Monday, 7 November 2016

Vote Hillary, Vote Democrat

It's high time I invested in a nose peg factory. Here we are again, a presidential election showdown between the Democrat and Republican candidates, just as it has been for 150 years. And on this occasion, just like nearly every other, the logic of lesser evilism must come into play. However, in case you've been living under a rock the contest is between the Democrats and something qualitatively worse. Difference is not a matter of degree any more.

Yes, American politics is stuck. Thanks to the early award of the franchise, the American labour movement never took off unlike pretty much everywhere else. While the Liberals here in Britain tried and failed to co-opt working class votes and aspirations, democratisation preceded industrialisation in the US, meaning our movement fed into one of the two main bourgeois parties, and that's where it has more or less remained. Historically, it has conditioned the Democrats and pushed it in a direction similar to but not entirely comparable with Europe's social democratic and labour parties, and has also ensured its openness to successive progressive movements like civil rights and anti-racism, women's and LGBT liberation. Yet a bourgeois party it remains, another historical twist where early advance gave way to lasting backwardness. Yet here the processes transforming politics here are at work in America too. No exceptionalism this time.

Here is the problem with the Democrats. They are a party entirely in hock to big capital, and also have a progressive voter base. This can be galvanised into doing good works, but even then its active electioneering tends to dissipation as soon as the polls close, as per the genuine enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 and 2012 have shown. A small number might get involved in community organising and find other political outlets, but most remain passive until next time round. The Sanders insurgency however has cast a light on the ferment at the Democrats' base. Hillary Clinton's victory in the primaries was square, but certainly not fair. This has stirred minor controversy as Bernie-to-the-end types have not accepted it is the end, and are prepared to vote Republican in some feeble, farcical echo of the Stalinist third period. Nevertheless, from the long term standpoint of giving labour an independent political voice in the US, it is preferable that the Democrats are in office and that the election campaigns waged by its base, often around unsuitable and anti-working class candidates, win as opposed to defeated by the hard right GOP.

Yes, Hillary certainly does fit that unsuitable mold. A free market, Wall Street-loving, hawkish candidate is never going to do. Her win tomorrow would fracture the glass ceiling some more, but treating that as the singularly significant event to the point of excluding all else is the worst kind of myopia. Obama's extra-judicial kills-by-drone and all the misery that causes is set to continue. Threatening to impose a no fly zone over Syria is madness. And her tin ear to those communities left behind by decades of dog-eat-dog market fundamentalism shows not just shockingly poor political judgement, but scant awareness how such policies can easily turn Democrat voters away from the party. Why is Hillary the worst the Democrats could come up with? Because she's going down the very same political path that got us here.

Yet were I an American citizen, I would vote for her. And on most downticket races I'd vote Democrat too. Because, in case you hadn't noticed, this isn't an ordinary presidential election. As the year has worn on and we've got used to the buffoonish countenance of Donald Trump capering about the stage, the more obvious it is that his presidential campaign endangers democratic politics in the US and elsewhere. Like the Conservatives here, the Republicans are in long-term decline. Their explicit positioning as the white people's party put demographics against them, and they are divorced from the greater and greater dissemination of progressive social attitudes and values. Christian fundamentalism, the Tea Party, and now Trump's candidacy are the last gasps of an America struggling to disappear. And as we've seen with the Brexit vote here, when reaction wins a battle the aftermath is economically and socially damaging. Should Trump win, every racist, every fascist will be emboldened to carry through their imagined grievances against hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, women. The so-called liberal elite, variously identified with journalists, academics, and lawyers are also threatened. And because the US remains the world's preeminent superpower, it will boost the politics of reaction everywhere. Should the worst come to the worst and a President Trump accompanies a GOP majority in both Houses of Congress, then the Republic itself is in peril.

This is not scaremongering. The danger a Trump presidency represents to the people of the United States and of the world is real. And what is awful is that even if Clinton wins, he's run her far too close. It's a pivotal moment from which very different histories flow. On the one side is a fatuous demagogue whose angry, but deeply insecure movement will take America into a very dark place. And on the other is a competent if uninspiring establishment politician whose victory would, nevertheless, drive a stake into a tottering party of racists, religious extremists, and the putrid politics they hold and, despite herself, allow the progressive reconstitution of politics to carry on unimpeded.

Those are the stakes. Vote Hillary, Vote Democrat.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Should we hold our noses and vote Clinton over Trump as the lesser of two evils?

With all due respect, no thank you.

The Wikileaks have exposed a 'corrupt to the core' pedophile, who has used her political mafia to enrich herself and those above her at the expense of the ordinary people on the ground (you and me)

I am not a Trump fan, but he is 'less' likely to lead us into a third world war unlike Clinton with the establishment media shrilling behind her (The Guardian and The BBC being among them). Her 'blame the Russians' for the hack echoes the drum beat to war at 440hz and it will be our lives that are lost, while those of the elite are quaffing back champaign and moving little wooden blocks around a world map.

Afganistan, Iraq, libia, Syria have been absolute disasters for the innocent people of these countries, all aided and abetted by the establishment candidate - Clinton, Bush, Obama. All with kissenger in the background.

Obama was elected on the media messaging of 'hope' and 'change'. He promised that he would close Guantanomo bay - the stain on the act of acting humane to another human - as one of his red lines - he has failed even in this. As he has with his Obama Care Act - it is a shell of what it should have been, capitulating to the insurance industry. No change on big banks, wall street or corruption (see Hillary Clinton). An establishment candidate on a 'hope and change' ticket that took the hopes of us 'the people' and changed nothing for 'us' the still poor people.

Obama can string a speech together, and Clinton can put one word after another a little better than Bush, but if Obama, as the eloquent Establishment candidate who can fail us so badly; Then I'd rather risk living in a Trump world than a drunk, medicated, memory lapsing, corpse collapsing establishment puppet that has a finger on the button and would destroy our world on the orders of the 0.1 percent so they can get richer while telling us that America must fight Russia, Christian's must fight Muslim's. Brother's divide while 'they' the 1 percents conquer. No Thanks.

Donald Trump's world is of the knuckle dragging, racist, 'Mexicans are rapist's' fascists. Along with the KKK and hail Hitler. We all know this from the establishment news media who show us the people who are supporting Donald Trump while forgetting to tell us that they, the very media are on the same lolita express plane as Clinton.

I am not defending vile scum. But pull back. Use the telescope not the microscope. These people are the symptom OF THE cause. The cause is the relentless march of capitalism. They are the people of district 12 to the Hunger Games Panem. Horrendous hate crimes will be committed in the days after a Trump win by the walking dead. But if Trump can throw some crumbs, like jobs, security and safety - then zombies can become the living. This is how we start to civilize a population surly?

Voting tomorrow for Clinton makes more Trump supports in the future as we saw with Obama - nothing changes (apart from maybe a nuclear war).

Maybe a Trump presidency will be the worst presidency we will ever see? But it will be a wake up call of critical mass for change. A least with Trump after 4 years, there will be a lower possibility that we wont be at international war or dead with a scorched earth policy behind our human legacy.

If I were an American voter, I would vote Dr Jill Stein for sharing our values of a green world; but as an international citizen I'll be hoping for a Trump presidency to throw out the corrupt establishment 1%.

Hillary for Prison 2016

Either way, we are in the End of Days. This Roman empire of America Rules The World PLC is falling and we 'The plebs' will be the last to know. It's the lesser of two evils. I just wouldn't want Clinton fiddling while we burn.

Boffy said...

If it were simply a question of voting for the lesser-evil candidate, I would propose abstaining. It would be no different to the condition where in the last round of French Presidential elections, voters have had the choice of a Gaullist or the FN, and where Marxists argued for abstention. But, the situation in the US is not the same as that.

The reality is that there is little difference between the US Democrats and the UK Labour Party. Both are parties that rely on a link to the working-class as their voter base, and upon the organised labour movement to mobilise that support. Both are in that case, according to the definition that Marx and Engels gave "Workers Parties". They are the main parties that workers look to for solutoins, and through which socialists can gain the ear of the workers. Actually, Engels in particular referred to the Liberals performing that role in Britain, prior to the LP, and encouraged his followers to relate to them rather than the sects such as the SDF and ILP.

But, also the Democrats, like the Labour Party, and the Liberal Party before it, is a party dominated by bourgeois ideas. It is a social-democratic party, that does not look beyind the interests of large-scale socialised, industrial capital, and sees the interests of the working-class as being advanced as a result of the more rapid development of that capital. Marx discusses that relation in Theories of Surplus Value, where it forms part of the ideas of Ricardo, and in Wage, Labour and Capital.

Marx also described it in The Eighteenth Brumaire, in his definition of social-democracy, as attempting to bridge that contradiction between wage labour and capital, rather than attempting to go beyond it. Socialists in the US should have been joining the democrats and taking an active role in the elections not on the basis of lesser-evilism, but on the basis of the need to build a grass roots working-class movement within the Democrats, and within working-class communities that look to the Democrats. The election is really just a sideshow in that activity, which has its eye on the future organisation of the workers into a more adequate Workers Party.


johnny conspiranoid said...

or she could lead us all into a war with Russia.

Igor Belanov said...

"Thanks to the early award of the franchise, the American labour movement never took off unlike pretty much everywhere else. While the Liberals here in Britain tried and failed to co-opt working class votes and aspirations, democratisation preceded industrialisation in the US, meaning our movement fed into one of the two main bourgeois parties, and that's where it has more or less remained."

This is one of your dodgier arguments. It could be said that 'democratisation preceded industrialisation' in Scandinavia and even Wilhelmine Germany, all of which saw the foundation of strong working-class political parties. I think a bit more nuance is needed. The key is with the 'remained'. Why did the working-class movement split from the Liberals in the UK, but not in the US? This is something that has little to do with the respective advents of industrialisation.

Phil said...

The comment from Unknown is so completely batshit I don't know where to begin. There is no analysis, no appreciation of the dynamics, just semi-conspiratorial theorising allied to a superficial understanding of capitalism. Madness.

Phil said...

Yes Igor, a bit more nuance is required - space and my writing patiences is always an issue! Exceptionalism has a lot to do with the US state and its relative openness vis a vis its European counterparts. I think Hardt and Negri in Empire are very useful in contrasting its form of sovereignty with those of ours (i.e. Western Europe).

BCFG said...

This is typical centrist tactics, claim every election is unlike any other and that voting for anything other than the centrists would be a mortal threat to humanity itself! The irony is that it is the centrist inertia that is the real danger to humanity, as well as Hilary Clinton posturing to take the world into WW3. Pathetic!

Vote Jill Stein!

asquith said...

Gary Johnson for me, Killary's foreign "policy" is the same tried-and-failed shite that would undermine any good she did in America and get bogged down.

Don't vote against someone, vote for someone. Vote Gary Johnson.

(One mountain climber speaks in support of another).

asquith said...

Speedy said...

Well, that went well. Maybe one of these days you will listen to me... ;-)

Ruthie said...

Insightful but HILLARY FOR PRISON 2016 blew your credibility. Uncalled for.