The defeat of John McCain and the election of Barack Obama, the first
African-American US president, mark both a truly historic victory, and
the start of a monumental challenge. Around the world, this outcome
raises hopes of a shift away from the imperialist wars and aggressions
launched by the Bush regime.
The crucial distinction between McCain and Obama does not lie in
their personal views, significant as these may be. The main difference
is in the forces behind each candidate. McCain won the votes of many
working people influenced by right-wing ideology, but essentially he
was the favourite of the military-industrial complex, the energy
industry, and the ultra-right, anti-union, racist, homophobic,
fundamentalist bigots who blight U.S. politics. Obama had the support
of sections of capital which reject the dangerous warmongering of the
Republican right, but built his victory (and the shift in Congress) by
forging a broad coalition of workers, African Americans, Latinos,
youth, women, and people's movements.
Millions of Americans are now in political motion, at a time when
our planet faces enormous dangers. The challenge is to keep this wheel
turning, to mobilize the power of the U.S. working class and their
allies for fundamentally different policies: peace instead of war,
action on climate change, defense of working people, not bailouts for
billionaires. Winning real change will require a hard struggle, as the
President-elect hinted on election night, but that is no reason to
despair at setbacks.
For Canadians, this historic election also offers openings and
problems. Obama wants to re-open NAFTA, for example, which gives
pro-sovereignty forces a new chance to demand abrogation of this
corporate job-killer deal. Obama opposed the tragic invasion of Iraq,
yet he also wants to increase NATO troop deployments in Afghanistan.
The task of the anti-war movement, in Canada as elsewhere, will be to
demand negotiations leading to the swift withdrawal of all occupation
forces. There will be many twists and turns ahead, but the terrain of
struggle has improved. This is not a time to wait and see; it's a time
to step up our efforts!