Nov. 7 — The elections are over, and while only the preliminary results are in as of this writing, a few things stand out clearly. The strategy of the right wing to not-so-subtly race-bait Obama, deride “big government,” and appeal to reactionary fears on abortion and gay marriage was not decisive. Nor was the Supreme Court ruling that allowed “super PACs” dominated by super billionaires to donate large sums of money to the campaign — mostly to Romney. Obama won, but with a narrower margin of the popular vote than in 2008. That undoubtedly reflects in part the continued economic crisis for tens of millions of people, which has sapped their hope for change through the elections.
The significance of the re-election of the first African-American president should not be lost as we move into the post-election landscape. It says a lot about the desire of a huge section of the Black, white and Latino/a masses, both the workers and some in the middle class, and especially the youth, to work together to solve the dire and mounting problems that face them: layoffs, low wages, crushing debts, lack of health care, growing climate disasters, and — especially for the oppressed Black, Latino/a and Native communities — unbridled police terror against the poor.
Obama was supported by most unions, women’s organizations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups, and civil rights groups. While unions have been declared dead many times by bourgeois pundits, they showed their muscle, going door to door in places like Wisconsin, where voters not only went for Obama but elected an open lesbian, Tammy Baldwin, to the U.S. Senate over Tommy Thompson, a Republican former governor notorious for setting up “workfare” and privatizing schools.
But now the election campaign, which blanketed political discourse, is over and reality will set in. What will the Obama administration do about the capitalist economic crisis, which continues to drag down tens of millions of workers? His administration’s priority when the bubble broke was to bail out big banks and corporations. Wall Street may have given more to Romney’s campaign, but they hedged their bets with the Democrats, too. Even as the gap between the 1% and the 99% continues to widen as a result of the normal functioning of the profit system, the Democratic Party leaders are solidly behind capitalism, doing the bidding of the ruling class.
The Democrats won’t say it, but workers need to know that capitalism is their deadly enemy. It is the decline of this system that is crushing their hopes and making the world a much more perilous place. No plan for economic recovery — for putting people back to work at living wages doing all the jobs that are needed to improve their lives and the environment — will be embraced by the capitalists. It is the iron grip of the ruling class over the wealth of society, wealth created by the workers, that thwarts and frustrates every attempt to get out of the crisis. Profits rule and are leading to the gutting of the most needed social supports in the U.S. and in Europe and other capitalist countries, too.
None of this was talked about in the debates or the campaigns. Neither candidate had even a modest program for creating jobs. Global warming was a nonissue, too. So was ending the endless costly and vicious wars carried out on behalf of the huge oil companies — and the increased political repression at home engendered by “national security.”
Now is the time to rev up the struggle against oppression and exploitation on our own turf, on our own terms. There is momentum to create people’s power assemblies where a real fightback against the bosses and their right-wing agenda can be built. It’s the independent struggle of the workers and all the oppressed that will be decisive in creating a better society.