US Elections

Election Revives the Democratic Mystification

The November election was an extremely important event for the American ruling class. For six years, since the disastrous election of 2000, the U.S. Bourgeoisie experienced serious difficulties in controlling the outcome of the electoral circus and putting in place a ruling team and political division of labor that best corresponds to its long term strategic interests and goals.

Election 2006: Ruling Class Seeks to Adjust Ruling Team

The electoral circus is once again upon us and this time it is a particularly fascinating drama. In decadent capitalism, elections have long served as an insidious mystification, an ideological swindle designed to deceive the population, particularly the working class, into believing that it is free to choose the political leadership that will determine the direction of society.

The capitalist election: a no-win situation for the workers

The following article was written before election day by a comrade of the ICC's section in the US.

The capitalist propaganda barrage that accompanies each electoral circus always promotes the democratic mystification, the capitalist political swindle that tries to convince the working class that its participation in choosing the particular politician who will formally preside over the capitalist class dictatorship for the next few years means that it is free. While it is fashionable this year for journalists, politicians, pundits, professors, and clergymen to proclaim that this is the most important election in a generation or in our lifetime, one must note that similar claims were made in many previous elections. From the perspective of the democratic mystification, there is no such thing as an 'unimportant' election.

US election results: a difficult situation for the US ruling class

The results of the presidential election reflect the increasing difficulties that the American ruling class is experiencing in its ability to manipulate the electoral circus. These difficulties, which first appeared in the debacle of the 2000 election, were manifest this year in two important respects.

How media coverage tried to influence the electoral outcome

Once it became clear that dominant fractions of the ruling class had come to recognize that a division of labor between the two major political parties that coincided with the best interests of the national capital rested on the election of John Kerry, the mass media quickly fell into line to help facilitate this result. The first inklings of this came in the positive coverage of Kerry’s speech at New York University in September, where he changed position and clearly denounced the war in Iraq as the wrong war at the wrong time, a distraction from the war against terrorism and the crusade to find and kill Osama bin Laden. But the first clear expression of the media’s new orientation came in the coverage of the first presidential debate, focused on foreign policy – supposedly Bush’s strong card, according to the media pundits. The media made it clear that Kerry was the big winner in that debate, that Bush was the big loser, and that Kerry and the Democrats had emerged from the debate with a renewed confidence and self-assurance.

Democratic Convention: An orgy of patriotism

For four days in July the Democratic Convention occupied the center ring in this year?s electoral circus. Political conventions for the ruling class in America are media events par excellence, as was demonstrated by the fact that media personnel outnumbered delegates 15,000 to 3,000. It was all part and parcel of the bourgeoisie?s efforts to revive the electoral mystification that was so badly tarnished in the debacle of 2000.

US elections: no honeymoon with Europe

George W. Bush’s foreign policy in regard to imperialist alliances has come to symbolize American imperialism’s historical break with its former allies in the so-called “old Europe”. The Democratic candidate, John Kerry, campaigned on a promise at this level to restore the past status quo, to mend fences with the “dear friends” of Europe that Bush’s reckless cowboy policies had supposedly so much alienated. However, even if Kerry had won, and his statements on this issue had been more than campaign gimmicks, any improved relations with Europe on the bases of a new face in the White house would have been destined for a very short honeymoon.

Electoral Circus Off to an Early Start

As we go to press, the bourgeois media has already been ablaze for months with intense coverage of the Democratic primary race. The media campaign that always accompanies American presidential elections got off to an early start this time around, as pundits weighed in on the race months before the official start of primary season in January with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. As early as November of last year, the quirky former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, who positioned himself as a harsh critic of Bush's Iraq policy, was declared the democratic front-runner, with the media all but anointing him the Democratic candidate in 2004. Quite clearly, the American bourgeoisie deliberately used the media campaign surrounding the primary race to attempt to accomplish several distinct propaganda goals at once: distract the American public from the continuing chaos, death and destruction resulting from the war in Iraq, revitalize the Democratic party as a viable party of government, and once again drum-up illusions that the electoral process is the appropriate avenue through which to seek political and social change and have one's just grievances addressed.

Election of George W. Bush

Now that the dust has settled from November's electoral mess, it's business as usual for the American ruling class. The incoming Bush administration will largely continue the same basic policies as the Clinton administration, particularly in regard to American imperialist interests. Already the bourgeoisie is pushing with great success an ideological campaign to cast the recent electoral embarrassment in the most positive light.

The electoral circus without end

If there were no conjunctural factors pressuring the bourgeoisie to abandon the left in power strategy, neither was there any necessity to resort to an alternation in power to revitalize the democratic mystification. The left has been in power for only eight years, and the Republicans have controlled congress and a majority of state governorships, so there was no monopolizing of political powerolizing of political power for an overly long period of time to put in question the democratic mystification. After all, the right had held power for 12 years under Reagan/Bush, and was removed from office not to revitalize democracy, but rather because of imperialist preoccupations, following Bush’s indecisiveness to intervene in the Balkans and consequent squandering of American imperialist capital built up by the Gulf War in 1991..

Presidential Campaign: An electoral circus to mystify the workers

They want us to buy into the electoral swindle – the phony myth that the people decide their own political fate. Of course all this is just a capitalist propaganda ploy -- the last thing that capitalism could tolerate is for everyday working people to make any of the decisions about how society is run. The campaign hoopla is all part of how the ruling class manipulates society for its own political and economic ends, how it obscures the real power relationships in society, how it assures the desired outcome, and makes sure that the correct ruling team is in power. Despite the horse race metaphor that the media is so fond of, the election campaign more resembles a World Wrestling Federation wrestling match – where all the action is scripted in advance.

US electoral campagin: Capitalism readies new ruling team

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.

Leftists united for state capitalism and bourgeois democracy

In last year’s US presidential elections Ralph Nader, standing in favour of a more ‘green’, less corporate, capitalism, persuaded more than 2.5 million people to vote for him, including many who would not otherwise have bothered turning up at the polling station. In Britain, the ruling class is also concerned about the growing lack of interest in capitalist politics. Learned professors from Essex and Sheffield Universities are concerned at the results of their research which “if this is confirmed by actual turnout in a few months’ time, electoral participation will look like it is in long term decline” (Guardian 1/3/01). They suggest that “the 2001 general election is set to have the lowest turnout of any since Lloyd George went to the country in 1918” (ibid). In this context the Socialist Alliance has just launched its general election campaign. Supported by celebrities such as Harold Pinter, Ken Loach, Linda Smith, Jeremy Hardy, Rob Newman, Mark Steel, Mark Thomas, Ricky Tomlinson and John Pilger, the SA exists because today, with discontent and suspicion in the working class, there is the possibility that beyond apathy with elections there lies the potential for a struggle against the whole capitalist system. Following on from the Nader example, a report from its opening press conference says that “the SA campaign claims that it will attract disenfranchised voters who would otherwise not vote at all - at least 100,000 overall” (Guardian 2/3/01).

Gore or Bush, capitalism still wins

The farce around the election of the US president has allowed the rulers of Europe, increasingly anxious to assert their independence from the US, to mount a campaign about how much more efficient ‘our’ dgn about how much more efficient ‘our’ democratic institutions are over here. It’s true that the election stalemate has been a real embarrassment for the US ruling class, and the comrades of our US section analyse the reasons for the mess in the article below. But the article also shows that there are in any case no fundamental differences between Gore and Bush. And this applies to ‘democratic’ elections everywhere. However they are managed, parliamentary elections are always used against the consciousness of the working class. ‘Democracy’ is a mask hiding the real dictatorship of capitalism, and workers can only fight against this dictatorship by struggling for their own interests as a class.

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