“The Republicans are 95 percent corrupt and the Democrats are 75 percent corrupt.” - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress." – Malcolm X
"When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one." – Plato
As the American election draws closer how much better off are Americans because the "lesser evil" Obama defeated John McCain for the presidency in the last one. Just how better off will they be if Obama wins against Romney? Obama is clearly a smart, charismatic man but at the end of the day does that matter. Whether they thought Obama would end the wars instead of escalating them, or stop the torture instead of outsourcing it, Democrats liberals protest about the betrayal of Obama but still promise their votes for him. Obama didn’t change direction or positions. He stayed firm in his commitment to capitalism and Wall St.
It is bad enough when the party known as “labor’s friend” has ignored the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as “card check,” which would give workers the right to simply indicate with a check mark their wish to form a union. The simplified process would allow union organizers easy access to workers who would then be able to organize without the threat of employer intimidation and threats of job loss. However new anti-union legislation was passed by Congress earlier this year despite a Democratic majority in the Senate and Barack Obama in the White House. The Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill. The new legislation weakened bargaining rights for workers in the aviation and rail industries by increasing from 35% to 50% the number of worker signatures required to allow an election for union recognition. The anti-labor Taft-Hartley law, passed by Congress 65 years ago, gravely weakened union rights. There were several occasions over the decades when the Democrats enjoyed control of the White House, Senate and House (such as in the first two years of the Obama government, 2009-10), but the law remains on the books.
The union movement has tethered itself to the Democratic Party since the mid-1930s because as the average worker views it, the Republicans are much worse so the Democratics are the relatively lesser “evil”. What this means is that the Democrats need be only half-heartedly supportive and indifferent of the union movement to enjoy labor unions support and abundant campaign contributions. Occasioally the Democrats incorporate representatives of the unions within the party as a subordinate component, to give them a meaningless “seat at the table.” Doing so helps the Democrats maintain the fiction that they are the “party of the people,” or that they’re “friends of labor,” as opposed to the bad big business-backed Republicans. Sadly, in many cases, the strategy worked. Activists who set out to change and takeover the Democratic party end up changing, getting co-opted and neutered by the very forces they sought to challenge. The Democratic Party has managed, contained, controlled, co-opted, rolled back and eventually destroyed every social movement that has arisen.
The lesser-evil strategy has been and will always be a complete disaster, allowing both parties the freedom to become more and more “evil” as time goes on so long as they don’t become equally “evil.” Imagine for a moment it were George W Bush and not Barack Obama who had asserted the right of a president to kill American citizens without trial, subject them to permanent military detention and warrantless wiretapping, and who had authorised the creation of a legally unaccountable fleet of unmanned, perhaps armed, drones to conduct surveillance over American cities. There would be an outcry among liberal Americans. Obama appointed himself judge, jury and executioner, deciding with a secret kill list who lives or dies. Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama usurped the power of life and death.
The Democratic Party is a capitalist party. Those who try to get away with “the ends justifying the means” at least have the pretence of some noble end in mind. The re-election of Obama is anything but noble. In the final analysis we either stand up for our convictions or we stand for nothing. Those who desire the "lesser evil" are too afraid to voice their conscience and make it felt politically are already slaves; they simply have not yet heard the rattling of their chains.
Change certainly won’t come from a president, even of the Democratic Party. Our only hope is to seek ways to bring about change ourselves. Anyone who thinks that choosing a “better” leader will somehow bring about transformations is mistaken. Only powerful social movements can do that. We have to fight for democracy and we have to build our movement—choosing a presidential candidate doesn’t accomplish either one. And anyone who thinks that voting for one candidate over the other is going to solve our problems—especially global problems including wars, occupations, climate change and global inequality—is wrong. This election, regardless of who wins, will not solve the problems of America and the world. We have to build movements powerful enough to take on the challenges of climate change, war, poverty, inequality. Elections don’t change the world—only people.