Multinational Monitor

NOV 2004
VOL 25 No. 11


The Political Economy of Immigration Reform: The Corporate Campaign for a U.S. Guest Worker Program
by David Bacon

Freeloaders: Declining Corporate Tax Payments in the Bush Years
by Robert McIntyre and T.D. Coo Nguyen

Advice and No Dissent: Public Health and the Rigged U.S. Trade Advisory System
by Joseph Brenner and Ellen Schaffer

The Ultimate Dumping Ground: Big Utilities Look to Native Lands to House Nuclear Waste
by Winona LaDuke


Chemical Trespass: The Verdict on Dow
an interview with Jack Doyle


Behind the Lines

Bracing for Four More Years

The Front
Ballot Box Victories - The Development Agenda

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News



Bracing for Four More Years

There’s no point in glossing over how dire is the recoronation of George Bush, nor any plausible way of doing so.

On almost every matter relating to corporate power, you can pretty much count on the Bush administration siding with the multinationals, and against the public interest. Similar dire prognoses are in order for policies related to human rights, women’s issues, matters of war and peace, and on down the line.

That’s not to sing the praises of John Kerry, who not only ran a ghastly campaign, but would have taken many positions similar to those Bush will adopt. But on most corporate-policy matters (and in other areas), Kerry’s positions would have been less bad than Bush; on some they would have actually been pretty good; and in almost every case there would have been an opportunity for progressive forces to wage campaigns with a realistic hope of improving Kerry’s position.

But we’re stuck with what we have.

Surrender is not an option — not in the United States, not in the rest of the world.

And for those of us who live in the United States, the rest of the world is counting on us to restrain the corporate imperialists in the White House.

So what to do?

First, some context for the still-depressed:

It is wrong to conclude from the election results that the people of the United States support the Republican policy agenda, either domestically or internationally. Evidence: By a more than three-to-one margin, a Money magazine poll found, people in the United States would have chosen a jobs program over the 2003 tax cut. Asked by a University of Maryland poll whether they support legislation to require U.S. companies to reduce global warming emissions to 1990 levels, 81 percent of people in the United States said yes. Even if such policies would cost them $15 a month, two thirds of respondents said they supported the greenhouse gas emission reduction mandate. By a more than two-to-one margin, a University of Maryland poll found, people in the United States say they are “not satisfied with the way the U.S. government is dealing with the effects of trade on American jobs, the poor in other countries and the environment.” You find similar results across a broad swath of issues.

Also, with all of the attention on the genius of Karl Rove, it is easy to forget how fallible this White House is. They found the political scene spinning out of control in summer 2001, and were rescued only by 9/11. Things were falling apart again by summer 2002 (as Enron, WorldCom, et. al. dominated headlines), and the administration regained control of the political debate only by inventing the purported Iraqi threat. Leave aside for the moment what this suggests about how the Bush team may respond to new domestic failures; the key point is that they have repeatedly lost control of the political process, and are likely to do so again, as they over-reach with extremist ideological proposals.

OK, so what to do?

In the United States, progressives must organize to demand the Democratic Party joins the resistance to the Bush regime, rather than collaborates.

At the national level, top items on the Bush agenda, including quick passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and Social Security privatization — the key proposal of the administration’s second term — are deeply unpopular. They can provide a rallying call for a broad progressive majority, and they offer Democrats a chance to define themselves and to win legislative fights. Whether Democrats, including conservative Dems, will unify in opposition — as they must, if they are to defeat the Bush juggernaut — will depend primarily on the degree to which an organized citizenry demands it.

While national fights offer a chance to stop the worst of what the Bush team will offer, more positive opportunities exist locally and internationally.

The overwhelmingly successful referendums in Florida and Nevada in favor raising the minimum wage, and the narrowly defeated initiative in California to require large employers to provide decent health insurance to their employees, only begin to suggest the possibilities for popular, innovative, social justice legislation and programs at the state and local level.

Internationally, the administration’s very hostility to multilateralism and its bombastic approach to dealing with other nations affords the rest of the world a chance to band together to advance a progressive agenda, unencumbered by U.S. demands. If the United States is not going to join a treaty on global warming, say, that is a major problem — but also a major opportunity for the rest of the world to agree to planet-saving measures that the United States would likely oppose if it was part of the agreement. As for developing countries, there may be little they can do when negotiating with the United States alone (hence the U.S. preference for bilateral trade deals), but if they band together they can resist U.S. demands, as they have shown to some extent in the World Trade Organization forum.

Things are bad, yes.

But there is still hope — and a duty for all of us to work to restrain a corporate-based ruling group that desires to destroy the bonds of social solidarity in the United States and that quite literally threatens planetary well-being.


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