By MARK UGOLINI
We’ve all been witness to an incredible barrage of election coverage by the corporate-controlled media. Anyone close to a television screen or an internet news site has been bombarded by endless hours of mostly meaningless banter. We have been subjected to polling data hype; gossip and innuendo of all kinds; fear-mongering campaign ads; and racist, sexist, and anti-working class statements and commentary.
For months we’ve seen a steady stream of revelations—video-tapes released, tax returns leaked, e-mails exposed, past lies uncovered, and eye-witness accounts charging crimes from years ago. Most recently, Wikileaks disclosed direct connections between U.S. media organizations and the campaign organizations of the Democratic and Republican party candidates. No longer is there even a pretense that the media plays any kind of independent role.
Out of this a mega-drama has emerged, marketed like a blockbuster movie or a major sporting event, which is designed to draw in maximum ratings, attract deep-pocketed advertisers, and produce massive profits for giant media conglomerates.
This is the product sold to the American people as “politics.” We receive the never-ending stream of “analysis” from the network’s paid “political experts,” some of whom are also on the payroll of one of the capitalist parties or their campaign organizations. From this viewpoint, these are the issues working people should be informed of and interested in if they strive for a better life and a better world—the issues they should consider most important as they go to the polls to cast their votes.
This is the lens through which the vast majority of working people are channeled to view politics in the world around them. But rather than speaking to the interests of working people, such politics represent the perspectives of Wall Street, the ruling rich, and the parties that reflect their interests in the political sphere—the Democratic and Republican parties. The truly critical objective for both capitalist parties, on which they are in 100% agreement, is to ensure that the path to super-profits for the most powerful corporations and banks remains free of significant obstruction.
This year the main campaign issue of the two major presidential candidates is crime—their own crimes. Both candidates, ultra-wealthy capitalists in their own right, are doing their best to expose the criminal activities of their opponent in this showdown battle for enough electoral college votes to be officially declared victor in the Nov. 8 electoral contest.
One candidate, often “unscripted,” in a manner unusual in capitalist politics, fairly honestly projects himself to the public as a political moron. A virulent racist with a long history as a self-centered and greedy real-estate mogul and landlord, he poses as a “success story” but has a long record of anti-worker, anti-union abuse and exploitation of the hundreds of thousands of workers he has employed over the years. He claims to represent the interests of his working-class supporters, but stressed a year ago that he believed the wages of U.S. workers were too high and that he was against raising the minimum wage (more recently, under pressure, he reversed himself and conceded that he might favor a minimum wage of $10 an hour or more).
His opponent is quick to point out that he admits to crimes of sexual abuse, and strives to keep this issue front and center before the American people to press her main argument—that since she is not a sexual abuser, and doesn’t have an erratic and unstable personality, she would be a better choice for president. She is “scripted” to the extreme, a skilled and experienced politician who calculates every move.
Despite it all, however, she just can’t seem to shake the constant disclosures of her lies and deceitful behavior. Widespread evidence of corruption circulates around her State Department involvement in “pay for play” arrangements through her family’s foundation. The disclosures also include her handling of an email server and “classified” information, but barely touch on her more egregious crimes as Secretary of State—fostering U.S. armed intervention in Libya and the Middle East and helping to facilitate the overthrow of the president of Honduras.
Through the lens of the corporate media, the 2016 election is one to be decided by a choice between the unsavory personal characteristics of the Democratic and Republican Party candidates. The primary argument for supporters of each capitalist candidate is that their opponent is even worse.
Of course, this discourse in the media has absolutely nothing to do with what is really happening in this country, absolutely nothing to do with the real problems that working people are facing in their lives—struggling for a better wages, against one or another form of austerity, for adequate health care and immigration rights, against racist violence, for climate and environmental justice, and other issues.
In fact, this intense media frenzy has an added benefit to the ruling class—it has the effect of hiding and concealing the real issues, taking them out of public view or moving them into the background. It covers up the fact that no matter which capitalist candidate is elected on Nov. 8, the anti-working-class austerity will deepen, wars of imperialist aggression will expand, and virulent racism will find expression in every institution of the U.S. capitalist state.
There is another, more accurate method for understanding politics—that of the Socialist Action campaign. It looks at the world, and social relations within it, from the perspective of the working class and all those oppressed under capitalism. It’s a campaign that recognizes that the independent struggle of working people and the oppressed, both economic and political, is the most powerful force for change.
Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action candidate for U.S. president, and running mate Karen Schraufnagel have been joining in solidarity with people who are fighting against the oppression they face daily under capitalism—fights of low-wage workers for a $15 minimum wage and a union; for full civil and political rights to immigrants; for African-American and other minority communities fighting against racist cop violence and for massive funding to rebuild infrastructure of decaying cities; and support for Native peoples fighting the fossil fuel industry to protect their lands and save their water supplies.
Our campaign says NO to the endless wars of U.S aggression around the world and for an immediate end to U.S. involvement in the seven imperialist wars it is currently waging. We support efforts of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and others in the U.S. antiwar movement to join forces in opposition to the expanding role of the U.S., NATO, and U.S. client states in Syria and throughout the Middle East. We join in demanding U.S hands off Syria and self-determination for the Syrian people.
Mackler summed up what is at stake in the 2016 elections: “We see mounting discontent bubbling up in broad sectors of the population—and especially among youth, working people, and oppressed nationalities. Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns are aimed in different ways at channeling the disgust over declining opportunities for decent jobs, aggressive austerity programs, racist cop violence, sexism, environmental destruction, and more back into safe channels. The two-party charade, in which voters are cajoled into supporting the ‘lesser evil,’ is the major device that this country’s rulers use at election time to divert and dilute this discontent.
“Our campaign presents a working-class alternative and gives an answer to the most important question of all: the need for working people to reject capitalist politics and politicians and rely on themselves politically. The working class and its allies among the oppressed, acting in their own interests, have the power to win real and substantial victories.”
Mackler concluded: “So the thesis of our election campaign, and the only reason we are running, is to use the opportunity to educate working people to the simple fact that capitalism cannot be reformed. It has to be abolished at the hands of the vast majority of this country’s working people, organized in their own working-class institutions, independently of and against the ruling capitalist class and its parties. That’s the only path forward for fundamental change.”
The Socialist Action campaign of Jeff Mackler for President and Karen Schraufnagel for V.P. has been successful in gaining a hearing for our revolutionary socialist perspective through speaking tours of our candidates, and articles and information on the campaign in our newspaper and website, and on social media. Supporters around the country have been building our campaign, including distribution of our four-page campaign platform. Another socialist group, Freedom Socialist Party, has called for a vote for Mackler and Schraufnagel because Socialist Action’s “far-reaching platform includes abolishing the U.S. war machine; getting rid of racist, sexist and homophobic laws and practices; providing amnesty and equal rights for all immigrants; and defending labor.”
We urge our readers to cast a write-in vote for our Socialist Action candidates on Nov. 8.
Watch and participate in a FACEBOOK “FIRESIDE CHAT” WITH SOCIALIST ACTION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JEFF MACKLER — LIVE STREAMED! Sunday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Pacific — facebook.com/socialistactionusa