Wednesday, September 9, 2015

US Elections 2016. The Republicrat circus continues.

 by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal
points out that the race for the White House feels, “….more like a reality-television spectacle than a presidential campaign…”  Unfortunately this is nothing new. For a long time the electoral process in the US has resembled a TV show. We are presently in the midst of the primaries where the two competing Wall Street parties, two wings of the same party when it comes to the sanctity of the market and profits, select their candidates for president in 2016. 

There is tremendous disgust at the political system that workers and the middle class are shut out of.  The trade union hierarchy continues to support the more liberal wing of the banker’s party, the Democrats, despite having the resources to offer an alternative. Given the lack of choice and what amounts to a circus at election time, a huge percentage of the US population has withdrawn from the electoral process altogether. What adds to people’s disgust this time is the sense that US politics has literally become a dynastic operation. Two of the top candidates are Hillary Clinton, for the Democrats and Jeb Bush for the Republicans.

Billions will be spent hurling insults at each other and manipulating the US public through 30 second TV and media ads. There are no other parties of any national significance bar the Greens whose candidate in 2012, Jill Stein, was arrested for trying to force her way in to the presidential debates.  There are numerous other candidates including from some small socialist grouplets that have next to no influence among the working class whatsoever. Either way, all candidates should have equal air-time and that does not happen. So many of those that bother to vote do so on the basis of the lesser of two evils which guarantees no alternative is built.

So given this history and the working class never having a national party of our own, it’s no wonder US politics is so bizarre. 

Polls show that the decline in trust of government is continuing. According to the WSJ, the last time more Americans thought the country was headed in the right direction rather than the wrong one was January 2004, the Great Recession shattered that dream and both Democrats and Republicans have candidates in the primaries that are riding this wave of discontent and disgust among the US electorate, Democrat Bernie Sanders Republican Donald Trump. 

But there are what some people consider “major” issues that are an obstacle to motion of any serious nature from the body politic leaving war aside, that is.

We have a bizarre situation where there could be another government shutdown by October 1st when the next fiscal year begins. The reason is that the legislators have not been able to pass a spending bill because they can’t agree on spending levels. Republicans have full control of the Senate for the first time since 2006 and Republicans are refusing to vote on a spending bill that doesn’t include defunding Planned Parenthood. Imagine it.  The country runs on borrowed money (that workers and the middle class have to pay for) and spends trillions of dollars on corporate wars slaughtering a million or two people along the way, many of them babies, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. Yet defunding Planned Parenthood is the issue for them. The unborn must be protected but outside of the womb it’s all out war.

This is also a direct attack on the working class and working class women in particular. The rich will always have a way to alleviate the strain an unwanted child places on a woman and from what I’ve read, most abortions are connected to poverty, lack of health care, financial security and the lack of social or workplace childcare facislities----all the things these anti-abortion right wing Christian men undermine in their role as politicians.

“It has to be dealt with on the funding bill,” Rep. Jim Jordan a Republican from Ohio says. He is chairman of, the House Freedom Caucus. Freedom means different things to different people and this caucus is a group of more than 40 of the House’s most conservative members. Planned Parenthood, “…shouldn’t continue to receive a penny of taxpayer money.”, he told the WSJ.

The so-called “Freedom Caucus” from what I could see is all men except one, Cynthia Lummis, a Rep from Wyoming. She’s a former lawyer and a rancher worth anywhere from $20 to $75 million.  Jody Hice, another example of these nasty characters, is a Rep. from Georgia and a male pastor with his own radio show.

As polls clearly reveal a deep discontent in the direction US society is headed that both Trump and Sanders are appealing to, the journals of the 1% are reporting on good news from their point of view.  In July of this year, Americans took on more debt, the WSJ reports. Outstanding consumer credit which is a “reflection of nonmortgage debt’, rose $19.1 billion in July, an annual rate of 6.7%.   This monthly rise in consumer debt has been going on for almost four years. The moneylenders are happy but it was only a few years ago, during the period immediately following the Great Recession, that the US consumer was savaged for their profligacy and indebtedness, buying what they couldn’t pay for including shelter and it was the consumers fault the crash occurred.

Profligate, is a term the 1% use in their media to describe the working class collectively or as individuals.  The Greeks during the struggle against the Troika have been described on numerous occasions as those “profligate Greeks.”  The term is defined in dictionaries as meaning “utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute.” And also as “recklessly prodigal or extravagant.” This definition certainly applies to the 1%, to the capitalist class in their rapacious thirst for surplus value and profits. “Utterly and shamelessly immoral” should be the term to describe the history of capitalism as a system.

How many times do we read that we are living “above our means”, Anyway, now we’re accumulating more debt things are good; it’s, “…a sign of confidence.” the WSJ announces. Workers receive less value for our labor power in wages than the value that labor power produces. This “surplus value” is the source of the capitalists’ profit, it’s unpaid labor. At times this leads to crisis as we are unable to buy the goods we produce. If the working class can’t buy the products of our labor, the capitalist class cannot “realize” this surplus value. Debt is one way of allowing capitalism to go beyond its limits, for a while anyway. They lend us money (wealth our labor creates) and charge us for it so we can buy the products we make.

So despite the overall mood of despair and disgust in this country, the US consumer (the workers and middle class) formerly chided for extravagance, is now being praised for being willing to indebt ourselves further and the whole unstable process continues anew.

The anger that many feel is often directed at the government as opposed to the system or profits or capitalism itself. “The little guy has no shot. Everything is rigged for the big shots.”, one working class voter tells the WSJ.  “I have no trust in the government,” he says and his Republican choice to help the “little guy” is none other than Donald Trump.  Neither party has the interests of the “little guy” as their goal, but Donald Trump certainly doesn’t. That a working class person can identify with the son of a land speculator who went to fancy private schools and never worked then was left millions by accident of birth boggles the mind.

It’s interesting that Cuba and the US have a couple things in common.  They both have about the same life expectancy though the US has a higher infant mortality rate at 5.87 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to Cuba’s 4.63 per 1000. (CIA World Factbook). These statistics reflect Cuba’s far superior health care system. They are also pretty much one party dictatorships with the Cuban Communist Party (Stalinists) unopposed and in the US a dictatorship of the capitalist class represented by one party with two wings to it, Democrats and Republicans. 

But in the US we are “free”.

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