On Tuesday November the 3rd the quadrennial ritual of the voting booth takes place. Based on Engels’ comment that elections under the conditions of universal suffrage offer a “gauge of the maturity of the working class” we can conclude that the political maturity of the working people is extremely low and one reason is that the American working class does not as yet have its own independent political expression. The glaring weakness of the U.S. left-wing is nowhere more dramatically revealed than it its overwhelming irrelevance to elections. The inability of the left to serve as a magnet for the popular discontent is a telling commentary on the crisis of the America’s progressive movement.
“The highest form of the state,” writes Engels, “the democratic republic, which under our modern conditions of society is more and more becoming an inevitable necessity, and is the form of state in which alone the last decisive struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie can be fought out–the democratic republic officially knows nothing any more of property distinctions. In it wealth exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely. On the one hand, in the form of the direct corruption of officials, of which America provides the classical example; on the other hand, in the form of an alliance between government and stock exchange, which becomes the easier to achieve the more the public debt increases and the more joint stock companies concentrate in their hands not only transport but also production itself, using the stock exchange as their center.”
How well Engels remarks anticipate the developments of capitalist politics.
Has there been a presidential election campaign in this century in which the general course of events would have been significantly altered had the presidential election result been reversed? Presidential elections in the U.S., are where voters are dealt from undoubtedly stacked deck, one more elaborate charade which can in no way alter or modify either the underlying property relations of the capitalist system or the actual policies that the capitalists seek to pursue over the next four years. The Democrats possess a strategy of running as moderate conservatives to chase and capture the forever rightward-shifting “center.”
Trump has made it clear what is at stake in this November’s presidential election. By the very tone of the Republican campaign, Trump has declared that if he is elected for a second term, he will take it as a mandate to continue his first-term reactionary attacks on the people. He promises to use the power and authority of the White House to carry out the right wing’s ominous agenda. The pervasive message of Trumps whole campaign is one of racism and repression using coded language about “law and order,” “the American family” and “suburbia” to fan up the fears of whites as society polarizes more and more along economic and racial lines. His whole campaign creates an atmosphere in which racist and fascist groups are free to continue their attacks on people of color and workers with impunity. We are told that if a Democratic administration can slow the reactionary tide, even in a small way, it is objectively better for the people. But it is clear that we cannot take confidence from the Biden campaign strategy – a conservative and defensive strategy which focuses on convincing a narrow sector of Republicans while squandering much of the support that could have led to a Democratic sweep in November. It is clear that Biden and the Democratic Party operatives are not leading the struggle against the right, and in many ways are resisting the movement to open the party up to more radical ideas. The defeat of militant movements within the Democratic Party has allowed the assaults of capital and the right-wing to advance.
The World Socialist Party recognize that politics, political parties, and electoral campaigns represent class interests. The Democratic and Republican parties exist for one reason only: to advance the rule of the capitalist over every aspect of American and world society. They operate on behalf of those who own and control all of American wealth, industry, and institutions of American society. The Democrats and the Republicans represent the corporations of the military-industrial complex, the exploiters and the polluters. They are the ones who profit from the desperate needs of the people. Both Democrats and Republicans represent the same ruling class whose drive for profits takes the country to war, to occupation with military bases throughout the world. Their actions in the White House, in both houses of Congress, and in the judicial system all aim to oil the gears of the private profit system at the expense of working people.
All previous efforts to reform the Democratic Party from within have ended up neutralized as agents of change. The price for entry to party committees, campaign caucuses, the primaries and debates is allegiance and adherence to the DNC party-machine. The WSPUS has a simpler straightforward way to attract radicals and progressive from the Democrats to an independent socialist party: Build it and they will come. A breakaway from the Democratic Party has to have somewhere viable and strong to go. There is no more receptive audience to socialist thinking today than among the activists who are fighting the capitalist parties on the popular issues.
On the other hand, the working people who constitute the overwhelming majority of the people have no political party of their own. They have no instrument to fight for their interests in the American political scene. And, even the working class institutions that do exist such as unions and other working class organizations, are almost entirely linked to one section of the bosses’ political parties. The majority of Americans, the people who work for a living by producing all the goods and providing all the services society needs, have no political representatives and no candidates in the running.
The main problem with the Green Party is that it does not oppose the capitalist system itself. While they campaign for reforms such as a universal healthcare system, environmental regulation, and more, they offer no real alternative because at heart the Green Party supports the continuation of the capitalist system while seeking to eliminate its worst excesses. But the existence of capitalism depends on the impoverishment of the working class, the despoliation of nature. It depends on war to secure trade routes and resources. Working people have no interest in perpetuating this system. The Green Party does not offer any real alternative because it can’t and won’t break from capitalist politics. It consciously seeks to reform capitalism, not end it. The Green Party politics is capitalist-lite.