Friday, October 16, 2020

US Elections: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.


Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired

By the end of the year the Center For Responsive Politics reckons that federal elections will have cost some $11 billion and 2020 will be the most expensive US election on record. The owners of the mass media, a relatively small group of people compared to the population as a whole, are having a good year. The race for the White House between Trump and Biden is costing $5 billion. As with all things in the belly of the capitalist beast, money rules.


Here in CA we are also voting on numerous propositions and we are bombarded with slick ads, what are known as 30 second spots, telling us how we should vote on this or that issue. They are always deceptive, based on fear no matter which way the voter leans, after all, you can only say so much in 30 seconds.


California Proposition 22 is one example. Voting yes on this legislation would classify app based drivers like Uber, Lyft and Door Dash, a food delivery service, as independent contractors. This would exempt these companies from providing basic rights and protections they would receive as employees.  As the law stands now, these companies are required to provide these benefits. Workers should vote no on this proposition.


Companies like Uber have spent $180 million to get a yes vote on Proposition 22 far more than the opposition which includes organized labor. The thing is that despite all the talk of “big labor” and so on, organized labor can’t compete with capitalists monetarily, the capitalist class has more money, that’s why we call them capitalists. Owning the mass media is another little plus for them. Surely, any opposition party that was serious about reform would demand an end to political ads and equal time for any political candidates on publicly aired spots.


But like other legislation on the ballot, the ads are confusing, spread terror in the hearts of the electorate. If the voters oppose Prop 22 the companies will raise prices or leave the state is the threat. It’s the same form of economic terrorism the bosses use when workers fight for wage increases, threatening to move the factory as Boeing did in the contract dispute in Washington State some years back. The heads of organized labor have no serious answer to these threats other than the capitalist courts and the capitalist courts will not restrict the right of capitalists to do what they wish with “their” money and physical assets.


It is no wonder the US electorate is perhaps the most cynical of all the advanced capitalist economies. As for the presidential election, the voter is faced with two choices neither of which are very inspiring, but the desire to rid the system of the madness that the degenerate Trump has brought to the table is great.  As one voter put it, “if it breathes and walks on two legs I’m voting for it.” Anyone but Trump is the rallying cry.


Readers overseas might wonder how it is many right wing, anti-worker, racist politicians, like some of those in Texas for example can get elected with such huge working class, and minority populations. The reason is simple; voter suppression. Voter suppression goes back a long way in the US as violence and all sorts of less direct efforts to keep workers’ electoral power at bay have been the historical norm. This is particularly the case in the South directed at the Black population.


Earlier this week a federal appeals court ruled that Texas can limit absentee ballot drop off spots to one per county reversing an earlier lower court’s ruling. Have you seen the size of Texas by any chance? Also, here in California, the Republican Party has refused to comply with a cease and desist order to remove unofficial mailboxes it has placed in various locations in some instances, outside churches. Naturally, Trump is supporting the California Republican Party’s refusal to comply with the court order.


Business Week Oct 12th
There has been much speculation about the likelihood of Trump refusing to leave office if he loses the election. During the first debate with Biden, if it can be called that, he responded to a question about his support or refusal to condemn white supremacists telling the armed militia groups, the racist Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer groups and other right-wing religious elements to, “Stand back and stand by”, a remark that brought condemnation for many quarters. The Rochester Labor Council AFL-CIO has passed a motion calling for a General Strike if Trump loses and refuses to abide by theresults. Back in 2016 I had pointed out that there was a collective gasp during Trump’s debate with Hillary Clinton when he hinted that he may not abide by the result of a “rigged” election if he were to lose. They can tolerate his racism, his sexism, his lack of concern for the environment, but his rhetoric was undermining the traditional institutions of capitalism and the most treasured of all is their so-called bourgeois democracy.

The US Supreme Court is being exposed in this way as well. A body portrayed as some sort of divine creation is more clearly seen as a bunch of old lawyers whose role it is to defend the interests of US capitalism.


There is no doubt that a significant section of the US ruling class wants Trump gone. He has undermined US capitalism’s reputation and influence on the world stage and is not good for business that requires stability to function in the long run.

Some fifteen million votes have been cast and by all accounts Biden is way ahead of the Predator in Chief but the situation is so volatile, and to be honest, the Democratic Party no opposition party at all and complicit in getting us to this point, that anything can happen. I certainly would not rule out at the very least isolated violent clashes between Trump supporters and others.


Even if Biden wins, Trump could well be a magnet around which a more ideologically based semi-fascist party could arise. Another scenario is that him and many of his sycophants and family will be charged with crimes. As president he has protections in this regard. It will be interesting to see what happens, I cannot imagine a Democratic Administration not making a deal with him, perhaps a pardon from the heroic victor if Trump goes away. We witnessed the most nauseating charade as Obama, Biden and other Democrats offered Trump prayers and condolences, wishing him well after he claimed he had the coronavirus.


This experience, especially the pandemic, has changed US society for ever. The dismal performance from the most powerful economic and military power in the world in the face of a global pandemic has shattered the Great America myth. More importantly, it has shown that this system of production we know as capitalism, the so called free market that gives birth to these pathogens, has failed. We have learned in no uncertain terms, whose contributions are important in our daily lives, who is “essential” and who is not.


If Trump is forced out and does go quietly, Biden and co will return to a more sensible and, in some ways, more insidious assault on the working class of this country. Work will change as so many will now be expected to work from home. And the stimulus will have to be paid and it is workers and the middle class will be expected to pay the bill.


This will not be an easy task for the US ruling elite, making those who have saved US capitalism twice in a decade pay the bill. After the experience we have been through and the confidence that the US working class has gained through it, we can expect some huge class battles ahead.

No comments: