Kennedy to Run U.S. Capitalism
Mr. Kennedy’s victory at the American polls came as the culmination of years of patient ambition and at the end of a campaign of open cynicism, such as we have come expect from capitalist political parties.
When he started his attempt to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Kennedy had several question marks against him. The principal of these was whether he could unite the trade unions, the industrial cities and the backward Southerners into supporting him. We now know how skilfully he did this, by the careful choice of his Vice-Presidential candidate and by the promises and opinions which he uttered. Such was the success of these tactics that, long before election day, many on-the-spot correspondents were prophesying that Kennedy’s campaign would be irresistible.
Mr. Nixon showed a similar determination to win the presidency. Here is a man with an established reputation for single-minded ambition which has led him into some unsavoury actions. Many people will remember Mr. Nixon introducing his pet dog into a television programme in which he was offering evidence of his integrity as a servant of the American public.
Mr. Kennedy based some of his case upon an appeal to the patriotism of American workers, alleging that United States’ influence abroad has steeply declined during the Eisenhower presidency. Nixon’s reply—similarly an appeal to patriotism—was that it was insulting even to suggest that U.S.A. is a second-rate power.
This, then, was an election campaign of by no means an unusual kind, in which members of the working class were asked to vote on issues of personality, nationalism and capitalist power politics, none of which has the slightest effects upon their basic interest. Nevertheless, the American voters became absorbed in the contest and grew excited when it became obvious that there was to be a tight finish.
Mr. Kennedy has been compared to the late Franklin Roosevelt, who so dominated American politics during the thirties. One of the fallacies left over from the Roosevelt era is that Roosevelt came to power because the Americans supported his New Deal policies as a way of ending the Great Depression. In fact, these policies were not discussed during the 1932 election—the Democratic Convention of that year had produced a platform which promised fewer government agencies, reductions in government spending and a balanced Budget. After Roosevelt’s victory, the New Deal policies were worked out and within a year many new government agencies had been created, government expenditure had increased and the Budget was unbalanced. We may rely on it that, if the interests of American capitalism demand it, Mr. Kennedy’s election platform will be ignored in the same way as that of his famous predecessor.
It seems that Mr. Kennedy both lost and won votes because he is a Roman Catholic. Apparently, many American voters are under the impression that a Catholic president would allow his religion to sway his decisions. It is a ludicrous idea that American capitalism, with its tremendous mineral and industrial resources and its universal military influence, would allow its policy to be dictated from the Vatican. Mr. Kennedy made it quite clear that, if he were elected, he would do his best to administer American capitalism solely in its own interests. In that, he is no different from the rulers of the other capitalist nations. None of them seeks power to promote abstract principles or religions. All of them want power to organise a country for the benefit of its owning class.
It is depressing that American workers should be impressed by—indeed be part of—slick, high pressure salesmanship and cynical drives for power. For after the shouting and the ballyhoo have died, capitalism, in America and the rest of the world, remains unscathed. This social system produces the horrors of war, poverty, insecurity and racial hatred. The Democrats and Republicans, like the other capitalist parties, can offer no end to these. Only the establishment of Socialism can give us a world of peace and plenty. And for that we do not need stage-managed ballyhoo. We need knowledge and the social responsibility that goes with it.