The clear winner of the two thousand and ten midterm elections is . . . drum roll please . . . Wall Street. Yup, that's right. The Lords of Capital have now won one hundred and twelve straight Congresses. Every single one of them. From 1789 forward. The shuffling of control in the House of Representatives from the Democrats to the Republicans is merely a shift change. Pelosi was the A shift; Boehner the B shift. The important thing to remember is that the system is unchanged. The government is still a capitalist, petrol-imperialist, earthraping machine that barrels over the poor. Like the rock band Rage Against the Machine said in one of their songs (Down Rodeo), "The structure is set ya neva change it with a ballot pull." And before any liberals mourn their favored party—I can relate seeing as the Texas Rangers got they asses beat by the awesome pitchers of the San Francisco Giants—and before the conservatives get all giddy for theirs, there is a bit of wisdom to keep in mind:
15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. –Matthew 7: 15-16
We'll return to the Book of Matthew in a second (my being an atheist is no doubt ironic but the moral is a classic and apt one: question authority and judge them by their actions). I want to talk about the last couple of years before I say anything about what's to come.
I thought it was telling that last weekends Rally to Restore Sanity was held the weekend before the election. I know Jon Stewart had a lot of “moderate,” let’s meet in the middle and all-get-along rhetoric—and a fair amount of red-baiting—but it was clear, at least to me, that this was a corporate-sponsored, liberal democrat rally.
But what really struck me as odd was how much in comparison the spectators had with the Glenn Beck and Tea Party rallies (New Left Media has carried out some good interviews of them, so go check them out). I know what you’re thinking. That’s pushing it, right? It was not as bad as the teabaggers but still pretty awful. Before I go on, the one thing I want to say to liberal apologists is: comparing yourselves to the lowest common denominator is not an admirable quality. It will win you no special award in my view. Granted, you’re probably not wanting to impress me. Touché. But I want to nip that in the bud early on. Liberals, just like their (partisan) kissing cousins, the conservatives, lack a systemic analysis that accounts for how and for whom the government and economy works (i.e. you hear no critiques of capitalism or class). But the comparisons don’t stop there. All the rallies relied on corporate media to tell you what to think (i.e. Fox and MSNBC or the Daily Show and Huffington Post), they all had their conspiracy nuts (i.e. birthers and truthers), they all cheerlead for a political party that doesn’t represent them (unless "they" happen to be a wealthy lobbyist) and they all relied on an empty slogan that is nearly identical (i.e. Take America Back and Restore Sanity). In a word, what I noticed a lot of was: platitudes.
Let’s be honest about something. The Democrats lost because they blew it. They failed to respond to the economic crises in a way that didn’t serve the Lords of Capital. True, it’s not as if the teabaggers or Republicans would have done differently. But you know that’s not how it works. They—the Democrats—were not the kind of change many hoped for. In fact, they were a lot of the same that we wanted to escape.
The Democrats didn’t get control of congress and the White House by campaigning on a progressive platform. They got control by filling the void created by Republican fuckups. That’s what’s happening now. Both parties are ruling class parties and when the other pisses the working class off by shitting all over them, the other comes in and pisses the working class off by dropping a hot lunch on our chests until the other makes a comeback to relieve their constipation on us. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Partisan politickers are rubes. They—liberals and conservatives alike—fall for the same shallow, obvious stunts over and over. They know (or at least should know) that government and capitalism don't represent us yet they keep reinforcing them and bowing down to their corrupt and violent authority. Fucking rubes.
Liberals made excuses for Democrats for two years. They said they were strategically aligning themselves and getting ready for the kill. Any second now the Democrats were going to put a leash on the banks, end the wars, pass single-payer healthcare and save the planet from Climate Change.
Then . . .
Liberals responded by blaming the Republicans. You know, Obama and the jackasses inherited it from Bush and now the GOP was being the “party of no.” The Democrats caint get nothing done on account of them good-for-nothing Republicans was ashooting down anything that wasn’t theirs. Yeehaw! Pow-pow!
If only the Democrats had a super majority, the whiney liberal says. Then we would see how righteous these jackasses are.
Now the liberals are singing a different tune. They are saying all the accomplishments of the last two years are for nothing. Yesterday President Obama called into many radio stations to urge young people to vote; for awhile now his boilerplate message has been: "I know times are tough, change is coming, it won't be easy, don't lose hope, blah blah blah, woof woof woof." Now that the younguns and progressives have sat the election out—according to the shirtless folks with their bodies painted blue, hootin' and ahollerin', and holding up signs that read "Go Dems!"—the teabaggers are going to fill the void and it will be fire and brimstone from here on out. They swear they can already smell the sulphur.
Hold up now. There were no accomplishments. Like the Bible says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” As I reflect on the last two years I caint help but notice that the harvest we reaped, under the Democrats, produced rotten, rancid goo. You couldn’t ingest their policies if you tried.
EFCA was dead on arrival. (R.I.P.)
The wars rage on. The body count continues to pile up.
Military spending is up. We still spend each year what the rest of the world spends combined.
Healthcare reform was set back with corporate welfare that doesn’t control costs and now we are mandated to buy it.
Activists are being harassed and persecuted around the country.
The talks in Copenhagen were sabotaged.
The stimulus package was too small and the most important things gutted. The Democrats cost over half a million jobs.
Foreclosures are still soaring.
The banks are still out of control—but in control.
Think about this while keeping in mind that the Democrats are getting close to sacrificing Social Security via President Obama's deficit reduction commission. When George W Bush stole the second election he said he earned "political capital" and he intended to use it. His sights were on Social Security. But he couldn't get it done. Obama and the Democrats may actually get that done. But check this out. There is a $6 trillion projected shortfall for retirement for workers aged 32-64. What have we spent on bailing out Wall Street and the war of aggression in Iraq (not counting Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.)? Six trillion dollars.
The Democrats didn't fail. They succeeded. I remember reading in the Star-Telegram not too long ago—and this wasn't no progressive or leftist piece—that said the health industry helped get the Democrats into office so they could get legislation that benefited them ("As I said when I met with the insurance executives, it’s not meant to punish insurance companies. […] once this reform is fully implemented a few years from now, America’s private insurance companies have the opportunity to prosper from the opportunity to compete for tens of millions of new customers." ~ President Obama, 2010) and are now backing the Republicans to ensure the regulation is loose.
And how is it we are to believe that the Democrats would have done more with a super majority? What reason do we have to think that? And if the Republicans don’t have a super majority why are we to believe that things will be worse? Why do liberals make excuses for their party’s betrayals by saying they didn't have enough control to get things done, and then turn around and contradict themselves with asserting the Republicans can get their work done without super majority?
I will tell you: they are up to their eyeballs in bullshit. They are mad crazy. Probably from fecal poisoning.
I hope those who didn’t vote are focusing on movement building. That’s where our real power lies. I don't give two squirts about who won or who lost. I am a working class family man. I lost and would've lost had the Democrats won. We don't vote for change. Abolitionists didn’t vote for abolishing chattel slavery. Workers didn’t vote for labor rights. Women didn’t vote for the right to vote. Blacks didn’t vote for civil rights. We struggled for it. We organized, pushed, disrupted and displayed our disobedience for all to see. An example was set, some gains made.
Remember what Frederick Douglass said,
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-voting. I don't think it is wise to throw the baby out with the bath, or to put the horse before the cart, or to ignore the forests for the trees. I don't think it's useful to go into a situation with an apriori assumption. I think it's better to take an empirical approach. Observe and then hypothesize. I observe our political and economic systems, and our history, and here is my hypothesis: we need to focus on movement building to build a power to counter the Lords of Capital if we are to win any meaningful changes. No matter whom we vote for we will have to struggle with our government and business leaders. So if we can look at an election and determine that one candidate will be easier to struggle with over the other, then yeah, voting might aid our struggle. And if we determine that it doesn't then we shouldn't fret over voter abstention. Some may say voting or not voting gives the parties the illusion that they are supported; that it reinforces them. Phooey. To hell with their illusions. If we can go into voting knowing that regardless of who gets elected we will have to build popular revolutionary movements and struggle with them then we are simply choosing the path of least resistance. If we can internalize that voting is not an end in and of itself, but can be a means to compliment our end then we shouldn't bother worrying about the illusions Democrats and Republicans have about themselves.
Maybe in the future when we have altered our political and economic systems to the point where there isn’t a dictatorship of capital that casts a huge shadow over our democracy then maybe voting might be more meaningful. When we have abolished private enterprise and markets and rewarding bargaining power and inequitably dividing our work, and put in its place social ownership (or "no ownership" if that conception fits you better), participatory planning, rewarding effort and sacrifice, and fairly balancing out tasks so that all are on equal footing and have a just access to the knowledge, skills and information needed to plan the economy; when we have transcended representative democracy and built a participatory democracy where the bedrock of our political system is direct management from the local level and federated up . . . when we live in this world I think we could see voting as being more meaningful and important or as an "end." But we don’t live in that world. At least, not yet. As of now, we simply choose every few years who gets to represent Wall Street. Our democracy is a farce. Kind of like in Iran where their options are filtered by ruling clerics; here in the US our options are filtered by concentrated centers of economic power (which tend to be wealthy, white, authoritarian males).
So maybe that's it. What if liberals are before their time? Maybe the La La Land that exists in their head and they think is now is a forerunner to what is to come. That would be nice. Maybe they are precog’s whose minds are trapped in the future but their bodies are trapped in today. I know, I know despite Einstein proving space and time was relative, it's not very likely. They are not the late Kurt Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians. (So it goes.) I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, or to make heads from tails as to why they think voting works, or why they don’t have an anti-capitalist and anti-government analysis (maybe its because their minds are post-capitalist, post-authoritarian???).
Anywho, Wall Street won and my advice for conservatives and teabaggers is the scripture above. I wouldn't expect any sweet nectar from these ravening wolves.
From the cold and rainy plains of North Texas,
PS: Coauthor of the Federalist Papers, Founding Father, 4th US President, 5th Secretary of State, member of 1st and 2nd Congress, and wealthy slave owner, James Madison would be ecstatic to see that the US Senate—the political body he said was meant "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority"—is now, once again, completely and utterly, lily white.