Fox News staged the first Republican presidential debate last week. While there were differences in style among the candidates and they wanted to claim their own political territory, they all promoted pretty much the same messages.
They attacked immigrants, especially so-called illegal immigrants – each trying to sound tougher than the next with their proposals for walls, more policing of the border and cutting federal aid to sanctuary cities (cities that do not have their police forces turn over people without documents to Immigration). They pretend that the problems we confront today were caused by people who come here out of desperation, not by the bosses who have closed factories and laid people off.
They all attacked “Obamacare”, the Affordable Healthcare Act. They want to eliminate it, not replace it with a national healthcare program (like Medicare) that would be accessible to all. In fact some also want to cut Medicare. And some said they want to cut Social Security, because they say it is in bad shape. But the drain on Social Security isn’t from people drawing their benefits. It is from the government, made up of politicians like them, taking funds out of the Social Security account to fund other programs.
Crush the unions, cut government spending on education and replace it with a voucher system, stop funding health care for poor women, build up the military, increase military spending and have the US military play an even fiercer role in world domination – they all sing the same song. One trying to be louder than the next.
What they didn’t talk about is the threat of global warming, the real levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, the racism and police violence in major cities, the level of crime and hopelessness faced by young people with no prospects for a job or an education. If they had mentioned these problems then they might have had to talk about the nature of the system of capitalism they defend. And they weren’t there for that. They didn’t mention the Voting Right Act. They know who they want to vote and who they want to prevent from voting – just another way for them to try to rig the elections in their favor.
It is easy to be distracted by the circus-like atmosphere with people acting like clowns or lunatics. But we should take this performance seriously. It is a warning of what the 1% has in store for us. They want us to accept an even greater level of exploitation and sacrifice to guarantee an even higher level of profit for the corporations and banks they represent.
How is it possible that people like them are able to run for president and actually find some support in sections of the population? Some white voters support them as a racist reaction against Obama. For many others there is a very real and justified anger and disgust with government on every level. Today only 4% of people polled approve of Congress and only about 11% of those polled approve of Obama. This is a reflection of what the current administration has done or maybe more importantly what it hasn’t done.
The problem is that the right wing politicians try to use this anger to attack the victims of the 1% and hide who is really responsible for the ongoing economic, political and social crisis. And the Democrats are not a real alternative. They may sound less harsh and crazy, but their program is essentially the same – protect the profits of the bosses and bankers at our expense.
We can’t rely on elections. The candidates are bought and paid for by the millionaires and billionaires to do their bidding.
Our power to fight for what we need lies elsewhere. We do all the work to make society run and we can also use that power to make it stop.
The only times we have begun to get things we need, like the right to have unions, the right to vote, protections on the job, civil rights, and better education has been when we have mobilized our forces – in the streets and in the workplaces. It is time we look to ourselves and not the politicians.