Workers World says don’t look to the capitalist elections to bring about any of the changes that workers, oppressed peoples, women, the LGBTQ community, youth, the elderly and immigrants so desperately need in this country.
The U.S. presidential elections try to obliterate the fact that this is a highly stratified class society, with the widest wealth gap of any developed country. Despite all the talk of the “middle class,” it is the capitalist class — a tiny percentage of the population — that owns and controls the vast wealth. At the other pole is the working class, the great majority, whose skills and effort built the economy but who are under attack on all fronts.
The election process, so dominated by ruling-class money, allows not a whisper of this monumental truth to enter the so-called debates. Discussion of capitalism is “off the table” with both Republicans and Democrats, even as the social disaster caused by the capitalist economic crisis grinds down the lives of tens of millions. U.S. elections are highly undemocratic even compared to those in other capitalist countries, where parties win seats in parliament on a proportional basis. Here it is “winner take all,”meaning progressive political parties that don’t get corporate financing have no chance of getting candidates elected.
With election day less than a month away, a grossly expensive and pervasive propaganda campaign is underway to convince the people that how they vote will determine the course of events for years to come. It is meant to hold the masses responsible for the attacks that are coming down the pike on every social benefit won over years of struggles.
While providing no concrete answers on the vital questions of jobs, universal health care, education, mass incarceration and police brutality, and the grip of the military-industrial-financial complex on foreign policy and the budget, the candidates of both capitalist parties make it seem that everything hangs on who gets elected. They never give even the scantest mention to the central role of mass struggle movements in changinghistory.
At the same time, many people genuinely believed they took a progressive step when they elected Barack Obama president in 2008. For the whites who voted for him, it was an unprecedented move of not only supporting equality in general but accepting Black leadership over the country. For African Americans, hope soared over what was seemingly the culmination of the long struggle against racism and national oppression with an historic vote for the first African-American president — this despite ever-present voting rights suppression.
Unfortunately, the 2008 election accomplished none of these things. The same racist establishment continues to rule. The jails are still stuffed with 2.5 million inmates, almost entirely people of color and poor whites. Black and Latino/a youth in impoverished neighborhoods are stopped, arrested and increasingly executed on the spot by trigger-happy police. Undocumented immigrants are deported at an unprecedented level. Women lose ground as jobs in the public sector are slashed — another effect of the capitalist decline — and attacks on contraception and abortion rights escalate. And the war against unions becomes ever uglier, as both private corporations and government bodies shred contracts that workers and their families have depended on.
It was the hope and desire for unity that propelled Obama into the White House. The Democratic Party leaders aroused this hope and then dashed it as they carried out the dictates of the big banks and corporations. But the progressive sentiment among the masses is not dead. Occupy Wall Street is a reflection of that. It can be reinvigorated with a real fightback struggle outside the electoral arena.
No matter who gets elected, it will be workers building alliances with their communities — the way the unions did in Wisconsin and more recently the teachers in Chicago — and shutting down business as usual that will move our struggles forward. To get there, we must break with the capitalist rulers and their political parties and strive to build independent organs of people’s power.