Venezuelans are expected to elect Nicholas Maduro, an ally and foreign minister of Hugo Chavez, in national elections this Sunday, preserving for now – “por ahora” – the Chavez legacy. Venezuela’s program of “21st century socialism” will continue, as will its project of integrating Latin America into a progressive power bloc, even an “OPEC of natural resources” in an increasingly multipolar world.
This year, peace groups will have to build linkages around domestic, economic and environmental issues with the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club and insurgent movements including Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street. For the peace movement, the purpose is to build a stronger coalition than ever before between domestic movements and longtime pacifist and religious communities. Domestic movements will have to be convinced that their goals are unattainable without ending the trillion dollar wars abroad. Democrats will have to decide that winning elections requires a platform commitment to rapidly end these wars. And the peace movement will have to build a mandate for peace into the 2012 election.
President Barack Obama’s campaign organization is launching a new drive to secure a progressive legacy on gun control, climate change and immigrant rights, issues dear to grassroots activists where a major push against the main drift is needed. Eight thousand Obama volunteers will convene over the Inaugural weekend to commit themselves to the work.
The US cold war against China gained momentum last week with the election of a former dictator’s daughter in South Korea and a hawkish nationalist in Japan, both with American support. “The sighs of relief in Washington have almost been audible,” the New York Times reported. In both countries, voters turned down peace candidates “who raised at least some alarms in Washington.”
The choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 was difficult for many Democrats. Clinton in 2016 should not be. What is at stake is another chance to make history by electing a woman president, to assure an independent judiciary, to advance the interests of working people and maintain a continuity of citizen access to government against the waning, raging Right. At this point, Clinton alone can mobilize a movement base and raise the hundreds of millions necessary to secure a high-turnout victory for a coalition seeded with thousands of progressives.
Mayor Richard Bloom of Santa Monica was declared the winner in the 50th Assembly District this week by 1,300 votes after a several-week count of late and absentee ballots. The loser was Democrat Betsy Butler, a Sacramento liberal lobbyist supported almost entirely by Speaker John Perez and Capitol interest groups who poured nearly $2.5 million into her campaign.
The era of Felipe Calderon has officially come to a close in Mexico, leaving in its wake 60,000 dead from the Drug War and increases in unemployment and poverty (two realities no doubt helping fuel the conflict itself). After an uneventful week during which Calderon closed his tenure by calling for Mexico to change its name from “The United States Of Mexico” to just “Mexico,” a secretive late night ceremony at Los Pinos saw the presidential sash handed to Enrique Peña Nieto, the winner of the July elections, whose victory signals the return to power of the PRI party. But as Peña Nieto ascends, so do new social movements, student organizations and political parties driven by grassroots activism.
President Obama and the Democrats have the political advantage as the crisis of the fiscal cliff approaches. It is the Republicans who are edging towards a political cliff if they appear to be impossibly recalcitrant in the public mind.