The Democratic Party is sharply divided, with its leaders panicking that their drive to impeach and indict President Donald Trump — which began the day he took office and has continued ever since — is failing to win support. They fret that none of their myriad of presidential hopefuls can defeat the president in 2020.
One of their responses is to step up efforts to keep working-class and other third parties off the ballot, dealing blows to the political rights of working people.
The ruling U.S. capitalist families maintain their hold on power through their two-party system, convincing workers and others to vote for the “lesser evil” of a Democrat or Republican, back and forth, in each election. The fraying of this operation is one of the key things revealed by the Trump victory in both the 2016 Republican primaries and against Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
Three smaller capitalist parties — Greens, Libertarian and Constitution — “played a spoiler role in crucial states such as Wisconsin and Michigan” in 2016, Michael Scherer claimed in the Washington Post Nov. 27.
Desperate to put the Clinton family back in the White House that year, the New York Times ran an op-ed shortly before the vote urging its readers not to vote for Alyson Kennedy, presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party — a party the Times otherwise studiously refuses to mention.
The Democrats’ solution? Make it even harder for other parties to run. This fall New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo tasked the state’s nonelected public financing commission with hiking petitioning requirements for parties other than the Democrats and Republicans to get on the ballot. The commission obliged Nov. 25, tripling the number of signatures. And, if some third party manages to make it — like the Working Families Party — the commission more than doubled the number of votes they would have to get to stay on the ballot for the next election.
The Working Families Party was originally set up to corral workers frustrated with the Democrats to vote for their candidates anyway by putting them on an “independent” ballot line. But in the last couple elections its leaders have occasionally chosen more radical-sounding Democrats to run, including against the regular party leadership’s offerings.
In the long run, the Democrats’ goal is to keep working-class parties like the Socialist Workers Party from using ballot status to present an independent revolutionary program of struggle, a road to fight for workers and farmers to take political power into their own hands.
While the Democrats unanimously back trying to get Trump ousted — and have a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 4 to consider articles of impeachment — they fear they will not be able to get him. So far working people have responded to their carefully stage-managed witch hunt with growing disinterest. In fact, recent polls show opposition to Trump’s ouster is growing.
Democratic Party crisis deepens
In response, the Democrats are split between one wing that believes they have to find a way to win back workers who voted for former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then switched to Trump in 2016, all in search of some “change,” and another wing that writes off such workers as reactionary and “irredeemable.” This wing’s strategy for 2020 is to ignore the working class and try to seize the presidency by appealing to a new “base” — Blacks, Latinos, women, immigrants and sophisticated professional layers in the country’s metropolises.
Both wings of the Democratic Party, like other meritocrats and the capitalist rulers they serve, fear the working class, sensing the crisis of capitalism impacting on the livelihoods of working people will lead to rising struggles.
On his side, Trump is campaigning for reelection by pointing to the fact there are more jobs today, which gives workers more confidence to fight for better wages and working conditions.
But the real beneficiary of the stock market boom today is the capitalist class, whose growing wealth stands in stark contrast to what workers face.
The crisis of the capitalist system continues to deepen — regardless of modest cyclical ups and downs. Workers’ life expectancy is falling, the U.S. rulers’ wars go on and on, bosses from Asarco copper mining to Walmart are pushing for speedup with more hours and less safety, and household debt is exploding.
Trump also brags he has “Made America Great Again” worldwide by rebuilding Washington’s military might without committing more troops to ground combat. The president flew to Afghanistan Nov. 28 and announced his administration intends to reduce U.S. troop numbers there from 14,000 to 8,600 and resume talks with the Taliban. He said U.S. forces would remain until “we have a deal or we have total victory.” Last year Washington launched more airstrikes against the Afghan people than at any time since the war began 18 years ago.
The reality is that the U.S. rulers’ strategy today is no different than that under Obama. The best they hope for is to preserve the weak Afghan government and contain the Taliban.
Both Republicans and Democrats — Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, etc. — seek to protect the interests of the capitalist ruling class.
Not one Democrat vying for the party’s presidential nomination proposes U.S. forces get out of Afghanistan now.
In contrast to both the Democratic and Republican wings of the capitalist two-party system, the Socialist Workers Party candidates in 2020 “demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the Mideast,” Alyson Kennedy, the party’s candidate for president in 2016, told the Militant Dec. 1.
“Washington’s wars abroad,” Kennedy said, “are fought in the interest of the same capitalists who have for years held down wages and worsened the conditions of working people at home.
“Party members organize together with co-workers and others to fight the bosses’ attacks, build solidarity with workers’ battles from Asarco to the Canadian National rail workers fighting for safety,” Kennedy said. “We call for building a labor party based on these struggles — a party that advances a break from the Democrats and Republicans and the fight to establish a workers and farmers government.”