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Break with two-party capitalist duopoly!

By JEFF MACKLER

Glory hallelujah! If the Lord’s “terrible swift sword” had descended from the heavens to witness the Democratic Party’s congressional delegation’s standing ovation in response to Donald Trump’s State of Union introduction of his despicably appointed Venezuelan presidential pretender Juan Guaidó, the Democrats would be dead in the water. But there is no God in American politics; the only certainty lies in a clear understanding that the election game is rigged from start to finish, that the only serious entrance fee to the current two-year $8 billion spectacle is a war chest of hundreds of millions—even billions—of dollars, privileged access to the corporate media and a pledge in advance to abide by whichever Democrat or Republican emerges as the candidate.

And what is true for the present election charade is magnified a thousand fold with regard to the corporate control of every aspect of the multi-trillion dollar U.S. economy, where every critical decision, every budget item, every penny, more or less, allocated in Trump’s present $4.7 trillion budget proposal is determined in advance by a slew of corporate technocrats in the pay of the billionaire elites who really run the country.   

Bernie Sanders’ pledge of Democratic Party unity at the outset of his campaign, repeated to cheering supporters before and after his previously unexpected Super Tuesday, March 3 defeats at the hands of the now united Democratic Party cabal, informs us that Bernie’s “revolution” and “democratic socialism” notwithstanding, nothing will change should he beat the ever-diminishing odds to advance as the Democrats’ candidate—or even if he emerges victorious in the November presidential elections. Capitalism will remain intact, unless and until the mass independent power of the working class is brought to bear to smash it—from its foundations to its superstructure.

The bi-partisan ovation for Juan Guaidó, the rightwing U.S.-chosen agent of Trump’s CIA-orchestrated coup in Venezuela, gave proof that the warmongering Democrats are indistinguishable from their Republican counterparts. Indeed, the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives upped Trump’s proposed military budget by some $40 billion. Similarly, the Democrats’ failed Trump impeachment effort was based on the proposition that the Democrats favored arming the Ukrainian government that was brought into being by the U.S.-backed fascist coup of 2014. Of the thousand issues that could have been raised to discredit the monstrous racist, sexist, imperialist president, the Democrats raised none! Their calculations of gaining an electoral leg up dramatically backfired when post-impeachment polls showed Trump registering his highest approval ratings—49 percent against the Democrats’ 42 percent.

After voting throughout his congressional career for nearly every military budget before him, Sanders today claims that he might seek to trim that budget somewhere down the line. The U.S. currently maintains troops in 150 nations along with 1100 military bases. Its death squad Special Forces, according to a February New York Times report, operate in 90 nations – in every instance to guarantee U.S. “national security” interests by any means necessary. Trump’s new budget includes constructing state-of-the-art submarines capable of launching “tactical” nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. These are to be complemented by Trump’s plan to build untold numbers of “tactical” nuclear weapon, perhaps with the president’s own finger on the launch button. The last and only finger to launch such weapons belonged to the liberal Democrat Harry Truman whose doomsday decision in 1945 instantly obliterated 500,000 Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The construction of the bomb was authorized by the great corporate liberal of the time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died of natural causes several months earlier.

Trump’s touted economic gains

The economic achievements Trump claimed in his State of the Union, politely applauded by the Democrats, were lies pure and simple. His “lowest unemployment rates ever” were the same fabrications touted by the Democrats under the Obama administration.

• 83 percent of Trump’s claimed new jobs are low quality jobs in low wage sectors, that is, where pay is usually at the poverty level or lower.Thirty-seven percent of these, where 57 million people are “employed,” are in the “gig economy,” wherein hours are part time and uncertain from week to week, and wages are low.

• Trump’s overall unemployment figure of 3.5 percent excludes “discouraged workers” and other Bureau of Labor Statistics categories that disappear the unemployed and underemployed and include workers who appear on the books for just one-quarter of the year and are jobless thereafter. A more accurate figure indicates that the overall employment rate, the “labor force participation rate,” as it is called, was 63.4% in January 2020, up from 63.2% in December 2019. That is, according to government figures, some 37 percent have no jobs!

All these figures generally replicate those of the Obama administration.

 NAFTA and the tax cuts for the rich 

Trump’s $1.4 trillion December 2019 tax cut bill for the corporate elite was a bi-partisan affair as was his new NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), named USMCA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada). The latter simply rewrote various tariff provisions to further advantage the U.S. corporate elite. These two aspects of ruling class economic policies are instructive, if not decisive in understanding “how the system works.” Two thousand pages of the old NAFTA were revised last year to further benefit U.S. corporations over their Canadian and Mexican competitors. The remaining 7,000 pages were left intact. A single, seemingly innocuous change from the old NAFTA to the new USMCA was the insertion of a tiny provision, perhaps a few sentences, that requires Canadian supermarkets in British Columbia to allocate equal shelf space to California wines alongside displays of British Colombia-grown and British Commonwealth wines. Trivial? Perhaps. But California winemaking and distribution are multi-billion-dollar enterprises that operate worldwide. I can only imagine seeing one of their representatives handing over to Trump’s NAFTA re-negotiators their proposed written insertions to USMCA that guarantee a greater market share to California billionaires as against their lesser Canadian competitors. Multiply this minute example several-thousand-fold and a pristine picture emerges detailing how corporate America defends and advances its corporate interests at the expense of its rivals.

The same holds for the U.S. Tax Code and the U.S. Budget, both enormous tomes of virtually impenetrable figures known only to the literal handful of its overseers and perhaps a few thousand lobbyists and their experts who craft U.S. economic policy. The latter always alternate from the corporate world to high government posts. The generals and top executives of the military-industrial complex routinely exchange their corporate posts for government positions, where they advise the House Armed Services Committee on how to construct their annual trillion-dollar, ever-rising budget requests that exceed the combined military spending of the next ten nations.

Trump’s ever-privatizing public school, Secretary of Educating Betsy DeVos’s family tree is instructive. Her years of duty to several NGOs that specialize in undermining pubic education is a family matter. She is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway and is the daughter-in-law of Amway’s billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA, the private army corporation that contracted with the U.S. government to send paid mercenary armies to the Middle East and elsewhere to police the world for U.S. corporations.

The same interpenetration of the corporate and government worlds is the rule with regard to literally every decisive aspect of the U.S. economic and political-juridical system. They are inseparable, aside from an occasional dispute among them as to which elements of the ruling rich will predominate in the exploitation of working people at any particular moment.

Trump’s new budget proposes to extend his trillions in tax breaks to the rich for another ten years. There will be zero opposition from the Democrats. There was zero opposition to his generous gifts last year to the same elite. There has never been opposition to the government’s routine yearly $4 trillion corporate welfare and handouts to the one percent, all built into the very fabric of U.S. tax codes and budgets. The same with Trump’s proposed trillion dollar budget deficit, with the national debt projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise over the next decade to $31 trillion by 2030, an amount that will exceed the entire U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This follows virtually the same multi-trillion dollar “quantitative easing” program of the Obama administration which in 2008 distributed trillions in bailouts and near-zero interest loans to the same superrich that Trump is beholden to today.

Trump’s anti-abortion politics mirror Democrats

In contrast to Trump and Co., the Democratic Party platform purports to support abortion rights, supposedly in accord with the 60 percent of all U.S. women who favor abortion. But Democrats have played virtually no role in thwarting the plethora of anti-abortion laws approved in recent years across the country. To be sure, no Democratic Party president has ever seriously moved abolish the infamous 1976 Hyde Amendment, named after former Representative Henry Hyde, Republican of Illinois. This amendment to a House appropriations bill bans the expenditure of federal funds to pay for abortions, except in extremely limited circumstances. The amendment, which effects millions of women, especially working class and poor women, has remained in force today when eighty-seven percent of all U.S. counties have no abortion provider whatsoever.

The Democrats’ election time rhetoric in June 2019 included statements that all of its then 21 Democratic Party presidential candidates, except Joe Biden, favored the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Biden soon after also whistled a pro-abortion tune. But after 44 years on the books and regardless of which of the twin parties of capital are in power, the Hyde prohibition remains in place!

It is in this context that an honest evaluation of Bernie Sanders and his Democratic Party primary contenders must be made. “How will you fund your Medicare for All proposal?” Sanders is repeatedly asked, as if the costs were prohibitive in today’s economy. Sanders has been repeatedly vague on this critical issue, but not because he seeks to back off on advocating for a proposal that is the norm in most industrialized nations. Sanders, whose “radical” proposals to tax the wealth of the nations’ billionaire at a rate of 2 or 3 percent after their first $50 million and then increase the rate progressively until the wealth of billionaires is subjected to tax rates of a few points higher, is incapable of explaining that his Medicare for All plan is based on the government paying the largely monopolized private hospital industry outrageous prices rather than nationalizing the entire industry and operating it for the public good rather than for the profits of the one percent.

The same with Sanders’ Green New Deal, where he proposes a ten-year, $17 trillion program to end the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels without a full and immediate government takeover of the entire multi- trillion dollar fossil fuel industry and its rapid conversion to a safe and sustainable energy system with all workers fully protected in the transition. Sanders’ Green New Deal, in truth and in the context of its co-existence with the capitalist system itself, amounts to rhetorical election campaign bluster and bluff. The same with his utterances regarding unspecified cuts in the military and any other proposals that effectively challenges capitalist prerogatives. To do so would necessarily challenge the legitimacy of the rapacious capitalist system itself, a move that all of Sanders’ leading team insists would undermine his “electability.”

Sanders today asks his youthful, multi-racial and multi-generational supporters to storm the heavens to make him the Democrats’ presidential candidate and future president. He has prevailed to date in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, plus his four Super Tuesday wins. Joe Biden’s “miraculous” and overnight revival was without doubt orchestrated by a near-panicked Democratic Party hierarchy whose ruling class elites explained to Sander’s so-called centrist opponents that their staged performances, aimed at undermining Sanders’ credibility, were over. In an instant they rushed to Biden’s camp but not before joining the corporate media’s full court red-baiting anti-Sanders tirades.

Building the socialist alternative begins with a clear break with capitalist politics in all its manifestations. Join Socialist Action! socialistaction@lmi.net.

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