The U.S. ruling class has been pushing the lie that voting for the Democraic Party in the 2018 Midterms will solve all of the country’s problems from student loans to healthcare issues, ending racism, and even creating a four day weekend.
In November, the mid-term elections will decide who will represent the U.S. ruling class for the next few years in the halls of Congress. The Republican Party (GOP) has, for a long time now, adopted the policy of appealing to the most pro-war, white supremacist, misogynist, and reactionary sections of the population. It fully and openly supports the worst of U.S. capitalism and the oppression that comes with it. On the other hand, the Democrats have been trying to use the GOP’s disorganization and the sloppiness of Trump’s government to their advantage.
The Democratics are more and more marketing themselves as the Party of the oppressed, of minorities, of women, as the Party that can bring about “real change.” Part of their adoption of this strategy is in response to the growing political consciousness of many people in this country. These sorts of strategies are essential to the Two-Party System which is a particular form of rule that the U.S. ruling class favors. Part of this system is promoting the idea that the Democrats represent a real alternative to the present status-quo and that electing them is a way to bring about real progressive change for the oppressed and exploited masses.
There is a growing discontent among the masses of people in the U.S. It’s gotten to the point where some Democratic candidates, who historically have been vehemently opposed to the term “socialism,” are embracing the label to get votes from the growing generation of young radicals and workers who are sick and tired of low wages, gentrification, endless wars, crumbling infrastructure, police brutality, violence against women, lying politicians, and an altogether backwards, racist, and corrupt system.
Playing off genuine mass opposition to oppressive policies and marketing their own Party as the “progressive” alternative has been the Democrat’s strategy for decades, but in the past two years, in efforts to retake the majority in Congress from the GOP, they have further escalated this strategy in hopes of bringing a “Blue Wave” to Washington DC. With this wave, they argue, the bad policies of Trump will be consistently blocked by the “good” Democrats. But despite some squabbles between the two parties on subjects such as gun control and abortion, they are in agreement over one thing: maintaining and expanding the power of US capitalists at home and abroad.
The two parties represent one class. No matter how “progressive” one may appear against another, as Marx and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” The reality is, despite some differences between the parties’ platforms and general attitudes, they reflect the united interests of the capitalist class. Within the ruling class there are conflicting interests and numerous disagreements about how to best maintain the white supremacist capitalist power structure in this country, and these contradictions often manifest in struggle between the two parties and internal to them as well. However, the Democrats and Republicans are both funded and supported by the ruling class in this country. While the capitalists who run this country often compete with each other and disagree on many isuses, they fundamentally are in agreement about maintaing their class rule over the oppressed and exploited masses of this country.
The politicians and officials of both parties are deep in the pockets of the ruling class and effectively represent not the people, but the capitalists. And even the most “progressive” and “anti-establishment” members of these political parties routinely support and create legislation that benefits the ruling class at the expense of the poor and oppressed people of this country. In addition to reflecting genuine differences within the ruling class, the two-party system also is beneficial to their rule since it creates avenues of “opposition” to the status-quo which are really nothing but dead ends.
The Democratic Party has historically been supported by members of the bourgeoisie like serial rapist Harvey Weinstein. These people and their elected lackies are not a real progressive alternative to Donald Trump and his supporters.
The Democrats have more or less successfully been able to portray themselves as a real progressive alternative to the white supremacist capitalist power structure. They have worked hard to appear as a party that represents and supports oppressed and exploited people in this country. But in reality, they can never actually represent oppressed and exploited people because the Democrats are funded and run by the capitalist ruling class. This becomes apparent when we look at the actual actions, and not just the words, of Democratic politicians.
With Trump’s presidency being so massively unpopular, sections of the ruling class have tried to depict the eight years of Obama’s presidency as an example of what “good” leadership is like. In doing so, they aim to white-wash his presidency and make it appear as one that really “served the people,” in contrast to Trump’s more explicit bigotry and idiocy. But really Obama’s tenure is full of examples of his commitment to U.S. capitalism and white supremacy, as well as his support for terrorizing people abroad and strong-arming other nations into economic and political subservience to U.S. business interests.
Obama oversaw a massive increase in the number of drone strikes and the expansion of executive power which allowed him to singlehandedly decide if people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere should be slaughtered from above.
For example, during the 2008 elections, Obama promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead he escalated U.S. involvement in the whole region and massively increased drone warfare and assassinations in North Africa and the Middle East. According to one estimate, for each “enemy” killed by a drone strike, eight civilians die as “collateral damage.” The Obama administration had a well documented practice of outright lying about the number of drones strikes they carried out and how many civilian casualties resulted from them. While we don’t know all of the details, we do know that under Obama’s “progressive” leadership, there were far more drone strikes than during George W. Bush’s presidency. These drone strikes were part of a larger reign of terror on the masses of countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Syria that Obama and the US military led and oversaw.
During Obama’s campaign the Democrats repeatedly emphasized that having a Black president would be a huge step forward for civil rights. However, when massive protests broke out across the country against the killings of black men and women by police, Obama chided “absentee Black fathers” and reiterated his support for the racist police system. In effect, he endorsed white supremacist narratives that the police protect and serve the people, and that “law and order” are really for the people, instead of a unjust and criminal system of oppression and exploitation run by and for the capitalist ruling class. Obama’s comments about Black fathers are particularly disturbing as they echo the narratives of open racists and white supremacists who blame the problems in the Black community on the “bad choices” of individuals instead of the white supremacist capitalist power structure which systematically oppresses and exploits Black people in this country.
On the issue of immigration Obama’s track record was not any better, despite his publicly stated support for immigrants. What’s more, many of the policies that Trump is currently pursuing were actually pioneered by Obama’s administration, which deported millions of people from the country, more than any president before him. Obama flat out lied about closing Guantanamo Bay, criminalized and jailed whistleblowers of U.S. war crimes, and the list goes on. Despite his public appearance as a progressive force, the reality is that Obama carried out the real reactionary agenda of the U.S. ruling class.
Hillary Clinton is another example of a so-called “progressive” wholly supporting the reactionary and imperialist interests of the capitalist pigs who run this country. Clinton served as Secretary of State under Obama and played a major role in the U.S.’s imperialists efforts to destabilize Libya and Syria. She was also was very influential in expanding U.S. military operations in the Middle East. Throughout her 2016 presidential campaign she vowed to support Israel in its ongoing genocidal policies against Palestinians. These policies include daily harassment and abuse of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers, an apartheid and segregated society, an ongoing economic blockade which has created a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and regular surveillance, arrests, and massacres of Palestinians.
Hillary Clinton greets then Israeli President Shimon Peres during a 2012 visit to the country. She and the Democratic Party have a long-standing history of supporting Israel.
The U.S. ruling class supports these policies because Israel is pivotal to U.S. interests in the region: helping start wars, coups, and other such meddling to maintain the U.S.’s economic and political control over countries like Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, and others. Clinton’s (and every other Democrat’s) support for Israel is a reflection of these interests. Even before her involvement in politics she was firmly pro-capitalist, defending big businesses in court as a corporate lawyer for 15 years in Arkansas. And with the campaign donations she received from Peter Thiel (the billionaire founder of PayPal who literally receives regular blood transfusions from young men to keep his vampiric self youthful), the investment company Goldman Sachs, and many other capitalists, she promised to continue that track-record. Given her history it is really quite surreal to see Hillary Clinton promoted as a progressive force.
Elizabeth Warren, who is a likely contender for president in 2020, has recently championed a “nicer capitalism” with her so-called “Accountable Capitalism Act.” This act is partly an alternative to other social reform programs and partly a way to slow the growth of the so-called “democratic socialists” in the Democratic Party. The theory behind this platform is a supposed return to the “good old days” of capitalism after World War II but before the Reagan era. The myth is that this Act would force big corporations to “consider the interests” of both shareholders, customers, and employees in making decisions. But the reality is that no matter how much corporations “consider the interests” of others, their profits always come from exploiting the labor of the working class. They will always have an interest in preserving that exploitation and oppression.
Capitalism is a system of class rule, in which a small handful of wealthy individuals profit immensely off of the blood, sweat, and tears of the broad masses, who are forced to sell themselves into wage-slavery to avoid homelessness and starvation. The concentration of wealth and the gap between rich and poor are far greater under capitalism than at any other point in human history. It’s a sad joke that Warren’s platform, which is explicitly aimed at “saving capitalism,” is being portrayed as a progressive alternative to the status-quo. The reality is that the bill is nothing more than another in a long series of attempts to paint the Democratic Party as a progressive force or at least as a “lesser evil.” But this has become more difficult for the Democrats as the people become more and more fed up with the current system.
Recently, the inability of established Democrats such as Hillary Clinton to win elections—or even maintain a high enough level of support for the Democratic Party among the people—has led some sections of the bourgeoisie to push for a different approach. Namely, supporting more “left-wing” candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cynthia Nixon, and others. Candidates in this section of the Democratic Party have put forward plans for social reform in healthcare, education, immigration, and more. Some have even called themselves “democratic socialists.” But the fact is that they are not really opposed to capitalism, imperialism, or anything of the sort.
A lack of support for Hillary Clinton (and similar candidates) by young people has pushed the Democratic Party to adopt a new strategy of sponsoring refomist candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These candidates claim to support socialism, but actually just support some minor reforms.
When these reformers speak of “socialism” they are not talking about a system of government run by and for the oppressed and exploited masses. Instead, they are working to pass minor reforms while leaving the underlying white supremacist capitalist power structure of this country in place. This agenda is being carried out at the behest of some members of the capitalist ruling class, who see minor reforms and window-dressing as the best way to quell the rising tide of rebellion in this country.
These sorts of reforms and window-dressing are typically unpopular among the capitalist ruling class because they force them to give up some of their profits to maintain a larger social-welfare system, but when facing the risk of mass rebellion and revolutionary upheaval, history has shown they will gladly give away a big chunk of their profits if it keeps them in power. We aren’t on the verge of a revolutionary upsurge in this country, but even still recent mass protests and rebellion have got some of the capitalist ruling class thinking that it might be best to sponsor some “progressive” political candidates and pass some reforms to head off further upheavals.
In many other countries, especially in Europe, the “progressive” opposition parties in parliaments have to call themselves Socialists or Communists in order to keep the votes, even though they betray the basic principles of socialism and communism daily.
One particularly bitter example is the “socialist” SYRIZA coalition in Greece, which came to power in 2015 after huge strikes in the country against the austerity measures imposed on it by the European Union in the wake of Greece’s debt crisis. At that time, the masses in Greece were growing increasingly rebellious and were fed up with the exploitation and oppression that they faced at the hands of the ruling class.
They also saw the EU’s austerity plan as an attack on their rights and a way to cut back many social safety nets. SYRIZA was able to portray itself as a progressive vehicle for social change, and a big part of this was claiming that it was socialist. However, after the coalition won the majority in parliament it ended up enforcing some of the most brutal austerity measures in the country since 2008, creating even more suffering and poverty for the masses of people in Greece.
These new “progressive” reformist candidates in the U.S. are similar to SYRIZA. They put forward some progressive ideas in the abstract and make big campaign promises. However, they aren’t actually interested in toppling the current system which is built on the oppression and exploitation of the masses. And because of their support for the U.S. state and the ruling class, they are constantly hedging and qualifying their more progressive statements to make it clear that they actually support the status quo. Even if they do get elected, they will ultimately be forced to “play the game” and support the agenda of the U.S. ruling class.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one particularly striking example of this. She won an election against a high-level, openly corporate Democrat in New York City on a platform of abolishing ICE, free healthcare, and tuition free public education. These views put her at odds with much of the political establishment in this country. However, since her victory she has repeatedly hedged and “clarified” these positions, especially in regards to U.S. imperialism, to make it clear that she supports the ruling class and its policies overall.
“Socialist” and Democratic Nominee for Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweets out her support for deceased war criminal John McCain.
She has clarified that “abolishing ICE does not mean abolishing deportations” and has refused to publicly criticize other Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. She even walked back her earlier criticisms of Joe Crowley, the Democrat she unseated, saying she has a “lot of respect” for him. After criticizing the massacres of Palestinians in Gaza by Israeli Defense Forces earlier this year and earning the ire of imperialists in both parties, she recently clarified in a PBS interview that she still believes in Israel’s “right to exist” on stolen Palestinian land and is a proponent of a “two-state solution” between Israelis and Palestinians. This phrase has historically been used to legitimize the existence of Israel as a colonizing state and effectively ignores the continued theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank by Israel and the economic and political subordination of Palestine to Israel’s political and business interests.
These statements are not just “stains” on an otherwise good candidate’s platform, but reflect the broader consensus among politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to represent the interests of the ruling class, albeit in different ways.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is one particularly striking example of the how these so-called progressives and “socialists” are really compliant with the capitalist, imperialist, and white supremacist interests of the ruling class. Krasner was recently elected to his position with an endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America (a reformist organization of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member and which endorsed the campaigns of a number of “progressive” Democrats).
The Democratic Party has worked hard to coopt mass movements such as MeToo and BLM and turn them into “get out to vote” drives. In doing so, they hope people will ignore the fact that Democrats are supported by capitalist pigs like Harvey Weinstein.
In January, during his first week in office, Krasner spoke out against the fact that every police officer involved in a fatal shooting in the city had been cleared of charges since 2010. But in May, in his first case concerning a police shooting, he cleared the pig who fatally shot the unarmed Richard Ferretti. This speaks to the role of DAs and the broader criminal “justice” system in our society, which has little to no interest in prosecuting members of the ruling class and the pigs who protect and serve them. In contrast, this same system continually persecutes poor and working people. As with other positions in the U.S. state, from city mayors all the way up to the presidency, the personal image an individual puts forward is negligible when compared with their actual actions in upholding the ruling class’s white supremacist capitalist power structure.
These “progessive” candidates that are vying for state and federal government seats in the November elections are gaining a lot of traction primarily because the Democratic Party is scrambling to overcome the searing embarrassment of its loss to Donald Trump and resolve its own internal contradictions. The differences between Warren, Ocasio-Cortez, and others within the Democratic Party are real differences, and reflect real contradictions within the ruling class on how to best “run the country” (that is, how best maintain the U.S.’s domination of people at home and abroad). In order to maintain their rule, the capitalists who run this country need people to “have faith” in the white supremacist capitalist power structure. Once people stop believing in the system, they start to look for revolutionary alternatives which threaten the ruling class’s parasitic existence. The fear that working people will do precisely this has been a major factor in the Democratic Party’s decision to endorse a number of “progressive” reformist candidates.
Given this, it’s important to remember that the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist views of Democratic politicians aren’t simply personal failings but reflect the broad interests of the capitalist ruling class. The current “divide” within the Democratic Party is reflective of competing views on how to portray the Party as a legitimate opposition to the status quo, and how to best maintain the ruling class’s power at home and abroad . Similar internal contradictions have been evident within the GOP between factions like the Tea Party, libertarians, and “never-Trumpers” (Republicans who oppose Trump), and more.
The recent growth in support for the democratic “socialists” candidates was kicked off by a small group aligned with Bernie Sanders within the Party playing off the outrage of the masses towards the failings of our current system.
This is a key way the ruling class maintains its power––stifling the radicalism of many mass movements and pushing them to support the U.S. state through voting drives and campaigning for candidates. A major way in which they do this is by portraying electoral efforts as the only realistic way to address the issues which give rise to social movements and mass rebellion. The spontaneous rebellions against white supremacist police violence in 2014 and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement is one recent example of this. After the murders of Michael Brown, Freddie Grey, and many others, mass protests against the police and white supremacy swept across the country. This upsurge of rebellion was truly inspiring.
However, the official leadership of BLM as an organization (and later the “Movement for Black Lives”) fractured over the question of whether or not to support the Democratic Party and electoral politics more broadly. Some of the more radical leaders of the movement in Ferguson were killed in mysterious circumstances, likely by the local police and/or FBI. Eventually the more reformist leadership won out and aligned itself with the Democratic Party and the U.S. state. A number of these leaders ran for office, appeared at events at the White House, and generally spoke out in support of the Democratic Party. In doing so, they effectively legitimized the white supremacist capitalist power structure in this country, and perpetuated the myth that it can be transformed from within.
Some BLM activists like DeRay Mckesson have been eager to run for office as part of the pro-capitalist Democratic Party.
All the while, families abused by the police and those who had members killed by cops haven’t seen any justice, white supremacist violence in this country continues to grow, and oppressive and racist practices in housing, employment, and the criminal “justice” system continue to further disenfranchise Black communities. Part of the ruling class’s strategy is to promote various reformists movements which support the Democratic Party and claim to be helping the oppressed people. These groups largely function as a dead-end that pull people away from more radical alternatives and funnel them into the electoral machine and support for the U.S. state. They also help the Democratic Party to maintain its appearance as a progressive force. Instead of these movements and related political candidates transforming the Democratic Party, they are legitimizing it, and legitimizing the oppression of the masses of people by the ruling class of capitalists.
However, people are increasingly recognizing the bankruptcy of the two-party system and the ruling class’ complete inability and unwillingness to address the needs of the masses. The ruling class is working hard to prevent people from developing political consciousness on these matters, and they are especially concerned that the masses will become more organized and pose a real threat to their profit and power.
The shifts in the Democratic Party and the promise of a “Blue Wave” is one tactic of the ruling class to prevent the rise of mass rebellion and resistance. Another tactic has been promoting the narrative that the US is a progressive force or at least a “lesser evil” in contrast to its rivals in Russia and China. This is part of a larger effort to drum up support for an inter-imperialist conflict or even world war. While China and Russia are oppressive governments and imperialist powers, this in no way justifies the U.S. state’s own oppressive reality. What’s more any war between these countries would not be a progressive development, regardless of who wins, but rather would bring untold suffering to hundreds of millions of people the whole world over.
Democratic Party Candidates like Hillary Clinton rely on “donations” from major corporations like Goldman Sachs to finance their electoral campaigns and pay for their other expenses.
Revolutionaries must work tirelessly to expose these tactics of the ruling class for what they are, reactionary lies aimed at justifying the oppressive and exploitative rule of a parasitic social class. In addition, we need to build up a revolutionary movement which can serve as a real alternative to the white supremacist capitalist power structure in this country.
There has not been revolutionary movement in this country for decades, but the need for revolution continues to exist and becomes more pressing every day. The ruling class who runs the government and the two party system will never allow their system of capitalist exploitation and white supremacist rule come to an end with the election of one or even a number of progressive candidates.
Only a revolution can overthrow them as a class and establish a government run for and by the people. This is not some pie-in-the-sky dream, but a reality which must be built from the ground up. The ruling class of this country has worked hard to promote the lie that there is no alternative to the current status quo, and that therefore the “lesser evil” of the Democratic Party is the best we can hope for. But the history of revolutionary movements in this country and around the world shows that real change is possible and another world can be built. The Democratic Party’s “Blue Wave” and other such platforms are nothing but reactionary lies that prey on people’s hopelessness and desperation, but the power of the people, when organized as a revolutionary force, is unstoppable and can break all chains.