Friday, November 04, 2016

A vote for Clinton or Trump is a wasted vote


The US Presidency embodies the roles of chief executive, “chief legislator”, head of state, commander-in-chief, and party leader. But the Office also embraces two additional roles, seldom discussed in the media or noted in the textbooks. The first is as guardian of US capitalism, a role fulfilled by advancing the wealth and power of giant US corporations and their wealthy investors. The second is that of protector of the wider economic system based on private ownership and profit, a role acquired after the second world war when, as Gerald Haines, former diplomat and senior historian of the CIA put it, the United States “assumed, out of self-interest, responsibility for the welfare of the world capitalist system”.

Whoever becomes president; capitalism will continue with its poverty, homelessness and hunger for many Americans. It’s not a new president that is needed but a new economic system. It makes no difference is that politicians and governments do not, and cannot, control the way the capitalist economy works. They have to navigate by sight in the face of what the capitalist economy throws up and so can do no more than react to how the economy moves. This quite apart from the fact that their remit to govern in the overall interest of the capitalist class. In fact, far from them controlling the way capitalism works, it's the other way round. Both Clinton and Trump want power to organise the country for the benefit of its owning class. To support either candidate in this presidential election requires a massive feat of collective amnesia or delusion by the working class

 While it is understandable to a certain extent why some people should want vote for Clinton, what is utterly incomprehensible is why so many should wish to vote for Trump, a self-satisfied capitalist who has made no attempt to disguise his disdain for the workers. A sad reflection of the low level of political consciousness amongst workers in America. It is depressing that American workers should be impressed by—indeed be part of—slick, high pressure salesmanship and cynical drives for power. For after the shouting and the ballyhoo have died, capitalism, in America and the rest of the world, remains unscathed. This social system produces the horrors of war, poverty, insecurity and racial hatred. The Democrats and Republicans, like the other capitalist parties, can offer no end to these. Only the establishment of socialism can give us a world of peace and plenty. And for that we do not need stage-managed ballyhoo. We need knowledge and the social responsibility that goes with it.

The majority of people—the working class, the useful, productive people in this society—are content to keep capitalism in being under the delusion that it is rather like a movie in which the baddies come to a bad end and goodie prevails. The problem is that there are so many baddies—war, poverty, starvation, mental stress, homelessness, alienation, crime, disease . . . And the "heroes" and "heroines are powerless to do anything about it but all those speech writers, strategists and spin doctors try to tell us different.

So what difference will the victory of one candidate over another in the presidential election really make to the ordinary American? The short answer must be very little. In practice the election is little more than a public relations exercise where American people are given their ‘sixty seconds of democracy’ to select an emissary of the owning class to safeguard and, if possible, to expand its class interests over the next four years. Since the function will be to represent the owning class, the victor will have to pursue policies that ‘stimulate’ profit regardless of the hardships this may cause the wider population. Government is not the even-handed arbiter between business and ordinary working people, as many would wish us to believe, but the champion of the owning class with its overarching legal right to exploit ordinary working people. So the outcome of the US Presidential election is essentially irrelevant to American working people. Indeed, every election is irrelevant to working people when the electorate is confronted with the conventional political parties whose policies do no more than perpetuate the mastery of the capitalist class.
  
But while these elections may be irrelevant, that is not to say that ordinary working people in America, or elsewhere, should turn their back on the electoral system as such. Once the world’s working people demand socialism, the electoral system can be utilised to effect the revolutionary act of abolishing capitalism by signaling that a majority of ordinary people fully understand and want to effect that change. So we should not be fooled by the myth that there is no alternative to capitalism, that it will always be with us. It will not simply collapse but its structure rests primarily on the effective control of public thought aimed at persuading people that it works in their interest. The socialist message to the American people is that they should think long and hard about what their new President will represent before casting their vote because the  periodic election of Presidents function is to protect class interest of wealth and privilege that perpetuate our servitude.

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