By the end of the first Super Tuesday primary elections, the campaigns of Bill Bradley and John McCain were stopped. Gore and Bush, the front runners from the beginning, had each reached the point where the two ‘also-ran’ candidates, made of show of deciding that it was not likely that anyone could block their more ‘popular’ respective candidacies. What was most probable in the primary campaigns of the two major parties, was that Bill Bradley and John McCain both ran without the expectation or even the intention of winning their parties’ respective nominations for the presidency. The fact that there was competition in the early races, appearing to make it a ‘horse race’, allowed for a better and more interesting show for the general population and a reinforcement of the credibility of the electoral system in the US. In reality, most of the decisions as to who becomes cisions as to who becomes the candidates of the major parties, are routinely determined outside the glare of public scrutiny and the elections will be manipulated by politicians in concert with the media.
While there may be some specific differences on political points, the issues separating Bush (a center/right candidate) and Gore (a center/left candidate) are not very major. In fact, the most major policy decision seems to have been taken in the loss of McCain. It was McCain who had the strongest policy difference among the four candidates. McCain had differences on the level of foreign policy, particularly concerning relations with China.
Since the Nixon presidency, the US has placed strong emphasis on developing relations with China, seeing the China card as essential to its influence in Asia. China is the most populous country in the world, a nuclear power and over time may become a major trading partner with the US. In fact Asia itself has become a serious concern within the American ruling class. With huge and increasing populations in Asian countries, from India and Pakistan, which are now both in possession of nuclear bomb, to Bengla Desh, Indonesia and Malaysia, this portion of the world has potential for major conflicts in terms of civil wars and international conflicts. Of courseternational conflicts. Of course, the US move to strengthen its links of policy and trade with China have increased the level of tension with one of the most powerful economies in the world, Japan. Japan’s dominant class, without doubt, sees its country as the most obvious and strongest contender for leadership in the region.
Since the 1970’s, the American Presidents’ foreign policy was oriented toward friendly links to China, even when some embarrassments occurred, as in the case of state secrets being leaked to China. This has been the policy despite the fact that Japan is more stable than China. In this year’s primary campaigns, the only major presidential hopeful who voiced disagreements with the general orientation of foreign policy with regard to China, was McCain. And McCain was clearly defeated by Bush. The race in the Republican primaries was therefore much more significant than the counterpart in the Democratic party.
Since the collapse of the cold war with the eastern bloc and the subsequent disappearance of the western bloc (the end of the ‘cold war’), there has been a renewed debate about the China policy. It was this dispute on policy which behind the scenes led to the impeachment process against Clinton. The faction among the AmericThe faction among the American ruling circles which opposed a pro-China policy used the Lewinsky affair and other Clinton missteps to attempt to replace the president. But the anti-China fraction was so badly defeated by the end of the impeachment trial, they have not been able to mount a meaningful challenge to the leading factions in the major parties. The anti-China fraction was represented by the candidacy of McCain, who could only make a symbolic show of opposition.
Bradley’s campaign may have stimulated interest in the Democratic primary elections for a while, but his participation did not represent any real, divergent political viewpoint so much as a different personality. What his campaign accomplished was to generate more interest in the Democratic race, than if Gore was the only Democrat running. Without a primary race in the Democratic party, Gore’s campaign would have had much less publicity and press, and might have been hurt relative to the ultimate campaign against George W. Bush.
With a ‘compassionate conservative’ in George W. Bush and a moderate liberal in Al Gore both running for president, the race for president may boil down to shades of nuance. They are both reasonably placed toward the center of American ruling class politics. Both Gore and Bush are olitics. Both Gore and Bush are sons of powerful American politicians. Al Gore’s father had a long career as Senator from Tennessee and George Bush (the elder) was Head of the CIA, Vice President for eight years under Reagan and President for four years.
Of course, their family lineage is not in itself important except to the extent that we can see that both have strong ruling class backgrounds and are well positioned among the powerful elite in American politics. The fact is, though, that the politicians, the media and others who have worked so hard to manipulate the races in both parties, have made it clear that they do not want accidents or loose cannons. They want a President who has grown up solidly ensconced in the families of the power elite and who is hopefully well prepared to carry on the tradition of political power and leadership.
The joker in the deck, this election year, may turn out to come from a third party run by the likes of Pat Buchanan or some one else on the Reform Party ticket. This party initially put in place with the funding and political force of Ross Perot has continued on and may very well run a candidate for president, potentially impacting the election results. Buchanan’s ability to siphon off right wing votes from the Republican party may once again contrlican party may once again contribute to the loss of a Presidential vote for another George Bush.
What is clear, as of this writing, is that the candidates for President have been carefully screened and put into place, with campaigns that only gave an illusion to the voters that they had impact on the decision of the primary season. The politics supported by each major party nominee is not all that far from the political position of his opponent for the coming election. While this helps to avoid any dangerous surprises in the outcome, it also leaves room for manipulation, via media manipulation and third party campaigns (Reform Party), to get the results most beneficial from the ruling class point of view for the next four years.
What the working class wants and needs is by no means helped by the coming elections. The terrain for workers to fight for the concerns and necessities is the terrain of the class struggle. Whoever gets elected, Bush or Gore, will be the express agent of the capitalist class, and no real friend of the working class. It is only the class struggle itself -- and not the capitalist electoral process -- which will make possible the real and lasting improvement of working and living conditions for the working class. Ultimately, the working class has to confront capitalism, its barbarism and its exploitation to allow an end to capitalist decadence and the growing barbarism, and the construction of a new social order based on the rule of the vast majority of the population.
-- Eric Fischer