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

Protect Democracy?
Whose Democracy?

Nov 21, 2022

The Democrats made a big point of pushing the idea that these past elections were all about “protecting and preserving democracy"—and that only voting for Democrats could do that.

Really, protect democracy? Exactly what kind of democracy is this? And who is it set up to protect?

Of course, we all know that money drives elections: those individuals and groups with lots of money are able to choose candidates, ensure their loyalty, and buy up advertisements and armies of staffers to get them votes and keep them in the public eye. Those with money can call up “their” representatives at any time and know that those politicians will take their calls and do what they ask. It truly is a democracy—for the rich.

But it goes deeper than that. We can’t just “get money out of the elections"—because the whole system was set up from the beginning to represent those moneyed interests.

This is a democracy where two of the last four presidents were elected with a minority of the popular vote—because the Electoral College votes fell to that minority-vote-getter. This wasn’t an accident—the Electoral College system was created by the “Founding Fathers,” wealthy land and business owners who made sure to set up a system that would continue to be controlled by those wealthy elites and to act in their interests. Even today, there is nothing that requires the Electoral College to be chosen according to the popular vote.

There are a number of other aspects of this system that also make sure that it operates undemocratically: the Senate gives two votes to every state, no matter how many people live there. The Supreme Court is not elected, but appointed by presidents to lifetime positions. And as we’ve seen, nine people can decide to do away with rights accepted for fifty years, even when the majority of the population supports those rights.

These undemocratic choke points ensure that, even if the majority votes in their interests, the wealthy few get the final say over what actually happens.

And, of course, when the U.S. was established, the vote went only to men—and only men—who owned property; and a whole section of the population was given no human rights at all, branded as property of other human beings.

It took massive fights and a bloody Civil War to force that system to recognize the human and democratic rights of the majority of the people who live here—at least, on paper. It will take another massive fight, by the working population, to truly build a democratic system controlled by the majority, and not by the wealthy few.