Presidential Elections 2016
Campaign Serves to Eliminate Political Parties and Undermine Fight for
As the elections enter their final week, many in the polity are angrier now than they were at the beginning of the campaign. The people have endured a string of scandals engulfing both Trump and Clinton and their ensuing threats. The two candidates are now more broadly disliked than at the start.
The campaigns have confirmed both Trump and Clinton as members of self-serving criminal syndicates vying to serve themselves and others of the imperialist rich. Perhaps of greatest concern to many is that despite the long campaign, no issue facing the polity is dealt with — from how to guarantee equality among human beings to how to ensure that the polity is the source of political power. Importantly, this includes questions of war and peace and the people's opposition to U.S. warmongering. Clinton's call for a no-fly zone in Syria directly threatens war with Russia, potentially unleashing a catastrophic world war. Trump also threatens a broader war boasting he will send the U.S. military directly to engage and eliminate ISIS wherever it exists, which according to the U.S. authorities is dozens of countries.
Great concern continues about militarized police, racist government attacks and responding to concerns of the people with such force. The courageous resistance of the people such as at Standing Rock — where Native Americans and many others are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in order to protect water for millions and defend the sovereignty of the Sioux nation — is met with attacks including tanks, automatic weapons, sonic-sound canons, pepper spray and the arrest of 140 unarmed protesters in one day. Killer drones and killer cops are connected and part of militarization of life with broad impunity by the government for its terrorism at home and abroad but these crucial matters are given no space in the campaign.
The campaign is deepening the people's grave concerns about preventing a broader war and ending the existing ones. Posturing as warmongers, the candidates are using the election to discredit whatever remains of governance through laws and promote instead the election of a leader who is both Commander-in-Chief of the military and the people. A Commander-in-Chief is not someone who governs based on law, but rather on police power — the power to criminalize, to punish, to imprison, to kill and destroy with impunity.
Efforts are being made to convince the people that rather than having a dysfunctional government, with dysfunctional parties, what is needed is the selection of a Commander-in-Chief to lead the country. These efforts include the repeated focus on being fit to be Commander-in-Chief, an entire debate, held on an aircraft carrier, devoted to the topic and openly involving military leaders in the campaign.
The campaign's focus on choosing a Commander-in-Chief and broadening the use of police powers at home and abroad undermines the struggle for people's empowerment, the right of the people to decide those issues that affect their work and lives. The elimination of political parties and promotion of individual leaders depoliticizes the people. In the U.S. today the only way to solve the country's problems and open a path forward is through politicizing the people and finding ways to involve them in politics, especially the youth, and giving them the power to decide and control political, economic and social affairs.
Elimination of Democratic and Republican Parties
To convince the people to accept the direction of a Commander-in-Chief as ruler, both campaigns have focused on discrediting and destroying the Democratic and Republican parties from inside and outside those organizations. Trump and Clinton have contributed to essentially eliminating their respective parties as viable political parties with organized connections with the people.
In this election, Trump from the beginning openly attacked the Republican Party, threatening to run as an independent if he was not treated fairly. Since securing the nomination literally hundreds of Republicans and their top national security and foreign policy experts have openly denounced Trump and refused to back him, including top party leaders. Trump further escalated the attack by blocking funds to Republicans running for other positions.
Clinton has been courting the anti-Trump Republicans with many from the Bush administrations joining her campaign. Using her slogan "stronger together," Clinton curries favor among neo-conservatives with suggestions she will likely include them in her cabinet. These include Paul Wolfowitz, considered the architect of the Iraq war for Bush; John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush; Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush and advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; and Brent Scowcroft, advisor to three previous Republican presidents. All are warmongers.
The actions by FBI director Comey saying Clinton is again under investigation, right before the elections and doing so against the advice of the Justice Department and norms of not interfering in elections, further indicates that practices and norms of the past are finished and conflicts are intensifying. The FBI is contending alongside the CIA, military and other policing agencies and Comey's actions indicate the norms for mitigating these conflicts no longer function.
The combination of splitting and merging indicates that the two parties no longer exist or function as parties with distinct political platforms and discipline. The various factors indicate that, for the rich, political parties are no longer needed. They are being replaced with political life characterized by individual leaders, with their own machinery and constituencies vying for the presidency. Obama and Sanders have such machinery for their individual use, replacing and wrecking party machinery. Trump brought his machinery assembled from personal wealth and outside the Republican Party. So too, Clinton relies not on the Democratic Party apparatus but her own personal apparatus, well-illustrated by leaks from the e-mail account of her campaign chairman John Podesta. This is comprised of a whole retinue of loyal advisors and agents inside and outside the campaign and various levels of government, the Clinton Foundation and the $80 million net worth and vast connections of a former President. The power and success of this apparatus is taken as further evidence that Clinton "has what it takes."
Rise of Police Power as Omnipotent
For the imperialist rich, the U.S. state exists to preserve their class privilege and control of social property, and to keep the working people out of power. The U.S. state has two main forms: a government of laws and a government of police.
The government of laws requires a functioning Congress to legislate such laws and elections for those said to represent the people. The elections are a means for the people to authorize the government to legislate and govern. Both contribute to giving the government legitimacy, and thus the ability to use force. A government of laws is also expected to meet the needs of the people or at least provide the appearance of doing so.
The government of police, with police defined as encompassing the military and all the many policing and spy agencies and regulatory agencies, does not and cannot legitimate the rule of the imperialist rich and their state. Police power is the use of force, the power to punish, criminalize, jail, and kill with increasing impunity. Police power is not concerned with accountability to the people, as evidenced abroad with the exercise of this power to kill with impunity through drone warfare and Special Forces in Yemen, Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere. At home, the increasingly militarized police forces engage in police killings and attacks on demonstrators, such as those occurring at Standing Rock, and witnessed in Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Ferguson and elsewhere. Accountability and rule of law are absent.
The presidency itself is no longer presented primarily as a civilian in charge of a government of laws, but rather a Commander-in-Chief holding broad police powers to utilize at home and abroad. This reflects the more general direction away from a government of laws and to a government of police power. This, in part, is the reason that both Trump and Clinton are openly bringing the military into play with high level military leaders picking sides, when the military traditionally remains neutral. This tradition exists as a means to ensure the military backs and supports whoever is elected, regardless of party. Now, with the denigration of the Democratic and Republican political parties if not their complete destruction, the military is being brought into the fray as a crucial factor. This is a dangerous development, as it remains unclear where the loyalties of the military leaders will lie after the election and could indicate open splits in the future.
The process of eliminating a government of laws and political parties has been taking place for some time. This is evident in the dysfunction of Congress, in part because the parties no longer function as political parties. Party leaders are not followed, legislation cannot be passed even with a majority, which the Republicans currently have. The various means for sorting out conflicts among the ruling circles, such as positions on committees and dividing up the budget no longer function. The present presidential campaign is serving to mark the elimination of the parties and a government of laws and the rise of police power as omnipotent. The Commander-in-Chief as ruler is to be followed or else the police power will come down on your neck.
Development of political parties was a positive thing for the people, as they are necessary to give expression to the collective will. Politics are necessary for people to defend their individual and collective interests, and those of society as a whole. Politics are for people to participate in deciding and controlling those affairs that concern and affect them. The undemocratic direction of the imperialist rich to depoliticize the people, including the elimination of politics and political parties, serves to divide and divert the people from defending their individual and collective interests, to block the people from occupying the space for change. Advancing the cause of democracy today requires politics of empowerment, politically mobilizing the people themselves to govern and decide.
Specifically with this election, the imperialist rich are engaged in an effort to force the people to submit to endless U.S. predatory wars and a broader inter-imperialist war among the big powers, and to more impunity and militarization of life at home. Presenting the President as Commander-in-Chief of the police power yet still a leader representing the will of the people is a means to force the people to accept war as necessary and inevitable and their empowerment and pro-social change as impossible. It is also for this reason that Clinton, posing as such a leader, has said, speaking to the people in general, "I'm the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse." This is the posturing of a Commander-in-Chief "of the people, by the people, for the people." It is at once threatening and demanding support, as the only one capable of averting an apocalypse. This is said even as Clinton threatens war with Russia, which is what many see as a pending apocalypse. It is a dangerous, destructive direction that must be vigorously opposed.
Imposing this anti-social direction presents problems for the imperialist rich, as the people are not so ready to submit to the dictates of police power. This is evident in the continuing and widespread protests and the broad anger with the campaign itself. A growing sense is developing, particularly among the youth, that a different direction is needed, a pro-social, anti-war direction of empowerment of the people. While the imperialist rich try to present their dangerous and backward direction as a path to change, the people are charged by history to occupy the space for change and step up organizing for a new pro-social direction towards an anti-war government and their political empowerment.
What It Means When America's Two Most Unwanted Vie for Election
November 8 is Election Day in the United States. Elections are taking place not only for the Presidency but all 435 voting-member seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate. Together, the House of Representatives and Senate make up the U.S. Congress.
The 2016 election comes at a time when major concerns abound about the general crisis plaguing U.S. society as well as the country's role on the world stage, especially their military involvement in global affairs, as war and violence to solve problems appear to have overwhelmed peace and any notion of positive neutrality. On the economic front, U.S. control of world production has gone down from 40 per cent in 1960, to 22 per cent today. The environmental crisis and growing impoverishment of the American people are also taking a toll. The militarization of police, the police occupation of communities and violence against the people are major concerns. The consistently high numbers of prisoners throughout the U.S., who are increasingly held in private institutions run for profit, the slave conditions within those prisons and use of indefinite solitary confinement and other forms of abusive treatment have provoked loud voices for change, including widespread prisoner hunger strikes and rebellions.
The growing number of deportations and use of internment camps are also major issues, as is the refusal to deal with the Sioux Nation on a political nation-to-nation basis at Standing Rock. The U.S. declaration of a permanent war against terror is now used to justify targeted assassinations, acceptance of torture and growing state repression of resistance movements. The U.S. working class needs its own independent institutions and voice to defend its rights and open a path forward.
None of these problems has been raised for discussion or solution during the election campaign. On the contrary, the level of political discourse has never been so low, starting with the primaries. The hooliganism during the primaries sucked the oxygen out of the room so completely that henceforth it became impossible to think. As of that point it became clear that the elections would not sort out the contradictions within the ruling circles as they are supposed to do. On the contrary, the campaign has revealed the extent to which the U.S. state and system of governance operate through corruption and coercion as well as how people are deprived of political power. This is the other very important aspect of the state power in the hands of the financial oligarchy. The ruling imperialist elite achieve this by depriving the people of an outlook, a way to look at the world and the problems that have arisen so that they can be calmly sorted out and provided with solutions.
This is the main content of disinformation, aimed at destroying the peoples' mass movements against war, police violence, deportations, the genocide and expropriation of the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples, mass incarcerations and the denial of rights. Disinformation and smashing the just resistance of the people for their rights are connected with depriving the people of a consistent outlook to build the new in accordance with the social conditions. In the name of security, a necessity is concocted to rid the country and indeed the world of "troublemakers" whoever they may be: resisters of every stripe, anti-war activists, trade union stalwarts, fighters for justice, etc. None are considered to be citizens with equal rights to be dealt with politically. The ridding of "troublemakers" is another aspect of the state depriving the people of a modern outlook.
To disinform public opinion is not an aim that people can agree with. It leaves the American polity aimless. The promotion of racism, sexism, warmongering, chauvinism, scandals and mudslinging, which divides the American polity, and the smashing of the peoples' movements for their rights reinforce the absence of an outlook whereby the people could find their bearings and sort things out. The people are charged by history to turn the situation around. The antidote is to negate the negation, to build institutions and thinking that develop and provide a modern outlook, and to deepen and broaden the resistance movements for rights and a pro-social future.
In the election, the people are supposed to pick either Clinton or Trump, the two most unwanted people imaginable, or possibly a third party that has no chance, but regardless, none of the contradictions within the ruling circles are being sorted out. On the contrary, a state of civil war is evident for all to see. The political parties have been all but destroyed; the Congress no longer functions, and now the elections, far from re-establishing a new equilibrium within the status quo, are being used to complete the process of "change" towards ways of governing which bypass political parties and government structures, including the United Nations, and establish so-called direct relations with peoples at home and abroad and a wider use of police powers. This process known as the "Third Way" was promoted by the administration of Bill Clinton and further pursued by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Obama mobilized his own forces for "change" to power himself into the White House. Once there, he established web sites including "Change.gov," a new White House site, a page for petitions and various youth organizations. Abroad, he built direct links with so-called non-governmental organizations that bypass governments. The U.S. military has also established direct links with other militaries so that uncooperative politicians can be more easily removed. This is particularly evident in regions and countries where warfare is underway such as West and Central Asia and North Africa but also within the military alliances with Japan, south Korea, the Philippines and throughout South and Central America.
The kind of change the ruling U.S. imperialist elite are introducing strengthens a method of governing based on police powers. When Obama was elected, the rulers needed a savior capable of actions that could unite the warring factions amongst the branches of the armed forces, including not only army, navy and air force but the police forces, Special Forces and covert agencies such as the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security. Based on the declaration of permanent war, the predominant role of Commander-in-Chief and police powers became a permanent rule by exception. Now the same is being done by declaring that the "Commander-in-Chief" is not just of the armed forces, but "of the people" as well. These ways of governing are an effort to establish an illusory direct relationship between every individual American and the Commander-in-Chief who, according to Hillary Clinton, is the only thing "standing between you and the apocalypse." Within this way of governing, the leader becomes omnipotent and the existing structures are irrelevant or even a block to governing as Trump often says with his line that "the system is rigged." The people are left feeling powerless as their choice between the two is meaningless as both are unacceptable. The important feature is that the people are not supposed to act on their desire for change by becoming political themselves and uniting with others to bring the economic, political and social structures into conformity with the modern reality of socialized conditions.
In part, the challenges the U.S. ruling elite face worldwide are connected with the decline of the country's previous overwhelming economic power, and unravelling first of the post-World War II order and secondly the New World Order of the 1990s. For the U.S. rulers it means their domination has to be defended even if it puts the entire system at risk both within the U.S. and globally. The Obama administration and the oligopolies and cartels pushing for the election of Hillary Clinton even seem willing to risk war with Russia to guarantee a Clinton election victory. However, disinformation, predatory wars and the smashing of the peoples' resistance movements and the absence of a consistent modern outlook amongst the people take the discussion surrounding the election away from what is at stake.
Constant disinformation and pressure on the people to abandon their rights and resistance movements create a scenario where the polity appears not to have an aim and is reduced to choosing between two bad choices instead of getting on with the job of building the new. The absence of outlook takes the attention of the people away from the nature of the general crisis in which the U.S. system of governance is mired and from taking a step forward on their own out of the muck.
What, for instance, is the relation of the general crisis to the political process? If the political process — elections, the role of political parties, legislatures, courts and all other institutions of the state that constitute a government of laws — no longer can sort out the problems and contradictions inherent in the society and in the act of living itself, what is happening, and what is needed to resolve the dilemma? One thing that is certain is that the police powers that are being used to deal with problems at home and abroad are not those of a particular government institution but are acts outside of and in contradiction with a government of laws. They are not acts meant to sustain a government of laws either within the U.S. or anywhere else.
State of the U.S. Democracy
Depriving people of an outlook goes hand in hand with co-opting, containing and destroying any resistance and opposition amongst the people and any thinking based on their movements for the new and in defence of their rights. The state of the U.S. democracy is such that out of a population of more than 320 million people, the two most detested people have become candidates for the President of the United States, the power in the world that is said to be the "indispensable nation," which by virtue of the definition, means all other nations are dispensable.
And so too, Americans who refuse to submit to injustice and therefore do not fit into the category of "the governed" are also considered dispensable. This is why the electoral process does not treat Americans as citizens with equal rights but dehumanizes them by referring to them as special interests, as "swing votes," "Black votes," "Latino votes," etc. This too serves to disinform the polity and leave it aimless.
The disinformation suggests that Hillary Clinton should be elected because she is a woman and it will establish an American first, breaking the glass ceiling and vindicating American democracy. But whatever else it is, Hillary's election cannot be considered to be an aim for the polity any more than the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president was an aim for the polity in 2008. Lacking an aim means that Obama's attempts to end "America's humiliation" did not succeed. The crimes he has committed in the name of the war on terror, the recurring financial scandals and collapse of the "American dream" have exacerbated U.S. humiliation and brought it to its lowest standing worldwide in history. None of the actions of the political representatives of the oligopolies, which are endangering life on earth, contribute to the development of an aim for the polity consistent with the needs of humankind and life itself.
The development of an aim and outlook consistent with social conditions can only come from those who will benefit from that change, from those whom the ruling imperialist elite consider "dispensable." The struggle of the working people, youth, small businesspeople, oppressed nations and other collectives of the peoples for their rights and for new relations of production and democratic renewal replete with new ways of governing consistent with modern social conditions will introduce their own modern aim, outlook and agenda. They must deprive the ruling imperialist elite and their Commander-in-Chief of the power to deprive the people of their rights.
Destruction of Public Opinion
Public opinion exists because of a political process; the political process exists because of the relations between individuals and collectives and parts and wholes — all the contending interests — that have to be sorted out. The sorting out exists in the doing, the depriving of the ones doing the depriving, and in this way moving forward. That is why democracy itself and the system called democratic are features of class societies. When their time has come to relinquish powers and for the "dispensable" to build the new, the rulers of those states oppressing and exploiting "dispensable" social classes such as slaves and workers only offer police powers outside a government of laws. Even the U.S. ruling elite realize this is the case, as they came to power by depriving the King of England of his powers over the American colonies.
This election reveals that the U.S. system of elections, political parties and governance is exhausted. It is spent, played out, depleted. It has nothing to offer. Only the police powers remain. The representative democracy shows itself as a military dictatorship with no politics, just the police powers and the dangers they pose to humankind.
Candidates with personal armies to get themselves elected, the imposition of a permanent state of war and rule by exception, and creation of a "Commander-in-Chief of the people," along with the acknowledged non-functioning of erstwhile political institutions such as the Congress will not confer legitimacy on whosoever is declared the winner of this election. Far from it, with no processes in place to sort out the contradictions within the ruling circles and between the ruling circles and the people, the danger of civil war breaking out as a clash of arms and military dictatorship and occupation at home and ever more dangerous adventures abroad are a major concern emerging out of this election.
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) takes this occasion to affirm its complete confidence in the U.S. working class, youth, women, national minorities and Indigenous nations. While neither of the factions of the ruling elite attempting to upstage the other or triumph in the coups and counter-coups taking place within the context of U.S. elections and their aftermath will succeed in sorting out any problem, they will also not succeed in stamping out the resistance movements of the U.S. people, which are bound to gather strength and momentum.
In the opinion of CPC(M-L), the only way forward at this time is to step up the resistance movements of the people and establish a political process that brings into being an anti-war government. Meanwhile, every effort must be made to provide the polity with an outlook consistent with the social conditions so that the problems plaguing humanity in this twenty-first century can be sorted out on a new historical basis.
We call on Canadians to go all out to oppose the election of another war president in the U.S. and to go all out to support the U.S. working people and oppressed nations in strengthening their resistance and organizations, their movements for an anti-war government and to bring the troops home, to defend the rights of all and to humanize the natural and social environment.
1. The President will be declared based on one candidate winning 270 votes of the 538 Electoral College votes. Each state is apportioned a certain number of electoral college votes equal to the number of representatives that state has in the Congress, with DC also given three. A state's Electoral College votes are supposed to go to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that state (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, which apportion votes proportionally). If no candidate receives 270 votes, the President is selected by the House of Representatives from amongst the top three contenders while the Vice-President is chosen by the Senate.
2. A poll conducted by the Washington Post /ABC from 26-29 October showed that Clinton is seen unfavorably by 60 per cent of likely voters while Trump is viewed unfavorably by 58 per cent. The same poll found that 97 per cent of Trump supporters view Clinton unfavorably (90 p cent strongly so) and 95 per cent of Clinton supporters see Trump unfavorably (again, 90 per cent say "strongly"). Voting intentions showed 46 per cent for Clinton and 45 per cent for Trump. The final pre-election New York Times/CBS News poll results are that more than 80 per cent of eligible voters say the presidential campaign has left them repulsed.
(TML Weekly, cpcml.ca)
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