Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bernie in Rome before New York Primary: After the Catholic vote.

Never heard that before. What system is that Bernie?
By Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired

So president Obama is in favor of mandatory voting like they have in Australia. If we had it here Obama told an audience at the University of Chicago Law School Friday, our voter turnout could climb as high as 80%. 

“We really are the only advanced democracy on earth that systematically and purposely makes it really hard for people to vote,” he said.  While the US has a history of denying voting rights to certain sections of the population, with regard to the non-white population through extreme violence and at all times the working class to one degree or another, the main reason only 53% of voting age Americans voted in the 2012 election is not because they couldn’t find a voting booth.  It’s because they can’t find any candidates or a party that represents their interests. They have learned through experience that no matter which party governs for the next four years their lot will not improve, their material conditions will continue to deteriorate.

There are differences between the two capitalist parties that’s true. But these are not principled differences as both the Democratic and Republican parties philosophy is one of austerity, of making the working class pay for the crisis of capitalism. Both parties are committed to defending the capitalist class, what Bernie Sanders refers to as the “billionaire class” and the system that ensures the rise of this class and its economic and political dictatorship over society.

People do not participate in the electoral process as an experiment in civics. This does not mean that people should opt out and avoid politics, but we have to understand why they do, it is not because they don’t care as some liberals often claim. They cannot reason why a working class person won’t vote for the lesser of the two evils, a competition between two political organizations representing billionaires over which section of this class can plunder the US and the global society for the next four years.

Obama is a slick bourgeois politician. He has helped the insurance companies gain new customers forcing people to buy from them at the same time creating some animosity between the young and the old, the old who need care and the young who can avoid it more easily due to the advantages of youth. 

Like Obama, Elizabeth warren, Robert Reich and other more liberal representatives of capitalism, Bernie Sanders is tapping that anger that exists in US society toward this billionaire class after decades of declining living standards. He does not attack the system that ensures the billionaire class its rule. He does not attack capitalism. He does not condemn US foreign policy and the trillions spent on what is mistakenly called “defense”. He does not call for the public ownership of anything, even within the framework of capitalist society.
He is heading out to meet one of the most powerful representatives of global capitalism and what is often called here in the US, White Supremacy, in the figure of the head of Vatican Inc. This is a tactical move in the hope of winning the Catholic vote in the upcoming New York primary. Bernie has drawn the conclusion that he might just win this thing.

Sanders is scheduled to attend a Vatican conference on “economic and social issues” and has upset the president of the “Pontifical Academy” organizing the conference: “His presence threatens to make the event political.”, Margaret Archer, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, says. What a ridiculous statement. The Vatican is not at all a political institution is it?  And how can economics be political?  Tut tut!
Sanders’ opportunism and announcement of the visit is a  “monumental discourtesy” Archer told Bloomberg, “He may be going for the Catholic vote but this is not the Catholic vote and he should remember that and act accordingly -- not that he will.” (Bloomberg news.)

It can’t be ruled out, and is quite likely, that the Vatican has been spoken to by powerful forces among the US “billionaire class” and that led to this criticism and open rift.  Sanders’ campaign is certainly ruffling feathers and causing all sorts of mistakes to be made in the Clinton and Democratic Party machine camp.

I have shared my views on Sanders in previous posts, especially describing himself as a socialist which is one of his many dishonesty’s. The most recent is here.

Sanders has explained that his self proclaimed “political Revolution” is nothing more than getting more people out to vote, and in this case, for the Democratic Party, so he would probably feel quite comfortable supporting Obama’s statements on mandatory voting. 
It's inequality stupid, as simple as that. Pope and Bernie say so
Sanders has been around; he is not stupid. He is not calling for an independent direct action movement to be built and out of that an alternative political party that is an absolutely necessity if any one of his significant reforms are to come to fruition. Even if he honestly believes that his reforms can be won through the Democratic Party never mind society being changed through it, he never explained what this means. That his young supporters are in for the most vicious political struggle to make that happen, that the party is completely undemocratic and there will have to be a concerted struggle against the power in it and the super delegates that ensure this power is untouched. Every Democratic member of Congress is a super delegate. Sanders refers to John McCain as his friend. C’mon. What champion of the working class would have McCain as a friend?

There is no doubt that we are in an unprecedented period electorally. Sanders campaign has gone further than any of us would have imagined. It has gone further than even he imagined and I personally think he now believes he can with the nomination.

I still cannot see this.  We have discussed this at length, the people around this blog, on the blog itself and also in our phone conferences that we have. The Republican Party is a complete shambles and could well split even before the election and most certainly after it.
This party drew in the Christian Right as a counter to the influence organized labor, ethnic minorities and other disenfranchised groups have in the Democratic Party. The Republican old guard, the genuine conservatives for whom profit and making money is god cannot get rid of them. This element is ideologically driven. They do not care about profits---they care about Jesus and the second coming. US policy regarding Israel is dominated by these Christian Zionists who are seeing the coming of their savior in all this violence and mayhem in the region.

Hillary Clinton is the safest bet for the US bourgeois. She is ruthless, well connected and is no flake when it comes to ultra violence, after all, she will have to prove herself as all the misogynists will be there breathing down her neck. But she will serve them well as Obama has and they will hold their noses and vote for her, Republican or not if Trump or the lunatic Cruz is the Republican candidate.  The labor officialdom the Democrats best friends are pretty much silent as they are on all matters of social importance, but working behind the scenes. The major media corporations and print media have yet to come out blasting.

If Sanders wins NYC will that change things? If one thing I have learned over time, especially in this campaign it is that none of us can predict much with certainty.  Sanders has committed himself to supporting Hilary Clinton if he loses. Will he keep to that? I am not so sure. I am convinced he has been totally shaken by his successes.  He could break and run independent. He could lead a left spit from the Democrats. Foolishly, the likely Green candidate Jill Stein has hinted that she would be open to a bloc with Sanders, a sure way to stick a nail in the Green Party coffin.

Meanwhile if we get mandatory voting the Democrats, and the Republicans if they’re still around, can boast to the world about our 80% voter turn out rate. The government could also make a little money out of it as I understand not voting leads to a fine.

1 comment:

Linda, Australia said...

In Australia, attendance at the ballot is compulsory. Once there, of course, what you with your ballot paper is confidential, and whether you cast a vote or not is your business. Most people, once there, do cast a vote. Some leave their ballot papers blank. Some write in political comments.

The left in Australia is generally strongly supportive of compulsory voting. Evidence from comparable jurisdictions with voluntary voting - particularly the UK and New Zealand - shows that when attendance at the polling booth is voluntary, factors such as bad weather impact more significantly on the working class vote and the vote of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the disabled and the unemployed, much more than on the rich, who can drive to the polling booth.

Another aspect of the Australian voting system which is much better than the US, is our use of preferential voting - if your candidate of first preference does not succeed, then your vote is passed on at full value to your second preference, and so on. This means that you never have to worry about "wasting" a vote on a candidate from other than the major parties. It is because of preferential voting that Australia has seen the gradual erosion of our traditional three party system (with the Labor Party - once social democrat and now neo liberal - on one side and a coalition of a "Liberal" Party - hard line conservative tories, despite the name - and a National Party - based on a conservative rural constituency - on the other). Now we have Greens and Independents in both our state and national parliaments, as well as small party representatives from the right, including christian fundamentalists and anti-environmentalists. We also have maverick populist parties.

However the key thing for the left is that you can run a socialist campaign without being accused of undermining the chances of the "lesser of two evils" major party candidate. We can vote, eg, 1 Socialist, 2 Green, 3 Labour, which means that we can give our full support to the parties we prefer, and still ensure that, if neither the Socialist nor the Greens candidate are successful in that electorate, our vote will go to Labour ahead of the tories, which can be critically important in preventing the worst ravages agains workers' rights.

Compulsory ballot attendance and a high turnout doesn't force people to vote for the ruling parties. It does ensure that the vast majority of the working class and its allies participate in the electoral process, and that all parties have to consider those voters when running their campaigns. Together with preferential voting, it has assisted the growth of small parties of the left as viable electoral contenders, and even occasionally as elected representatives.

Don't knock it just because your two major parties are both conservative. If the left walk away from the electoral process, we cede the ground to the right without a fight.

If you think a utopian revolution is actually a viable alternative in the current circumstances, then good luck with that. But if not, then giving working people a voice in who governs them should not be discarded just because you're concerned it could give reactionary governments more "legitimacy". They claim all the legitimacy they want from the voluntary voting system.

I have little time for Obama. But every now and again he does suggest something sensible. I think this is one of those times.