[Marxism] Some thoughts the U.S. mid-term elections

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 8 11:15:34 MST 2006


In addition to the turning out of the Republican majority in the House is the
election of Keith Ellis to the house from Minnesota. I hope we can learn lots
more about Keith Ellis, the campaign against him and the way he managed
to secure election in spite of the obstacles against him. Racism being one of
the most central of the political and cultural building blocks of the U.S. of A.
Ellison's being Black and a Muslim, as well as his putting forth a very strong
critique of the Iraq war, calling for IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL provides us an
index of to what extent opposition to the war in generalized in the USA.

KEITH ELLIS interview on Democracy NOW before the election:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/14/1351249&mode=thread&tid=25

Ellis was also interviewed today on Democracy Now, in which he put opposition
to the war in Iraq as his number ONE issue. Second is opposition to the Military
Commissions Act. He believes the message being sent is about the Republican
drive to war, and that the American people want the United States to be a 
source for peace in the world, not of war. 

In Vermont, Bernie Sanders is elected as the first explicitly socialist member of
the United States Senate. Democracy Now also interviewed Sanders prior to
the election which is broadcast on today's program. She also has Ralph Nader
on the program as well. He sees no mandate for any progressive agenda in
the outcome of yesterday's voting. He says there will be no accountability for
Bush in the aftermath of the voting. 

The two-party vise remains as a stanglehold over the political life of the US.
Peter Camejo did quite respectably here in Caliornia, garnering 2.25%, but
that wasn't enough to influence the outcome, as everyone had predicted in
the runup to the election.  I voted for Peter and am glad that I did. Peace
and Freedom came in fourth in a field of five

Here are the yesterday's totals from the Los Angeles Times:

Schwarzenegger , Arnold (i) 	  GOP 	  3,640,250 	55.69
Angelides , Phil 	               Dem     2,565,020     39.24
Camejo , Peter 	                      Grn 	  148,408 	 2.27
Olivier , Art 	                          Lib 	        85,584        1.  
Jordan , Janice                        PFP 	     51,  334       .79
Noonan, Edward 	                    AIP 	  46,621 	 .71

In New York, the NY Times today doesn't even report the totals garnered
by the Green Party, not to speak of any of the other alternative parties.

In the case of Bernie Sanders, one of the most important results is to see
how he was massively overspent by a rich Republican who spent millions of
his own money and still wasn't able to prevent Sanders' election. Here's one
report on the Sanders electoral triumph:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/vermont/articles/2006/11/07/sanders_welch_are_winners_in_vermont?mode=PF

Facts being the stubborn things, we should also note that the level of voter
participation in this highly restrictive process, is very low, with something 
under 50% of those registered to vote actually casting their ballots. This
reflects the deep cynicism in the U.S. public, and a level of despair and of
lack of confidence that anything anyone does matters at all. This is not a
good sign, but rather a sign that the existing political setup has succeeded
in driving the population away from any political participation.

Furthermore, there are who knows, perhaps ten to twelve MILLION more
people living in the United States, undocumented immigrants, who have a
stake in the life and institutions of the country, who pay taxes and who 
also otherwise obey most of its laws, yet who have no way to participate
in such political process as actually exists. 

Therefore, even on the basis of the very narrow and restrictive level of
voter participation in the United States, where only a minority actually 
participate in the process to the very minimal extent which is the once-
a-year activity called voting represents. So, I feel a sense of cautious
hopefullness in the aftermath of yesterday's elections. Let's also recall
that the election season normally means a reduction of mass protests
against injust. But there will be plenty of reasons for protest and the
most important thing will be to find ways to unite the protests as much
as possible. The morning news reports say that control of the federal
Senate in the United States is still, as they say, "in play" with the vote
in Virginia There's plenty of work to be done.


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

===================================================
BACKGROUND:
A Muslim Candidate's Run for Congress (NPR and Wall Street Journal)
http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/marxism/2006-October/005504.html
===================================================

Minnesota sends first Muslim to Congress
08 Nov 2006 03:08:28 GMT
Source: Reuters

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N07465488.htm

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Voters elected a black Democrat as the
first Muslim in Congress on Tuesday after a race in which he
advocated quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and made little mention of
his faith.

Keith Ellison, a 43-year-old lawyer and state representative,
defeated two rivals, television networks said, to succeed retiring
Democrat Martin Sabo in a seat that has been held by Democrats since
1963.

Ellison, who converted to Islam as a 19-year-old college student in
his native Detroit, won with the help of Muslims among a coalition of
liberal, anti-war voters.

He advocates an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq along with
strongly liberal views. While Ellison did not often speak of his
faith during the campaign, awareness of his candidacy drew interest
from Muslims well beyond the district centered in Minneapolis.

A significant community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis cast
their first votes for him in the crowded September primary. Ellison
also was the surprise choice of party regulars.

While Muslim-Americans make up less than 3 percent of the U.S.
population and have largely been a non-factor in terms of political
power, get-out-the-vote efforts in several Muslim communities could
indicate they may become an emerging force.

Roughly 2 million Muslims are registered U.S. voters, and their ranks
increased by tens of thousands in the weeks prior to Tuesday's
mid-term elections, Muslim groups have said.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Islamic militants,
Muslim-Americans have become sensitized to what many feel is an
erosion of their civil rights. U.S. foreign policy that targets
Muslim countries also has generated a sense of urgency, experts said.

"(Americans) treat us differently after Sept. 11. My own father was
attacked," said Ellison supporter Khadra Darsame, a 1995 immigrant
from Somalia. "Ellison said everybody matters equally and he told us
what he would do ... he will do the right thing."

Born into a Roman Catholic family in Detroit, Ellison said his values
were shaped by both faiths, along with his grandfather's civil rights
work in the Deep South.

Opponents focused on Ellison's sloppy handling of his taxes and a
slew of unpaid parking tickets, along with his one-time affiliation
with the Nation of Islam, whose leader, Louis Farrakhan, has been
criticized for making anti-Semitic remarks. Ellison subsequently said
he worked with the group largely to promote the 1995 Million Man
March.

ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS
Posted on Wed, Nov. 08, 2006
http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/15957666.htm

Ellison breaks ground as Muslim, black
BY ARON KAHN
Pioneer Press

Keith Ellison was a minor figure as a two-term state representative
from Minneapolis. Now, across the nation and the world, he might
become Minnesota's best-known voice.

The 43-year-old fiery stump speaker, an easy winner Tuesday in the
5th Congressional District, becomes Minnesota's first black
congressman and America's first Muslim on Capitol Hill. As a result,
he dons the mantle of ambassador to the world's second largest
religion.

With 91 percent of the vote counted, the Democratic candidate and
champion of liberal issues garnered 56 percent of the vote.
Republican Alan Fine and Independence Party candidate Tammy Lee were
tied at 21 percent, and seat-of-the-pants campaigner Jay Pond, a
Green Party candidate who rode his bicycle to campaign stops, was
polling 2 percent.

Political scientists said Ellison would almost immediately become a
well-known name on several continents.

"When the national media start to look at the new members of
Congress, Ellison will be at the top of the list," predicted Carleton
College political science professor Steven Schier. "He will be the
Muslim spokesman. When there are issues related to Muslims in America
and around the world, he'll have a disproportionate voice.''

Beyond Ellison's influence in the nation's capital, his election has
"huge symbolism,'' said University of Minnesota political science
professor Larry Jacobs.

"The message goes out from the United States that Muslims can be
included in the political process and welcomed in Congress … that
America is not at war with Islam,'' Jacobs said.

"On the flipside, a great responsibility falls on Keith Ellison's
shoulders to now be a force for dialogue and reasoned debate.''

Indeed, that was a theme of Ellison's remarks following his victory.

"This campaign since the beginning has been about everyone," Ellison
said. "I'm very excited."

Ellison's palette of progressive issues includes single-payer health
care, environmental protection, ending homelessness and stopping the
Iraq war, but Jacobs said Ellison always will be known as a spokesman
for Islam.

"I just never have seen the kind of national and international
attention on a candidate for Congress,'' Jacobs said. "I've had
requests for interviews from … New York, Germany, the Czech Republic,
France and many other places.''

Once Ellison won the primary, he was the odds-on favorite to win the
seat being vacated by longtime Democratic incumbent Martin Sabo, but
Ellison faced obstacles Sabo had never seen. Indeed, Sabo declined to
endorse Ellison or anyone else, but allowed Lee to run a photo of
Sabo and Lee on her Web site.

There also was Ellison's past association with the controversial
Nation of Islam, which he later said was a mistake, and which
supporters attributed to the exuberance of a young black trying to
help other blacks.

That history, at which Fine hammered away, lost Ellison votes among
some Democrats, including Jews, whom Nation of Islam leaders have
vilified. But other Jewish voters accepted Ellison's apologies and
were among his strongest supporters.

Ellison also apologized for a driver's license suspension for late
parking-ticket payments, and a fine for not filing state campaign
finance reports on time.

"We've had our ups and we've had our downs, but mostly ups,'' Ellison
told supporters, before speaking of peace and tolerance.

"Our prosperity does not depend on someone else's suffering,'' he
said. "In order for us to do well, another person doesn't have to be
to be discriminated against and vilified.''

Danielle Cabot contributed to this report.

Aron Kahn can be reached at akahn at pioneerpress.com or 612-338-6516.







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