Friday, September 04, 2020

The No Choice Election

A vote over who is to be the prison warden is not very crucial when the real issue for people is how to get out of jail.

Under the present two-party system working class voters have no choice in electoral politics and are repeatedly informed of this fact by the media and often their unions. They have to vote for the Democratic Party, no matter what. They’re told the Republican Party serves only the rich, It is such a dogma that most voters believe it. When election time comes around the voter who refuses to vote for the Republican candidate and doesn’t like the Democrat is reminded again; “If you don’t want to waste your vote, you have no choice. So take the lesser evil and vote for the Democrat.  The bipartisan character of the ruling class is clear. The two major parties have become the wings of  the same one party dominated by the economic interests of the few. Both parties have become incumbent-protection clubs which have succeeded in setting the election rules to narrow the competition and to divide the spoils.

To lend credence to the “greater evil” case, progressives loudly proclaim that Trump and fascism are twins. The term “fascism” is used as a scare word to frighten the doubters into line.  With virtually no exceptions, the left equate Trump with fascism, thus bolstering the “lesser evil” argument when it comes to advocating a vote for Biden.

Election day on November 3rd will be pointed to with pride by defenders of the “American system’’ as convincing proof that “genuine democracy” prevails in this country. On that day, they will argue, the adult population, of its own free will, without coercion and by secret ballot, selects its own chief executive, together with the other major officials who govern the nation. In the case of the Presidency, all citizens over 21 years of age may vote for anyone he wishes who is native-born and more than 35 years old. What further evidence could be required to show that the people rule themselves, that they have the kind of government which the majority wants to have? The Presidency is the decisive political office in the United States today. Although theoretically free to vote for anyone we wish, in many if not most states, only two candidates – those of the Republican and Democratic parties – appear on the ballot. How did those names get there? If the people have no real say about what names they select from on the November ballot, or what policies the men named stand for, then the pretended freedom of choice in November is largely an illusion. It would be like telling someone he is free to select any card he may wish from a deck, but then constructing the deck so that it contained only two’s and three’s.

Certain peculiarities of the United States Constitution and of the “two-party system” make it harder to see what has happened than would be the case in the UK. In this country, the President is, in fact as well as name, the chief executive of the government. He is, however, elected independently of Congress, and continues to hold office for his full term no matter what his political relation to Congress may be.

The decision about the two principal names to appear on the November ballot will be made at the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties after a series of primary elections to select the convention delegates. So it may seem that through these primary elections, the people should be able to control the work of the conventions, and thus decide whose names go on the convention ballots. This is not at all the case. The public pledge to one candidate or another is only a device to attract votes and interest. Indirectly, of course, popular feeling influences to some extent the selection of candidates. But it remains a fact that in the United States today there is no serious and responsible democratic control over the major political parties and, through them, over the personnel and policies of the government. There is no mystery that the existing party machinery in this country is to limit and restrict democracy in such a way that it cannot interfere with capitalism.

For the workers to get anywhere on the political arena, the first step has got to be to break out of the framework of capitalist – that is, anti-working class – politics; specifically, in this country, to break away from both the Democratic and Republican parties, and build a socialist party.

 The first and foremost error lies in the illusion that any capitalist politician, any capitalist deal – even the New Deal - that any capitalist government, can function in the interests of the working people. They are all, in their own way, at the service, first, last and all the time, of the bosses. They are all the sworn enemies of the workers.

The World Socialist Party of the United States is the “Freedom Now Party.” Freedom will not be given to us. We must organize and strive for it.

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