Nov 12, 2018
The two big parties, the Democrats and Republicans, traded seats in both houses of Congress in the November elections. The Democrats won enough seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to wrest control from the Republicans. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate the Republicans increased their majority by grabbing several seats from the Democrats.
Both parties pulled out the stops in order to try to get their voting bases out in a midterm election, which most working people don’t usually pay much attention to.
The Republicans, with Trump at their head, stoked reactionary and divisive rhetoric against black people, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, unions, gay marriage, Jewish people and on and on.
In other words, the Republicans doubled down on what politicians call “wedge issues.” The Republicans tried to avoid discussing how much working peoples’ tax money they are giving away to big business and the wealthy through huge new tax breaks that they enacted last year. They also avoided discussing their plans to slash Social Security benefits, as well as Medicare and Medicaid health care benefits, in order to pay for these tax breaks.
How much better are the Democrats? Sure, the Democrats pretended to be more “inclusive.” They made a point of talking about how many of their candidates were women, black people, Latino, gay, Muslim – you name it.
But the Democrats doubled down on what politicians call “identity politics” in order to avoid addressing the huge social problems that all working people face in simple dollars and cents. For example, the Democrats could have campaigned to increase the miserably low federal minimum wage of $7.50 hour that 30 million workers depend on. Those low wage workers happen to be black, white, immigrant, Muslim, gay, women and men. They are part of the same class – the working class – and they have the same basic interests.
But the Democrats would rather discuss the “identity” of their candidates than raising the minimum wage, because the Democrats won’t even talk about anything that the capitalist class opposes.
The Democrats could have campaigned for massive cuts to military spending in order to pay for more funding for social programs, like education and health care, or for infrastructure spending, like roads, bridges, etc.
But the Democrats didn’t dare. Just last year the Democrats worked with the Republicans to push through massive military funding increases, hundreds of billions more than the Pentagon asked for! They did that to boost the profits of the military contractors, profits that are paid for by even more cuts to vital programs that workers, who are black, white, recent immigrants, Muslim, gay, women and men, all depend on.
Both parties carefully avoided promising working people anything substantial during the election campaign. Nice sounding promises could have gained votes. But the politicians didn’t even do that. That’s because both parties are preparing to try to impose more cuts, more sacrifices on the working class.
Both parties march to the beat set by the capitalist class.
Many more people voted this time compared to previous midterm elections. Nonetheless, most workers, especially amongst the poorest layers of the working class, did not vote. For many, this is due to demoralization and despair. But many others are just plain angry, and don’t buy all the lies.
They’re right. Voting is no protection.
Workers need answers. We need jobs that provide a decent standard of living. We need decent health care and education. And that’s just for starters.
Workers have only one way to get them. We have to organize and fight where we are: in the workplaces, on the streets, in the schools. We need to build our own political party, a working class party.