US Midterm Elections: Different Parties, Same Tools

The midterm elections came and went last week without any surprises. As was expected, these elections were a reflection of a deep anger and disillusionment with Obama and the Democratic Party. Throughout the country, Democrats were voted out of offices and replaced by Republicans. And more than 30 million people who voted for the Democrats in 2008 didn’t even bother to vote this time. Given the policies of the Obama administration and Democrats over the last two years, it’s no surprise that people voted for Republicans. But like the Democrats, the policies of the Republicans will continue to serve the interests of the banks and corporations.

Obama and the Democrats

Barack Obama and the Democrats came into office on grand promises of “change.” One of the things that they promised to do was put people back to work and keep people from losing their homes. But two years since the Democrats came into office, more than 14 million people still remain unemployed. This number doesn’t include the more than nine million people who are working part-time jobs but who want to be working full time. And by the end of this year alone, three million more homes will go into foreclosure.

While millions remain unemployed and lose their homes, Obama says that change doesn’t come over night. Really? It only took a few days for politicians to find $700 billion to bailout Wall Street banks in 2008. And this was just the beginning of the trillions of our tax dollars that both the Democrats and Republicans would hand over to them.

Obama was also elected on promises that he would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But all he has done is repackage the US occupation of Iraq and expanded the US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Iraq, Obama has withdrawn some troops and just sent them to Afghanistan. And instead of calling the 50,000 soldiers that will remain in Iraq “troops”, Obama has renamed them “advisors.” In Afghanistan, the total number of US troops is now more than 95,000. In 2009, the number of Afghan civilians killed or injured as a result of the escalating war rose by 31 percent. And in Pakistan, the number of drone attacks by the US military has tripled since Obama took office. More than 2,500 Pakistanis have been killed by these attacks since January of 2009.

The Republicans

Since last Tuesday, the Republicans have begun putting forth some of their own ideas about how to protect the corporations, banks, and the super rich. When they take office, Republicans in Congress say that they will immediately cut spending on programs like education, healthcare, and other social programs by $100 billion. This will make worse the massive budget deficits and spending cuts that states like California have experienced over the last two years. The Republicans also want to make permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of the population. These tax cuts will add another $700 billion to the federal deficit over the next ten years. And, like most of the Democrats, the Republicans say they are committed to “fixing” Social Security by replacing the program’s system of regular benefit payments with individual private investment accounts that people would invest in the stock market. This would transfer the trillions of dollars that exist in the Social Security trust fund to corporations.

New Faces, Same Tools

Like all elections, last week’s elections just brought into office fat new faces that will continue to serve the same masters. The priority of the Republicans, just like the Democrats, is to make sure that the interests of banks, corporations, and the rich are put first. Both parties have absolutely no interest in solving the problems that ordinary people face. They never have and never will. In order to bring about real changes in our lives and open up real possibilities for our future, we can’t rely on throwing out Republicans and Democrats ever few years. We need to throw out this whole rotten system.