democrats could snatch defeat from what should be an overwhelming victory come Election Day, they need look no further than the abandonment, by the Democrats, of the working class here in Minnesota... thanks to State Senator James Metzen who abandoned Ford workers at the request of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, the Ford Motor Company, the Wall Street coupon clippers and money grubbing real estate investors and bankers who are not yet done kicking working class families out of their homes and they are already well on their way to destroying the livelihoods of two-thousand Ford workers in quest of even greater profits, which once again will all be subsidized by tax-payers who, again will end up holding nothing but another bag of debt as they pay for upscale housing in a new "green" yuppie community with which they intend to replace the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Maybe Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Danny Glover, Tom Hayden, Robert Borosage and these other progressives should make a trip to the Twin Cities and have a chat with Ford workers about to lose their jobs as a perfectly good plant is turned to rubble and the hydro dam turned over to a foreign corporation before jumping the gun to endorse Obama.

If Obama can call for the boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in China in support of a bunch of feudal monks who have been living off the blood and sweat of poor peasants for hundreds of years, he certainly can support efforts aimed at saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the jobs of two-thousand workers if he is at all worthy of becoming the next President of the United States of America.

Minnesotans and all Americans have a right to discuss these issues and questions addressed here, and we have a right to expect those who are now campaigning for Obama and Clinton under the guise of "progressivism" to stop trying to sweep these issues and questions under the rug for the purposes of political expediency.

Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice