The Gore Story
A Successor for the Oppressors
Revolutionary Worker #1067, August 20, 2000
After eight years in power as vice president, Albert Gore Jr. now offers himself as a successor to Clinton's presidency. The summer infomercial that just opened at the Los Angeles Democratic Convention should be titled "Al Gore-the Sequel."
The season of packaging and appeals will now kick into high gear-so that one of the system's presidential candidates can rule for the next four years with the appearance of legitimacy and popular support.
The communist leader V.I. Lenin once wrote, "People always were and always will be the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all the moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises."
On the Democratic side, Al Gore will present himself to the ruling class as a reliable and skillful leader for their system-while at the same time, he gets publicly packaged as a friend of working people and an opponent of discrimination. Gore will keep shouting in his fake, growly voice, "I will fight for you against the powerful."
The madness and double-talk of the elections is a time that especially calls for raising class consciousness and spreading class analysis. Here is the story of Al Gore.
Yet Another Fortunate Son
"Some folks are born-made to wave the flag,It ain't me. It ain't me. I ain't no senator's son. No.
Ooh, they're red, white and blue, y'all
And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief,"
Ooh, they point the cannon at you. Lawd!
It ain't me. It ain't me. I ain't no fortunate one."
John Fogerty, "Fortunate Son"
"We raised him for it."
Senator Albert Gore Sr., when Al Jr.
won the vice presidency,1992
Albert Gore Jr., like his Republican opponent, is a son of the ruling class who was groomed to represent that class. Like Bush, Gore grew up with a father who was a major politician. Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., was a senator and vice presidential hopeful from Tennessee.
Both Gore Jr. and Bush Jr. attended ruling class prep schools. Bush went to Yale, Gore to Harvard. Both did symbolic duty during the Vietnam War-to flesh out their political resumes-and then went out into Southern back-country districts to start their conservative political careers.
From the beginning, networks of ruling class advisers and backers helped shape and promote Al Gore as a figure within the ruling class. Prominent among them was the owner of Occidental Petroleum, oil billionaire Armand Hammer-who had long been a backer of Senator Albert Gore Sr.
Gore Sr. became the head of Hammer's Island Creek Coal Company (which is deeply stained with the tears and blood of working people) and took a seat on the Board of Occidental Petroleum. Al Gore Jr. was next in line. He financed his 1976 start in Tennessee politics through a land deal that left him owning a huge farming property and left Armand Hammer exploiting the mineral rights.
Al Gore's ruling class origins and connections gave him quick entrance to the world of ruling class politics-where he clearly understood whose class interests he served.
The Test of Vietnam
Senator Al Gore Sr. voted for the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution that approved the U.S. attack on Vietnam. But he was in that part of the ruling class which later decided, as the U.S. failed to win victory, that the U.S. should withdraw from the war.
At the time, Al Gore Jr. was a student at Harvard, surrounded by radical and revolutionary political activity. He shared his father's opposition to the Vietnam War. However, as he approach graduation, Al consulted a circle of prominent political advisers (who even then treated this 21-year-old as a potential president) and, with their support, decided to enlist in the U.S. Army.
As a member of the ruling class, Al Jr. got a safe cushy job, participating in the genocidal war against Vietnam as a military reporter-first at Fort Rucker in Alabama, and then in a well-protected five-month tour in Vietnam.
At a time when U.S. imperialism was besieged by resistance at home and revolution around the world, Al Jr. made it clear that the important thing, for him, was to make a powerful, symbolic statement of support and loyalty to the system. It was a pledge of allegiance at a key moment in world history-a statement of conscious loyalty to imperialism.
The Border State Democrat
Al Gore launched his political career as a conservative Southern Democrat. He spun folksy exaggerations about harvesting tobacco and plowing hillsides with mules, while supporting conservative politics.
He repeatedly voted against affirmative action in higher education. While in Congress he took stands against abortion rights-he was against government funding for abortions, helped stop funding for abortions for government employees and military personnel, and endorsed an anti-abortion constitutional amendment defining fetuses as "citizens" with full legal protection.
During the intensifying nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Al Gore supported the huge U.S. buildup of nuclear weapons. And like other conservative Democrats, he opposed open arms shipments to the CIA's Contra war against Nicaragua, but endorsed sending food and medical supplies to that counter-revolutionary operation.
As Al Gore prepared to campaign for the presidency, his wife Tipper Gore formed the "Parents Music Resource Center" (PMRC) together with Susan Baker, wife of a top Reagan administration official. This was essentially a ruling class campaign to tighten conservative control of the culture-by campaigning for more parental control over children and for music industry censorship of rock music. Al Gore helped grill musicians at witchhunt-like congressional hearings.
When Gore launched his first campaign for the presidency in 1988, it was as virtually a Reaganite candidate for the Democratic nomination. The most notorious point of this first, unsuccessful presidential campaign came in the New York primary, when he accused his main opponent, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, of releasing a Black man, Willie Horton, from prison. This same charge was picked up by the George Bush campaign in the following general election and became infamous as one of the most transparently racist election tactics in modern history.
The Populist Touch
Supporters of Al Gore Jr. say that this past history doesn't matter since he is now pro-choice and supportive of affirmative action. But the point is Al Gore's political positions have always varied according to what he sees as the needs of the U.S. ruling class.
In the 1980s, Al Gore and Bill Clinton formed the Democratic Leadership Council to develop a core within their party that could compete for ruling class leadership-on a continuation of the path charted for the system during the Reagan/Bush years.
Today a key question within the ruling class is which of their candidates, Bush or Gore, can best carry out a similar mix of reactionary policies and phony populist inclusiveness. Bush has worked to adopt a veneer of "tolerance and diversity"-which is a promise to pay attention to cracks and polarization within society. And Gore is trying to project a sense of connection with the common people.
As part of that, the Gore machine now advertises itself as a campaign "for working families," for protecting the pensions of the elderly, for health care reform, for a $1 rise in minimum wage, and so on.
But the key issue in politics is never what someone says, or their image. The issue is what class they serve. And here, the record of Al Gore Jr. is quite clear. After all, his team has exercised power within the empire for the last eight years -which has only brought more suffering to the masses of people, both here and around the world.
The Clinton/Gore Record
The Clinton/Gore administration came to power in a world situation which contained a complex mix of opportunities and dangers for the U.S. ruling class. There were intense challenges about how to respond to disruptions and wars in the world. And about how to restructure the domestic economy and global trade relations to serve U.S. imperialism.
Al Gore argues that this administration did well, that it would be madness to switch horses. But, for the masses of people, both in the U.S. and around the world, the last eight years have been a period of continued oppression and suffering-with U.S. imperialism operating as a key oppressor and pillar of the world capitalist system.
While the danger of world war had faded during the Clinton years, the U.S. imperialists have directly invaded or attacked countries all over the planet. Under Clinton and Gore, the U.S. has repeatedly bombed Iraq, dug into that region with permanent bases, and declared their right to decide who may fly in Iraqi air space. For 10 years now, the U.S. has enforced an embargo against Iraq-which has resulted in the death of an estimated one million Iraqi people, over half of them children.
Under Clinton and Gore, the U.S. invaded Somalia, Haiti, and Yugoslavia. They bombed Afghanistan with cruise missiles and punished Yugoslavia's people from the air for 79 days. The White House sent cruise missiles to destroy Sudan's main Shifa medicine factory, claiming it was "linked to terrorism"-only to admit later that they had no evidence of this.
The Clinton/Gore government has backed the fascist Fujimori government against the Maoist people's war in Peru. They have given the Mexican government arms for suppressing the Zapatistas and other rebel groups. They have worked to impose a sinister "settlement" on the Palestinian people-to enforce a permanent acceptance of the theft of Palestinian land. And this summer, the U.S. Congress approved the $1.3 billion Clinton/Gore plan to arm the Colombian army for a counterinsurgency war against Colombia's people.
This year there has been massive protest against imperialist financial institutions, like the IMF and the World Bank, that strangle whole countries and the lives of hundreds of millions of people. There has been resistance to the growing network of "free trade agreements," like NAFTA, that increase imperialist penetration into oppressed countries. All of these imperialist institutions and agreements have been shaped, used and defended by the Clinton/Gore White House.
Al Gore has been a key player in the last decade of imperialism-and the record he defends is the bloody record of his class.
Big Brother's Prison America
While Al Gore denounces "racial profiling" in words, he helped preside over a nationwide campaign of the racist criminalization of whole sections of the people - who have been harassed, rounded up, or locked up in the name of a "war on drugs."
During the eight years of Clinton/Gore, the number of prisoners in the U.S. has doubled from one million to over two million! And now, for the first time, Black and Latino prisoners represent a majority of the people behind bars.
The Clinton/Gore administration sponsored the creation of 75 new capital crimes at the federal level. The number of death sentences sought by the federal Justice Department has grown from 12 in 1991 to over 150 in 1997. On the campaign trail, Gore rejects any call for a moratorium of federal executions-saying that he supports the death penalty and sees no evidence of injustice in how it is administered at the federal level. Three-quarters of the prisoners on federal death row are from oppressed nationalities.
The Clinton/Gore administration has worked to accelerate executions at the state level as well, by limiting federal appeals of death row prisoners and preventing new evidence from being considered in those appeals. These provisions are now key obstacles for many on death row, including political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The Clinton/Gore administration has also expanded the powers of the political police in outrageous ways. They have signed laws giving authorities new powers to expel immigrants for political activities (without open hearings or public evidence), and created criminal charges for supporting movements the U.S. government labels "terrorist." They created the FBI "carnivore" program for spying on email, and the "Echelon" program for spying on global internet activity.
This administration accelerated the police occupation of oppressed communities-funding 100,000 more police and promoting the networks of informants and government collaborators through $1 billion in "community policing" programs. They have intensified the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border-causing the death of over 600 immigrants who have been forced into more dangerous crossings.
The Clinton/Gore administration has recently requested $300 million more for "countering international and domestic terrorism," including $24 million to expand domestic political spying.
More Intense Poverty, More Working Poor
"Are you better off than you were eight years ago?"
Al Gore Jr., January 24, 2000
Capitalism by its nature creates desperate poverty. And the Clinton/Gore administration have been loyal servants and leaders of that system. They are presiding over a society where the gap between rich and poor has widened. They have worked to move more proletarian people from the non-working poor into the ranks of the working poor-where they can be successfully exploited. And they have helped force down working class wages in the economy as a whole.
The top 1 percent of U.S. households own more wealth than the entire bottom 95 percent. Meanwhile, 35 million people live below the official "poverty line"-meaning below $13,000 for a family of three. 11 million children live in households without any health insurance-and almost 7 million children live in households where the money routinely does not cover food or shelter. An estimated 2 million people are homeless at some time during each year. Among these poorest sections of the people, conditions have gotten worse.
Between 1995 and 1997 the income for families headed by single women fell almost 7 percent-affecting 6 million people. An important cause is the deep cuts the Clinton/Gore administration carried out in welfare programs. Millions of people have been forced off welfare since 1993. For many of these people, jobs at living wages are not available-and people face desperate conditions without day care or transportation. Meanwhile the Clinton-Gore administration has pressed ahead with their plans to destroy federal public housing projects-without any serious plans for replacement.
Gore's proposed $1 rise in the minimum wage would still leave the lowest tier of workers below the income they had in previous decades. The intense exploitation of low-wage and sweatshop workers throughout the "new economy"-both within the U.S. and worldwide-is having a sharp impact on the job security and general conditions of the rest of the working class within the U.S.
In short, the years of Clinton and Gore have been years of reaction and oppression for the vast majority of people in the world. When Gore offers more of the same, oppressed people have every reason to prepare themselves for struggle.
The Meaning of Joe Lieberman
Right before the Democratic Convention, Gore announced his vice presidential candidate-- Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democratic senator who is so conservative that the Republicans say he is in the wrong party. This choice says a lot about the politics within the ruling class.
It is no secret that powerful sections of the U.S. ruling class had issues with Bill Clinton. In an intense campaign of attack and exposure he was driven to impeachment, and to the very brink of removal. The issues involved were complex (and have been analyzed extensively in the RW supplement, "The Truth about Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer" which is available at the website rwor.org).
Powerful sections within the U.S. ruling class support attempts to impose an even more reactionary framework on U.S. politics and society-especially in regard to conservative "traditional values," which some felt that Clinton had blatantly disregarded. The choice of Joe Lieberman as a vice presidential candidate shows how Al Gore intends to respond to those rightwing ruling class criticisms of the last eight years.
The Clinton/Gore team had already gone far in supporting "social conservatism" in many ways. Their official line on abortion has been to "keep abortion legal while making it rare." They have supported, or allowed, increased restrictions on women's access to abortion, and have presided over a country where women's doctors are assassinated, and where the assassins and their networks go free.
However, on these issues Senator Lieberman is, in general, even more conservative. He is an orthodox Jew, with a history of collaboration with the fundamentalist Christian forces of the Religious Right. He was the first prominent Democrat to openly attack Bill Clinton for "immorality" during the height of the Lewinsky scandal, while he worked for a compromise that left Clinton in office after impeachment.
Recently in Congress, Lieberman (who also describes himself as "pro-choice") sponsored a bill to ban all abortion after the "moment of viability." He supports laws that deny teenage women the right to choose, by granting such decisions to their parents and federal judges.
The nomination of Lieberman to the 2000 Democratic ticket represents an even tighter and more open embrace of conservative religion in political life, and support for the expanding influence of extremely conservative "traditional values" in government policy.
There is nothing here for us
At each step of the official election process so far, the differences between the two parties have gotten smaller and smaller. There is profound unity on a reactionary program that targets the masses of people and presses ahead with a relentless restructuring of global economics in the interests of monopoly capital.
Looking at these two parties and their two presidential tickets, oppressed and progressive people can only conclude that "there is nothing here for us."
These are the political representatives of our oppressors. Their programs focus intensely on how to maintain, defend and intensify the exploitation of people all over the world. We have nothing to gain by supporting them. And everything to gain by exposing them for what they are-so that the people can see more clearly how to fight against them.
Don't Choose Between Oppressors -Bury the Pig System!
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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