Nov 10, 2010
Two editorials follow, already published in our press, dealing with the elections.
Almost two years ago, on November 4, election night when the returns came in, many workers felt that the country had turned a corner, that the Bush years were being left behind. Large numbers of workers had voted for Obama, and for his party, with hopes that a new administration would find the way out of the swamp produced by Bush’s eight years in office.
As a reminder, here is what we had been living through: An economy producing little but growing unemployment. A million homes lost to the mortgage scam pushed by the big banks. Two very deadly wars, which were even then spilling out into other parts of the globe, creating more terrorists, eager to take revenge on the U.S. for the destruction it wreaked in their countries.
Two years later, this is what we face: An economy producing high profits for the big banks but worsening unemployment – with fewer people working than in 2008. Two million more homes lost to mortgage foreclosure since the last election, with the banks revving up to rush four or five million more homes through their repo mill. Two still very deadly wars. The one in Iraq continues, with over 50,000 U.S. troops, with dozens of bases, and with a government put in place by the U.S. military, ignoring last March’s Iraqi election. The other war in Afghanistan has spread into Pakistan, with U.S. troops numbering over 100,000, with reports of civilian casualties commonplace. And, this has produced still more people desiring vengeance on the U.S.
In other words, it was a new administration, a change in the party ruling the government – but the same old policies.
It couldn’t be more clear. BOTH parties serve the interests of the capitalist ruling class and their big banks. We may shift from one to the other, but we get the same deadly policy, the same willingness to reduce the standard of working people in order to increase the profits on which the wealthiest people in this country feed.
Year after year, it seems, our only choice is between voting for a Democrat, or voting for a Republican, or not voting. Not voting may not be very satisfactory. But giving either one of them our vote is the same as giving them a stamp of approval for the policies they carry out.
Voting for either one, Democrat or Republican, gives them both a blank check to attack us – with our own name signed to the check.
We are stuck in a swamp – created by the capitalist class and their banks, made worse by the policies of both the Bush and the Obama administrations.
To get ourselves unstuck, we need to turn to our own source of strength: our numbers and our position in the economy. Our class, the working class, has the power to make things run – or to make them stop running.
In other words, we do have another choice: to depend on our own forces.
Around the globe, the working class is beginning to stir: in France, in Italy, in Spain, in Mozambique, in Korea, in China, in Russia.
Even in the United States, where the working class has long been less conscious of its real power, some workers have made the decision to resist, and in so doing have begun to pull other workers after them.
There is no way out of the swamp unless we build a road out by starting to fight.
In fighting, we can also create what is so sorely lacking in this country: a political party of the working class, one whose goal is to enable working people to fight for our own interests and take control of our own destiny.
The Democrats, in the words of Barack Obama, “took a shellacking” in the elections – just like the Republicans “took a shellacking” in 2008.
And for the same reason. People, especially working people, were fed up, fed up with politicians, fed up with politics as usual. In 2010, as in 2008, voters told the exit pollsters that “the country is headed in the wrong direction.”
Yes, it is, because the country continues to head in the same wrong direction it was already going. And working people are paying a horrible price for it.
In the face of rapidly worsening unemployment, Bush grabbed our tax money and gave it to the bankers, to the big oil companies and to the military contractors.
Unemployment grew worse, and Obama stole more of our tax money, gave it to the bankers, to the big auto companies and to the military contractors.
Putting money in the pockets of the very wealthy did not rev up the engine of the economy. But it did push up company profits. It did rev up new speculation – driving up prices today on the gasoline our cars gobble and the food we need.
Two deadly wars continue – Iraq and Afghanistan – but you never would have known it from the election campaign. The two parties tacitly agreed to keep the wars out of the election. But blood continues to be spilt. Whole areas of the two countries continue to be razed. More children are forced onto the streets, selling themselves in order to survive. More U.S. troops – rotating into the wars three, four and five times – come home as near zombies or ticking time bombs. A trillion dollars and counting has been spent on destroying other countries – dollars that could have been spent on meeting human needs.
Workers had no clear way to express themselves in this election. Some tried to figure out which was the lesser evil. Some tried to vote AGAINST, against whoever was in office.
But the biggest part of the working class expressed itself by not voting. Those who count these things say that nearly two-thirds of the voting age population did NOT vote this year at all. Among workers, that NO-vote was even higher. By their actions – staying away from the polls – workers said, “A pox on both your houses.”
The elections are over, good riddance.
We can’t change our situation in the ballot box anyway. Try to remember a politician who seemed to “give” something to working people – and you will discover a politician who was boxed in by popular movements: workers’ strikes and demonstrations, the black population’s resistance, struggles carried out by women, movements against wars, the movements of poor farmers, those of sharecroppers and former slaves.
Today, we see just the hints of struggles. Not very big, yet. But more than yesterday. We hear about workers here or there who refuse to give up any more concessions. We run into parents protesting loud enough that a bureaucrat backs off on plans to close their kids’ school. We hear about bus riders who tear up a city council meeting because service has been cut off at night or on the week-end.
It’s only the beginning. But it changes direction, putting us on the road the workers need to take.