The right to vote

Is there a contradiction between denouncing elections in the U.S. as part of the process that allows the 0.01% to rule over the 99% — and at the same time championing the people’s right to vote?

We don’t think so.

It’s a fact that presidential elections here are purchased at such a high price — and the corporate media are so determined to stifle any candidates but those of the two big business parties — that only those who have first been vetted and proven dependable by the super-rich make it to the White House.

It’s also a fact that tens of millions of workers and oppressed peoples hope that by voting they can bring about some improvement in their conditions.

Furthermore, the right to vote was not given to everyone. In Britain, for example, for a long time only propertied men were allowed to vote for Parliament. The extension of suffrage to non-landowners, then to women, and in this country to African Americans came about only after years of struggle.

Even then, many stratagems have kept workers, especially of color, from voting. That’s why the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was necessary.

But now, admits Bloomberg Businessweek of Oct. 13: “For the first time in a half-century, Americans will go to the polls in November without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Following a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidating a key section of the 1965 law, the U.S. Department of Justice has had to curtail its federal observer program, under which trained monitors oversee access to ballot boxes in areas historically prone to discrimination.

“The shift comes just as Republican nominee Donald Trump has been exhorting his supporters to be vigilant about the supposed threat of voter fraud.”

Trump has said he won’t accept any other result than victory, meaning he will charge “fraud!” as soon as the election is over.

That is laughable, but the threat to voters is no laughing matter. Especially in areas with a high concentration of people of color and immigrants, voter intimidation is already being planned by right-wing groups.

Voting is not going to undo capitalism. Only a people’s revolution can do that. But the people have to exhaust all other avenues of struggle before they are convinced of the need for revolutionary change.

Revolutionaries must vigorously defend the right to vote, even while exposing capitalist elections.