2020 election debates show crisis of bosses twin parties

By Roy Landersen
July 22, 2019
Toledo Union Journal, Jan. 12, 1944Cartoon from Feb. 26, 1944, Militant shows President Franklin D. Roosevelt claiming government’s aim in World War II was to defend “American free labor” as he proposed government impose compulsory labor conscription on U.S. workers, shown by chains in his hand. In fact, U.S. rulers entered war to advance interests of U.S. imperialism against rivals and allies alike.

The televised debates unfolding between the two dozen Democrats jostling to become the party’s presidential candidate take place amid a yearslong political crisis unfolding among the parties of the U.S. capitalist ruling families. They fear that sooner or later their grinding assaults on working people will lead to far-reaching struggles. This is mirrored in their frenzied response to the 2016 election of Donald Trump. They blame the “deplorable” working class for this.

All wings of the Democratic Party — from Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren to Democrats who are socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are united by their furor against the incumbent president. They seek to convince us their brand of capitalist politics is essential to replace him as the chief executive officer for the U.S. imperialist rulers.

Millions of working people distrust both capitalist parties and want to discuss an alternative to the anti-working-class course of successive Democratic and Republican administrations.

In the face of this, the liberals work feverishly to corral working people back into the rulers’ two-party shell game, to convince us we absolutely have to back the “lesser-evil” among the bosses’ parties or disaster beckons.

Most union officials join in pushing workers to rely on the bosses’ parties. United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts has appealed to all of the Democratic presidential contenders to tour a coal mine and get to know the concerns of the miners.

The rulers use the debates to try to sift out their best alternative to lead that party today, the ones most successful in conning working people. Then they’ll use whomever wins the 2020 elections to command their state and advance their interests at home and abroad, as Democratic and Republican presidents have always done.

All the Democratic candidates speak of “we Americans” — a classless blob that includes both workers and bosses. But more workers today see that the only “we” is working people and their allies on the farm, here and across the world, who share common class interests. We have nothing in common with the bosses and their meritocratic enablers who profit from exploiting and oppressing us.

Do workers need more regulations?

President Trump says he has “cut more regulations … than any other administration,” part of the Republicans’ claims to be partisans of “small government.” He boasts that this and his tax cuts for the employers have contributed to the drop in unemployment. But the big gains from today’s temporary upturn all accrue to the employers and speculators who delight when the stock market rises.

The cyclical uptick in jobs for workers hasn’t turned around the stagnant wages, growing indebtedness, declining life expectancy and lack of health care and opportunities for affordable family formation that millions confront today. It hasn’t touched any of the underlying causes of the crisis of capitalist production and trade that are the source of the rulers’ continuing attacks on working people.

The Democratic aspirants all claim they want ever more regulations and government agencies to place the “smart” meritocrats in every government nook and cranny to do “good” for the downtrodden, who’ve proven too dangerous to make decisions for themselves.

Is Roosevelt’s New Deal the answer?

The Green New Deal proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, with the support of most of the Democratic aspirants, is a prime example of their intentions. She proposes a massive strengthening of the capitalist state modeled on the government “mobilizations” carried out by the U.S. rulers during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and even more so during the second imperialist world war.

The real goal of Roosevelt’s New Deal was to control the rebellious labor upsurge that swept the country during the 1930s depression. It coupled some grudging concessions with efforts to tie labor in regulatory red tape and hogtie the strike wave.

The New Deal evolved naturally into the war deal, as the U.S. recovery petered out and the rulers prepared to make their move to take over as top imperialist dog in the world. They used workers’ abhorrence of Nazism to try and convince them to fight and die for U.S. capitalism. And as an integral part of their drive, they unleashed the FBI against the Socialist Workers Party and the militant Teamsters union in the Midwest who were leading the anti-war opposition in the labor movement.

The hook Ocasio-Cortez advances to try and convince workers to back her call for a bigger, stronger capitalist state is fear of climate-change-generated disaster. Hysterical — and unscientific — claims of impending catastrophe are supposed to make you happy to turn your life over to the government. She says her “model” is the massive command state Roosevelt ran in the 1940s war.

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and some of the other Democratic contenders also say the answer to today’s problems is big government.

Sanders criticized Trump July 1 after the president met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he “weakened the State Department.”

“If we’re going to bring peace to this world,” the Democratic hopeful opined, “we need a strong State Department.” But the State Department is just the flip side of the “Defense” Department — the war machine of the capitalist rulers. It has nothing to do with what “we” need.

Trump says all socialists like big government. But if you look at the real continuity of the revolutionary working-class movement — from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution to the program of the SWP today — you see the opposite is true. Writing in 1871, Marx explained that the Paris Commune, the first time that the working class held power, “made that catchword of bourgeois revolutions — cheap government — a reality by destroying the two greatest sources of expenditure: the standing army and state functionarism.”

The Socialist Workers Party campaigns in 2019 — and the ones to come in 2020, including for president — have the same goal. We fight to dismantle the U.S. capitalist rulers’ war machine and its massive, oppressive state power, as we fight to eradicate exploitation and all oppression, transforming ourselves in the process.

That is possible when the workers and farmers take power — forming a government of the associated producers in the interest of all. Join us!