. The following article is from Detroit Workers' Voice #43, December 6, 2004. (CV #35, March 15, 2005)


What does the recent presidential election mean for the working class?


. On November 2nd the neo-conservative imperialist George W. Bush, by a narrow margin, defeated the liberal imperialist John Kerry in the election for president of the United States. What this means is that the voting population selected which representative of the rich ruling capitalists will repress the masses for the next four years. Such is the hypocritical nature of bourgeois democracy. It poses as democracy for all, but the candidates are chosen by the rich exploiters, the issues they discuss and the positions they take are determined by the rich and the manner of their campaigning and the conduct of the election are also governed by the wealthy parasites. The only role the working masses are allowed to have -- so long as we do not possess powerful organization of our own -- is to rubber stamp which member of the elite will take office. This truth about bourgeois democracy was even more evident this year, when both candidates not only attended Yale, one of the most elite of universities, but are members of the same secret society, Skull and Bones, which serves as a reactionary networking site and playground for rich white boys. The anti-people nature of this secret society is evident from the fact that, at the turn of the 20th century, its members robbed the grave of Geronimo, the great Apache fighter, and still refuse to give back his skull to the Native People.

Dirty tricks and voting irregularities

. The anti-people, anti-worker nature of the election was very evident in the process itself. All sorts of measures were taken by the Republicans to prevent the working class, and especially the African American minority workers, from voting and getting their votes counted, considering that the workers were going heavily for the Democrats. An army of lawyers to challenge voter qualifications, dirty-trick phone calls, misinformation, lack of sufficient voting machines -- all these problems were focused in the worker and worker-minority neighborhoods and cities and near college campuses, not in the Republican-dominated suburbs or rural areas. The Democrats, posing as defenders of the masses, put up a feeble defense against these attacks, which the people themselves dealt with resolutely, often waiting long hours to vote. At the same time, the Democrats, not to be outdone by their Republican rivals in dirty tricks and irregularities, used their reactionary gimmicks to undermine the Nader candidacy, which opposed the two-party monopoly in an impotent campaign empty of calls for a class struggle by the workers, the only force which could effectively oppose the big parties.

. The widespread irregularities have led many on the left to claim that Bush stole the election, that Kerry, in fact, actually won. While this is conceivable, none of the irregularities yet unearthed are large enough to overcome Bush's three million edge in the popular vote or even to tip the decisive state of Ohio to Kerry. Maverick journalist Greg Palast claimed that a combination of Ohio's spoiled ballots and provisional ballots, when counted, would give Kerry the votes he needed, but that result would require that a very large part of those votes be proved legitimate and be cast for Kerry, an extremely unlikely scenario. Other theories, such as the one citing widespread pro-Kerry exit polls, or the one about the Democratic-majority counties in the panhandle of Florida which went for Bush, or the suspicious pre-election letter by the president of a principal electronic voting machine company (Diebold) that he would "deliver" the votes to Bush -- all these are purely circumstantial and provide no hard evidence of fraud. The widespread use of electronic voting machines leaving no paper trail raises the possibility of computerized fraud but, again, evidence must be presented and, in that case, may be simply non-existent due to the lack of paper. The voting-machine theory, which seems inviting due to hackers, is at the same time unlikely, because it would require a widespread conspiracy to be kept absolutely secret, in which a very large number of separate PCs be given simultaneous instructions to alter the vote by a few percentage points. But the masses' anger at the Bush program and the spectrum of irregularities has made the Kerry-won theories popular and has compelled several Congressmen, led by John Conyers of Michigan, to call for an investigation by the federal General Accounting Office. At the same time, the Kerry-won theories provide a distraction that helps keep people with illusions in the Democrats from realizing the class nature of their party and candidate.

Bush and Kerry: capitalist servants

. The candidate elected was going to face major objective crises, no matter which one made it.And both had made similar proposals. The most pressing problem, the Iraq war, elicited from Bush a promise of full speed ahead, which he recently implemented in blood in Fallujah, while from Kerry it elicited a promise of more troops plus involvement of the Europeans and the UN, the former being Bush's program writ large and the latter appearing virtually impossible. Other pressing matters are the faltering economy, loss of jobs, weakening of the dollar, lack of health care for many and its runaway costs, plus international issues such as the desperate Palestinian problem. On all of these the Kerry supporters pinned their hopes on slight differences expressed by their candidate, even imagining him to be anti-war. They were clutching at straws. The main elements of the ruling bourgeoisie want either no change of very little change from the Bush program of simultaneously crushing all opposition abroad while attacking the workers and poor at home. In their view this is the route to maximum profits and they are sticking to it. This is the explanation for the feebleness of the Kerry criticism of the Iraq war -- his wealthy backers are also committed to it, in spite of massive anti-war protests.

The so-called Bush mandate

. Meanwhile, the Bush machine, with the complicity of most of the mass media, is making arrogant claims about the significance of the election. Bush calls it a mandate for his policy which provides him with "capital" to do what he wants. Yet there is no mandate. The Bush margin of victory was smaller than that of the victors in many past presidential elections. In fact, the evident lesson is that the country is divided. That division is not drawn clearly on class lines, but there is a class content running through it. Despite the fact that the Democrats are false friends of the workers, their pro-worker pretense and the workers' natural hatred for the Republican elite led the working class to vote heavily for Kerry. Among people whose income was less that $50,000 per year, Kerry won heavily, as he did among voters with less than a college education. The media has pushed a theory, obviously helpful to Bush, that the ordinary working folk voted for him and the liberal elite voted for Kerry. The income spread of voting proves this false. In fact, the lower the income the higher the vote for Kerry, while the higher the income the higher the vote for Bush. A variation of this theory, equally false but popular among some students and leftists, is that the working class is brainwashed and put Bush in office. This, too, is a crock.

. Then there is the blue-state-red-state map and the accompanying theory that it was the "ordinary," "Joe-lunch-box" types in the red states who rebelled against the Eastern "elitists," to put Bush in, that the red states were solidly Bush and deserve to be scorned by the "solidly" Kerry blue-state people. This analysis has led a number of activists in the Pacific northwest and elsewhere to talk of secession from the United States. This theory is equally false. For example, one article has convincingly demonstrated that the so-called "red-state-blue-state" phenomenon masks an actual divide between town and country, between urban and rural voters. Urban voters throughout the entire country, including in the red states (for example, St. Louis, Missouri, Memphis, Tennessee and Montgomery County in Alabama) went for Kerry, while rural voters everywhere, even in New York state, that blue citadel, went heavily for Bush.

. There does, however, remain the fact that a number of workers did go for Bush, more so among whites than among people of color. This number was not the size of the "Reagan Democrats" of 1980, but is troubling nevertheless. However, history shows that the less the working class is organized in its own right and less it has had access to the ferment of contemporary culture, the more it is prey to the reactionaries who press it to vote against its own interests. Given that Kerry did not express or represent the workers' cause, the fact that workers in areas with little or no union or other worker organization and isolated from the information and debate that is available in the big cities would be misled by Bush's pose as a common man and a defender against terrorism is more understandable. Take, for example, the Ohio workers who have recently lost their jobs. A laid-off or fired worker can feel very isolated and be prey to fear. Bush's propagation of irrational fear of terrorism may also have played a role, although Bush lost in those places, like New York City and Washington, DC, which have already been attacked by terrorists, and in all other likely sites of future attacks, on both coasts. The fact that these are big cities with their attendant enlightenment seems to have trumped terrorism fears there.

Myths about "moral issues"

. One last myth pushed by the Bushites and most of the media needs to be addressed. This is that the Democrats lost because they failed to push "moral issues". The only sense in which this may be true, and it is not the meaning Bush and the media give it, is that, yes, indeed, Kerry and the Democrats did fail to push the paramount, real moral issue -- that Bush led the country into a brutal, corrupt war for oil and dominance on the pretense of a Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction, a war that has claimed the lives of possibly 100,000 Iraqi civilians, unknown thousands of Iraqi soldiers and over 1,200 American soldiers, not to mention the many severely injured on both sides. No, the Democrats did not push this moral issue, for reasons already mentioned. The big Democratic bosses and their corporate backers have long since squashed the weak anti-war voices of Dean, Sharpton and Kucinich and had their man, whom some have called "George W. Kerry," "report for duty".

. As for the issues which the Bushites and much of the media choose to call "moral", that is, homophobia and misogyny, these played no greater role in this election than they have in other recent presidential elections. A consistent 22% of voters listed these as their obsessions.

Stand up against Bush and the Democrats!

. So, to conclude, US monopoly capitalism, that is, imperialism, is facing massive problems. Its ruling class engineered a re-election of the Bush administration to carry on its attacks on the masses at home and abroad. While the Republicans once again demonstrated their capitalist and racist nature, the Democrats once again demonstrated that they are false friends, true enemies, of the working class, the oppressed nationalities and the poor. It remains the task of the revolutionary activists, workers and all the discontented to build a movement of the working class, for the majority of the people and against the rich exploiters and their two parties. <>

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