Editorial – A missed opportunity

The American workers have spoken. They have made their choice. Unlike many on the left, the Socialist Party has always stood by the simple principle of assuming that when voters vote for a party, they do actually support – however grudgingly or partially – its policies. We accept that millions upon millions of American voters voted for the wrong choice – the incredible, unbelievable choice, of another four years of being ruled by a bluffing, blundering buffoon in the White House. Almost 110 million Americans voted for one or other multi-millionaire to be their elected Monarch.

Our comrades in America did their best to dissuade them – members in the United Kingdom here wrote letter to American workers asking them not to vote for the billionaires. But the result was a resounding vote for capitalism, for war and its continuation, for despoliation of the environment. It is, frankly, patronising and ignorant to assume that millions of American voters, after months and months of debate and discussion voted the way they did because they are stupid.

We have to credit them with wanting what they voted for, with supporting the policies of the capitalist class. In a more or less free election, when they had the opportunity to raise their voice they failed to do so, and so must bear the responsibility for their choice. It is the sons and daughters of American voters who will be sent to fight in a boiling desert, and live the rest of their lives with the scars of battle. It is the sons and daughters of American voters who will have to rise at dawn and walk miles to work. It is the sons and daughters of American voters who will have to watch their partners suffer poverty heaped upon bereavement because they have voted to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Obviously, it is difficult to make a change. It requires patience, organisation, effort – but millions of Americans were able to put all that effort into electing one of the millionaires. The existing politicians may throw hurdles in the way, may have more money to spend, but all those advantages rest on the essential acceptance of the current system of society by the vast majority
We must not, though, imagine this support for capitalism is confined only to American workers. Billions of workers across the globe keep voting for capitalism because they continue to believe its illusions and aspirations. It remains the job of socialists to continue to try and shatter those illusions, while the leftists weep into their beers because their millionaire lost.

Although we are – to be utterly blunt – a pathetic minority now, that does not mean we must give up hope. That so many millions of workers support capitalism today, does not mean they will do so tomorrow. America itself has changed out of all recognition in its two hundred years of growth, and will change again. Across the world there are countless examples of sweeping changing to political landscapes from one election to the next. Until then, all we can do, is turn to our fellows and say “There is a better way”.

Political freedom offers the best means to make that change, and the tools are to hand were the workers to take them up. George Bush and John Kerry are irrelevances, because no politician can be better than the system they administer, and socialists need to draw the discussion back to the things that really matter.

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