Monday, August 01, 2016

A rant on Democrats and Republicans

The Democratic party has the power to utterly crush the Republicans. Not just win the presidency in a landslide, but to make the Republicans a fringe party of Klansmen, MRAs, and fundamentalist Christians, with no more hope of electoral success than the Libertarians or Greens.

The Democratic party could, if it chose, take no only the presidency, but also the congress, every governorship and state legislature, and even every mayor, city council, and dog catcher.

For twenty years, I've been hearing that the Democrats cannot enact a progressive agenda because of those darn Republicans. That was perhaps true in the past, but if the primary obstacle to a progressive agenda really were the Republicans, the Democrats have the opportunity to remove that obstacle for a generation.

With no effective opposition from the Republicans, the Democratic party could, if it chose, enact every progressive measure conceivable. Reform police departments, make abortion available to every woman, let everyone vote, enact universal health care, raise the minimum wage, provide a Universal Basic Income, maintain and even expand Social Security, rebuild our infrastructure, break the big banks, end the wars in the Middle East. I'm not even talking about a socialist revolution, just enact every measure that most working people think constitute basic decency.

The Democratic party will not crush the Republicans. The Democrats need the Republicans. The Democrats do not want to enact a progressive agenda; they have been using the Republican party as an excuse for their inaction.

More precisely, the capitalist class does not want to enact a progressive agenda, and the Democratic party no less than the Republican party does what the capitalist class wants.

No ruling class can rule by brute force, every good ruling class needs to con the population into legitimizing their rule. So the capitalists have been playing a good cop/bad cop scam on the United States for 35 years. Note that both roles are necessary: after Ronald Reagan's elections, the Republicans could have utterly crushed the Democrats, but did not do so, because that would not have served capitalist interests.

The capitalists are definitely worried by both Trump and Sanders. Both are populists, and the one thing that both the capitalist class and the professional-managerial class who serve the capitalists agree on is that the people should not have any actual power.

Ideally, the capitalist class would use Trump as an excuse to further limit popular power: "We can't have another Trump, right? So we have to more carefully manage who gets nominated, right? You just can't trust those people to have an effective political voice."

Clinton will win this election because, well, Trump is not just batshit crazy but also stupid, and stupid is bad for business. But this election is not the real issue. The real issue is 2020 or 2024.

Clinton will govern as a good neoliberal. She'll throw a few crumbs to the working class, but will not change anything of substance. We'll still have the police killing black people. We'll still have a minimum wage below any decent standard of living. We'll still have a lot of poor women (and especially poor black women) without access to contraception or abortion. We'll still have tens of millions of people going without needed health care because they can't afford it. We'll still have massive voter suppression. We'll still have globalization, depressed wages, underemployment. We'll still be murdering brown people overseas in industrial quantities.

The Republicans will retain enough power to ensure that the Democrats have some cover for not enacting much actual progressive policy. Both parties will change their nomination procedures to make sure that no one like Trump or Sanders can get as close as they did.

However, because neoliberalism is itself cracking, the global economy is going to go tits up, likely in the next four years, and almost certainly in the next eight.

The capitalist class has for most of the last century crushed socialism, but only minimized fascism. Then they get to tell the story, "Yeah, capitalism and neoliberalism kinda sucks, but y'all need to suck it up and adjust. If you don't, you'll just end up with fascism." This is a good strategy. It's worked for almost a hundred years.

But when neoliberalism finally falls apart, people are going to say, "If the fascists are the only alternative, then better the fascists than the neoliberals."

There are two ways out of that depressing scenario, both of which could work separately or in tandem.

First, the Sanders wing of the Democratic party could make a concerted, dedicated effort to take over the Democratic party and destroy the Republican party. Sure, let Clinton be president, but make it absolutely clear she's a figurehead for a real progressive party. This means that Sanders' supporters focus their energy on congressional and state and local races. Let Clinton and her corporate money take the presidency, but make sure that the actual power of the party lies with the Sanders bloc. This effort will take serious, dedicated, and continuous effort, not just until November, but through at least to the midterm elections. Without the corporate bloc, the Sanders bloc cannot crush the Republicans in November, but they could, if they work hard, seriously weaken them before the economy crashes. If this happens, then when the economy does crash, there is an alternative to fascism.

Second, the "true" socialists can get together and make a serious effort to provide at least a coherent ideological alternative to both capitalism and fascism. Abandon the jargon, abandon the abstruse theory, abandon the petty century-long grudges, and start talking to, you know, the actual workers. Maybe, just maybe, when neoliberalism falls apart, there will be enough of a power base to resist and defeat the fascists.

I dunno. I don't hold much hope for either alternative. The corporate Democrats will crush Sanders; they want the Republicans to hold a lot of congressional and local power. The Sanders bloc would have to not only fight the Republicans, but fight their own party. Possible, but difficult.

And I have even less hope that socialists can get their shit together and actually appeal to the workers.

But who knows. Weirder shit has happened.

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