Wall Street is rolling out the red carpet for the Republican National Convention. According to the New York Times, “They are showering the conventioneers with money for parties and other events to make the Republicans feel right at home.”
The RNC happens August 29 through September 2 in New York City, and it’s expected to be the most expensive political convention ever. Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $5 million from his personal fortune for the corporate gala.
But while Republican leaders, bankers, and CEOs throw themselves a huge party and make toasts to George W. Bush for a job well done, hundreds of thousands of protesters will converge in New York City to protest Bush, the Iraq war, and big business.
The August 29 protest is predicted to be one of the largest, most important demonstrations in the U.S. in decades. Anticipating an enormous protest, the NYPD is planning to turn Manhattan into a mini-police state involving more than 10,000 officers and costing somewhere between $91 and $187 million.
The potential size of the protest reflects the intense anger felt toward Bush by large sections of the U.S. population. Bush’s approval ratings are now at the lowest level of his presidency - 42%. Over the last four years, Bush stole an election, launched two bloody wars, and handed nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts to big business and the super rich. Civil rights have been curtailed, reproductive rights attacked, and millions of jobs lost while healthcare and education costs have spiraled upwards.
The situation in Iraq – which Bush once hoped would divert attention away from domestic issues like the Enron scandal – continues to deteriorate despite the sham transfer of power. More than 850 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died for lies. Rather than making us safer, Bush’s “War on Terror” has only increased the danger of more terrorist attacks.
With the Democrats failing to oppose Bush’s agenda in Congress, millions of Americans have been forced into the streets in a growing social movement to stop Bush. On February 15, 2003, over 500,000 people marched in the streets of New York City to protest Bush’s war drive. On April 25, 2004, over a million marched on Washington D.C. to protest his attacks on women’s rights.
Building the Protests
The most effective way to stop Bush’s right-wing, corporate agenda and build a broader movement is through serious social struggle, including mass protests. We can’t rely on simply casting a vote on November 2. It is only through militant, mass struggle from below that the corporate agenda can be stopped and reforms can be won. The RNC protests are a major opportunity to build such a movement.
To build for this demonstration, it is important to mobilize New York City’s workers and people of color by emphasizing working-class issues and demands. These could include opposing Bloomberg’s vicious social service cuts, low pay, the lack of contracts for key city unions, the healthcare crisis, the poverty draft (and the threat of an official draft), and racist scapegoating of Muslims and Arabs.
The most powerful form of protest would be a mass, non-violent demonstration to allow the largest number of people to participate. While some small groups will argue for the use of direct action to block streets and attempt to shut down the convention itself, these tactics will only make it easier for the police to attack the protest, and play into the hands of the media’s attempts to scare away workers from coming.
New York City’s trade union leaders, with their enormous resources, should launch a massive drive to turn out their members and other workers. The unions should also organize a work stoppage by all New York City workers on the first day of the convention (Monday, August 30) in order to fully register our anger against the war in Iraq and the war on working people here at home.
In a city with one of the largest union memberships in the country, this would be a tremendous show of strength and would encourage workers’ struggles elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world. The Bush administration has proven that it will stop at nothing in attacking the working class and carrying out the corporations’ agenda, so why shouldn’t we go all-out when fighting back?
If you oppose the Bush agenda of war, poverty, and racism, you should come to the RNC protest in New York on August 29!
At the same time, we have to build a lasting movement that goes beyond the RNC. It is not enough just to protest the two parties of big business and war.
We need to build our own political alternative that stands up for our needs against the policies of the corporations. The best way we can start to do that in the 2004 presidential election is by building the Nader campaign as an independent, anti-war, anti-corporate alternative that challenges the rotten big business political system.
Protest the War at the Democratic National Convention
Boston has been a seat of Democratic Party power for decades. But from July 26-29, the Democrats will rule Boston like never before. Thousands upon thousands of people will have their lives disrupted as 40 miles of major roadways are closed so the Democratic National Convention can crown John Kerry - the richest man in Congress - as their Presidential nominee for the November election.
Over $95 million is being spent on this extravaganza (making it the most expensive DNC ever) in a city that is still coping with Massachusetts’ biggest budget crisis since the Great Depression.
On July 25, thousands of protesters will take to the streets to expose the pro-war policies of this big business party. John Kerry actually calls for putting 40,000 more troops in Iraq, which means more casualties and billions more dollars siphoned off from jobs and public services. Protest the DNC and tell them to bring the troops home now!
From Justice, paper of Socialist Alternative, cwi in the US