by Bob Avakian
EDITORS' NOTE: The series, "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era," is available online at revcom.us and in pamphlet form from RCP Publications. This article has been edited for publication and footnotes have been added.
Bush has no legitimate mandate. The will of the people was not expressed in the 2004 election—not only because of voter intimidation and fraud, which there definitely was some of, but beyond all that, and most essentially, because the people were not given a real choice. They were not given a real avenue in which they could express their opposition to what is represented by Bush. The real story of what is happening and the alternative to it was never presented in the election—certainly it was not presented by Kerry and the Democrats.
Bush was never straight-up called a liar and called to account for his lying, just to take one basic thing. There were three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, and yes, "misleading" was tossed around by Kerry and the Democrats, but never was Bush called out as a liar and called to account for his lying around Iraq and other things. The Democrats refused to do it because, especially on the most crucial issues such as the war in Iraq, they shared the same fundamental program as the Republicans.
So, the fact that nobody can really dispute is this: never was this whole program of Bush's frontally opposed, never was a real alternative offered to people, and particularly never over such crucial things as the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act. Kerry and the Democrats did not say, "Get rid of the Patriot Act"—Kerry said, "We should fix it." Kerry and the Democrats did not say, "Bush lied, about weapons of mass destruction and other things, to get us into Iraq, and we should get out." Kerry said, "Bush made a mess of it and now you need to elect me so I can win this war."
It is clear that the will of the people could not possibly be expressed, because they were not given any real alternative.
And people who supported Bush were never really confronted with the fact that Bush is a fucking liar—that he took the country to war and has killed thousands and thousands of people in that war on the basis of flagrantly and brazenly lying before the whole world. He was never called to account for that. So people who thought they could rely on Bush to protect them were never even confronted with that fact—of his outright lying and everything that goes along with that—in any real way. Certainly not in the context of this election—not by the candidate, Kerry, who was supposed to represent the "realistic alternative" to Bush.
A lot of exposure can and must be done around all this.
The central message is that we do not accept this election and its so-called "mandate," we do not accept this whole program, and we need to manifest a massive repudiation of it in all kinds of forms. And in this we have to build a very broad unity, with a wide diversity of forces. We should try to unleash a lot of creativity around what that would mean—in the cultural sphere, in the overtly political sphere, in whatever spheres people are in. We should not aim low. We should aim high. We should call on people by saying: "This is too important just to go along with it—there is too much at stake for the whole world to just go along with this." As we pointed out in our Party's statement, right after the election1, we have to have not just the attitude of letting it be known that we don't agree with this, but an orientation of actually stopping it. This program of Bush's is completely unacceptable.
And then we do need to go deeply into the basic point that the people were denied the chance to really express their will in this election. That question is going to come up, even from people who hate this program represented by Bush: "Well, yes, but people voted for it." So we need to speak to that. At the same time, there is already a broad and deep sentiment—"No Mandate!" We need to build on that and give it the maximum possible, most powerful political expression.
And there needs to be struggle with many progressive people to help them sum up correctly what happened through this election. Some of them got caught up in trying to blame Nader—even in advance of the election—for Bush's staying in office. But the real point is that Kerry and the Democrats did not—and, more fundamentally, could not —offer a real alternative. It is crucial that people, as broadly as possible, draw the appropriate and correct lessons from all this, and that will take struggle, even as we are uniting with people to carry forward resistance in the circumstances where Bush remains in office and is aggressively accelerating his program in every sphere of society, and throughout the world.
In a lot of cases, when the masses turned out to vote in this (2004 election), even though they were not given any real alternative, it was a positive thing—or had a very definite positive side—it was a politicizing of the masses on a not so terrible basis. The bourgeoisie partly created the atmosphere—they created a politically charged atmosphere for their own reasons—but it hasn't all been, or remained, on their terms completely. The atmosphere is very politicized, and there is a lot of potential to turn this into something very positive, in more immediate terms and looking beyond that toward strategic revolutionary objectives. But, again, that will take work, and struggle.