Sep 3, 2018
With the passing of Labor Day, the campaign for the 2018 midterm elections is starting to heat up. We will be bombarded once again with the idea that the only way for workers to get out of the mess we are in, is to vote for one of the two big parties in November.
Working class people today certainly face a mess. Even while the stock market hits one record high after another, 43% of U.S. households don’t earn enough to cover their monthly bills, according to the United Way. Unemployment may be down – but almost all the new jobs are temporary, part-time, or Uber-type jobs with no benefits or protections.
And the services we count on are collapsing. Water systems break down all over the country. Detroit children cannot even drink the water in school! Medicaid and Medicare face cuts. Bridges, sewers, and roads are in worse shape than ever before, and workers are extorted to either pay higher taxes ourselves to fix them, or they will remain broken and we’ll have to pay anyway in car repairs and higher insurance rates.
For a period after World War II, a section of the working class had the idea that they might have a stable life into retirement. Who can even expect that any more? For younger workers, the whole idea seems like a myth. And what will happen when the economy crashes again, as everyone knows it will?
There is plenty of wealth to ensure everyone a decent life. That’s not the problem. We are facing this mess because the rich and their banks and corporations are taking a greater and greater share of the wealth that workers produce. Their profits go up, while we can’t afford rent. They take the money that’s supposed to go to schools and services, and let those schools and services rot.
The Republicans led by Donald Trump want us to blame other workers in order to divide the working class – between those in this country and workers abroad, between immigrants and native born, between black and white. But other workers are not our enemies.
The Democrats don’t use the same racist, sexist, or anti-immigrant language as Trump. But the Democrats, like the Republicans, have proven a thousand and one times that they put the interests of business first, for instance, when they funneled trillions of dollars from our tax money to bail out the richest people in the world in 2008-2010. Are things better for workers in Democrat-run Los Angeles, which has the highest poverty rate in the country if the cost of housing is accounted for? Are Democrat-run Chicago or Democrat-run Baltimore less racist, given the cover-ups of the police killings of Laquan McDonald and Freddie Gray?
Neither party will or can do anything to get us out of this mess, because the Democrats and Republicans are not this country’s real rulers. The wealthiest of the wealthy actually rule. They organize the entire economy based on what will bring them the most profits. To get us out of this mess, we will have to take back the wealth that the banks and corporations have accumulated at our expense, which means taking on their power to control the economy. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican Parties ever have or ever will do anything like that.
The only force that has ever challenged the power of that wealthy ruling class is the working class, when it decides to fight. Today, our situation has deteriorated so far in so many ways, and we are so divided, that it is hard to imagine such a fight. But workers still have power, because we still make everything run.
To engage that power, wherever workers start to fight, it will have to spread. To win against the power of this capitalist class, it will take a massive, determined fight, a class fight. In such a fight, the bosses will use divisions in the working class of race, country, gender, and everything else against us – and our fight will be stronger when we are able to overcome those divisions. And workers will have to find a way to build a different type of party, a fighting party with a policy to put the interests of the working class first.