By Fred Goldstein
Published Feb 7, 2010 8:09 PM
The Democratic Party suffered a severe political setback in Massachusetts with the loss of the U.S. Senate seat, held by Ted Kennedy for almost 50 years, to Scott Brown. A stealth right-wing politician, Brown rode around the state in a pickup truck claiming to be an independent and “man of the people.”
Right now Brown is playing things soft and cagey, not wanting to sound like a right-wing ideologue. He distanced himself from the Tea Party movement on Barbara Walters’ ABC-TV show on Jan 31.
But whatever Brown’s politics turn out to be in Washington, in Massachusetts he was supported by a combination of right-wing groups and big banks and financial institutions. Brown climbed to victory on their funding and on the confusion and disillusionment of the population over the failure of the Obama administration to come to their aid in a time of economic crisis.
The combined efforts of such right-wing organizations as FreedomWorks (an umbrella group for the Tea Party amalgam of racist riffraff), the American Liberty Alliance and Redstate.com helped secure his victory. (nytimes.com, Jan. 21)
These groups were the organizers of the “town hall” meetings and Tax Day protests in which a conglomeration of various right-wing forces poured out racist slurs, anti-communist slogans and anti-immigrant agitation directed against President Barack Obama. Tea Party forces were on the ground in Massachusetts and funds flowed into Brown’s campaign over the Internet from their networks.
As for being a man of the people, in reality Brown was more like a man of the banking elite. He received close to $450,000 from the financial industry in the last week of the campaign, according to the Boston Globe online. (boston.com, Feb. 1)
In the Massachusetts race, Brown received about $442,000 from Jan. 11-16, while Martha Coakley, his Democratic opponent, got $92,000 from financial industry workers during the same period.
“Nearly 80 percent of the money Brown got from financial workers came from outside of Massachusetts, in places with a concentration of financial firms, such as New York City, Greenwich, Conn., Chicago, and San Francisco. In addition to financial giants such as Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, the donors included executives from hedge funds and private equity firms.”
Workers should take careful note of the fact that in the Massachusetts election there was a convergence of interests and efforts between the extreme right wing and a section of big business that ranks high up in the ruling class.
It was the health care industry, particularly the insurance companies, that funneled money into FreedomWorks and the town hall attacks on Obama. And it was the oil companies, coal companies, utilities and other sections of big business that used FreedomWorks and its town hall model to organize so-called “grassroots” meetings around the country to agitate for legislation that would prevent the Obama administration from agreeing to reduce carbon emissions at the world meeting on climate change in Copenhagen.
In those cases, industries funneled money directly to the ultraright. In Massachusetts, the bankers and hedge funds gave directly to Brown. It is an example of an objective collaboration in which the right wing comes out stronger.
These reactionary forces were able to triumph because there was no alternative for the population other than the bankrupt program of the Obama administration. Under the Democratic Party leadership, Washington has shoveled money at the bankers, let them take huge bonuses and profits, made backroom deals with insurance and pharmaceutical companies, escalated the war in Afghanistan and failed to come up with any serious program to create jobs.
Coakley, who failed to campaign in the oppressed communities of Boston, was no alternative. She campaigned on the Obama program and represented the imperialist, pro-capitalist interests of the ruling class, just as Ted Kennedy had for two generations.
This is a clear message that organizations struggling to mitigate the different parts of the crisis facing the workers and oppressed — demanding jobs; fighting foreclosures; for food, education, health care; stopping the war, the death penalty and police brutality — must come together and give a genuine alternative. Only by building unity in struggle and putting forth a working-class, anti-capitalist political program can the right wing be beaten back and the economic crisis dealt with at the same time.
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