The US 2016 presidential election has now been settled. It is between Hilarity Clinton and Donald Trump Like the boy who called wolf, the Democrats cry “ Don the fascist is coming!” and so we all rush to vote for the lesser evil - Clinton. The Presidential office is the highest in the land, and is therefore controlled most tightly by the capitalist class. The tragi-comedy known as the Clinton/Trump election is now being enacted. The stage settings were carefully prepared; the actors well-primed. Voting the lesser evil is a fool’s bargain. In an electoral season where people are itching for principle, they call for pragmatism, a pragmatism that has only ever seen the political spectrum swing to the right, where now we have a Republican in Democrat’s clothing against a Republican demagogue.
Voting is a sacred cow. Popular slogans such as “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain”, or “it is your duty to vote” are repeated ad nauseum. It is almost impossible to watch the news without the classic platitude from celebrities, to public intellectuals: “Whatever you do, just make sure you get out there and vote”. They ask “How do we bring the non-voters into our political process?” or “How can we engage voters?” but rarely do they question “Why are these voters not engaged” and never “Is their disengagement correct?” and “Should we join them in solidarity?” The lesser evil invariably paves the way and makes inevitable the greater evil because people cease to vote when they have been betrayed by the lesser evil. What lesser evilism is about is supping with the devil, but with a longer spoon.
The Democrats and Republicans are not two opposing forces but rather complementary halves of a single two-party system; one beast with two heads that feed from the same trough. The two-party system is a self-correcting mechanism that shifts back and forth between the two parties, and within different wings of those parties, to maintain corporate political control. The two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that challenge their political duopoly. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and corporate rule. The Democratic Party preaches it’s the Republicans or us. Nothing else is possible. No matter what the outcome of the election no matter who wins, the continued existence of capitalism is guaranteed. The problems of capitalist society have been described by journalists, novelists, historians, economists, sociologists, and even many politicians. But only socialists recognise that these problems cannot be solved until capitalism is replaced by a social system in which people throughout the world will work harmoniously together to produce and distribute wealth to satisfy society’s needs.
Where the choice is between one capitalist politician and another, the defeat comes in accepting the limitation to this choice. The lesser evil has proven wrong in practice. We are tired of being blackmailed into voting for our enemies. We should realise that voting for one crooked politician to stop another backfires on the working class. Your vote does count in elections. It counts for capitalism. It becomes the mandate for all the actions of government over the next four years.
There is nothing more dangerous for the workers than a socialist endorsing a class enemy. The idea of supporting any capitalist candidate is unspeakable. Our goal is for the working class to become conscious of itself and become a power in society. Genuine socialists understand that all political consciousness begins with recognition of the fundamental class division: the working class versus the ruling capitalist class. Success in the class struggle demands working-class independence from all capitalist parties. The Socialist Party uses electoral campaigns to promote socialist consciousness among workers and it cautions that social change cannot be achieved by electing a capitalist candidate. But too often political activists on the Left feel a desperate need to offer a “pragmatic” electoral policy. But all they are doing is giving a “radical” cover to capitalist reformism and offering a diversion from the necessary task of making socialists.
Socialists are for socialism. We are for world socialism as the only way to abolish all the evils of modern class society. The Democratic Party is a death-trap for the exploited working class. Reformists are Judas goats, helping to lead the working class into the slaughterhouse. Well-meaning, good-intentioned reformers have nearly obliterated one of the fundamental principles of socialism, that the independent working class must create its own revolutionary party and put an end to class collaboration. A genuine working-class party would tell the truth about the system.
Working people must reject the “lesser evil” argument for Clinton (or for Corbyn, for that matter) – there is no such thing when the choice is between measles and German measles. The “lesser evil” fallacy serves only to underestimate the danger of the poison you opt for. In the conflict between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber our advice is to spoil the ballot paper and abstain from voting for either evil. The only way we can prevail is by offering an alternative – don’t play the game, don’t be forced into a false and hypocritical “choice”. The only way to save democracy is to expose the falsity of the choice at hand.
In the end, it is all about deciding what better course could there be than to work for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism?