By James Thompson

Most working people in the U.S. and around the world achieved a level of euphoria after the election of the first African American to the presidency of the United States in 2008 not experienced in the history of this country. Unfortunately, after the euphoria wore off, working people have descended into apathy and disorganization and assumed a posture not unlike Rip Van Winkle. The sleepy, listless progressive forces have been easy prey for the vast and powerful forces of reaction that poured untold amounts of money into right wing fringe groups such as the Tea Party, Border Watch and their ilk. Extremist right wing candidates are threatening to overwhelm the hapless moderate Democrats in a white backlash not seen since the shameful days of Bull Connor and Barry Goldwater. It should be noted that Bull Connor and Barry Goldwater were defeated by progressive forces and the modern version of these reactionaries can be defeated sooner or later.

It is hard to tell if the Democrats and their allies are about to wake up and realize that the elephant is still in the room. The election of President Obama did not make reaction go away. Clearly, the Obama administration has notched up a few progressive victories in these last two years, a very brief period of time I might add. However, the force of reaction is still strong.

To the dismay of those of us who hoped Obama would end the war and right the wrongs of the Bush administration, we have seen the Bush agenda advanced in a number of ways. The end of the war in Iraq was clearly a fake since there are 50,000 troops left there protecting the advances of imperialism. Obama announced a surge in Afghanistan and the U.S. military continues to provoke Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and others. The threat of war and expanded war has mushroomed in the last two years. All of this has been happening in spite of the fact that polls show that the vast majority of U.S. people oppose the wars and want peace. The vast majority do not want young U.S. working class soldiers to go off around the globe and slaughter working people in other countries. The elephant is still in the room.

The world capitalist economy is circling the drain. High unemployment coupled with an astronomical deficit choke working people and fill them with terror at the thought of mass poverty. The trillion dollars spent on the wars and the bailouts of the banks and ultra-wealthy act like an anvil on our economy which struggles to keep its head above water. The elephant is still in the room.

In spite of mass actions demanding stimulus money be spent on rebuilding our country and job creation as well as universal health care, and education, the corporate media can only present the views of the ultra-wealthy who are fighting with great skill to quash any progressive legislation which might benefit working people. Bills which would benefit working people are routinely killed by the obstructionist Republicans and their conservative Democratic party allies. The elephant is still in the room.

The greatest tragedy of all is that people are unwilling or perhaps unable to see the elephant and formulate a unified plan to address its presence and remove it. Some people say that blind allegiance to the Democrats is the answer. Others condemn the Democrats for not righting all the wrongs. I think the answer lies somewhere in between. Progressive people should unite to fight reaction within the Democratic, the Republican and all other parties. Progressive people should also unite to support progressive sectors of all parties and reach out to the vast majority of the population who do not vote but are quite capable of thinking and seeing through the lies of capitalist propaganda. We will only see change in the interest of working people when progressives form a mass coalition committed to the betterment of this country and the world. Up to now, working people have failed to unite and speak with one voice demanding those things which will move us forward such as peace, equality, justice for all as well as education and health care for all.

The elections are less than two weeks away. Although it is crucial that progressive candidates be elected, this will not be the answer to our problems. A Democratic party sweep of both houses of Congress will not force the change that we need since most politicians are beholden to the corporations and work hard to defend their interests. A Republican party sweep of both houses of Congress will not stop progressive change. Working people must still speak loudly and fight for their interests, no matter what happens.

It is folly to think that progressive Democrats can solve all our problems by themselves. It will take a concerted effort from progressive voting and non-voting working people, unemployed people, the poor, the oppressed, the disabled, ex-prisoners, all gender groups, all racial groups and people of conscience in the religious community to bring about the change that is necessary for the survival of mankind. If we all work together, we can get the elephant out of the room and make progress towards a better world.