The Spark

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

The Democrats seem bent on losing

Sep 22, 2008

This is the year the Democrats should not only walk into the White House, but gain an enormous majority in Congress.

The Bush administration has presided over one disaster after another, starting with the bloody quagmires in Iraq, Afghanistan and now even Pakistan. The economy is bad, starting with huge job cuts. Prices on necessities are skyrocketing. The housing crisis continues to get worse, with two million foreclosures predicted for 2008.

To top it off, the Wall Street meltdown is threatening working people’s savings and threatening to morph into a major depression. Meanwhile, all Bush does is push stupendously costly bailouts – paid for by taxpayers.

The polls show the population is very angry and blames the Republican for this incredible mess. So why don’t those same polls show the Democrats benefitting from this anger?

Of course, polls are only polls, and elections can produce much different results, above all with the current volatile situation in the country.

Nonetheless, today, the Republican McCain and the Democrat Obama are nearly tied in the overall popular opinion.

Do these polls show an unwillingness of whites to vote for a black candidate?

It’s obvious the country is racist, and that this will have an impact on the election. But that doesn’t nearly begin to explain the situation – first of all because many white working class voters, tinged with racism, were ready in the past to give their votes to black candidates who spoke to their problems and their concerns. For example, when Jesse Jackson used a populist language in addressing them, he gained a lot of white votes, especially from the white working class.

The fact is that Obama, like the rest of the Democratic Party, has systematically avoided touching the real problems facing the working class. Today McCain is using a more populist language and presents himself as the more radical candidate – and that’s absurd. He’s neither radical, nor a populist.

Obama spent weeks not talking about the problems of the economy, not talking about jobs, not talking about price increases, not talking about medical care, etc. At least not talking in a fashion that lets people recognize their problems in what he says.

Even some astute Democratic politicians recognize the problem. Willie Brown, for example, a former Democratic speaker of the California State Assembly, and then mayor of San Francisco, wrote after the Republican convention, “The Democrats are in trouble.... Suddenly, Palin and John McCain are the mavericks and Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the status quo, in a year when you don't want to be seen as defending the status quo.” In describing Palin’s speech to the Republican convention, Brown said, “She didn't have to prove she was ‘of the people.’ She really is the people.”

It should be obvious that Sarah Palin stands for some of the most reactionary ideas in the world, but the response of many liberals to her candidacy helps to obscure that. Instead of criticizing her for her politics, they criticize her for her “style,” for buying “do-dads at WalMart” as Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times; some criticize her for running for office while raising children, etc. Those personal attacks only drive more working class women to identify with her.

But the Democrats can’t criticize her for her politics: the Democrats just put in a plank, for the first time, advising women not to have abortions – as though women make such decisions in a light-minded way. The Democrats have also gone out of their way to court reactionary religious groups.

Since winning the primaries in June, Obama has gone out of his way to advocate positions that are openly reactionary, for example, supporting the extension of spying on the population; he has shifted from emphasizing his supposed opposition to the war in Iraq, to calling for an extension of Middle Eastern wars. He went so far as to denigrate black men in a speech on Father’s Day, accusing them of irresponsibility in raising their children, while ignoring how social and economic attacks impact the black family. Thus, Obama’s speech did nothing but reinforce racist attitudes existing in the white population.

Nonetheless, there is vast support in the black population for his candidacy, which will translate into a high vote for him. Of course. His election, like his candidacy, stands as a symbol of barriers falling for the black population.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t distrust among black workers toward him, just as there is among white workers.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the polls is the high level of distrust shown toward both candidates, McCain and Obama. With good reason. Neither candidate offers an answer to the disastrous situation confronting the population, and many workers know that.