Democracy, The Morning After
Revolutionary Worker #1078, November 13, 2000, posted at http://rwor.org
It's the morning after. The hype is fading and reality will soon start to sink in. This system has chosen its next President.
The political machinery of American democracy churned and sparked. It arrested hundreds who dared to protest in Philadelphia, shot rubber bullets at those taking the streets in Los Angeles, and dumped mountains of bullshit on everyone else.
As we write these words, we don't yet know exactly what happened on November 7. But the basic outcome was a no-brainer: This system and its monopoly capitalist ruling class field-tested and selected one of their loyal henchmen for the Oval Office. And what else could be expected. It's their system, their state and social order...and it will be ruled by their president.
But on the bright side, let's mention that there are positive things about the end of an election season.
For one thing, the people in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida can watch TV again--without wall-to-wall political infomercials. This would be better news if there was something worth watching.
Another good thing: The Clinton administration was not able to pull off their Middle East "October Surprise." Al Gore didn't get the boost of imposing a pacification plan on the people of Palestine. Young fighters, facing bullets with stones in the narrow streets of the West Bank and Gaza, torpedoed the "Occupiers' Peace" in that corner of the empire.
A third good thing: the year of the "undecided voter" is over.
And finally, now that the election is over, the folks who "held their noses to vote" can let go and breathe again.
The early materialist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach once remarked that "after the debauchery comes the blues." Those who got caught up in the election madness will now have to deal with their hangover--and the reality of which class is running the country.
Both sides of the presidential campaign are pressing ahead with unfinished business--reminding us all how oppressive they really are.
The Texas governor postponed five executions until after the elections, and he is now about to send those prisoners on to the death chamber. On November 15, the Clinton-Gore administration will hold their own execution--the first federal execution since 1963--killing David Paul Hammer, a mentally ill prisoner in Indiana.
The Pentagon is moving ahead with their post-election war plans aimed at the people and insurgent movements in Colombia. The deployment of U.S.-trained killer battalions was timed for the end of this election. After all, Gore didn't want to fog up his "peace and prosperity" rhetoric with reports of the latest imperialist aggression.
Meanwhile, the media kept reporting that Gore (and the Democrats) "had trouble generating excitement in many of their usual bases"--in Black and Latino communities, among working people, among youth and college students. And, if people resisted the "choose or lose" propaganda, that would be another positive thing to emerge from this election.
After all, the Democrats trampled people throughout the last eight years. The number of people in prison doubled. They attacked Yugoslavia, strangled Iraq, bombed Sudan, and occupied Haiti. The political police are online with spy programs like Echelon and Carnivore. The street-level police state is worse. Welfare is cut, and millions are suffering on minimum wages. And meanwhile, even people with middle class jobs and a bit of money feel insecurity at work and the insane dog-eat-dog pressure that permeates all of U.S. society.
The last weeks of the Nader campaign gave everyone a stark lesson in how this system operates. Nader said his candidacy would pull official politics (and especially the Democratic Party) in a progressive direction.
But as the election approached, the giant sucking sound you heard was Nader supporters being dragged toward voting for "the lesser of two evils."
Ralph Nader is a man who, during the storms of the 1960s, thought the most important issue was seat belts. And Nader's main message has always been faith in the possibility of changing the system through voting.
Is it any surprise that many people mobilized on that basis found themselves sliding toward that political mindfuck called "Anybody but Bush." The illusions of Nader paved the way for the logic of Gore.
Nader was allowed to stir up the political interest of the young and disaffected. But he was kept out of the big debates. Then, in the final weeks of the campaign, Nader was given TV coverage: hyped as the radical alternative making space in the system on one hand and attacked as "a big spoiler" on the other. Big liberal guns opened up, in some of the most hardhitting attacks of the campaign, to stampede Nader supporters into the Democratic camp. "Mr. Clean" was suddenly recast as "Darth Nader"--in a rather crude smear campaign.
Among Nader supporters, the pressure and the tightness of the race produced an ever-more-tortured politics. Texas columnist Molly Ivins argued that the best election outcome would be Gore in the White House, plus a national Nader vote of over 5 percent (so that the Green Party could win federal matching funds for 2004.) The "Molly Ivins Proposal" was that people vote for Nader in states where that vote couldn't influence the outcome, and vote for Gore everywhere else.
There was even a web site called nadertrader.org to allow Gore and Nader supporters to swap votes across state lines.
After November 7, we will be able to see much more clearly how this played itself out and why Nader's supporters, despite their hopes, may wake up feeling used and abused.
All in all, Election 2000 confirmed our revolutionary view that dragging people into electoral fantasy games just squanders their energy and fighting spirit.
We hate to be redundant, but it really is true that only revolution can end the oppression of the people. This is a verdict that is deeply supported by the experience of oppressed people throughout the world. It is confirmed by current events (including by the recent elections). And it has profound implications for what people need to do, now, to bring about radical change.
As we have pointed out in these pages, those who run this system--who savagely rip off and suppress billions of people, who have build up armies and nukes to threaten the world--are not about to let themselves be voted out of power. They are not about to exit history peacefully. And if voting really threatened them, it would be illegal.
Taking on the injustices and defeating the power of U.S. imperialism is a huge, complex task, involving many people who will come into the struggle from different viewpoints. Different currents and classes of people will inevitably try many different things, and sometimes even grasp at straws, trying to bring about change. The masses of people learn--through experience, struggle and debate--which things advance liberation and which things do not.
And the appearance this election season of thousands of militant youth--taking the streets, totally unimpressed by bourgeois politics, and serious about doing whatever it takes to change the world--is a good sign for future revolutionary prospects.
But, for those who even went off and did something freaky like voting, we say: This is a new morning. You too can put this behind you. We'd be glad to talk over this experience and what it reveals. And, above all, let's unite to build a powerful, militant, broad resistance of the people to this system and the crimes it commits.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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