The recent strike and mass mobilisations of teachers and their supporters in Chicago were significant for those who opposed them. The Democrat Barack Obama and the Republican Mitt Romney aligned themselves against this fight to defend public schools. In contrast, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein expressed solidarity with the movement and was invited to speak at a rally.
Chicago's teachers have successfully fought off an assault on their union, school children and public education launched by Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and even pushed him back in some respects. The strike and mass mobilisations of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) ended on September 19 when the teachers went back to work. The evening before, the elected House of Delegates, which represents teachers throughout the system, voted by 98% to end the strike.
The Chicago teachers’ strike entered its third day on September 12. This strike is of national significance for a number of reasons: * It is a militant fightback against the ruling class onslaught to destroy public education being carried out by Democrats and Republicans across the country. * It is aimed at the policies of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party machine in Chicago headed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, longtime aide, advisor and fundraiser for Obama. *It is being organised by a new rank-and file-leaders with a class-struggle perspective.
The election rallies of the mis-named “conventions” of the twin parties of Wall Street are over. The Tea Party-dominated Republicans have gone sharply to the right. Is supporting the Democrats the way to fight the rightward shift in US capitalist politics? Many who consider themselves leftists or even socialists reply “yes”. Let us look at the record.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate for the November presidential poll signaled the takeover of the Republicans by the Tea Party, at least through the election. Ryan’s record as a Congressperson puts the representative from Wisconsin squarely on the far right of capitalist politics. Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative from Missouri Todd Akin, who thinks that women cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate” rape. It sought to narrow the definition of rape to reduce the number of poor women who can get abortion through Medicaid.
In the early evening of August 6, a series of explosions at the Richmond Chevron oil refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area sparked a huge fire that burned for hours. The fire sent a huge black cloud that went for miles over densely populated areas. Tens of thousands of residents were ordered to stay in their homes, with windows and doors closed. Local authorities issued a level three warning, meaning the cloud would cause eye, skin, nose and respiratory sickness.
Wade Michael Page, a Nazi white supremacist, entered a Sikh temple in a town near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 5 and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, killing six and wounding three others. Page also shot a police officer who arrived on the scene, critically injuring him. After being wounded by another officer, Page killed himself. Page’s ex-girlfriend, who belonged to the same local Nazi group he did, was later arrested on a weapons charge, but has not been implicated in the attack on the Sikh temple. See also:
Police shot and killed a 25-year-old Latino man, Manuel Diaz, in Anaheim, California, in his front yard on July 21 Diaz was not armed. Within hours of the murder, hundreds of angry residents took to the streets in protest. The cops attacked the demonstrators with clubs, pepper spray and bean bag bullets. One protester was grabbed by a cop (who had his hand on his gun) for carrying a protest sign as he was walking toward the demonstration. He was charged with “jaywalking.”
Tens of thousands marched in June from 110th Street in Harlem down to billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s swank residence on 79th street in Manhattan. The demonstrators protested the huge levels of police racial profiling and harassment in New York City, that has developed over the past decade. The overwhelming majority of marchers were African Americans and Latinos. A multiracial contingent of LGBTI people also participated, reflecting another group singled out by the city administration.
One aspect of the drive by the super rich to make working people bear the brunt of the new Depression is to attack the social wage. Part of this attack is the serious erosion of public education. This predates the crisis that began in 2007, but the recession that followed has been met with a sharp increase in such attacks. The failure of the federal government to adequately fund public education cascades down to the states and cities, who all cry there is not enough money, so cutbacks are necessary.