Friday, November 7, 2014

US Democracy: Turnout an International Scandal.

Source: Huff Post
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The pages of the Wall Street Journal, the main journal of US capitalism, are full of triumphant glee in the aftermath of what it refers to as the “Republican Tide”.  Even Democrats were impressed. Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obama’s former press secretary and campaign adviser, described the results as a “wipeout.”  The Republicans will have the largest Senate majority since 1946, control of 68 state legislative chambers, the largest number since 1946, and 4000 state legislative seats, the most since 1928, according to the WSJ.  Mia love of Utah, became the first black woman to Represent the Republican Party in Congress and is a convert to Mormonism. Why a person of color would want to join an organization that barred people for years on the basis of their skin color baffles the mind, but politics makes strange bedfellows as the saying goes. In all. “The GOP has gained at least 13 seats in the House and has won at least 243 seats” the WSJ reported yesterday.

The mood among the liberals is bleak, “Losing the Senate should make us all weep.”, one Democratic Party activist in my area wrote on Facebook. The liberals after all do not see the working class as a force in society, they do not imagine that the working class can govern society and they cling desperately to what they imagine as the liberal wing of the bourgeois, the friendlier face of capitalism represented by the Democratic Party.  But there is no such thing. The US working class, less enamored with Democratic Party rhetoric and all the phony talk of being the party of the people, has a much more pragmatic view-------they’re all rotten. 

In many Democratic areas, the curtain fell heavily as voter turnout among Blacks and Latinos fell in key states. In Baltimore where 63% of the voters are black, 20% of eligible voters “didn’t turn up” the WSJ reports.  If we were to take the mass media too seriously it would indeed seem that there has been a revolutionary, or counterrevolutionary shift in the electorate.  The masses have finally grasped the conservative ideal. 

But a closer look shows that, as Michael Robert’s comments pointed out on this blog earlier this week, the “No Vote Party” won again.  In his news conference after the elections, Obama stated twice that that “Two-thirds of voters” stayed at home. I assume Obama is talking about registered voters, but if we include those not registered, the abstention number rises.  According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, there were 229 million people of voting age in the US in 2010 and 41.8% of these voted in the Congressional elections. Figures do show that 215 million are citizens which would raise the percentage a bit but either way, when one considers that people that do vote generally “hold their noses” and go vote fore the lesser of two evils, it is clear that there is disgust at the electoral system and with the two parties that have a dictatorship over political life. in the US.

Liberals generally argue that this is because the US working class doesn’t care, is apathetic, too stupid or any combination of the above.  But millions of US workers and sections of the middle class have drawn the conclusion that the entire electoral process is rotten and that neither party can or will serve their interests. They are not depressed; they are disgusted with all of them. The US political establishment and its electoral process in particular is well portrayed in the satirical movie Being There, Peter Seller’s last movie. It’s worth a watch as political satire goes it’s one of the best.

So claims by both Democrats and Republicans in the media Wednesday that “the people” have spoken, is inaccurate at best. Some people have spoken but even there, the dwindling number of workers that do vote and more so the traditional middle class liberals, having no real choice jump form one sinking ship to the other every two years or so in the hope they can keep their heads above water a little longer or, as is often the case, they vote on moral issues.

The union hierarchy that throws its eggs and members’ hard earned money in to the Democratic basket, delivered yet another defeat for the rank and file and workers as a whole.  “We had a tough night last night,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union told the Journal.  Workers do not put ourselves in the “we” category with the Democrats like labor officials who often become candidates of this party themselves. “You can’t go through an election like this and not challenge your assumptions and rethink how you do the work,” Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic political strategist and a former political director of the AFL-CIO was quoted as saying in the same article.  Unfortunately Mr. Rosenthal and others like him refuse to draw the conclusions most workers have; that the Democratic Party cannot represent the interests of working folk.   They refuse to “rethink” how they work because the conclusions terrify them. Mobilizing the working class in any way can only lead to chaos form their viewpoint.

Organized Labor is a conduit through which ambitious and in many cases opportunistic careerists in the workers’ movement enter the Democratic Party and mainstream politics. One co-worker liked to remind me that the difference between Republicans and Democrats was the Republicans “Stabbed you in the chest.”. This was always a favorite excuse from labor bureaucrats, after Democratic Party betrayals, NAFTA and EFCA for example.  Workers have lost ground under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. In Rhode Island, Democrat Gina Raimondo, the state treasurer who was elected governor Tuesday as union opposition split, had waged a war against state employees imposing deep pension cuts as the WSJ points out.  What sort of choices are these?

But for the labor hierarchy, blaming politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular is preferable to building an independent political party of workers and the middle class which would put them in the uncomfortable position of producing the goods, something they cannot do with their present ideological baggage.  This inaction is a major reason why the two parties of the 1% have a monopoly in the political sphere, and the capitalist offensive is so aggressive.

Some of the post election comments from Obama are evidence as to why workers have abandoned politics altogether.  All the talk now is of “compromise” when any party claiming to represent workers’ interests would be declaring war on our opponents.   Obama said of Mitch McConell, the new Senate leader whose policies openly condemn women, ethnic minorities, the working class in general and the environment, to an unstable and doubtful future that, “He has always been very straightforward with me……..we’ve had a productive relationship.”.   Is that so?  That should be a warning to all of us. Obama went even further claiming he, “….would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.” WSJ 11-6-14 .  What class conscious worker would want to spend any time with these two?

While the class collaboration of the labor hierarchy is hugely responsible for the present situation, and redistricting and other tricks keep workers from the polls like the 600,000 in Texas that were unable to vote due to a lack of ID’s, the working class and all those who are disgruntled and dismayed with the present state of affairs are not blameless.

The same applies to union members that moan constantly about the failure of the union leadership to halt the capitalist offensive but refuse to do anything about it.  We all have an obligation to step forward, to wage the political struggle to change the direction of our organizations but also to build an alternative to the dictatorship of the two Wall Street parties over the political process.  We cannot sit idly by as the thugs that run this country take us in to more predatory wars and continue to amass trillions of dollars in wealth. To continue to defend the lesser of two evils approach only slows the decline and demoralizes people further.  By supporting the Democrats one has then to defend them and offer them as an alternative to the Republicans and when it comes to the future, both these parties represent Wall Street and the 1%. They intend, as we have stated on this blog many times, to place US workers and the middle class on rations.  They are driven by the laws of the market to take this road.

When workers fight back or criticize the 1% and their wealth, their politicians and mass media goes on the offensive accusing us of introducing class warfare in to US politics and society.  But class warfare exists, it is a permanent fixture of capitalism and it is the 1% that wages it day in day out. 

Their mass media and politicians refer to austerity and the need for workers and the middle class to “tighten out belts”, that we have been “living beyond our means”.  There is no mention of class warfare then.

They only call it class warfare when we fight back.

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