Independent Working Class Politics and the 2016 Elections

February 5, 2016

The 2016 election campaign is already well underway. Big business has already donated tens of millions of dollars to the campaign warchests of both the Democratic and Republican parties. The various candidates have already begun posturing for political position and advertising themselves. The monopoly-controlled mass media is already bombarding the people with election-year hype.

These elections present the working class with a serious challenge. The workers must approach these elections from the standpoint of their own independent class aims and program; the workers cannot allow the electioneering of the capitalist parties and the torrent of propaganda to drown out these aims and program. At the same time, the current elections present the workers with new opportunities, with new political space that is opening up as a result of the profound political crisis and polarization developing in our country.

Amongst the most decisive aspects of the present political moment are the widespread contempt for the Democrats and Republicans, the ever-growing disillusionment with the current political process and the search for a genuine political alternative – an alternative through which the people can actually empower themselves and aim at bringing about the fundamental changes needed in the political process and political system.

Thus the tasks facing the workers in relation to this year's elections include:

• Rallying the broadest possible section of the people against the reactionary, anti-social agenda of the capitalist class.

The workers cannot allow big business to monopolize the political debate and agenda, nor can the workers afford to create illusions in either the Democrats or the Republicans. The workers must show that the program of both parties is the program of the monopoly capitalist class. This is the program of “free market economics” and of “increasing the international competitiveness of U.S. capitalism” by increasing the exploitation of the workers to the maximum. It is the program of slashing government investments in vital social programs while using taxpayers' monies to underwrite the superprofits of the Pentagon arms merchants, the Wall Street bankers and other big business interests. It is a program of inciting racism and intensifying the yoke of racial discrimination and national oppression. It is the program of imperialism – of preparing and launching new interventions and wars against the peoples of other countries.

• Popularizing the program of economic rights, democratic renewal, a democratic foreign policy and socialism as the genuine alternative.

By taking up their own independent aims and programs, the workers, at once, break out of the straightjacket which confines the political life of the people to voting, once every 2 or 4 years. On the basis of their own program, the workers can develop a broad range of activities and organizations which create new political space and enable the people to openly contend with the capitalist parties over the direction of our country. Such independent political action includes public meetings and conferences, open denunciation of the Republicans and Democrats, mass demonstrations and other actions as well as the vital work of building up the workers own independent press.

• Demanding fundamental change in the political process and political system.

The current political process is designed to create the illusion of democracy while, in fact, the masses of people are completely excluded from governance. Under the present system, the political life of the working class and broad masses of people has been reduced to that of “voting cattle.” Every 2 or 4 years, we are given the “choice” of voting for 1 of 2 candidates, both of whom have been handpicked, financed and advertised by big business. How can it be said that the people choose their representatives when the Democrats and Republicans – who are as similar as two peas in a pod – have a virtual monopoly over the selection and nomination of the candidates running for office, a monopoly which is protected by law? How can it be said that we all enjoy “equal political rights,” when both official parties are financed by big business? How can it be said that the elections will give voice to the concerns of the masses of people, when the monopoly-controlled mass media has already decided, in advance which viewpoints and political programs are “legitimate” and which can be ignored altogether? No matter whether a Democratic or a Republican gets the most votes, it is big business which wins and the people who lose. In the end, the economic and political elite will claim that these rigged elections proved that the people have given their consent to the continuation of the class rule of the monopoly capitalist class.

Today there is an impassable gulf between what the people demand and what the government does. To change this situation means to renew American democracy by making fundamental changes in the political process and political system. The Democratic and Republican parties must be deprived of the exclusive privilege of nominating and selecting candidates for office and this right must be returned to the people themselves. New mechanisms must be created which not only hold elected officials directly accountable to the electorate but which also give the people a direct and decisive role in governance. In short, the political monopoly of the rich must be broken and the people must be empowered.

Everyone knows that our country faces grave and growing problems. Rather than presenting solutions to these problems the monopoly capitalist class and its twin political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, are only throwing society backwards. It is the people themselves who must change the situation and the urgent question is to join in further building a genuine political alternative. This is the task which the working class and all progressive people must take up. This is our response to the current capitalist election circus.