US Two Party System

Dissecting the Two-Party System

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It often takes direct experience to better understand one’s surroundings; whether it be a toddler’s mastering of cause and effect, or for our purposes, realizing the Democratic Party’s true nature. This latest life lesson has been taught to us by the Democrats themselves, who, public opinion cast aside, have continued to support the Iraq War, not to mention other collusions with the Republicans on many matters that represent “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Millions who had sincere illusions in the Democrats have been shocked at how rapidly the illusory divide between the two parties has disappeared, especially over the last few years. Explaining this process in a way that doesn’t place the blame on this-or-that individual becomes increasingly urgent. We must explain the common class interests shared by both parties so that working people can begin the process of building our own political alternative. Otherwise, the current situation of war, inequality, and racism will only continue to intensify.

The key fact that helps explain the policies of the Democrats is that they, like the Republicans, are parties that represent the capitalist class (this seemingly abstract generalization will be confirmed later by more concrete examples). At its base, both political parties are not responsible to any working-class organization or oversight, aside from elections that are held years apart and controlled and manipulated by large financial interests. What the two parties are really responsible for is the well-being of the capitalist owned and operated economy, which relies on maximizing profits at the expense of workers’ wages, and demands that U.S. corporations outperform their foreign capitalist competitors.

Of course the capitalist class is not completely united: it consists of manufacturers and banks of varying sizes, heavy and light industry, those that compete versus monopolies, international and national corporations, and many other distinctions that require different strategies – advocated from the mouths of different politicians – to achieve their varying goals. Therefore, instead of one party, there are two, where the different capitalist groupings gather to have their voice best heard, all the while pushing, shoving, and throwing money about to have their particular interest be in the spotlight. Having two parties also helps perpetuate the illusion that there is a real choice.

Mass Venezuelan RallyThere are, however, certain principles that the capitalist class collectively agrees on, and are therefore shared by both parties, resulting in the ‘bi-partisan consensus’ that we often see reached. A couple of recent examples should serve to demonstrate this clearly. In June, Senate Resolution 211 was agreed upon unanimously[!], to “condemn restrictions on freedom of speech in Venezuela” (a hugely false accusation). The real purpose of the resolution is to undermine the vastly popular and democratic Venezuelan revolution, whose only crime thus far has been to threaten U.S. corporate interests that have dominated Venezuela for generations; a crime the capitalist class in the U.S. can mutually agree to punish.

The resolution has increased tensions between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. It has also been used in an effort to destabilize Venezuela politically by giving credibility to “opposition” groups that have in the past participated in armed coups against the democratically elected government. Historically, resolutions such as these have been used to unite U.S. politicians in a strategy that eventually – through one route or another – results in the “regime change” of an independent nation. The real motive is always the same: the dominance of U.S. corporations abroad is being threatened.

The next bi-partisan agreement that illustrates the common interests of both capitalist-bought parties was an amendment to the latest defense spending bill, where Iran was unanimously[!] denounced for “contributing to the destabilization of Iraq”, and for “the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces”. This is all but a declaration of war – or at the very least constructs a bridge to one – a virtual carbon copy of the distortions, exaggerations, and blatant lies that led the U.S. into Iraq.
The more important issue at stake is prolonging the war in Iraq and preparing for confrontation of Iran – a strategy that both parties agree on. The material basis for this course is simple: regional strategic domination serves all the capitalists, ensuring them raw-materials (especially oil), control over markets, cheap labor, and an advantage over their European and Asian capitalist competitors. World domination is indeed good for business.

Iraq WarOne mustn’t forget that going to war with Iraq was also a bi-partisan decision, even though the many Democrats who voted for the initial authorization now claim they were “tricked” by Bush (how embarrassing to have to claim you were outsmarted by Bush!) Since the invasion the Democrats have voted – sometimes unanimously – to continue funding the war, while falling back on the Republican-conceived and cynically disgusting rationale of “supporting the troops”, when the troops would be best served by bringing them home.

The above examples illustrate how the U.S. employing class, represented by the two political parties, comes to fundamental agreement on foreign policy decisions: like Iraq, Venezuela and Iran are all to be aggressively confronted. This militaristic posture of the two-party system has a material foundation also: the economic deterioration of the U.S. capitalists in relation to its foreign competitors, forcing them to use military force where in the past they had only to impose “free trade” in order to profit from their economic superiority (a strategy that isn’t even working for them in Latin America anymore.).

As the Iraqi quagmire has deepened and the realization that the war is un-winnable is now widely accepted, ways to move forward have divided the once-united representatives of capital. As far as the politicians are concerned, every solution to the Iraq problem is lose-lose. The obvious answer for the average U.S. citizen – “troops out now” – is an unbearable thought for the employing class, who have invested far too much economically and politically in the disaster, and are unwilling to leave the oil and regional dominance to their overseas capitalist competitors.

This is where distinctions between the capitalists’ goals and their strategy can become critical, especially when the previously agreed-upon strategy begins to falter, as has happened in Iraq. Some sectors believe everything will be lost in Iraq, meaning, that not only could the war be lost, but the social repercussions at home could lead to a radicalization of society – a process that has already begun – bringing with it the inherent threat of social revolution.

Consequently, many of them are switching political parties with the ease of someone changing socks. The Democrats are now leading the electoral fund raising drive while many previously die-hard Republican billionaires are lining up behind either Hillary or Obama – and for good reason. Both presidential front runners have made their allegiance to the capitalist class’ interests widely known: they oppose the Venezuelan revolution, tirelessly warmonger against Iran, support the Iraq War (though they urge using “better tactics”), rattle and hum about the so-called “war on terror” (and thus the need for domestic spying and the destruction of civil liberties), and support continual attacks on the American working class so as to benefit their billionaire sponsors. Wall Street has made it clear: voting for the Democrats will be good for business.

The strategic change advocated by the Democrats in regards to Iraq is virtually the same advice given to Bush by the Iraq Study Group headed by arch-conservative James Baker: strengthen other allies in the Middle East and cut a deal with Syria and Iran, use physical intervention in Iraq when needed (presumably to protect oil investments); and install a new Iraqi dictator when appropriate, all the while eliminating suspected “terrorist” targets. This seems to be the new tactical shift agreed upon by the representatives of big business, and explains why former Republican donors are suddenly finding refuge with the “opposition”.

Whichever party ends up in power next year, their policy will be largely based on the fact that U.S. capitalists are losing ground internationally and how to use the massive military machine to defend their interests. This conundrum has created a division amongst them as to how to move forward, with one section – Bush’s cronies – advocating a succession of never-ending “surges” in Iraq, while the other – the Democrats – would rather focus the military on other targets (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, etc.). Both approaches will only benefit a tiny, rich section of the U.S. population. The task, therefore, is to break completely from these corporate-run parties. Workers must fight within their unions to dissociate from the Democrats, and in so doing, organize at the grass roots level to build a mass political alternative for the working class, which has no interest in militarism and world domination.

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