Statement on the 2012 US Elections
The U.S. presidential, congressional and state elections have been dominated by the two major political parties, Republicans and Democrats, and by the financial, corporate, and wealthy interests who fundamentally control them. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010 this year’s election campaigns are more than ever financed by Wall Street, produced by Madison Avenue, disseminated by the corporate media and increasingly by the internet’s social media as well. While the political campaigns use focus groups and polling data to target the more likely to vote middle and upper classes, the Republican Party works to suppress the votes of African Americans, Latinos, poor whites, and students. It is critically important to expose and resist the Republican drive to steal the 2012 election in broad daylight, ahead of time, through a whole variety of voter-suppression laws in state legislatures.
The widespread disgust with politics, political parties, and everything associated with politicians reflects the fact that most Americans have been systematically alienated from the election process and know that they have no meaningful democratic control over our government, our economy, or our society. Rooted in this sense of alienation, a large number—often a majority—of eligible voters, mostly working class, choose to simply stay home on Election Day. Purposefully ignoring this “party of nonvoters” allows the major parties to cater to a narrow segment of wealthier and more conservative “undecided voters,” while attacking third parties and their supporters as “spoilers.”
Still, tens of millions of Americans, most of them aware of the limitations of the system, will vote on Nov. 6, seeing the existing system as the only way to express their political views. Many will want to show their opposition to the reactionary Romney-Ryan ticket. We recognize that the Republican and Democratic parties—while sharing fundamental agreement on the domestic policy of austerity and the foreign policy of using military force to defend corporate interests abroad—also differ on important issues. The Republican Party’s appalling racism, its anti-immigrant policies, and its assault on women’s rights drive voters into the Democratic Party which, if not as reactionary, also fails to defend, and in reality undermines their interests. It’s entirely understandable that African American and Latino voters, women, working people and progressives feel that “defeating the racist right wing agenda” is the overriding imperative. Yet, nothing would strike a stronger blow against the right and do more for working people and all of the oppressed than building a mass movement and a new progressive political alternative.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offspring that spread across the country in the fall of 2011 demonstrated, millions of Americans believe that the 1% made up of bankers, corporate executives, and wealth investors, profits at the expense of the country’s working people, the unemployed and the just plain poor. Millions rallied to Occupy’s two fundamental propositions: that the country’s economic system is fundamentally unfair and that the wealthy control both major political parties and the entire political system for their own advantage. Occupy has not been the only movement either. Throughout the last decade the immigrant rights movement, protests against police attacks on African Americans, strikes against wage cuts and demonstrations and building occupations to stop foreclosures have shown that there is and must be an alternative to the economic and political domination of the 1% over the 99%. We believe that mass movements in the workplace, communities, and in the streets represent the first step towards addressing the inequities of the system. A mass movement of working class resistance to the current assault on working people and to the underlying system is the most important factor in American politics, and we must work to build that movement.
At present we do not have in America either the mass movement that we need, or a political party which has arisen as an expression of that movement, to put forward an alternative political and economic program representing the needs of working people and of the society at large, that would take up the issues of all of the oppressed, from people of color and women to the LGBT community, advocating the need to replace capitalism with a truly democratic and environmentally sound society. What we have are small parties to the left of the Democrats which have come out of social movements such as the civil rights movement, the anti-war movements, and the environmental movement, or which represent democratic socialist ideals and programs. We believe that while building the movements it is also important to support these independent, left political parties which express our aspirations for a just and democratic society. We vote for them not as a protest vote, but as part of the process of creating a political alternative. Solidarity therefore urges it members, supporters, and the activists with whom we work, as well as the public at large, to vote for the Green Party, the Socialist Party USA, or the Peace & Freedom Party.
The Green Party campaign of Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala for U.S. President and Vice-President, and campaigns of state and local Green Party candidates, will appear on the ballot in at least 28 states plus the District of Columbia, with efforts underway in a number of other states. For the first time, the party’s presidential ticket has also qualified for federal matching funds. This marks an important, even if modest, advance for the Green Party and for independent politics in the United States.
The Socialist Party candidates Steward Alexander and Alex Mendoza will appear on the ballot in several states. The Peace and Freedom Party candidates Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan will also appear on the ballot in California.
While none of these parties alone represents the mass social and political movement that we need, each has its strengths and its virtues. We support them and urge others to do so as a contribution to building the mass movements and politics we believe in.
For a fuller discussion of Solidarity’s views on the current situation and the coming elections see our pamphlet “The Politics of Austerity, Occupy, and the 2012 elections.”