Smoke, mirrors and the old shell game

Capitalist politics have long been a shell game.

While the masses of people are told to look to elections to address their myriad of grievances — the real issues of poverty, racism, lack of good-paying permanent jobs and affordable health care, the struggle for women’s and LGBTQ rights — these all take a back seat in the programs of the major capitalist parties.

The same goes for the corporate media, especially the supposedly “liberal” wing, which at the moment is focusing intensely on the Mueller report and the Trump campaign’s efforts to get Russian help in hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails before the 2016 presidential election.

Why does this get so much attention? There are so many other reasons to expose and oppose the horrible character of the Trump administration.

It openly flaunts its crimes against people of color and immigrants, tearing children away from their parents and locking both up for trying to escape the horrors created in their home countries, especially in Central America, by U.S.-abetted right-wing coups.

It has created a climate in which Klan and Nazi types and other neofascists feel free to spread their vile calls for white nationalism, doing the bidding of those who fear the resurgence of a multicultural, multi-ethnic working class united in solidarity against the profit-gouging bosses.

It is trying to starve and demoralize the people of Venezuela with crushing sanctions in order to install a government more to the liking of U.S. oil interests.

It is heating up the whole planet as payback to its wealthy backers in the fossil fuel industry, who profit off the destruction of the environment.

As for the 2016 election, where is the uproar, day after day, in the media about how millions of voters, so many of them Black and Brown, were excluded from casting a ballot by reactionary voting restrictions? These wrongs certainly tipped the vote toward the Republican Party and Trump.

But instead of getting justifiably lathered up about these violations of working and oppressed peoples’ rights, the media and the Democratic Party are focused on what the administration did to get Russian support for Trump. It’s the old shell game — look over here, not at my hands.

This, by the way, is not the first time that one of the major capitalist parties in the U.S. — again the Republican Party — used “foreign influence” to tip a presidential election to its benefit.

The Vietnam War, begun in 1963 under Democrat John F. Kennedy, continued under his successor, Lyndon Johnson. In 1968, when the population was increasingly opposed to the war and millions had been in the streets calling for the U.S. to get out, the Johnson administration came up with an “October surprise” just before the election. It announced that peace talks were about to begin, involving North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the U.S.

This was supposed to cement the vote in the Democrats’ favor, after years of anti-war marches where the popular slogan was “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”

But the Republican Party deprived the Democrats of some of the “peace vote” by secretly enlisting the support of a wealthy Chinese supporter of Taiwan’s president, Chiang Kai-shek, to persuade South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to refuse to participate in the talks. The peace talks never happened. (See “Foreign Governments Have Been Tampering With U.S. Elections for Decades,” Politico magazine, July 27, 2016 — a not very progressive piece but interesting.)

So Richard Nixon won the election — and the war continued, now under the Republicans for seven more years. It ended not because of any vote in the U.S. for the Republican or Democratic parties, which both shared in the war’s crimes, but only after the Vietnamese people were able to drive the U.S. forces out to sea and take back their country.

Nothing has changed fundamentally today with capitalist politics — except for the names and faces of those who defend this corrupt, vile system.

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