The following is from the Stop the War! Stop McCain! working group of Students for a Democratic Society:
Everyone knows that this presidential election is important. The question is how to relate to it as radical activists. As activists and organizers we have to be realistic and strategic. We cannot accept the view, on the one hand, that this election can change everything, turn the system upside down, and create a participatory democratic society based on collective liberation and anti-imperialism. On the other hand, we cannot accept the view that it is necessary to avoid somehow morally soiling ourselves by participating in the election of the next Commander and Chief of the Empire.
As activists and organizers we have to take the situation as it is and do what is necessary to change conditions and move forward. This means we need to do all of the hard organizing work to build a mass movement that embodies our vision to change the world. We need to be active in the anti-war movement, in support of workers rights, against racism, for women’s liberation, for immigrants’ rights, for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Queer people (LGBTQ), and in defense of the environment. Only by participating in these struggles can we achieve the changes we want.
In these struggles we fight both for huge systemic change and for the daily reforms and small changes that will help us produce the conditions to move forward. We must understand this in relation to the election.
For this reason, we need to see to it that McCain stays out of office, and we need to do this by any means necessary. This includes, at this time, electing Barack Obama. Understanding that both candidates will operate in the service of imperialism, we need to understand the real differences between them.
- Electing Obama will be a solid blow against racism and the ultra-right. McCain and Palin have been whipping up a storm of feverish reaction everywhere they go. In many places they are being met with real and militant opposition on the ground. This must be also firmly repudiated in the election.
- Neither candidate has a decisive anti-war position. However, make no mistake, a McCain presidency would be the presidency of a bloodthirsty warmonger who has no problem with 100 more years in Iraq. Electing Obama, with his insistence on a more diplomatic imperialism overall, will give the anti-war movement room to make gains.
- There is a very clear difference between the two in terms of workers rights. The working class could make real gains under an Obama presidency, with the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. McCain opposes this.
- McCain will fight to continue the wretched course of de-unionization and privatization that has characterized the past 25 years and has exacerbated the current financial crisis.
Following the election, no matter who is elected, we must continue to organize to build a mass movement against imperialism and for participatory democracy and collective liberation. The masses are the makers of history, not the politicians in Washington. We must raise the stakes and build on the gains we make.