1990s >> 1992 >> no-1058-october-1992

Editorial: ‘Yawn in the USA’

If it was not tragic it would be funny. With a mixture of anguish and amusement, socialists look on as the multi-million dollar campaigns to elect the most important political leader in the world drip down the middle of our TV screens.

The US Presidential contest is a sick, slick manipulation of what is declared to be a democratic election. To begin with, only millionaires or those backed by millionaires can afford to run televised, mass-appeal campaigns. Most US states have laws designed to prevent small parties from even being on the ballot paper: tens of thousands of nominations must be collected before you can even appeal to voters as an electoral contender. The TV networks and the press are subsumed by the petty irrelevancies of which candidate has the most extra-martial liaisons, whose wife looks cutest and which party can provide the catchiest ten-second sound bite.

The election is a farce. Rarely was this more clearly seen that at the Republican Convention when Bush and Quayle accepted their nominations; their speeches were of the emptiest rhetoric, but crowds of media men were placed in the audience to cheer at their every empty promise, laugh uproariously at their every semi-witty jest and, most sinister of all, burst into pre-arranged “spontaneous” bouts of slogan-chanting, Goodbye Gorbachev, but Stalinism is still alive and well in the Houston Astrodome.

The differences between the two big parties are negligible—more minute than ever. Like the British Labour Party, the US Democrats have adopted the view that the only way they might beat the Republicans is by kidding the voters that they are the Republicans. Bush or Clinton—who in their right mind cares? Certainly tens of millions of American workers don’t, for it is anticipated that half the electorate will not vote next month.

As in Britain, liberal reformists are tempted by what they see as the lesser evil. The Nation, that journalistic symbol of wishy-washy niceness, hopes that Bush will lose, but its editorial of 14 September shows just how pathetic the case for the Democrats is: “in almost every category of capitalist economic growth—income, profit, gross domestic product, employment—Democratic administrations do better than Republican ones”. As if that were a reason why workers, whose exploitation is the source of capitalist economic growth, should vote for their most efficient fleecers.

The truth is that US capitalism is in trouble, and social problems which they thought they could avoid are exploding all over the place. Vast numbers of homeless, a drug epidemic, 12 million hungry, over 20 million illiterates, riots in LA and more brewing in other deprived city areas, a multi-trillion dollar budget deficit and the collapse of welfare, huge numbers of bankruptcies. What American workers need to hear is the case for an alternative to the profit system: the case for production for use and not profit. There will be no Land of the Free until we have a world where all have free access to the abundant wealth that we can produce.

But instead of the voice of sanity, the Republicans have been infiltrated by crazy Christians, no more in possession of their reason than the Muslim fundamentalists. Their leader, and a definite Republican hopeful for 1996, is Pat Robertson who told the Convention in Houston that feminism “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”. With God on their side these loony leaders are asking the millions to put their faith in them.