Here we are again at the most important election of our lifetimes. The corporate media and parties are abuzz about Paul Ryan and what he means for Romney and Obama, who’s raising more money, and how the whole fate of the universe rests on November. But they all forgot one thing:Us.
Neither Ryan nor Biden, neither Romney nor Obama, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats represent us, the majority of the United States.
On almost every issue, the accepted “bipartisan” debate is so narrow that it basically doesn’t exist. The only measurable difference is that the Democrats pay lip service to the exploited and oppressed.
So Ryan laughs in the face of 97 percent of American scientists by implying that snow disproves climate change. In contrast, Obama quietly ignores them. Despite the most famous climatologist in the United States, NASA’s James Hansen stating unequivocally that the XL Pipeline spells “Game Over for the Climate,” Obama continues, unconcerned.
Ryan and Romney unashamedly oppress LGBTQI Americans while Obama courts LGBTQI Americans for their votes and money. But behind the rhetoric, Romney, Obama, and even Ryan have all shifted their principles when convenient for their careers. And none, not even Obama, will deliver on all the civil rights LGBTQI folks deserve unless they face urgent pressure from mass movements akin to what LBJ and Congress faced in 1964. For now, Obama will continue using the same “states’ rights” argument that racists and politicians used to deny blacks equal rights and couples like Obama’s own parents to marry.
This is what it boils down to for basically every issue. Trillions spent on war for the ruling class’s profits? Both parties agree. At least $16 trillion spent to bail out banks that made money off of torpedoing millions from people’s homes and Greece’s economy and still gave themselves billions in bonuses? Both parties agree. Gutting Medicare and social safety nets? Demonizing and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants who work and pay taxes? Funding Apartheid in Israel? Spying on and violently attacking Occupy and any movement for social change?
Both parties agree.
The masterstroke of the US two-party system is that it makes it seem like we have choices. It would be wrong to argue that there’s no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. There is a difference. The Republicans carry out pro-rich, anti-everybody-else policies and openly proclaim them. The Democrats carry out pro-rich, anti-everybody-else policies, but pretend not to.
Of course, the capitalist class is not monolithic, and neither are the parties, but one need only study the two parties’ histories or look at the “difference” in the two parties’ present policies to see that neither party really represents us. The undeniable reality is that both parties are capitalist parties, using different rhetoric and strategies to win votes, but enacting almost exactly the same brutal policies.
The solutions to these problems are outrageously obvious. It’s enough to make you think you’re crazy.
But don’t worry. You’re not crazy – it’s capitalism that is. The two-headed-business-party duopoly and mainstream media avoid discussing the solutions because they benefit from the problems that they perpetuate and perpetrate on the rest of us.
Despite the fact that majorities of Americans oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, believe that climate change is happening and should be addressed by the president and Congress, support same-sex marriage, believe that undocumented immigrants should not be deported – and the list goes inspiringly on – our “leaders” don’t do squat!
So what do we have to do to get some change around here?
It’s clear from the past four years that Obama and the Democrats are either unwilling or unable to do what a majority of Americans elected them into office to do. They’ve betrayed us or they’ve failed us. Either way, voting and campaigning for the Democrats has been proven to be a bankrupt strategy.
The Democrats capitalize on the fact that they were in office in the ’30s and ’60s when civil movements won major victories like Social Security and civil rights, but they bury the history of how they demobilized those movements using the stick of violent force and the carrot of co-optation. The Republicans prefer to disown the progressive victories that movements won under their watch, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The truth is, both parties only enact real change when they are pressured to do so by independent movements.
In response to the Democrats’ resounding failure we must not contribute one penny, not one second, and not one vote to Obama’s re-election or other Democrats’ campaigns. Instead we must commit that time, money, and dedication to building independent mass movements that can pressure whoever is in government to legalize same-sex marriage, to end these insane wars, to create millions of jobs and renewable energy infrastructure, and so much more.
The temptation to vote for the lesser of two evils will be immense, especially with such clear bigotry and insanity coming from the Republicans. But we have to remember that the Democrats’ rhetoric only covers up their murders. A vote for Obama is a vote for war, a vote for homophobia, a vote for climate game over.
We need to build a movement for ourselves.
History shows again and again, as Howard Zinn eloquently put it, “What matters is not who's sitting in the White House. What matters is who's sitting in!"