Nov 10, 2014
“The people have spoken” – that’s what the politicians often say after an election.
And the “people” did speak in this year’s election – but most did it by NOT voting. Over 61% of voting-eligible people did not vote. Early estimates make this the highest percentage of no-shows at the polls since 1942.
Among workers – white, black or Hispanic – the rate of abstention in 2014 was higher still.
The result was a big loss for Democrats this year.
In Chicago and Cook County, the Democratic party machine may have marshaled voters to the polls, but 80,000 fewer voted for the Democratic governor this year than in 2010. And the Republican Bruce Rauner won.
In Detroit, where workers had been attacked by both parties in this year of the bankruptcy, only 31% voted, despite a big push at the last minute to get more voters out in a failed attempt to turn out the Republican governor.
In Maryland, a traditionally Democratic state, a low turnout in working class and black Baltimore translated into a win for the new Republican governor.
Does that mean, as the unions were quick to say, that workers have to fear a new round of attacks coming from the Republicans?
It’s certain there will be new attacks. And Republicans firmly in control, will now lead the charge.
But, need we say it, the reason so many people who usually vote Democratic didn’t vote was that they were fed up with what the Democrats had been doing while they were in office.
In Illinois, where the Democrats controlled both houses of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion, they spent the last three months attacking the pensions of public sector workers. They gave hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the richest companies, while keeping the taxes on ordinary workers high, and increasing the take from fees, fines and charges. They talked about raising the minimum wage – but did nothing to carry that out, despite their total control over Illinois state government.
The fact is, both parties, when in control of the government, have led the charge on the working class.
Workers have lost nothing in this election. By not voting they refused to give their seal of approval to either one of their enemies, Democrat or Republican. To the extent that not voting was a conscious choice, workers who made it showed neither party represents their own class interests.
The fact is, nothing will change for working people, until there is a massive move away from these two parties, until the working class itself begins to move to stamp its image on the society – and that means, of course, building their own party. But it also means by fighting as a class, pushing to have the needs of the ordinary population be met.