It’s just not the Republican’s year. They have eight years of Bush and Cheney, the economic crisis, a couple of wars and their own candidates mitigating against them. My propensity to support underdogs doesn’t, of course, apply to the shaken Grand Old Party. I’m perfectly happy to watch them crash and burn this election.
One would assume that the Democrats will, barring any truly dramatic unforseens in the next weeks, solidly win the electoral college and Presidency and increase their majority in the House and take majority control of the Senate. Control of the legislative and executive branches ought to mean that we see the full flowering of the Democrats program. Which is the problem.
The Dems could have, especially in the last two years since they won control of the House, blocked damn near every one of the things they are now representing themselves as running against. The Patriot Act (I and II), the appropriations for the bloated military budget, including war spending, the bailout for the banks, etc. all done with indispensable support form the Dems. I haven’t even heard a lot of talk about repealing the Bush tax cuts since this will be presented as “raising taxes”. On policy we have two parties in which the differences that exist between them are also found within them to varying degrees.
They are hardly poles apart since the poles they represent are variations on the same theme; defense, stabilization and expansion of the capitalist system. Defense, stabilization and expansion of American power in the world. I am not interested in either and workers, as a class, have no interest in these projects.
Now clearly there is a cultural and in some ways a political change that is partially represented by Obama’s candidacy. Largely symbolic (since that change is not represented in policy) in the Democrats this shift in attitudes towards race, gender, sexuality among the younger generations is surely to be welcomed and bodes well for future struggles regardless of who wins the election. It is certainly something I never thought I would see in 2008. But everyday I am presented with things I never thought I’d see. Life is rich.
There are plenty of illusions in the Dems as there is nearly every election. There were illusions in the Republicans as well. Remember well that Bush ran in 2000 as a relative moderate, a “compassionate conservative”. This was bullshit of course, elections are largely built around bullshit. We’ve been up to our eyes in it for the previous 18 months of the interminable campaign. That said, the Democrats are not prepared to follow through on the anticipations of those millions who will vote for them on the promise of change. This at least raises the potential for struggle.
The problem is that the (feeble) social movements around the war, immigrants rights, health care and economic distress have largely been demobilized in support for the Democrats. If these movements cannot find the political will to hold the candidates to account over their issues before the election how can we expect them to do so after? Independence from the Democrats is even more essential when they are in power. The current leadership of these movements are not up to that task, just as they aren’t up to the task of making those issues a part of the discourse during the campaigns.
We have a ton of work to do. I’m voting for Cynthia McKinney without illusions in what that means, but because I favor a break from the institutional parties and see her as representing that break in this election. Many who want that break will vote for Nader, and I can see why. The reason I support McKinney rather than Nader is that McKinney is trying to build a political project to the left of the Democrats beyond her candidacy and the election cycle. We need such a vehicle, whether she and her supporters achieve it or not, to fight the battles that will surely come.