An Analysis of the US 2016 Elections Campaign
By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 14 August 2016, www.thecommunists.net
The ABC of Revolutionary Marxism is the independence of the working class from the capitalist class and unity of the class in struggle. For this reason in a conflict between two imperialist camps, revolutionary socialists not only do not support any capitalist camp, but take the position of revolutionary defeat for both camps.
This is the only position that in time of imperialist wars can keep the unity and the independence of the international working class. Otherwise workers kill workers for the benefits of the capitalist class. The same principle applies when it comes to elections, i.e. no support for any capitalist imperialist party.
Critical support for a reformist, namely a workers’ party (albeit under bourgeois control), could be considered if it is a mass party and in opposition to the attacks on the workers and the oppressed or against imperialist wars. In countries where such a party does not exist and there is a motion to the left, revolutionaries may call upon workers to forge a party armed with a transitional program. This is the application of the Leninist united front tactic. While chances are that this party will not begin as a revolutionary party, revolutionaries still will not call for a formation of a reformist party. The character of such a party will be formed in the course of the struggle, including electoral struggles. Revolutionaries would fight for its leadership and for its revolutionary character.
Based on this Leninist united front tactic, from the very beginning of the Presidential election campaign in the US, the RICT said that the working class should oppose the Republican and the Democratic party, including under Sanders, as both parties are capitalist imperialist parties that represent the class enemy of the working class and the oppressed in the US and the rest of the world. What then should be done? We called upon our class brothers and sisters to struggle for the formation of a labor party based on the transitional program, which can be used as a bridge between the existing level of the workers' consciousness and the socialist revolutionary consciousness.
Regardless of his empty phrases about socialism (by which he meant a welfare capitalist state) and what he believed he was doing, the apparent outcome of Sanders’ (a bourgeois liberal falsely claiming to be a socialist) campaign was to bring votes for Clinton.
Why did this happen?
After the last eight years of economic insecurity and the bailing out of big capital, responsible for the capitalist crisis, what characterizes the situation is the strong feeling of most Americans that they have had enough with the close relations of big capital and government and that they want a different social reality. Many of them were not afraid any more of the word "socialism," even though they did not know how to achieve a socialist society.
Many workers and youth hoped Sanders will lead the struggle for socialism. Such feelings could have been translated into the formation of a labor party opposing the twin capitalist parties. Instead, Sanders opposed the formation of a labor party and loyally served the Democratic Party establishment that was active in sabotaging his chances to win the elections. The left tailed him instead of exposing him. By tailing Sanders the left tailed the Democratic Party and acted as an obstacle for the creation of a working class independent party.
The Communist Party supported Sanders and when he endorsed Clinton, as he promised all along, these reformists endorsed Clinton as well. This position reflects its strategy of subordinating the working class to the ruling class. Soviet Stalinism is dead but the Stalinist policies are still alive in the so-called Communist Parties. This disastrous strategy is known as the "popular front." A policy that led to huge defeats of the working class in the 1930s and the 1940s. To cover up for this betrayal the CPUSA is calling Trump a fascist that can be defeated by the unity of all democratic forces including Clinton.
While Trump is a right wing racist and a demagogue, if he gets elected his regime will still not be fascism. Fascism usually can become a substantial force only in a (pre-)revolutionary situation where the working class struggle rises dramatically. However when the working class lack revolutionary leadership, the workers become demoralized because of the betrayals of the reformist and the centrist leadership. Fascism comes to power by mobilizing the middle classes and a section of the workers in the streets and its service to the capitalist class is to forcefully smash all working class organizations.
It is impossible to defeat fascism by casting a vote. The fascists must be smashed by the working class and its allies. Clinton and company are allies of big capital and racist cops, not of the working class and the oppressed. If there was a real danger of fascism the last thing Clinton and elk would like to see is a revolutionary mobilization of the working class smashing the fascist movement.
The fighters of the International Brigades who fought fascism in Spain in 1936-39 were persecuted by the so-called "democrats" as Roosevelt denounced the fighters of the Lincoln Brigade upon returning to the US.
“Communist” Party supports Clinton
Some reporters caught the irony of a so-called Communist party supporting a party of the big capital. According to the USA News:
"The leader of America's most prominent communist party credits Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with helping usher socialism into the political mainstream, but says it's essential to back Hillary Clinton if she defeats Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary." (1)
John Bachtell, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, says he cast a ballot for Sanders in the Illinois primary in March, but that the self-styled democratic socialist's loyal backers should temper their criticism of Clinton as a warmongering Wall Street puppet.
"The most important thing is keeping our eye on this extreme right-wing danger and really hoping that all political organizations and democratic forces will unite together to try to defeat that," he says.
"Whoever emerges from the primary fight, there will be a very broad coalition to try to get them elected," he says. "We support independence from the Democratic Party and work with forces laying the groundwork for a third party, but it's not realistic in this election." (2)
In the real world a vote for Clinton is a vote for imperialist wars and support for the very rich capitalists, as her records have proven. As a U.S. Senator, Clinton voted for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Patriot Act re-authorization, for new "free trade", the Wall Street bailouts (TARP), the 2006 border fence legislation. As Secretary of State she supported the military interventions in Libya and Syria that fueled the humanitarian crisis in the region.
A clear indication why this support for an imperialist party is in opposition to the unity and the independence of the international working class are the many mass demonstrations which have taken place in the last years against Obama, Clinton and their military interventions in the Middle East. While for the American Stalinists, Clinton is part of the anti-fascist camp, in the eyes of the workers and oppressed in many countries she is a bloody imperialist. Exactly for this reason the Stalinist who destroyed the Third International cannot re-form an international to this very day.
Socialist Alternative / CWI: Support for the petit-bourgeois Green Party
The right-centrist "Socialist Alternative" (the US section of the CWI led by Peter Taaffe) supported Sanders and now, that he backs Clinton, has switched to the Green Party. The Green party is a pro-capitalist, petit-bourgeois progressive party that raises many supportable demands, but at the same time spreads illusions in the nature of US imperialism that it can become, without a socialist revolution, a progressive force. The Green Party’s nature is comparable with the development of Green parties in Europe in their earlier stages, i.e. they represent progressive sectors of the middle class but are not based on organized support amongst the working class and the oppressed.
Socialist Alternative called for support for the Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders and even created a website to mobilize support for him (www.movement4bernie.org). Today, after Sanders aligned himself with the candidate of the US establishment Hillary Clinton, Socialist Alternative jumps wagon and support another non-working class force – Jill Stein and her Green Party.
The ISO (International Socialist Organization) also threw themselves behind Sanders and now, as he supports Clinton, they also support the Green Party with Kaine on the Presidential ticket. But this party is not a reformist workers’ party. Unlike bourgeois workers’ parties (Social Democracy and the Stalinists), the Greens forbid affiliation with trade unions. The party’s right wing has dominated it from its beginning. The worldwide green movement has shown its real nature by joining, in Germany or France, the Social Democrats in austerity and pro-war governments.
In 2000, the US Green Party received almost 3 million votes for Ralph Nader a consumer supporter of capitalism. When Nader’s magazine workers tried to form a union in 1984, he fired them. Nevertheless the ISO and Socialist Alternative continued to support him. Days before Sanders announced his support for Clinton, Jill Stein called on him to lead the Green party.
John Reed, the author of the "10 days that shook world", described how one group of so-called socialists was chained to another similar group and at the end they were all chained to the capitalists and the big landlords except the Bolsheviks under Lenin. It is the same story with the Middle class socialists of today.
What is the result of the Popular Front politics of those who claim to be socialists?
Many of the people who supported Sanders will not vote for Clinton. While some of them will vote for her, some will not vote at all, others will vote for the Green party and some of them will vote for Trump. It is still more likely that Clinton will win with a slight majority but it is not guaranteed. One thing is clear by calling to vote for Sanders and for Clinton instead of fighting to organize a labor party the middle class left has pushed a significant section of the population into the hands of Trump as he presents himself as an anti-establishment candidate.
Now the only option that is meaningful for the working class in the US is not to vote for both parties nor for the Green Party and move to organize a workers party based on the most oppressed layers of the working class in particular the blacks.
3) For our analysis of Sanders and the Socialist Alternative’s support for him see Yossi Schwarz: Why Not to Vote for the Democratic Party in the Forthcoming US Elections or at any other time, 2.3.2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/no-vote-sanders/