(from Detroit Workers' Voice #75, August 12, 2008)
. The November election is fast approaching. After eight years of the Bush administration, workers are fed up. We want relief from war, repression, job loss and declining living standards. The mainstream media tells us that all the workers can do about this is to choose between McCain, the alleged "maverick", or Obama, the alleged agent of "change we can believe in." In reality, McCain has pledged to carry on most of the horrible legacy of the Bush administration. Obama has some different policies, but is hardly on the side of the masses. His programs offer his own version of free-market economics that has ravaged the workers for decades. And he promises the corporations he too will unleash the military to defend the US world imperialist empire.
. But relief for the workers can only come from the workers themselves. Only when workers
organize and struggle against the capitalist program of both the Republicans and the Democrats
will we see our situation improve.
Obama and the anti-racist masses
. Barack Obama has aroused a lot of excitement among the working people. McCain is rightfully seen as tied closely to Bush. Obama has appealed to the just anti-Bush sentiments of the masses. As well, as the first Afro-American presidential candidate of a major party, Obama has tapped into the anti-racist sentiments of the black masses and anti-racist sentiments of workers of all nationalities. Indeed, the fact that Obama is able to become the nominee is a tribute to the heroic civil rights struggle. These reasons will no doubt lead to many workers voting for Obama.
. But whether or not one votes for Obama or chooses not to vote for either candidate, the
important thing is to recognize which class Obama's policies actually serve. Sadly, these policies
will only continue the capitalist program of declining conditions for workers, environmental ruin,
aggression abroad, etc. While Obama has been a benefactor of the fight against racism, his pro-capitalist policies will make no dent in overcoming the discrimination and poorer living conditions faced by the black and Latino masses. In fact Obama's advisors have made sure that he does
not participate in various demonstrations against atrocities committed against blacks, lest he be
seen as identifying with the anti-racist actions of poor and working class blacks.
McCain and Obama support imperialist foreign policies
. McCain supports Bush's occupation of Iraq and babbles that a US military presence could last "100 years." Obama criticized going to war in Iraq. But now that the US is there, he plans to keep tens of thousands of troops there a long time, too. Both candidates are afraid of the US losing domination of the Middle East and its oil, so both are agreed that the US must continue to be in a position to dictate policy to Iraq. Neither gives a damn about the Iraqi masses whose lives have been ruined by the occupation.
. The same lust for Middle East oil informs both candidates position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian masses have lived under Israeli-style apartheid conditions for six decades. But the US arms Israel to the teeth because Israel is its main watchdog in the region. McCain promises all-out support for Israel. And so does Obama. Recently, Obama went to Israel and buddied up to its Zionist leaders. His speeches in Israel were notable for not even mentioning the plight of the Palestinians.
. Meanwhile, McCain and Obama are competing over who will really get tough in other areas of special interest to the US corporate empire. Bush removed the brutal Taliban regime in Afghanistan, only to replace it with a more US-friendly coalition of warlords. McCain and Obama both want to beef up US military might in Afghanistan. Both candidates echo Bush's lies that the US went to Afghanistan to fight terror. Of course, neither candidate would admit that the US is itself the most powerful world bully and its "anti-terrorism" is simply a way to maintain itself in that position against other terrorists who challenge it, like bin Laden and the Taliban.
. The US war threat against the Iranian dictatorship is another instance of the world's top gangster trying to eliminate a regional rival gang of thugs. Bush announced Iran was in the US crosshairs. McCain sang about "bomb, bomb Iran". And Obama has promised to use military force too if Iran doesn't abandon nuclear development but only after talking first. How progressive!
. The presidential elections show again that the Republican and Democratic parties are parties of
war and world domination. US corporations want to expand their markets, plunder resources, and
exploit "cheap labor" everywhere. They back politicians of both parties to do their bidding. The
only real difference between McCain and Obama is that Obama would rely a bit more on
diplomatic pressure. But such pressure is always dependent upon the threat of military force, and
Obama has assured the capitalists that "I will not hesitate to use force, military if necessary" to
protect "our vital interests. " Both candidates will thus continue to squander the lives of workers
in the US and around the world in order to keep the profits flowing to the capitalists. Meanwhile,
using the phony "war on terror" as an excuse, both have supported police-state legislation that
allows the government to spy on citizens.
McCain and Obama vs. the workers at home
. McCain and Obama both promise more jobs and prosperity for all. What politician doesn't? But they are both ardent supporters of neo-liberal economics, the doctrine that has led to deregulation, privatization, and the promotion of free trade policies. Thus, Obama says "I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress." And he has surrounded himself with economic advisors associated with neo-liberal policies similar to those carried out under the Clinton administration.
. Obama speaks of more taxes on the rich, while McCain talks about keeping Bush's income tax cuts for the wealthy. But Obama has his own corporate welfare plans while his tax increases would hardly be felt by big business. Both candidates back free-trade policies in general. Obama says he'd renegotiate some trade agreements so that they would have protections for labor and the environment. Then, he quietly told the Canadian government he was just kidding. After all, if free-trade capitalism is the engine of progress, why should McCain or Obama care if workers and the environment get destroyed in the process?
. While auto workers were getting hammered with massive job losses and wage/benefit cuts, what were Obama and McCain doing? Neither lifted a finger to help the American Axle workers during their three-month strike. They were too busy sucking up to the auto executives. Obama says he'll help US auto companies develop "green" technology, make them more competitive, and this will create jobs. But even if this bit of corporate welfare makes the auto companies more profitable, they are going to avoid hiring back workers at all costs. American Axle was making profits and slaughtered the workers anyway.
. As for the McCain and Obama schemes to deal with soaring gas and food prices, and the
mortgage crisis, no serious analyst thinks they will do much. These are the typical election stunts
the bourgeois politicians carry out to trick us into thinking they care about the workers while
behind closed doors they are plotting with the CEOs.
The candidates on the environment
. The free-market capitalist views of McCain and Obama are reflected in their stand on the
environment and global warming. The burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal for energy has
made global warming a dire threat to the environment. McCain, like Bush, is all for increasing
the use of such fuels through massive offshore oil drilling and stepped up use of coal, which he
falsely claims will be rendered "clean" through new technologies. He also backs nuclear power,
which doesn't emit carbon, but is an environmental nightmare in its own right. Obama too has
touted so-called "clean coal". He also backs more use of corn ethanol, which also harms the
environment. And he's leaving the door open on offshore drilling and nuclear power. Obama tries
to distinguish himself by touting "cap and trade" solutions for the carbon emissions from fossil
fuels. This scheme allows the capitalist polluters to still pollute but requires them to buy
pollution credits from other capitalists for the privilege. The requirement to pay for pollution
credits, and the enticement of profiting by selling such credits, is supposed to solve pollution. But
where it's been tried, it fails to meet its pollution-cutting goals. Instead trading carbon credits has
become a new speculative enrichment scheme for businesses.
. When it comes to undocumented immigrant workers, there's little to distinguish Bush, McCain
or Obama. They all stand for terrorizing poor Mexican workers seeking employment here by
militarizing the border. They all pretend to offer "illegals" a path to legalization. They all have
plans that make legalization so difficult that it might take 10-20 years to gain full legal rights. If
the workers can't climb over the mountain of obstacles in their way, they risk being deported.
Thus, these schemes will leave the immigrant workers as easy prey for greedy capitalists. These
workers are our class brothers and sisters, and if they are kept without full rights, this will only
drive all workers conditions down.
Only the workers' struggle can save the workers!
. Workers! The capitalists have been running roughshod over us. If we confine ourselves to voting for one or the other representative of the rich, to either the Republicans or the Democrats, our plight will not change. Only our own struggle can bring about real change. There have been hints of the potential power of the masses in recent years, whether it was the giant demonstrations for immigrant rights, the big protests against the Iraq war, various strikes, protests against racism, for environmental measures, etc. Few of these actions have resulted in immediate victories. But they show that the masses are angry at the capitalist status quo and can be mobilized. The workers cause can't advance without mass action. This is a task of the alternative we must build.
. Likewise, our cause can't advance unless we have our own class policies. The Democrats tell us if you don't like Bush they will save us. The trade union officials, when they're not busy collaborating with the bosses, echo this and mobilize us into campaigning for the Democrats. But we need organizations which give us our own independent voice and class agenda. We cannot allow the fight against the Bush/McCain war hawks to be channeled into Obama's scheme's to first talk to US rivals and then annihilate them if the don't submit. For the workers, the issue shouldn't be what is the best way to achieve imperialist goals. It's how to unite with our class sisters and brothers around the world against the capitalists who exploit us all.
. We cannot fight for our jobs and conditions by placing our faith in the pro-capitalist politicians. Politicians that tout free-market capitalism can never defend us no matter what magical outcome they promise from unfettered capitalism. Our alternative must be to build up new organizations of struggle at the workplace, within the unions, and in the working class communities. Such organizations should be independent of the timid union bureaucracy and should seek to activate the rank and file. Further, we must mobilize our coworkers into the mass movements outside the workplace.
. Fighting against environmental ruin also requires our own class agenda. There can be no real solution here unless there is overall economic planning which imposes environmental measures on big business. This will only happen though if an independent workers' movement forces its will on the capitalists. Workers must fight to see that whatever governmental planning takes place does not become a scheme to award big subsidies to the capitalists and place the burden of the environmental crisis on the workers.
. Workers, whether you vote for a candidate or not at all, let us unite to start building our own
class movement. <>
Last modified: August 13, 2008.