Freedom Road (Fight Back) urges votes for Obama

The debate is about to open up, among leftists over whether to support the election campaign of Barack Obama.

In some ways, the very existence of such a debate is amazing: given the extreme policies of this government and the anger among progressive people.

This is a government of massive deportation of our immigrant brothers and sisters. It is a government of war -- Bush's occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, but also new wars, the attack on Libya, the threat against Syria, and the ominous threats against Iran. It is also a government of naked repression (typically in the guise of "anti-terrorism") -- including the  FBI raids against antiwar activists largely in the midwest -- as part of a larger campaign to criminalize international political solidarity

And yet, there it is: Some radical and socialist forces starting to come out for the "lesser evil" -- even if in defensive and shamefaced ways.

The following is a position statement written by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO-FB). Almost buried in its criticisms of elections and of Obama is this key sentence:

"In terms of voting in the presidential election, it is better to vote against Romney, especially in swing states."

 

 

In other words, this is a call to vote for Obama. And this sentence is the raison d'etre of the article -- to finally, publicly give a green light to those who want to work for Obama.

 

It is perhaps not surprising, given the exhausted and unimaginative concepts of some parts of the Left. It does, however, still seem remarkable, even shocking -- given the rather overtly reactionary history of this government (including its direct repression of the left). And it is also remarkable given that the emergence of Occupy has opened a political space that so stubbornly refused to morph itself into a progressive grassroots movement for the Democrats.

It is possible that young radicals and revolutionaries will accept and promote such arguments?

 

Kasama urges a detailed and serious engagement with the  arguments that will now be raised for supporting Obama. The lesser evil argument has a long history among leftists (going back to the rightward-moving CPUSA endorsement of Democrats in virtually every presidential election since 1936).We need a discussion of what it would mean (to our hopes for a revolutionary movement) if radicals urge oppressed  and progressive people to support this system's President and the Pentagon's imperialist Commander in Chief.

The 2012 presidential election:

In the midst of economic hard times, hope is in the people's struggles, change is in the streets

By Freedom Road Socialist Organization

 

Three years after the recession officially ended, economic hard times continue. Financial ruin haunts many working people. One in three children live in families where neither parent has full-time year round employment. Outrageously, bankers are still taking bonuses after taxpayer-financed bailouts. The wealthy 1% are living in luxury, while working people struggle to make ends meet, find work, and survive. The U.S. economy is stagnant at best and threatened by the growing economic crisis in Europe. People are frustrated by the economic crisis and rightfully angry with politicians of both parties.

However, there is great hope in the rising struggles of the past ten years. First came the anti-war movement that rose up to oppose Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then on May Day 2006, the immigrant rights mega-marches made history, with millions of Chicano, Mexicano, Central American and other immigrants marching in the streets of cities across the country. Students who participated in both movements began demanding educational rights on campuses, opposing rising tuition costs and mounting student debt. African-Americans turned out in their greatest numbers ever to vote for and celebrate the election of Barack Obama in 2008, while the nationwide movement against police brutality and police misconduct reached new levels with a campaign demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states rallied to oppose Republican attacks on government workers and labor unions. Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street Movement rose up to place the blame for the economic crisis squarely on the richest 1% and demand democratic reforms. Occupy captured the support of the masses until it was driven from the streets by waves of nationally coordinated police repression.

Taken together, these movements - representing diverse sectors and oppressed masses of our country - are threatening to the small class of rich people who dominate the economy and dictate to the politicians. The rich live in fear of the power of the people and are unleashing the police, FBI and courts as political repression grows. We must remain firm in knowing that building on these people's struggles is the only way to make the fundamental changes that voting never has and never will be able to make.

Parties of the 1% to meet

It is in this context that the Democrats and the Republicans, both parties of the 1%, are holding conventions and nominating their candidates for the Nov. 6 elections. We are calling for people to build the people's struggles and protest in the streets. If you want peace and justice, if you want a job, healthcare, education and equality, then join us at the Republican National Convention on Monday, August 27, in Tampa, Florida. A few days later more will join the March on the Wall Street South during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Elections come and go, parties change places, but the people's movements - especially the strategic alliance of the working class movement and the national movements of African-American, Chicanos, and other oppressed nationalities, can bring not just reforms, but radical change that no bought and paid for politician can deliver.

The greater of two evils

President Obama is leading in most polls over Republican Mitt Romney and analysts tend to have Obama winning the election. In the American two-party system, the candidate with the most money is the winner almost all the time and Wall Street is the winner, every time. Obama's Wall Street appointments like Timothy Geithner, even after the 2008 financial crisis, show this to be true.

However, this doesn't mean that there is no impact on objective conditions in the people's struggles and the condition of people's everyday lives, depending upon who is in the White House. At times, people's movements are more active when there is a sense that achieving reform is possible. It is a fact that Romney and the Republicans are aggressively reactionary as compared to Obama and the Democrats. Governor Walkers' Wisconsin or Governor Scott's Florida are proof of that.

The Republicans are the greater of two evils. They represent the most reactionary and racist section of the capitalist class - the millionaires and billionaires who rule this country. Romney panders to the anti-women, anti-gay and racist base of the Republican Party on social issues. Mitt Romney wants more military spending, more war, and more U.S. occupations, especially in the Middle East. Romney wants to privatize government services or just cut them altogether, to downsize and put more people out of work like he did at Bain Capital.

Four years of Obama, young people spurned, movements repressed

When McCain went down in flames, a big factor was the youth vote. Those between 18 and 29 who did vote went big for Obama. This now creates a dilemma for President Obama in the 2012 election, because he did not deliver what the youth were promised. While Democratic Party leaders point to the Republican majority blocking Obama initiatives in the House of Representatives, we remember the Democrats had majorities in both the House and the Senate when President Obama took office.

Taking stock, it is clear that while the U.S. occupation of Iraq ended, the war in Afghanistan continues and U.S. attacks on other countries in the Middle East continue to grow. Guantanamo's torture prison is still open, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) now allows for military detention of U.S. citizens, and immigrants are being deported at a faster rate than under the Bush administration, with no progress in Congress on legalization. Union card check, making it easier for workers to organize into unions was dropped immediately after the election, and the healthcare law mainly benefits health insurance corporations and drug companies, not patients.

Student and youth activists and leaders are angry about the U.S. government's treatment of Occupy Wall Street and the clearing of the parks and public spaces. This came after the police repression unleashed at the 2008 Republican National Convention, followed by the FBI raids of RNC protest organizers and anti-war activists' homes on Sept. 24, 2010. The whole movement is angry about the spreading use of violent police tactics to intimidate and physically hurt demonstrators, as we saw at the anti-NATO protest in Chicago this year. More and more, the government's use of raids, subpoenas and courts to criminalize political activism and label it as 'terrorism' is driving activists away from the Democrats and electoral politics.

What to do?

We know that many activists in unions, the African-American, Chicano and other oppressed nationality movements, and sections of anti-war protesters and immigrant rights activists are likely to continue to vote for the lesser of two evils. However, we think the conditions are right in this electoral cycle to emphasize instead the nature of the two party, one ruling class system and talk about why what we have is not democracy and not good enough. We do think it is still important for progressives to go to the polls to oppose concrete attacks on democratic rights, such as Voter ID and anti-gay amendments. In terms of voting in the presidential election, it is better to vote against Romney, especially in swing states. In other states like California, the Republicans are unlikely to win. In these cases, it would be positive to have a strong third party vote total.

Our main message is that no matter how hopeful we are for change to come through electoral politics, this is not the venue for real change. Citizens United, and its ruling that corporations are free to openly buy the allegiance of politicians, makes more clear what has always been true: those who have the gold, make the rules. During this particular election cycle progressives should emphasize and talk about the problems inherent in the system, while placing demands on politicians from both parties. Our faith and our future are in the people's struggle, not the ballot box.

 

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People in this conversation

  • Guest (andy)

    yeah, lets all run off and vote for the ruling party of the main enemy of the people of the world.

  • Guest (andrewraygorman)

    Carl Davidson wrote an article with a similar viewpoint.http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/2012-elections-have-little-do-obamas-record-which-why-we-are-voting-him

    I completely disagree with both Carl and the FRSO here. This equates to a cop-out with genuine electoral activism.

    The capitalists have two parties to choose from. Socialists have none. I am helping build a viable working class party - but it will not be the Democratic Party. They are every bit as corrupt, capitalist, etc. If only given a choice between a center right and a far right politician, I will choose neither. Rather, I follow Marx's advice:

    "Even where there is no prospect whatever of their being elected, the workers must put up their own candidates in order to preserve their independence, to count their forces and to lay before the public their revolutionary attitude and party standpoint. In this connection they must not allow themselves to be bribed by such arguments of the democrats as, for example, that by so doing they are splitting the democratic party and giving the reactionaries the possibility of victory.”- Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 10, p.284.

  • Guest (Michigan-Red)

    They've always backed the Democratic presidential candidate to the best of my knowledge. It's just a little weirder now because they're being *actively targeted by the state*. Um...maybe that shows their dedication to the strategy? Willing to endorse Dems even when their doors are being broken in? They're not fair weather Democratic voters, I'll say that much.
    My question, and we may never know the answer, is: are there differing views within FRSO-FB? Did state repression they've been facing make this statement any more difficult for the membership to agree on?

  • I don't understand the logic of opposing the U.S. attack on Libya (as we and FRSO did) but then politically supporting the imperialist forces who launched and directed those attacks. (Kill list in the White HOuse?)

    I believe that this article (consciously) tries to blur the issue... but really it is not possible to blur the support for the incumbent warmaker in a presidential year.

    I have two questions that I can't answer yet: How much is this tied to the funding of staffers (NGO and tradeunions) who feel they can't avoid working for Obama? (I have heard many people working for such organizations agonize when Democratic election work was demanded of them). MY other question is whether this position will really be accepted by people proud of their anti-imperialism?

    Both FRSOs have consciously "allowed" their supporters to vote as they want. After all it doesn't really matter if some supprters don't vote, it merely matters that key embedded cadre be allowed to work FOR the Democrats, right?

    The old politically-corrupt CPUSA used to call this "the three legged stool" -- their decades of pro-Democratic Party "fight the ultra-right" politics ALWAYS allowed their cadre to ALSO vote for CP candidates and for third parties. But the effect, the intent and the core argument is to raise the lesser evil argument (i.e. better any "centrist" corporate democrat than any republican).

    I think that is the core argument we need to unravel -- since it isn't just alive within exhausted left trends, but among many progressive people who generally believe nothing else is possible.

  • Guest (Otto)

    Yes Obama is an imperialist and he represents the ruling class. I have not worked for his campaign nor have I given him any money. I think some of us wonder how much worse life can get under Romney. His people in the House want to destroy what is left of our public infrastructure. They may end medicare and medicaid as we know it and it will create hardships on older people. Romney could be more reckless in foreign affairs. I can understand why some people would vote for Obama as defense against what an all Republican government could do.

    It doesn't matter at all here in Kansas because the state and its electorial votes all go Republican. But I can honestly see why some activist would fear a Romney victory. How much effort to put in this campaign besides voting is another question. It would be a major waist of time and money to get directly involved in this campaign, even in a swing state. I would put my energy elsewhere. but just voting isn't really that much of a participation in the stystem and I'm not sure what real impact it would have in the swing states.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    @Mike

    I assure you, our position has nothing to do with NGO 'funding' and 'staffers.' Not that I have anything against people working for unions and NGOs--we need more of them. In my case, there is one problem I share with millions of workers and seniors, though. I'm almost entirely living on my social security and have no access to health care apart from Medicare, so when the R/R team threatens to 'privatize' it and give me a voucher instead, I put it in the basket of things that matter. If you want a 'material cause', you might look there instead.

  • Guest (notrightnow)

    I do not understand why this upsets people the way that it does. Two questions I would ask, is it better for a political group to say something about the upcoming elections or nothing? Secondly do you want the thin gruel or the shit sandwich?

    First off, I think it is better for a political group to make a statement on the elections. People are obviously curious as this repost demonstrates. I think the absence of a statement would be conspicuous and odd.

    For the second question if you have read FRSO's Unity Statement or the parts of the program that have been adopted you know that the long term goal is to throw out the whole kitchen staff and their recipes and replace them with something better. The thin gruel sucks. It has made me rather sick on a few occasions. That said, the other option for right this very moment is the shit sandwich. Said sandwich will bring real extra pain to working class people. It will only take me 15 minutes of my time to check the thin gruel box on one day every couple of years. Keep in mind that the long term goal is a new kitchen staff with a whole new cookbook, and people are taking steps towards that goal. But the effort to select thin gruel is quite minimal for most people.

    To my knowledge FRSO has never had a policy to campaign for thin gruel Obama.

    For people who dislike this statement so much, would it be better to remain silent on the elections or to encourage people to not vote?

  • Guest (Contrarian)

    Carl, one of the major aspects of Obama's second term is clearly planned to be presiding over major cutbacks in Social Security, Medicare, ands Medicaid as "entitlements" in the name of fighting the "deficit" and balancing the budget. The plans are already drawn up, and the Obama regime is far more likely to be able to provide a left cover for doing so without visible outcry than Romney. A major group advocating for single payer health care (which still doesn't go far enough) has amply documented this. He already cut $700 million from Medicare under the guise of cost cutting. If any outcome of the elections should make people who live on Social Security/Medicare, etc. terrified, it is an Obama reelection.

    To me, the truly incredible thing about the argument about voting for Obama as the "lesser evil" is that he really isn't! He is far worse. He will mostly do the same things, yet continue to paralyze much of the opposition. I am not urging people to vote for Romney. I don't think we should support the candidates of either of the two imperialist parties. But an argument to vote for Romney as the "lesser evil" would at least have some truth to it, and a Romney election might help galvanize popular opposition not tied to the Demo-rat-ic Party.

    I say: Defeat Obama and his evil twin Romney. End the wars! Hands off Iran! Double Social Security benefits. Free healthcare for everyone paid from general tax revenue with no premiums, co-pays or deductibles. Cancel the national "debt" and stop paying the blood money interest on it to the blood sucking banks! Stop all foreclosures, and cancel all mortgages and student loan debt. Rock and roll and fucking in the street! Be ruthlessly realistic (unless Ruth insists on joining in) and demand the impossible! And then, there is my ultimate program...

  • Guest (zerohour)

    I said this elsewhere and I'm repeating it here. This is bizarre to me. When has the radical left in the last 20 years or so had any effect on voting patterns? People who are inclined to vote and vote a certain way are going to do so - they could really care less what leftists say about it. So what is the point of advocating voting, even with caveats, at all? Who is this for?

  • Guest (Contrarian)

    This is a perceptive analysis of the coming assault of the Obama regime on Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, and why an Obama reelection may literally mean starvation and death in the streets for people reliant on these programs. I think this is worth readi8ng in light of Carl's typical raising of im,mediate material interests to support the pulling of the lever for Obamanation. Clearly, even based on THAT standard, supporting Obamqa is an act of sheer insanity. More importantly, much morte important is that Obama, in leading the U.S. continuing war of terror on the people of the world, is an enemy of the vast majority of humanity, which internationalist duty compels us to oppose even if it were not true (which it is) that his actions are diam,ewtrically opposed to even the most narrow immediate material interests of people in this country.

    Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid
    By Matt Stoller, a political analyst on Brand X with Russell Brand, and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller

    This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

    So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

    The White House already tried cutting all three main entitlement programs, last year (cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts to Obamacare, for what it’s worth, since an expansion of Medicaid was a key plank of the new health care law).

    The White House agreed to cut at least $250 billion from Medicare in the next 10 years and another $800 billion in the decade after that, in part by raising the eligibility age. The administration had endorsed another $110 billion or so in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs, with $250 billion more in the second decade. And in a move certain to provoke rebellion in the Democratic ranks, Obama was willing to apply a new, less generous formula for calculating Social Security benefits, which would start in 2015.

    Going after entitlements is in fact a tradition of Democratic politicians since the 1980s. The post-WWII model of dealing with entitlements was to expand them as a way of boosting aggregate demand. But as Carter, Reagan and Volcker ushered in an era of Wall Street greed and austerity, that trend reversed. In the early 1980s, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil collaborated with Ronald Reagan to raise taxes on the poor and middle class with a “grand bargain” around Social Security. Later on, Bill Clinton had his go at the programs, with an even more aggressive plan to destroy the remains of New Deal liberalism.

    One of the little known political stories of the late 1990s is how Bill Clinton tried to work with Newt Gingrich to cut Social Security for recipients and pour some of the Social Security trust fund into the booming stock market. Clinton was willing to oppose the liberal wing of his party to cut a deal, and accept Republican demands for private accounts and a higher retirement age. Gingrich was willing to let Clinton succeed at doing so. And Clinton put Erskine Bowles, a conservative Democrat, in charge of the effort.

    But then Monica Lewinsky happened, and Clinton had to take refuge with the liberals, who might have abandoned him during his impeachment had he cut entitlements. As Bowles said, “Monica changed everything”. Bill Clinton was an obscenely corrupt politician, starting with NAFTA in the early 1990s and ending with financial deregulation until his final days in office. After he left office, he took over $80 million in bribes, and his team of advisors – people like Gene Sperling, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers – operated just like he did, spinning between DC power and New York money for decades in a sea of graft and pay-to-play favors.

    Barack Obama continues in this fine tradition of Democratic policymaking, and his advisors are quietly laying plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid in the second term of his administration. Obama appointed Erskine Bowles, who now works for a Wall Street botique, to head up his commission on fiscal responsibility. Bowles, along with an old man named Alan Simpson, came out with a set of proposals to cut the programs. And while Obama couldn’t get the Republicans to agree to it in 2011, he will try in his second term. Here’s the New Yorker laying out the plan.

    There is a possibility that a second Obama term could begin with major deficit reduction and serious reform of taxes and entitlements. A similar opportunity arose in the second terms of Reagan (who in 1986 signed into law a historic tax-reform bill) and Clinton (who in 1997 reached a significant budget deal with Republicans). Although both victories occurred when the two parties were less polarized, many White House officials regard the successes as encouraging precedents. Several senior Clinton officials involved in the 1997 deal now work for Obama, including Jacob Lew, Obama’s chief of staff, and Gene Sperling, the head of the National Economic Council.

    And sure enough, as Dean Baker points out, a gang of incredibly wealthy CEOs are planning to gut entitlements regardless of which candidate wins in 2012. It’s not just CEOs, of course, it’s also the usual gang of corrupt Democratic establishment folk. Here’s Steven Pearlstein describing one riveting meeting of the designated austerity group.

    In addition to Cote, Dimon and Bertolini, the charter business members include Sandy Cutler of Eaton, Gregg Sherrill of Tenneco, Marty Flanagan of Invesco, Gary Loveman of Caesars, Thomas Quinlan of R.R. Donnelley & Sons and financiers Steven Rattner and Pete Peterson.

    Later that evening, at Honeywell’s Washington office, over a salmon dinner with the floodlit Capitol dome as a backdrop, the executives huddled with their political co-conspirators: Simpson and Bowles, Warner and Saxby, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. Also on board: Simpson-Bowles commissioners Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, and Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union.

    It’s Senate leader Dick Durbin, House leader Steny Hoyer, and a bevy of CEOs and political leaders. As for non-CEO non-politicians, Andy Stern is a key tell. Back in 2009, when he led the powerhouse union SEIU, Stern visited the White House more often than anyone else. Back when he was trying to woo bloggers in the mid-2000s, Stern invited me on a trip around the country to see the union. On that trip, he told me that SEIU was growing so quickly he wished he could cash out and take it public. Since retiring from SEIU, Stern is now on the board of a bio-weapons company and his political connections are what he sells. So he’s one of the links between shutting down liberal opposition to this plan, the White House, and the business community. That level of self-serving cynicism has become the basis of our political system, and it’s an important cultural element in delivering austerity to a public that doesn’t want it.

    It’s useful to remember, this election season, that the way the debate is framed matters. That Obama isn’t choosing to discuss in public what he will do to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that Romney isn’t specific about it either, should show you who this election is for. But in addition, that both Bush, Clinton, and Obama (in his first term) failed at cutting Social Security means that an aroused public can stop austerity, when politicians feel their office is at risk. Clinton chose to abandon his plans to gut entitlements when facing impeachment and Bush chose to stop when his plan threatened the Republican Congress.

    The joke during the transition in 2008 was that the people who supported Obama got a President, and those who supported Clinton got a job. The Clintonistas didn’t manage to gut entitlements in the 1990s, but they will sure try again and again until they succeed or someone takes their keys to the White House away.

    This election, aside from not being much of an election for anyone but the billionaire funders who have the real votes, doesn’t really matter. But keeping in mind who is doing what does. Because if there’s a chance to save anything for anyone who isn’t ultra-wealthy from 2013 going forward, it’s going to require being able to create credible threats to the politicians making the policy.


    Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/obamas-second-term-agenda-cutting-social-security-medicare-andor-medicaid.html#8keDfO7TuZkuyq8z.99

  • Guest (Ajagbe Adewole-Ogunade)

    Mao allied with the Guomindang. Repeatedly.

  • Guest (PatrickSMcNally)

    I have to echo the sentiments of ZH here: the Left is not important enough for this to be justified at all. If someone feels that they have to go to the polls on November 6 and check off Obama then I won't hold it against them. I intend to write in Jerry White & Phyllis Scherrer as the SEP candidates, but I won't hold any grudges against those who don't. But what is the point of issuing a statement where one endorses the idea of voting Democrat? The traditional justification in the Comintern for making general pro-Roosevelt statements was that the Communist Party USA felt it was really strong enough to tip the balance in a vote for or against the New Deal. We can argue over what the CPUSA should have really done then when they seemed to have some real muscle in the trade unions, but what does that have to do with the real world today?

  • Guest (Jay Rothermel)

    My thoughts on FRSO and WWP, which also came out with a few startling formulations yesterday:

    http://marxistupdate.blogspot.com/2012/08/dont-elect-lesser-evil-workers-world.html

  • Guest (Alenka)

    How is this statement by FRSO an endorsement of Obama's candidacy? Duh...

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    Thinking that going to the polls 'only takes a few minutes' misses the whole point of electoral struggle. Elections are an opportunity to organize, where your reach is multiplied by a factor of 10 or even more. Actually casting a ballot is the least important part of it. Meeting new people, educating, agitating, propagandizing, organizing, forming new alliances, uniting the militant minority in your base community, developing a progressive majority--these are the important things. If you do them well, whether your candidate wins or loses, you still have won a more important battle on a more important front, helping the working class to educate itself, organize itself, and do battle with a wide range of adversaries on many levels. Of course you can do these things in other arenas as well. I actually prefer some of these, not even especially liking electoral work. But that doesn't matter. If your want to conquer the castle, you must pass through the moats and breach the fortifications that are all along the way. Skipping over them is rare, if not impossible.

  • Guest (Chris Hani's Ghost)

    Another aspect to consider is the way in which this call to support Obama, in the name of "the Mass Line", dovetails the deadly strategy of the largest, most important of the workers' defensive organ, the trade unions. The AFL-CIO has pledged to spend $400 million this calendar year in support of these elections. SEIU has pledged to mobilise 100,000 members to get out the vote etc. The idea that this is simply about joining the masses while making a choice "between thin gruel and the shit sandwich", misses the profound way in which this choice offers key ideological support to the disastrous strategy of the trade unions (among others)..and has a equally profound material impact.....

    In other words, this is NOT about the discrete act that takes place in the voting booth (between evil and lesser evil)....this is about a popular front-ist strategy, conceived 70-80 years ago, which, in the last forty years in particular, has meant the political center continues its march to the right....

    All the arguments I have heard in support of a vote for Obama fail on their own terms...i.e. they strengthen the forces of reaction

  • Guest (Ross Wolfe)

    Without wanting to fall into facile Stalinophobia or Stalin-baiting (FRSO-FB is the side that upheld Stalin's legacy in the 1999 split), I can't say this really comes as a surprise. It basically accords with the principle of popfrontism.

  • Guest (ala)

    called tokenism

  • Guest (Prole Center)

    Voting for either of the capitalist parties is a criminal act. In fact, participating in elections in the U.S. at all, even to cast a vote for a Socialist party is a serious mistake. All sincere Leftists must encourage a boycott of the 2012 elections.

    http://prolecenter.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/youve-got-to-stop-voting/

  • Guest (Natalio Pérez)

    I echo zerohour's question about who this is aimed at, though it seems telling that the article closes by saying what "progressives" should be doing in this election, nary a mention of revolution(aries) or socialism anywhere in the text. I don't mean to imply that every article from communists needs to conclude with the tired "...and that's why we need..." tip, but this seems more vaguely addressed as a nudge-the-social-movements-without-rocking-the-boat type of statement than something reflecting any real strategic approach.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    We've got to stop voting? So how do you fight back against all of the GOP's reactionary 'Voter ID' and other voter suppression efforts this year? We joined with the NAACP, the unions and the ACLU and marched on Harrisburg here in PA to protest them. Were we being 'reactionary'?

  • Guest (Red Fly)

    Four years ago I made a mistake. And while I take no pride in it, I do think it's been quite useful for me. Because, with the able assistance of Mr. Obama, it has shattered the last vestiges of hope I had in me that things can change through this system. And this state of abject hopelessness, I think, is where true hope begins. Necessary clarity is reached.

    What's been made clear? That this criminal system has reached a point of total closure. That there is no longer any possibility of making positive reforms to the economic base by participating in its institutions.

    39 years ago when Bretton Woods was dismantled and the dollar was elevated to the status of global reserve currency marked the beginning of a project. This project is now entering its final phase. The goal? Total erasure.

    Every social gain that has made this cruel and inhuman capitalist setup just a little bit more bearable has been paid for in the blood, sweat and tears of hundreds of millions of oppressed people. Many of them are dead now. But they can't rest in peace. Because Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Pete Peterson, Steve Rattner and rest of their ilk have decided that, in order for capital to live, the deaths of the oppressed are not enough. Their graves must be spit on. Their legacy must be destroyed. History itself must be colonized and subjected to the totalitarian logic of "the market."

    <em>All</em> that is solid...

    And how much do they want? They want it all. Every last dime. Every last square inch. Every last thought. The total liquidation of the working class: its past, present and future.

    And so when I hear radical people, people who in many cases have been fighting against the Empire since before I was born, urging a vote for the Democrats, well, it breaks my fucking heart. Because they should know better. My god why can't they see that they're being made to act as prison guards?! And don't they see those train cars off in the short distance?!

    Don't tell me you're voting for a man who signed into law a bill allowing the military to disappear without a trace you, your family and your comrades forever. Don't tell me that! And definitely don't tell me you're urging other people to do the same! Don't you see what this is?!

    Pressure the Democrats to save Social Security? Buddy, let me tell you something, you'll be lucky if in the next ten years the Democratic Party doesn't decide make a bipartisan effort out of privatizing and charging you for the oxygen you breathe. They believe in two things (which are really one in capitalist non-society): their money and their power. (The unctuous Biden always going on about how this isn't your father's Republican Party. And he's right. What he neglects to mention is that this isn't your father's Democratic Party either. Give them another 15 years and by the then the Democrats, and thus the "center," will probably be where the Republicans are today, barring a revolution.)

    How in the hell are we ever going to create the preconditions for real change if we're still (still!) pretending that we somehow live in a "normal" bourgeois democracy with a "normal" ruling class? There's nothing normal about this system or the ones that run it. They don't give a fuck about us. And by us I don't just mean revolutionary-minded people, but the masses, the 99%.

    More and more people everyday are realizing that they don't give a fuck. They are becoming conscious of what's going on. I'm telling ya...I've seen it. It may not be happening as fast as we'd like but it is happening. And so, leaving the moral argument aside for a moment (because I realize that some people deny even the existence of communist morality), for people to lend their support to the Democrats, at this moment when the system is in a world-historic crisis and is daily being discredited, poses the very real possibility (and I would say likelihood) that they too will be discredited when the shit hits the fan. Independence from these corrupt legacy institutions is more important now than ever. Otherwise, good luck explaining to the masses that you weren't really supporting the system you were just working for its candidates (and its interests) to combat white supremacy or defend progressive gains or whatever. They might buy that.

    Lastly, people should have some self respect. When Pig Bloomberg's junior oinkers were beating people's heads in and coordinating with Pig-in-Chief Obama's Vaterland Security to smash up the encampments, was that repression more progressive than the Republican variety? Were Barack's batons were softer than Mitt's? Did Barack's tear gas burn less?

    I haven't decided whether I'm going to vote third party (in which case I'll probably -- even though I'm not a Trotskyist and I disagree with SEP on a couple of things -- write in Jerry White (or maybe Peta Lindsay and PSL)) or skip voting altogether. But I'm sure as hell not voting for Obama or Romney. That way lies madness.

  • Guest (Dante)

    Yeah but what are you guys doing? I keep coming to this site hoping to find some tangible organizing. But don't see it. I can't even figure out how to start a damn reading circle. Romney/Bush... Those are out and out fascists. More hell will rain down on our heads with less breathing room. I see a lot of talk on here as I've always seen on the left radical groups. That's a good thing. But the inaction. That's a downer. We need vision. We need leadership. I got tired of all the fingerpointing and trashing of left groups while I was involved. No one was ever good enough. I don't like that denigrating approach. Yes, debate. Grapple. Wrangle. But the smug condescension is a turn off. Been there..

  • Guest (Red Fly)

    Or maybe we should all just get behind Vermin Supreme's candidacy. The guy with the rubber boot on his head is exactly what this system is worthy of.

  • Guest (The Red Star Delight)

    I agree with this stance. Why is this so controversial? They're not advocating for Obama or for their people to pull a CPUSA and work for him. What they are saying is that voting for a 3rd party leftist (I think 12 including PSL) is not better in a swing state.
    While looking at a political spectrum of 1 being Lenin and 10 being Hitler, Obama is an 7 and Romney is a 7.5. But beyond that I'd say that organizing under Obama is much more important than it would be under the GOP. In the 2000's under Bush the massive protest where almost entirely an anti-Republican fest. This didn't translate into anti-capitalism, anti-war, or really anything radical. It translated into pro-Democrats. Under Obama it will be easier to highlight the inherent contradictions within our socio-economic system. It will also further pull organized labor away from the Democrats.
    What I find surprising is how so many rags are so quick to come out against this. I've heard people say that "they advocating for a man who is literally trying to throw them in jail". You don't think they know this? Did it slip their minds that over 20 of them have indictments waiting for them and might spend the rest of the lives in jail? The conditions wouldn't be any better under Romney and voting for a 3rd party or not at all wouldn't make a damn difference.
    Revolution is not in the ballot box. We should stop acting like this matters for our (revolutionary communists) work.

  • Guest (Pete M)

    There is a term for this kind of thinking it's called Veal Penning. There is only one way to bring down this Regime and that is to remove their mandate to rule which voting supports. This can occur through an active Boycott or apathy, 40% don't vote now. I don't know at what point &lt;50% participation that the mandate is no longer valid or how the Regime will react to maintain their grip on power.

  • Guest (PatrickSMcNally)

    PC, the examples cited in that article you linked to were from apartheid South Africa &amp; Batista's Cuba. These are not the applicable to the USA today. Blacks in South Africa were a much larger fraction of the total population than was the case in the USA at the peak of Jim Crow, and Batista was a military dictator. Neither of the nations had the stable appearance of a bourgeois republic such as has been maintained in the USA for an extended era. As such, you can't draw conclusions from how electoral boycotts functioned in these countries and apply them to here.

    For better or worse, much of the population in the USA (regardless of ethnic type or gender or anything similar) does look to elections as the first way of approaching politics when they become active. There are often significant sectors of the populace which abstain from elections out of pure demoralization and disillusionment, but that in itself is not the basis for any revolution. In fact, Republicans love to see such demoralized abstention because it usually does act to the benefit of the Republican candidate. Usually when large numbers of poor people become politically energized their first manifestation of this is to vote Democrat.

    Now that does not mean that one should always vote no matter what (as I've heard some people argue). Nor does it in any sense mean that one should vote for Democrats. It simply means that one shouldn't exaggerate the significance of non-voting as a political act. If a real revolutionary crisis were to develop then that could change the equation. But for now one should just accept that non-voting has no inherent obvious significance to it.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    There's no need for a lot of speculation on this. Elections have great legitimacy in the US, even if people bad-mouth and complain about them. All the studies that have been done of non-voters show that they span the political spectrum near the same way as voters, with maybe a five point shift to the left at most. We know that the Black community turns out in fairly large numbers on election day and votes 90%+ Democratic. 'White' workers vote 55-60% GOP, with younger workers and women going in the Dem direction by a majority. Progressive third party vote tallies are less than 3%, except in some local races. One critical point--the median-age of voters is about 59 years--as younger voters are less interested, but as they age, they vote more.

    You can rant and rail all you like about how corrupt the whole thing is, and you'll get no argument from me. But it's not about you and me, but what masses, of all trends, are thinking. I assure you, there is no basis for 'boycottism' at this time. If you run that line among many Black voters, they'll likely wonder if you're being paid by Republicans.

    Figuring out decent strategy and tactics for elections, and how to build organizations without being coopted, is a very tough challenge and a lot of work. But I suggest getting into it. There's nothing easy about getting from capitalism to socialism and beyond in any arena, but put your shoulder to the wheel and work at it.

  • Guest (jfsp)

    Just to start debate if Gore ended up in the Whitehouse no war in Iraq. The lesser of two Dictators.

  • Guest (ish)

    JFSP, President Clinton was responsible for maintaining the US imperialists' blockade of Saddam's Iraq that cost untold hardship on the Iraqi people and is believed to have contributed to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. Gore would have undoubtedly kept up that blockade; whether or not he would have acted like Bush after 9/11 is pure speculation but there's no reason to think he would have changed the trajectory of collision between imperialism and Iraq. It's easy for the party out of power to posture about the other one. But when they get in power, they usually act pretty much the same.

  • Jfsp writes:

    <blockquote>"Just to start debate if Gore ended up in the Whitehouse no war in Iraq. The lesser of two Dictators."</blockquote>

    The imperialist wars of the twentieth century were almost all started by Democratic presidents. (World War 1 and 2, Korea, Vietnam, invasion of Dominican Republic, etc.) It was Democrats who dropped the nukes on two Japanese cities. It was Democrats who invented containment, and the Green Berets, and the CIA.

    I can't magically know what Gore would have done after 911. (And neither can you.) I imagine his specfiic policies and moves would have been <em>somewhat</em> different from Bush (since individual leaders are, well, different)-- but no one know precisely how.

    Certainly it is worth noting that Gore supported all the military actions of Bush (with great enthusiasm) and with him the whole Democratic establishment. None of us missed the fact that the Democrats were foaming in their support of aggression after 911, and unanimous in their support of Bush's invasion of Iraq (and their media flagships were shameless in their support of the raw Bush/Cheney lies -- i.e. New York Times etc.)

    To use speculation that Gore would have been "less" reactionary in his actions is simply to make an argument based on non-facts and fantasy.

    When Gore was in the White House with Clinton -- do we need to list the imperialist wars? Balkans? Blockades of Iraq (that were murderous)? Somalia? Drone attacks in Afghanistan?

    In short, i think you make no material argument for a substantive difference (or a "lesser" nature) -- but simply express your illusion (i.e. Gore would have been different because, well, you believe Gore to be different.) You make a circular argument based on your assumptions, not an argument proving your assumptions.

  • Guest (jgramsey)

    I recall Glenn Ford putting it very well at last year's Left Forum: "Obama is not the lesser evil. He is the more effective evil."

  • Personally, I am not interested in spending too much time arguing with people in "swing states" that they should not vote in a defensive "lesser evil" manner. That said, I'll be damned if I spend a minute of my scarce time and energy rallying people to support the more effective party of empire and capital.

    Here's my proposal for radicals and progressives this year though: If you are going to go to the polls, to vote or just ot "check things out," where an orange jump suit. In solidarity with the undocumented workers, the deportees, the prisoners, the camp detainees and all the other brothers and for whom, in the most immediate and brutal of ways, talk of US "democracy" remains a ruse and a sham.

  • correction: *wear* not "where"

  • Note to moderator: If you can, please add "and sisters" to my post after "brothers" . Damn computer delay. Ugh

  • Guest (Carl Davidson)

    Again, the point is being missed. Millions have their attention focused on the elections, Many think they matter, one way or another, and are engaged, by their unions, by their churches, their community groups and so on. This is a HUGE opportunity to build grassroots organizations and recruit to more revolutionary organization and carrying out radical education in the thick of it. You have an opportunity, every time these things happen, to multiply your contacts among progressive fighters by a factor of 10 or more. But you keep clinging to old dogmas keeping you out on the margins, for fear of cooptation. You want to wage class struggle, but only on battlefields of your own choosing, where you have all your ducks neatly in a row, Sorry, comrades. History doesn't work that way. You go to where the battles are; you don't sit on the sand, idly wiggling your toes, waiting for the perfect wave.

  • Guest (Stiofan)

    Carl wrote,

    "You go to where the battles are; you don’t sit on the sand, idly wiggling your toes, waiting for the perfect wave."

    This is precisely why so many of the folks here were heavily engaged in the Occupy movement. That phenomena was anything but a "perfect wave" but it was where people were struggling to find a new politics that represented them and in which they could recognize themselves. The last time I checked the spectrum of the two electoral electoral vehicles in almost all of the US represent the center right (most of the DP) to the extreme right (most of the Republican Party). This leaves a great many people absolutely disenfranchised which is why so many Americans do not vote and only 1% make individual donates to political campaigns.

    "This is a HUGE opportunity to build grassroots organizations and recruit to more revolutionary organization and carrying out radical education in the thick of it."

    There will be a huge opportunity this fall, and that is for the pros that run campaigns to enlist what grassroots base they can to do the essential work of canvassing for votes, calling people for money, and driving people to the polls. The control and top down nature of those campaigns will be totally centralized and thoroughly undemocratic. The only real grassroots input will be focus group responses used to craft dumbed down, insipid slogans
    that will be repeated endlessly and given to activist volunteers to repeat as talking points. There are very few ideas in political campaigns but a great deal of strategizing controlled exclusively by the candidate, their top staffers, consultants, pollsters, and large donors. This is the reality of American politics during an election and I just don't see the connection that leads to "more revolutionary organization." Could you provide some historical examples Carl?
    Something from the post WWII history of the US would be particularly relevant

    The political atmosphere will be thick, but the last thing campaigns are about is education-radical are otherwise. The premise is the base has nowhere else to go and everything is geared to winning over a small percentage of undecided voters in a handful of swing states. The Democrats will mention the "middle class" ad nauseum and the Republicans will babble on about "opportunity," "job creators," and what a great thing the American dream is.

    I don't mind if you want to knock on doors for the Obama campaign Carl. Really, I don't. I don't mind if you work the phones and stuff envelopes and drive old ladies to the polls. I do, however want you to report back to use exactly how many people joined the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism a result of your groups election work. What is more, I really want to know how your radical organizing, in the thick of real politics, transform your organization into becoming an effective, dynamic political alternative to the cynical, corrupt, oppressive, undemocratic process I just described above.

  • Guest (vincesherman)

  • Guest (Stiofan)

    What kind of unity did you have in mind Vince? I followed the link and the site has a banner hailing Bashir Assad and resolutely
    supporting him in his life and death struggle with the imperialist forces seeking to overthrow the Baath party. I understand that
    but it doesn't quite square with the impassioned defense of a second term for the administration, now actively trying to destroy
    this same regime. Please help me through that apparent contradiction if you have that figured out. While you are at it, I could
    use some help on the following from the text.

    &gt;Kasama, along with most left groups in the US, generally write to the comparatively small section of revolutionary leftists in
    &gt;the United States. To put it another way, they preach to the choir; proselytize to the already converted.

    If that were true, Kasama would be putting its energy in producing an unreadable newspaper distributed at left wing rallies.
    Instead the project has used a website with enough appeal to get millions of page views. If this is preaching to the choir,
    it is a very large one indeed.

    &gt;…a second-term Obama Presidency offers the conditions to expand the people’s struggle and increasingly draw a line in
    &gt;the sand between revolutionaries and opportunist Democrats, whose actions and policies can never match their populist
    &gt;rhetoric

    The last big time Democratic politician to use even vaguely populist rhetoric was John Edwards in his bid to become president.
    Since then its been pretty much all "middle class" all the time. The quote above implies there is at least populist rhetoric
    used by Democrats in their struggle with the Republicans. It has been a long time since the Democratic party has approximated
    anything like left wing populism. The DP now seems closest to many of the conservative parties in Europe and as such,
    I think it does fit the category of Center Right with the Republican party on the extreme right. I will grant that this is a clear
    difference between the two parties.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    You have a failure of radical imagination, Stiofan. Just because the official Obama campaign might want you to work in one way, you shouldn't assume it's the only way. There's nothing stopping anyone, for instance, to set up a group, 'Peace and Justice Voters vs Romney and the Right,' or whatever you want to call it, and set up voter registration tables at all sorts of events where young people gather. You can hold your own meetings, recruits your own members, and when you have a few, you can partner with your local unions and NAACP and go door-knocking with them, or just do it on your own if you like. Put out your own literature, If people ask why your not with the regulars, tell them exactly why you're sick of Blue Dogs/DLC/DNC as well as the GOP, but see a R/R defeat as important nonetheless. You'll find lots of people agree with you. Keep records of everyone you talk to, and what their views are, hold debates, shows films, form a PDA chapter or something different, so long as it belongs to the workers involved. You don't have to have a single contact with the official campaign or Democrats if you don't want to, although around here, it's largely comprised of young volunteers that we like to talk to. Many, but not all, of the regular Dem incumbents actually do very little for Obama, being afraid to lose the racist vote to get re-elected themselves. That was the case with our Blue Dog Congressman last round. Now we've helped in defeating him in the primary.

  • Guest (kalitramplesshiva)

    @Carl - Millions have their attention focused on the elections, Many think they matter, one way or another, and are engaged, by their unions, by their churches, their community groups and so on. This is a HUGE opportunity to build grassroots organizations and recruit to more revolutionary organization and carrying out radical education in the thick of it.

    Millions also have their attention focused on professional sports, prime-time television, and MMORPGs. If your position was borne out of any genuine political consistency, you would be leafleting sports bars during MMA fights, conducting "radical education" campaigns on World of Warcraft servers, and petitioning Kaley Cuoco to be a spokesperson for communism.

    Since you are not currently engaged (to my knowledge) in any of these equally absurd and inane activities, your collaboration with the NGOs, (or as you call them, "community groups") union bosses, and liberal preachers to do campaign work for Obama needs to be called out for what it is; naked and aggressive right-opportunism.

  • Guest (kalitramplesshiva)

    Re: the FRSO rebuttal

    "Within the trade union movement, the immigrant rights movement, the black national movement, and to an extent the student movement, the principal opponent of revolution is not ultra-leftists; it is liberals, reformists, bureaucrats, opportunists, and some combination of all four. While some exceptions exist, the reformist leadership of these movements are firmly beholden to the Democratic Party, electoral politics, and in the particular case of the 2012 Presidential elections, President Barack Obama. Revolutionaries within these movements must do battle with these opportunist elements in order to draw out the advanced and build a revolutionary movement in the United States. However, the vast majority of the advanced in these different arenas of the people’s struggle are not revolutionary communists and will vote for President Obama, as acknowledged in the FRSO editorial.

    How do revolutionaries combat the rightist and opportunist elements within the mass movement? Is it through hoisting high the banner of revolutionary communism and proselytizing loudly against the Democrats? Or is it through the Marxist-Leninist method of unity, struggle, unity: begin from a point of unity with the advanced elements of these movements, struggle and build the people’s movements, and come to a greater point of unity around revolution?

    Kasama and the ultra-left critics of the FRSO’s position should ask themselves this: Would a union worker who plans to vote for President Obama read the FRSO’s editorial and come away believing that the central message was urging voters to re-elect or work for the re-election of the President? Would a first-generation Chican@ DREAMer finish the FRSO’s editorial and come away thinking that their salvation lies in the ballot box? Would or an African-American student protester at a Trayvon Martin rally get to the end of the editorial more convinced in the legitimacy of the electoral system? Would a heavily indebted student put down the editorial believing that the group was calling on her/him to work on the Obama campaign? Or would they come away with the real message of the piece: 'hope is in the people’s struggles, change is in the streets'?"

    Vince Sherman's position is not "the Marxist-Leninist method", it's the Bernsteinian method ("the movement is everything, the final goal is nothing")

    Here is the reality, not the right-opportunist fantasy:
    -Union membership in the US fell by 11% in 2010 [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/business/22union.html] 22 states already have "right-to-work" laws and only 11.8% of the US workforce is union.
    -DREAM-style immigration reform stands to effect "fewer than 2 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-most-undocumented-immigrants-life-in-the-shadows-continues/2012/08/15/a3814228-e719-11e1-a3d2-2a05679928ef_story.html]
    -The number of Black youth murdered by on-duty police officers in 2012 is much larger than the number murdered by private security and vigilantes. [http://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-110-black-people/]
    -Obama's student debt relief plan only offers a 5% decrease in loan payment limits and only shortens the timespan for loan forgiveness by five years. (Meaning that today's college freshman will be in her late 30s rather than early 40s by the time she can think about debt forgiveness) [http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/1025/Obama-s-student-loan-debt-relief-plan-Too-good-to-be-true] Also, only half of high-school graduated youth from "low-income families" are enrolled in any sort of higher education to begin with.

    Basically Vince Sherman is telling revolutionaries to tail the mass-energy of union labor-aristocrats, aspiring young Latino professionals, suburban Blacks, and students of mid-tier state colleges. These are all important segments of the population, but they are still not the lowest and deepest of the working-class, they are not the political base. The majority of Black proletarian youth are more afraid of metropolitan cops than suburban neighborhood watch captains, the majority of undocumented Latino migrants who risk deportation are older, blue-collar adults, the majority of workers have no relationship with the existing union structures, and the majority of proletarian students are enrolled at community colleges and technical schools where tuition rates are relatively low.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    @kalitramplesshiva

    Wow, not just right opportunism, but 'naked and aggressive' yet! That's a new twist for my collection.

    I'll take your analogies as facetious and silly. The difference is obvious. The interest in elections is political, and when workers think about politics, it should matter to us.

    But even so, sometimes you can mix politics and sports. I'm not partial to sports bars, but in our Beaver County retired workers contingent in the last labor day march in Pittsburgh, we were quite happy to have Franco Harris from the Steelers march with us and carry our banner!

  • Guest (kalitramplesshiva)

    Indeed. Sports are very political. The Thrilla in Manila, for example, was a very political event. And there are political reasons for why Lakers fans riot when their team loses to the Celtics. Popular art is also very political. (Even the banal pop-punk band Good Charlotte made the billboard top 100 by singing "if money's such a problem, why don't we rob [the rich]?") But the goal of Marxists is to raise the political consciousness of the masses.

    The electoral cycle in the US serves a specific political purpose, as an ideological justification for the class-dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie. You yourself rely on a quirky sort of "two-stage revolution" model for the US to justify your organizing strategy around elections. The irony is that this hints at the deeply and uniquely deformed nature of bourgeois democracy in the US. The US is not even a bourgeois parliamentary system, as you yourself freely admit. The presidential election in the US is not based on popular vote but based on a system of "electors" mostly arbitrated by congressional apportionment. Thus we have situations such as the 2000 election where Al Gore won the popular vote but was not, legally speaking, elected president. A strict two-party duopoly exists, supported in place by institutions such as congress and the FEC in which the maximum donation limits of National, State, District, and Local Party Committees as well as PACs exceed those of individual donors. The two major political parties in the US are historically rooted in the two political parties of the US colonists - the federalists and the anti-federalists. The superstructure of the US originates from a system where only property-owning white males were allowed to vote and this is only formally no longer the case. (Let's talk about felony disenfranchisement for one, or disenfranchisement for the Latin migrant proletariat who are barred from formal citizenship procedures, or the disenfranchisement of youth under age 18, or recent changes in voter ID laws which disenfranchise the homeless, transgendered, and elderly poor, or or questions of reliability regarding absentee ballots for stationed overseas personal who are disproportionately Black and Latino, or again going back to the 2000 election when vote tallies for entire Black neighborhoods in Florida were landfilled)

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    @kalitramplesshiva

    You don't have to convince me that we've more backward than the usual run-of-the-mill bourgeois parliamentary system. I've argued for some time with some on the left that that's is a good reason why European left multi-party tactics don't work so well here, and they have to come up with a strategy and tactics based on what we do have, and then work for something different. As to the history of it all, here's the link to a page at our Online University of the Left where you'll find a set of slide shows by me for an eight-part class of the US Constitutional system, how it came into being, and how it evolved. http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?page_id=281 />
    As for disenfranchisement, my group here in PA is actively engaged in the battles around it. See
    http://beavercountyblue.org

    As for 'two stages,' I'm not sure what you mean. I'm for one stage of socialism leading, in due time, likely quite protracted, to a second stage of communism. To get to socialism, as a decent working hypothesis, I'm for a popular front vs finance capital, which may or may not ever see itself as a government or a majority in Congress. An insurrectionary moment or counter-revolutionary assault could easily scramble up the best of blueprints, so I see that more as a form of transition and approach, rather than as some separate stage.

  • Guest (Contrarian)

    The left could use the attention to politics to do mass organizing. How about a mass voter non-registration drive to get millions of the current non-voters to demanj that their names be taken off of the voter registraqtion records because the governme3nt does not represent them and is a tool of the rich to suppress the3 people, in ALL its activities. How about a campaignjh to sign up hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands to declare3 that they are no longer supporting Obama because of the unacceptable targeted assassinations, drove attacks, Bradley Man ning? Target the real, number 1 enemy of the world's people, the increasingly fascistic Obama regime. In Oakland the other day, six were arrested in a sit in to shut down Obama headquarte4rs. Here in Chicago, anti-war grous are holding a march atr the start of the Democratic convention to oippose President 1% and his war on 99% of the world's people. These are the kind of actions we need. Obama must and will be defeated--not by voting for Romney but by working hard to get people not to support or vote for OBamaination, the more effective of the two evils. Defeat Obama now!

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    Ideas and actions have consequences, Contrarian. Are you willing to own what could follow from yours? It's one thing to demonstrate vs. Obama to push him; it's quite another to work on taking him down without regard to a GOP-Right takeover. It may not matter to you. If so, say so. As for 'un-registering' people and encouraging them not to vote, there's no need for that effort. The GOP has an amazingly well-funded and pernicious operation to do just that well underway. Do you really want to put a 'Red' fig leaf on it?

  • Guest (Contrarian)

    yes Carl, I meant what I said. Obama must be defeated and people start to be conscious and organized in opposition to the Democratic Party, the more effective evil, and therefore, ultimately the worst evil.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    Well, Contrarian, at least we have clarity on our differences here. I would only add that yours is 'left' in appearance, but quite rightist in the political context of the day. Around here for certain, you would be limited to very unsavory allies.

  • Guest (Pete M)

    It is quite strange to come to a Revolutionary site and read these calls for Veal Pen and LOTE voting. Attempting to use this corrupt system means that you are part of that system or at least lending it support. An election Boycott is a direct way to strike fear into the system especially the Democrat party. All of the attempts to organize the Left in the last 40yrs have failed miserably especially by using the Democrat party.

    The Boycott concept is spreading through the internet in the US and Canada already and the Democrats are desperate to stop it. It is a positive, you have to be a registered voter, way to withdraw the consent of the people to be governed by these madmen.

    The argument that it would help bring the Republicans to power may be true but destroying the Democrats is a good first step.

  • Guest (carldavidson)

    @Pete These are odd assertions. What do you base them on? First, the Dems are justifiably fearful, and angry, over the GOP's attempt to rig the outcome via its voter suppression/Voter ID laws and purging the voter rolls of minorities in several key states. They are not the only ones concerned with these reactionary measures. We should all oppose them. Second, the Dems have some concern with passivity in their base of campaign volunteers, but that's hardly a 'boycott concept spreading through the internet.' This sound like wishful thinking on your part, and I fail to see what's left or progressive about it in our context.

  • Guest (Jan Makandal)

    Most of the American left and the progressive movements are drinking a big gulp of capitalism’s deadly poison of opportunism and populism, but expect capitalism to die instead. The task of any genuine revolutionary proletarian left is to appropriate an understanding of capital and capitalism, and to define the political line allowing them to transition among the masses (like fish in water) from a minority to a majority position, then in a dialectical relation of organization/masses to construct the party and simultaneously define the revolutionary path to construct socialism.

    If we are to become relevant, stop gulping the poison of capitalism while waiting for capitalism to die. We need to construct our autonomous alternatives, both at the level of constructing the path for revolution as well as at the level of constructing combative mass organizations. The theory of uniting with a lesser evil leads to the political line of supporting the Democratic Party, which was yesterday an opportunist line but has nowadays matured into an outright reactionary political line. It is fundamentally antagonistic to the correct line of the Bolsheviks in the Duma, or the anti-imperialist united front the Chinese Communist Party formed with the Kuomintang.

    Since China was the most recent experience, I will expound on this experience to show the sharp difference between a revolutionary line based on principled unity, and the reactionary line of antagonistic class collaboration, which is rationalized as uniting with the lesser evil.

    Before even applying the political line of the anti-imperialist front against Japan’s imperialism, Chinese proletarian revolutionaries had accomplished crucial steps:

    1) They had analyzed their social formation and identified the National Bourgeoisie as an anti-imperialist force, and temporarily part of the peoples’ camp during the period of occupation. Any class analysis in any social formation is an analysis of their struggle. The struggle of the National Bourgeoisie to protect its form of capital accumulation was objectively anti-imperialist (even if it is a capitalist class). Its ideology was nationalism, as opposed to the anti-national class position of other fractions of the Chinese dominant classes. Their nationalism was sharply and fundamentally opposite to the reactionary nationalist position of the feudal landlords.

    2] The communist Party of China was present among the masses, not irrelevant like the left in general in the US.

    3] The theory of class autonomy and class independence was correctly applied, even though opportunism /populism/pragmatism to a certain degree affected this correct line.

    The FRSO identifies the US social formation as imperialist, with the hegemonic role of monopoly capital. As a generic approach, this is correct. But since there is no general line to analyze a social formation (especially the problematic of the mode of production), the FRSO’s limited approach is dogmatic--in the sense that it goes from general to general.
    Identifying the US social formation as imperialist, even though correct, is an empty statement since it was not followed by the application of general to specific. It was not developed from the specificity and concrete conditions of the US social formation.

    Class struggle, in any social formation, will determine and define the dynamic of production, the dynamics of different forms of concentration of capital, and the contradictory nature of the struggle for hegemony (principally at the level of the base, but also at the level of the superstructure). One of the forms it takes at the level of ideology (superstructure) is the struggle between liberals and conservatives. This is the case even though capital as a whole is reactionary, and that at the stage of imperialism bourgeois democracy/dictatorship is totally depleted of progressiveness of any kind.

    The FRSO failed to recognize that all forms of concentration of capital at the stage of imperialism are fundamentally antagonistic to the masses, and especially to the interest of the working class. They also failed to recognize that the contradiction within the capitalist class (in their competition for the reproduction of their modes of extraction of surplus value) is a secondary contradiction. To align or unite with one against the other is class collaborationist. In the final analysis, it will benefit the whole capitalist class for the reproductions of bourgeois democracy/dictatorship.

    The theory of the Mass Line elaborated by FRSO is in sharp fundamental contradiction to the Proletarian Mass Line of the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of a proletarian alternative. In short, the FRSO’s version of the mass line is populism and tailism.

    No mass line can be implemented outside of the most advanced detachment of the most advanced class in capitalist society: the working class. The proletarian mass line elaborated by Mao defines how the communist alternative is to fuse with the masses, especially the working class. To understand the level of the masses and define the correct form of agitation and propaganda with the objective of unification (consciousness developing) of the masses with the proletarian alternative. Mass line is historically determined by class struggle and the capacity of the revolutionary forces to unify the masses for a final blow against capitalism.

    For the communist forces to be relevant, they have to construct a line and define a mass line, within the dialectical relation of the communist organization to the masses, in order to transition from a minority position to be representative in the masses.

    We are not in competition with capitalism. We are in the trenches of battle against capitalism for a new form of societal organization.

    All positions that unite with one fundamental enemy against the other, or to simply boycott an election, instead of organizing for battle in the real struggle ahead is to DRINK THE POISON AND WAIT FOR CAPITAL TO DIE.

  • Guest (Red Fly)

    [moderator note: Red Fly's comment has been <a href="/http://kasamaproject.org/2012/08/23/u-s-elections-at-a-distance-messages-from-gyorgy-lukacs/" rel="nofollow">made into its own self-standing post</a>.]

  • Guest (travis)

    I hate Obama. Romney greater of 2 evils. Puhhleese. They both equally suck. stop fooling yourselves you pseudo-leftists.