We've Heard it Too Many Times

September 13, 2004

by Bill Foster

I.

Does the following lament sound familiar:

"Normally, I would be the first person to insist that there is very little difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Don't forget, I am almost a socialist! But in this year's election, there is just too much at stake. This is the most important election in decades, perhaps ever. If the ultra-right wing wins, all will be lost. On the other hand, if we get out a big vote for the Democrats, we will open the door for the 'people's movement' to keep pushing the government to the left."

Probably, the reader (especially younger readers) immediately pictured some union bureaucrat or so-called "anti-war leader" lecturing them about the need to vote for Kerry.

Actually, I first heard the above homily some 40 years ago during the first presidential election I really remember.

Some friends and I wanted to participate in our high school's "mock election" by investigating and talking about various socialist candidates - we wanted to learn about alternatives. But none other than the "most liberal" faculty member called us aside, saying: "You know, I'd be the first to be with you but this year we just can't risk splitting the vote in the most important election ever. Don't forget: Barry Goldwater (the Republican candidate] is a war maniac. We must vote for Lyndon Johnson." Of course, Johnson has gone down in the history books as one of the biggest war criminals ever - his administration escalated and escalated and escalated U.S. imperialism's counter-revolutionary and genocidal war against the Vietnamese people.

II.

Yet more. Political opportunism is not content with simply electioneering for Kerry. It demands nothing less than silencing any voice of opposition.

How many times have activists been told at anti-demonstrations or in public meetings not to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq or not to condemn the entire "war on terrorism" or not to speak out in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle, etc. etc. because such slogans will "embarrass Kerry" and "split the anti-Bush front."

In fact, opportunism goes so far as to insist that any criticism of Kerry "helps Bush." Thus truth is turned upsidedown. Those for whom peace is not simply an empty phrase, those who refuse to embrace racism, colonialism, exploitation and war and who resolutely struggle against the parties of war and imperialism are condemned, while the war crimes of Kerry and the Democrats are covered over and hidden from the masses.

How is the line of condemning anyone who criticizes Kerry, any different from the fascist logic which puts the label of "terrorist" on anyone who opposes Bush or condemns every opponent of U.S. imperialism has "unpatriotic."

Well, millions and tens of millions of workers, anti-war activists, and others have been read this riot act too many times. We are going to keep speaking the truth and standing up for our own convictions and interests, in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war and imperialism.