The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Two-Party System Is a Trap

Nov 8, 2021

The November election was a big success for the Republican Party. It made inroads into former Democratic Party strongholds. The biggest victory was in Virginia where Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race.

Youngkin, a super wealthy financier worth 440 million dollars, won the election the old-fashioned way—he bought it, spending 20 million of his own money on his campaign. That lavish sum paid for top-tier G.O.P. consultants and an avalanche of slick TV ads.

Youngkin’s message was aimed at parents of public-school students in Virginia. He claimed that by teaching about this country’s history of racism, starting with slavery and segregation, the schools were dividing people against each other.

Said Youngkin, “…we divide them into buckets—one group’s an oppressor and another group’s a victim—and we pit them against each other, and we steal their dreams.”

What a bunch of lies.

For close to 300 years slavery was legal in this country. That’s two-thirds of this country’s history. For all that time, human beings were bought and sold, like horses or mules. The great fortunes of the very wealthy were built on the backs of the slaves. For three centuries, the slaves’ dreams were “stolen” by their “oppressors,” the slave owners.

That is this country’s history.

Of course, it is clear why very wealthy people like Youngkin don’t want this history to be taught in the schools. Even though the Civil War ended slavery 150 years ago, racism is still very much alive. Racism is a tool, a weapon, that is used by the very wealthy and their political stooges to divide the working population against itself. That way the rich can get richer by robbing the working class and poor. In the past, the slaveowners robbed the slaves of everything they produced. Today, the capitalists continue the tradition of robbing the working class.

Racism is not just an attack against black people. It is an attack against the entire working class, immigrant workers, as well as white workers. When one part of the working class suffers greater unemployment and earns less in wages, it provides an opening for the bosses to push down wages for everyone.

There is nothing new about Youngkin’s racist and reactionary appeals. It is what top Republicans have been doing since Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in the 1960s.

The Youngkin campaign did strike a chord when it denounced the 13 months of school closures in Virginia starting in March 2020. Keeping the schools closed took a tremendous toll on the students. They not only lost out academically, they also suffered socially and emotionally, with a big increase in children’s mental health emergencies and suicide attempts by teenagers.

Of course, the ultra-wealthy Youngkin’s solution was simply to keep the doors of the schools open, which would have been another kind of disaster, leading to a greater spread of the pandemic, more disease, and more death. What Youngkin ignored was this cruel reality: the authorities couldn’t keep the schools open and safe because the schools were already unsafe … before the pandemic hit. And no capitalist nor government official was ready to move billions of dollars into an emergency drive to renovate them as quickly as possible and hire more staff and teachers.

For decades, in order to boost the profits of big business and the wealth of the capitalist class, the politicians of both parties, the Republicans and Democrats, had joined together to cut back vital spending for public health and public schools, leaving them in complete disarray. The lack of public health services, that is, the prevention of disease, meant that there was little or no ability to test and trace when the pandemic hit. As for the public schools in working class neighborhoods, the schools were already jammed with overcrowding, with not enough teachers and staff, without decent ventilation.

The Democrats may not have the same racist message as Republicans like Youngkin. But they still loyally serve the same capitalist class as the Republican Party and are not a protection for working people. They’ve cut education and social services all during their administrations.

The two-party system with the Republicans and Democrats taking turns being in and out of power has served the capitalist class very well. But it is a trap for working people. We need a workers party, independent from the others, to voice our concerns and organize the power we have as workers to fight capitalism.