Sunday, September 06, 2020

Is there a way forward?

Without doubt this election is one of the most strangest. In the middle of a pandemic and economic recession a billionaire driven by ego more than ideology, a maverick populist anti-immigrant racist and economic nationalist who embarrasses the U.S. political establishment and drives the world diplomats into near panic, a far-right figure, may still win in November’s election.

The plain fact is that the voting base of the Republican Party is far more motivated by their party’s politics than the Democratic Party’s voters are with theirs. This reality is not often openly discussed. The Republican party is rock-solid among white voters in the South and the religious right.  The Republicans at national and state levels are able to deliver important parts of the hard-right agenda, with huge roll-backs in immigrant rights; vast expansion of military spending; restrictions on reproductive freedom; imposing ever-more-brutal requirements on people receiving ever-shrinking welfare benefits. Under Trump environmental destruction has become almost a civic duty. All this in addition to tax cuts for the wealthy, welfare for the corporations and maintaining anti-union policies.   The result is fairly predictable: The Republicans turns out to vote in large numbers.

But whether a Republican administration or Democrat, both have a mission; U.S. world domination, driven not only by crude material and strategic interests but also by a quasi-messianic ideology, fraught with extreme danger for our society and for the planet; but like it or not, it is a mission that generates unity and team spirit among Americans. 

The Democratic Party also remains a party ultimately responsible to and funded by big corporate capital, continually forced to betray and demoralize the very working class. The DNC is firmly in control and the idea that a progressive wing of the party is going to shift it left-wards is fantasy.

The Democrats are focusing on Trump as a supposedly “fascist” threat. Biden, the candidate of Wall Street, inspires hardly anyone. His hegemony over the party machine is based mainly on seniority. Biden is rather vulnerable and far from exciting candidate, at a time when the party’s young, working class non-white voting base are angry and eager for real change. Nevertheless, his election in November is not certain but probable, primarily due to the fact of him being the only solidly “reliable” bourgeois politician who  cynically seeks mainstream Republican votes by watering down his own party’s agenda.

 It’s clear that there’s a desire and commitment among grassroots organizers to keep the Sandernista movement going but the Democratic Party apparatchiks absolutely will not allow it to become the vehicle for anything resembling “democratic socialism,” let alone the incubator of revived militant labor or social movements.

Socialism is not about saving social security and making billionaires pay taxes. It is a political and social revolution to change the fundamental structures of production and property, and to get at the roots of racial oppression. Mass action in the streets can get results but it doesn’t bring political power.

The most critical issues facing human life on the planet have generally not been discussed — and when they are, the “solutions” proposed are the wrong ones.  Climate change and carbon-emission doesn’t conform to the political cycle. The electoral debate has mostly been around a false and distorted set of arguments about identity gesture politics,  posed in such a way, of course that the questions have no answers.

Underlying the hysteria of the U.S. election are the insecurities that people live with every day, and the reality that these are not experienced at all evenly. The brutality that African-Americans face includes kids getting shot by police, persistent massive structural unemployment, home foreclosures and evictions, the destruction of public education, and the resulting endemic violence that kills young people by the thousands, swells for-profit prisons and cripples whole communities. Hispanic communities fear the terror of immigration raids that rip families apart. Muslims are subjected to harassment. Those are not fears that afflict most white Americans.

Yet what about the insecurities that do face tens of millions of working-class people — both white and people of color?  Yes, they exist and are very real indeed. Millions still go without health care, and if Republicans in state houses and Congress get their way, many millions more would lose what they’ve gained under Obamacare and expanded Medicare programs. Job insecurity is rampant with the near-collapse of the economy and weakened labor unions. Stress to make ends meet in a low-wage economy with a growing precarious gig uber job sector is as much of a killer as COVID-19.

The electorate is bombarded with drivel about trickle-down economics and job-creation all based on the rich paying less tax, while military spending is massively raised. The most serious issues facing our society and the world aren’t being raised in this presidential campaign of the capitalist parties. For the  mostly African-American and mostly young folk there’s no business as usual. 

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