politics

US Politics: Ground Shifting Beneath Our Feet

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While the corporate media is focusing on the most recently revealed personal outrages of Donald Trump, something far more important is going on beneath the surface: Corporate America – the US capitalist class – is moving more decisively towards the Democratic Party.

Republican Party
In the past, there has been a division of labor between the two parties. When the major sectors of the capitalist class decided that the time was ripe to decisively attack workers, including to ratchet up the oppression against people of color, women, immigrants, then the Republican Party was the weapon of choice. For years, they had built this party from one that had been called so small you could fit all the members of a country club into it. From that status, as they needed to build a populist base, they recruited the religious fanatics, racists and xenophobes, all the better to use populist issues to broaden their attacks.

Democratic Party
On the other hand, the Democrats were their plastic shield. Under the death grip of the compliant leadership, the unions were sucked into the Democratic Party as were minorities under attack, those who wanted to resist anti-immigrant policies, etc. Corporate America used this wing of the Democrats to ensure that nothing really effective – an independent working class response – developed. But it was never possible for the working class to capture, to gain control, over the Democratic Party. In other words to convert it into a workers’ party.

Because of the Democrats’ base with the union leaders, leaders of community groups, etc., the Republicans in general were more reliable and therefore preferred by Corporate America.

Money Talks
Now all this is starting to change. As they say, “money talks”, and Corporate America is doing its talking with its money. As the Wall St. Journal (9/9/2016) reports: “From agriculture to Wall Street, employees in most business sectors are backing the Democratic presidential candidate over the Republican, a reversal from the 2012 election…. Of the $36 million donated by corporate employees to the two major presidential candidates’ campaigns in May, June and July, the Democrat received $31 million—roughly six times what was donated to Mr. Trump…

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It is exactly when such political shifts happen at the top that a space opens up from below. What, for example, will the union leaders have to say once Hillary Clinton is elected (which is almost certainly what will happen) and she moves decisively to attack workers? What will the leaders of the different community groups who backed Clinton have to say? It’s not as if her past history didn’t give us a warning, after all.

Meanwhile, the protests from below will continue, especially around the issue of the police. Clinton may also be confronted with the Native American protest blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Reform the Democrats?
Then we have the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrats, which was always about building the liberal wing of that party. Now, for example, he has organized his own 401K-type group, “Our Revolution” which is backing hundreds of other liberals throughout the country.  All Sanders’ talk about a “political revolution” was never anything more than that. That is why it was such a huge mistake, a betrayal of principles, for socialists to support him. The question is not one of this or that issue – minimum wage, college debt, etc. – but of class power and of the necessity for the working class to have its own party.

Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders

Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders

Those socialists such as Kshama Sawant, who supported Sanders, are now suffering the hangover: They could not explain that the Democratic Party was one of the two parties of Corporate America – the US capitalist class – and that the key task in the present period was for workers to build their own party, a working class party. How could they explain that and support a Democrat at the same time? They couldn’t then, and they still can’t. Instead, they talk about a “party of the 99%” as opposed to the Democratic Party “establishment.” Not the party as a whole, but just its “establishment.

The Next Four Years
Hillary Clinton is likely to be the most repressive president in recent history. What choice will she have as she pursues the corporate agenda in a time when US capitalism is moving into increasing conflict with Chinese and Russian capitalism, and when a likely economic downturn hits? What choice will she have when protests like the Native American protest against the pipeline and protests agains the police, etc. are likely to mount? What choice will she have after having encouraged Corporate America – the US capitalist class – to even more decisively seize full control over her party?

It’s impossible to predict what form it will take, but it’s difficult to imagine how continued protests will not tend to directly take up the issue of the capitalist monopoly over US politics. It’s difficult to imagine how the movement will not move from simply protesting what the corporate politicians of both parties are doing to moving to build an alternative political power base.

 

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