At long last, the debates between Republican millionaires spewing scary politics have stopped. Now the public is pummeled with Mitt Romney and Barack Obama sound bites (and occasionally Ron Paul), which sound all too similar.
Yes, Obama’s timely support of same-sex marriage makes Democratic politicians look friendlier. But policies the White House has enacted have many disgusted progressives and Democratic Party loyalists trying to figure out how to justify voting for Obama. Others consider boycotting the election. Many have concluded that there’s little difference between the two big parties and their multibillion-dollar campaigns.
Black freedom leader Malcolm X agreed. In 1964 he pointed out, “The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is the Republicans will stick a 12-inch knife in your back, then the Democrats will come along and pull it out 3 inches. I don’t call [that] making progress.”
Today, we are in the fifth year of a depression approaching that of the 1930s. In reaction to appalling poverty, inequality and war, dissent and protest is mounting across the land — in the streets, on jobs and school campuses, in courtrooms, and in the 2012 electoral arena. What a fine time to review how and why these two parties are fraternal twins.
Mayhem marketers. Democrats and Republicans have dominated elected federal office since they took control after the Civil War in 1865. Their presidents and Congresses have presided over a United States at war most of the time since. This is because capitalism requires war to survive. Warfare is for capturing raw materials and markets, blowing up people and cities, and then rebuilding things all over again. It is not for “national security,” democracy, or women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Wars impose massive human costs. A 2011 study by Brown University found that in the last decade of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, approximately 250,000 people have died in direct conflict (a serious undercount according to other studies) and 365,000 have been wounded, over half civilians. Nearly 8 million people have been displaced.
In monetary terms, the Brown study estimates that costs to U.S. taxpayers could reach $4.4 trillion. Humongous profits, however, go to war industries, which pay even less of the income taxes that fund war than the rest of corporate America does. Citizens for Tax Justice found that the top 10 military contractors paid a tax rate of only 10.6 percent in 2010!
Presidents talk peace. On May 12, 2012, Obama paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan and signed a treaty to supposedly withdraw troops by 2014. Actually, the treaty wasn’t a plan to leave at all. It permits U.S. Special Forces to continue their murderous secret offensives for as long as the U.S. pleases.
All of the human misery behind these statistics is devised and implemented by Republican and Democratic politicians. On behalf of the corporate powers that pay for their elections and privileges, they decide that over half the U.S. budget is devoted to militarization.
Jobs aren’t profitable. Most economists, whatever their politics, acknowledge that business does not exist to create employment. The purpose of capitalism is to make more money, and the fewest workers at the lowest pay it takes, the better — through automation, layoffs, wage freezes, speed-up, and exporting jobs.
Today, more than 20 percent of the U.S. working class is unemployed or underemployed. In the last five years, 93 percent of this country’s income has gone to the richest 1 percent. Indeed, over the last 50 years, Republicans and Democrats have overseen the transfer of massive amounts of wealth from working people to big corporations. Buying power for the average employee is less today than in 1970.
Politicians, of course, pretend to care about jobs in periods of high unemployment. But the JOBS Act of April 2012 is a perfect example of their crass deception. This legislation’s true title is “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act,” and it has nothing to do with reducing unemployment. They say it helps new “small” businesses create more jobs. False. According to financial muckracker Matt Taibbi, the act is “a sweeping piece of deregulation” that “actually appears to have been specifically written to encourage fraud in the stock markets”!
Here’s another, more familiar lie. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s was not for working people. It was designed to stabilize a staggering capitalist economy and stem the nationwide strikes and rebellion that were terrifying fat cats. “From the first,” writes Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States, “the National Recovery Act was dominated by big businesses and served their interests.” World War II, not the New Deal, pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression.
Whatever they promise, the ruling-class solution is always war — and lean times for the 99 percent.
Belt-tightening for whom? Our well-paid, well-insured, well-pensioned federal politicians preach that the masses must expect to do without. The average salary in Congress is $174,000, with exceptional health insurance, including routine care right at the Capitol. They’re fixed for retirement too, with full pensions for life, plus Social Security, plus a 401(k)-type plan. And remember, many are already millionaires.
What they do best is fan fears of terrorist attack and nuclear war, and sound endless alarms on Debts! and Deficits! They tell us that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are bankrupt and must be slashed and privatized, that families should take care of themselves in sickness, old age and disability. They fund universities to teach gobbledygook economics to justify all this. Only tightening our belts will save the day.
Here’s one frightening example. The House of Representatives passed a budget bill in May that slashes domestic programs and prevents big military cuts. On the cutting block? Food stamps for 1.8 million people, school lunch subsidies for 280,000 children, health insurance for 300,000 kids, child abuse prevention programs, $23.5 billion in Medicaid, $4.2 billion from hospitals that poor and uninsured people use, $33.7 billion in supplemental nutrition assistance.
Although the House is Republican-dominated, both parties were full partners in the machine that agreed to “reduce the deficit” by $1.2 trillion some months ago.
A few congressional Democrats are opposing such social carnage. But their party couldn’t survive if it truly defied the corporations and banks.
Go socialist! No Democrats or Republicans propose the solutions that the Freedom Socialist 2012 Presidential campaign does, such as — dismantle the military and bring all troops home, fund public works job and training programs, halt foreclosures, nationalize health care and make it free, cancel student debt.
Of course, these are anti-capitalist options. They make the parties of Wall Street shudder at the thought. But they make very good sense to most of the human race. Let’s hear it for these dark horse contenders!
Also see: Freedom Socialist Party platform