It’s fitting that the next convention of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), scheduled for June, will be held in Chicago. It was in the city by the lake, specifically at 1219 Blue Island Avenue, that the American Communist Party was first founded in September 1919. I have a copy of the celebratory dispatch to the Soviet Comintern proudly announcing the achievement. The letter, today held at the Library of Congress, triumphantly declared:
In the name of the Communist Workers of the United States organized in the Communist Party of America I extend greetings to the Communist Party of Russia.
Hail to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!
Long live the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic!
Long live the Communist International!
The level of loyalty in that letter, and to what and whom, spoke for itself, even as liberals spent the long remainder of the twentieth century angrily arguing that there was no connection between the American Communist Party and the Kremlin, and painting anyone stating otherwise as a reincarnation of Joe McCarthy.
Ninety-five years later, what is most striking about CPUSA talking points is how much they resemble Democratic ones. One writer at People’s World, the successor to the Daily Worker, excitedly lists “Five reasons to expect hope and change in 2014.” Portions of the promotional material for the party’s annual convention read like a press release from Elizabeth Warren’s office, sound like a Bill de Blasio campaign rally, and smack of any number of the president’s stump remarks and slogans.
The CPUSA statement begins by demanding that the masses unite to “put people before profits” and then pledges to “transform” America. It states:
We live in a capitalist system where the 99% of people struggle every day to survive and the richest 1% control the vast majority of wealth and power. Capitalism cannot meet the needs of the vast majority.…Our schools are underfunded and essential public services are strapped and slashed. Home foreclosures are everywhere and millions of people are homeless and hungry in the richest country in the world. Racism, sexism, homophobia and all kinds of discrimination are commonplace.
Who knew that communists care about “homophobia”? Well, they do, or (more accurately) they’ve found the issue handy for advancing their agenda. Gay rights have been a prevailing interest for some time now, as communists see gay marriage as a long-awaited stepping stone toward transcending the nuclear family, a goal which they have been writing about since the Communist Manifesto.
Likewise, they have eagerly embraced the politics of climate change. “We also face an urgent threat to the very survival of life on the planet,” reads the CPUSA’s convention statement, sounding like a run-of-the-mill university professor or New York Times editorialist. “Climate change is the byproduct of capitalism. It is working people, the poor and communities of color who face the most direct consequences of global warming and the poisoning of our environment.”
But it never takes CPUSA long to zero in on the real enemy, which just so happens to be the shared enemy of every American liberal, progressive, and Democrat: the Republican Party and the “right-wing”:
The extreme right, which now dominates the Republican Party, is seeking to roll back all the social and economic rights that working people fought for and won. They want to take the country back to a time before marriage equality, before voting rights, before women’s reproductive rights, before the right to a union. It seems at times that they want to take us back to the days of slavery.
Democracy itself is under attack from this far-right group and their servants in the Washington and statehouses around the country.
It’s increasingly clear to millions of people: another world is possible and necessary. Another U.S. is possible too. Capitalism cannot solve these problems, we need a socialist USA….
Our party reflects the diverse working class of our country. Our members are of all the races, ethnicities and nationalities that make up the rich fabric of U.S. society. We are native born and immigrant. We are men and women. We are young and old. We are straight and gay….
Leading up to our convention, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities that working people face today. We will share experiences and discuss how our party can more effectively help build a people’s movement capable of transforming the country and making the future brighter for everyone….
Onward to Chicago!
I’ve been reading statements from American communists dating back a hundred years. Never have I seen them in such harmony with the goals of the Democratic Party and the White House. Many conservatives will be shocked to hear this, but the American Communist Party despised Democrats like Woodrow Wilson and FDR, not to mention other standard bearers such as Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. That is no longer the case. They see today’s liberals and Democrats as kindred spirits in the march to transform America.
Some readers might recall CPUSA chairman Sam Webb’s gushing excitement after Obama’s 2012 reelection. “We meet on the heels of an enormous people’s victory,” he reported to the party’s last convention. “An African-American president was re-elected to the Presidency, the Democrats unexpectedly strengthened their hand in the Senate and House, new progressive voices, like Elizabeth Warren, are coming to Washington, and victories, including for marriage equality, occurred at the state level….All this bodes well for the future.”
It is truly a new day and new dawn for America. Blame the voters. Whether they know it or not (most do not), this is what they elected.