Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/922/23835
US presidential election: The disastrous failure of 'lesser evilism'
According to one opinion poll, 25% of young Americans would prefer a meteor to destroy Earth than see Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House! As Patrick Ayers and Ty Moore of Socialist Alternative (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party) argue, if ever there was a case for a new political party to represent the 99% then this presidential election is it.
A majority of those planning to vote for Hillary Clinton will be 'holding their noses' as they cast their ballots on 8 November, motivated by fear of Donald Trump rather than positive support for Hillary.
The problem for Clinton is the more voters learn about her legacy of promoting an aggressive corporate agenda, the more they dislike her.
Liberal commentators have focused on Trump's bigoted hard-core base which, while significant, remains a distinct minority of voters. Fatally missing from most liberal analysis (and political strategy) is that the main fuel powering Trump's campaign is popular rage at the corporate corruption of the political establishment.
Clinton's corporate campaign is incapable of tapping into this mass desire for change. Unfortunately, the failure of union and progressive leaders to offer an independent, anti-establishment challenge to Trump leaves the right wing an open field to exploit the popular anger.
Polls show that Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, remains the most popular politician in America, and it remains clear he would be a far stronger candidate against Trump than Clinton.
But as the Democratic National Committee's fierce backing of Clinton proved, the Democratic Party tops are more firmly committed to maintaining their alliance with Wall Street and big business than they are to defeating Trump and the right wing.
Faced with the horrifying prospect of a Trump White House, it is understandable that millions of ordinary people who completely oppose Clinton's Wall Street politics will nonetheless cast a vote for her on 8 November.
At the same time, using popular opposition to Trump as a veil, most union and progressive leaders are arguing for a dangerous and self-defeating 'lesser-evil' strategy that endlessly reduces our movements into pressure campaigns on the corporate controlled Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders himself, who won mass support for exposing Clinton's deep corporate corruption when he stood in the Democratic primaries, is a living demonstration of the corrosive logic of lesser evilism. Since Bernie started heaping praise on Clinton in order to turn out the vote against Trump, his credibility has waned and attendance at his rallies has dramatically dropped off.
The policy of covering up for the corporate character of the Democratic Party remains a central strategic failure of the unions and progressive leadership in America.
This strategy also paved the way for the Tea Party and their sweeping electoral victories in the 2010 elections for Congress and state legislatures.
When Obama took power amid the 2008 financial crisis, his first act was to bail out the Wall Street banks. These banks showered him with campaign contributions as millions lost their homes.
However the union and progressive leaders were fearful of embarrassing the Democrats. They failed to mobilise the enormous anger at Wall Street into a left opposition movement, leaving Tea Party Republicans an open field.
Wherever the left fails to organise a bold, fighting, working-class challenge to corporate politics-as-usual, popular rage at the failures of capitalism will be channelled behind right-wing 'anti-establishment' figures like Trump.
Socialist Alternative gathered over 125,000 signatures urging Bernie to run all the way through November and use his massive base of support to build a new party for the 99%.
But now that Sanders endorsed Clinton, we are urging a vote for the Green's Jill Stein in all 50 states to register the strongest possible protest vote against racism and corporate politics, and to help popularise the need for independent politics.
If the unions and the wider left organised a strong working class challenge to Clinton and Trump, they would be far more effective at peeling away Trump's soft supporters, those who are not hardened bigots but rather working class people looking to "kick out the bums" overseeing our corrupt political establishment.
We understand why people will vote for Clinton in swing states to block Trump. But Socialist Alternative is campaigning for Jill Stein throughout the country as the best way, in this period of heightened political debate, to strengthen support for what's most needed: political independence for our movements and a new party of the 99%.
Since the 2008 economic crisis, the "American Dream" has unravelled and opened up unprecedented space for building the socialist movement and launching a new mass party of the left. Capitalism is mired in an ongoing global crisis, and there is no prospect for a return to the previous era of generous social welfare states without mass struggle and a socialist transformation of society.
- Read more on the socialist analysis of the US elections - Socialist Alternative online pamphlet: 'The Failure of Lesser Evilism: Why Fighting the Right Means Building a New Party of the 99%' socialistalternative.org/ failure-lesser-evilism/
In The Socialist 26 October 2016:
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