Campaign Serves to Eliminate Political Parties and Undermine Fight for People’s Empowerment
As the elections enter their final week, many in the polity are angrier now than they were at the beginning of the campaign. The people have endured a string of scandals engulfing both Trump and Clinton and their ensuing threats. The two candidates are now more broadly disliked than at the start.
The campaigns have confirmed both Trump and Clinton as members of self-serving criminal syndicates vying to serve themselves and others of the imperialist rich. Perhaps of greatest concern to many is that despite the long campaign, no issue facing the polity is dealt with — from how to guarantee equality among human beings to how to ensure that the polity is the source of political power. Importantly, this includes questions of war and peace and the people’s opposition to U.S. warmongering. Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone in Syria directly threatens war with Russia, potentially unleashing a catastrophic world war. Trump also threatens a broader war boasting he will send the U.S. military directly to engage and eliminate ISIS wherever it exists, which according to the U.S. authorities is dozens of countries. Great concern continues about militarized police, racist government attacks and responding to concerns of the people with such force. The courageous resistance of the people such as at Standing Rock — where Native Americans and many others are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in order to protect water for millions and defend the sovereignty of the Sioux nation — is met with attacks including tanks, automatic weapons, sonic-sound canons, pepper spray and the arrest of 140 unarmed protesters in one day. Killer drones and killer cops are connected and part of militarization of life with broad impunity by the government for its terrorism at home and abroad but these crucial matters are given no space in the campaign.
The campaign is deepening the people’s grave concerns about preventing a broader war and ending the existing ones. Posturing as warmongers, the candidates are using the election to discredit whatever remains of governance through laws and promote instead the election of a leader who is both Commander-in-Chief of the military and the people. A Commander-in-Chief is not someone who governs based on law, but rather on police power — the power to criminalize, to punish, to imprison, to kill and destroy with impunity.
Efforts are being made to convince the people that rather than having a dysfunctional government, with dysfunctional parties, what is needed is the selection of a Commander-in-Chief to lead the country. These efforts include the repeated focus on being fit to be Commander-in-Chief, an entire debate, held on an aircraft carrier, devoted to the topic and openly involving military leaders in the campaign.
The campaign’s focus on choosing a Commander-in-Chief and broadening the use of police powers at home and abroad undermines the struggle for people’s empowerment, the right of the people to decide those issues that affect their work and lives. The elimination of political parties and promotion of individual leaders depoliticizes the people. In the U.S. today the only way to solve the country’s problems and open a path forward is through politicizing the people and finding ways to involve them in politics, especially the youth, and giving them the power to decide and control political, economic and social affairs.
Elimination of Democratic and Republican Parties
To convince the people to accept the direction of a Commander-in-Chief as ruler, both campaigns have focused on discrediting and destroying the Democratic and Republican parties from inside and outside those organizations. Trump and Clinton have contributed essentially to eliminating their respective parties as viable political parties with organized connections with the people.
In this election, Trump from the beginning openly attacked the Republican Party, threatening to run as an independent if he was not treated fairly. Since securing the nomination literally hundreds of Republicans and their top national security and foreign policy experts have openly denounced Trump and refused to back him, including top party leaders. Trump further escalated the attack by blocking funds to Republicans running for other positions.
Clinton has been courting the anti-Trump Republicans with many from the Bush administrations joining her campaign. Using her slogan “stronger together,” Clinton curries favor among neo-conservatives with suggestions she will likely include them in her cabinet. These include Paul Wolfowitz, considered the architect of the Iraq war for Bush; John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush; Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush and advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; and Brent Scowcroft, advisor to three previous Republican presidents. All are warmongers.
The actions by FBI director Comey saying Clinton is again under investigation, right before the elections and doing so against the advice of the Justice Department and norms of not interfering in elections, further indicates that practices and norms of the past are finished and conflicts are intensifying. The FBI is contending alongside the CIA, military and other policing agencies and Comey’s actions indicate the norms for mitigating these conflicts no longer function.
The combination of splitting and merging indicates that the two parties no longer exist or function as parties with distinct political platforms and discipline. The various factors indicate that, for the rich, political parties are no longer needed. They are being replaced with political life characterized by individual leaders, with their own machinery and constituencies vying for the presidency. Obama and Sanders have such machinery for their individual use, replacing and wrecking party machinery. Trump brought his machinery assembled from personal wealth and outside the Republican Party. So too, Clinton relies not on the Democratic Party apparatus but her own personal apparatus, well-illustrated by leaks from the e-mail account of her campaign chairman John Podesta. This is comprised of a whole retinue of loyal advisors and agents inside and outside the campaign and various levels of government, the Clinton Foundation and the $80 million net worth and vast connections of a former President. The power and success of this apparatus is taken as further evidence that Clinton “has what it takes.”
For the imperialist rich, the U.S. state exists to preserve their class privilege and control of social property, and to keep the working people out of power. The U.S. state has two main forms: a government of laws and a government of police.
The government of laws requires a functioning Congress to legislate such laws and elections for those said to represent the people. The elections are a means for the people to authorize the government to legislate and govern. Both contribute to giving the government legitimacy, and thus the ability to use force. A government of laws is also expected to meet the needs of the people or at least provide the appearance of doing so.
The government of police, with police defined as encompassing the military and all the many policing and spy agencies, does not and cannot legitimate the rule of the imperialist rich and their state. Police power is the use of force, the power to punish, criminalize, jail, and kill with increasing impunity. Police power is not concerned with accountability to the people, as evidenced abroad with the exercise of this power to kill with impunity through drone warfare and Special Forces in Yemen, Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere. At home, the increasingly militarized police forces engage in police killings and attacks on demonstrators, such as those occurring at Standing Rock, and witnessed in Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Ferguson and elsewhere. Accountability and rule of law are absent.
The presidency itself is no longer presented primarily as a civilian in charge of a government of laws, but rather a Commander-in-Chief holding broad police powers to utilize at home and abroad. This reflects the more general direction away from a government of laws and to a government of police power. This, in part, is the reason that both Trump and Clinton are openly bringing the military into play with high level military leaders picking sides, when the military traditionally remains neutral. This tradition exists as a means to ensure the military backs and supports whoever is elected, regardless of party. Now, with the denigration of the Democratic and Republican political parties if not their complete destruction, the military is being brought into the fray as a crucial factor. This is a dangerous development, as it remains unclear where the loyalties of the military leaders will lie after the election and could indicate open splits in the future.
The process of eliminating a government of laws and political parties has been taking place for some time. This is evident in the dysfunction of Congress, in part because the parties no longer function as political parties. Party leaders are not followed, legislation cannot be passed even with a majority, which the Republicans currently have. The various means for sorting out conflicts among the ruling circles, such as positions on committees and dividing up the budget no longer function. The present presidential campaign is serving to mark the elimination of the parties and a government of laws and the rise of police power as omnipotent. The Commander-in-Chief as ruler is to be followed or else the police power will come down on your neck.
Development of political parties was a positive thing for the people, as they are necessary to give expression to the collective will. Politics are necessary for people to defend their individual and collective interests, and those of society as a whole. Politics are for people to participate in deciding and controlling those affairs that concern and affect them. The undemocratic direction of the imperialist rich to depoliticize the people, including the elimination of politics and political parties, serves to divide and divert the people from defending their individual and collective interests, to block the people from occupying the space for change. Advancing the cause of democracy today requires politics of empowerment, politically mobilizing the people themselves to govern and decide.
Specifically with this election, the imperialist rich are engaged in an effort to force the people to submit to endless U.S. predatory wars and a broader inter-imperialist war among the big powers, and to more impunity and militarization of life at home. Presenting the President as Commander-in-Chief of the police power yet still a leader representing the will of the people is a means to force the people to accept war as necessary and inevitable and their empowerment and pro-social change as impossible. It is also for this reason that Clinton, posing as such a leader, has said, speaking to the people in general, “I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.” This is the posturing of a Commander-in-Chief “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is at once threatening and demanding support, as the only one capable of averting an apocalypse. This is said even as Clinton threatens war with Russia, which is what many see as a pending apocalypse. It is a dangerous, destructive direction that must be vigorously opposed.
Imposing this anti-social direction presents problems for the imperialist rich, as the people are not so ready to submit to the dictates of police power. This is evident in the continuing and widespread protests and the broad anger with the campaign itself. A growing sense is developing, particularly among the youth, that a different direction is needed, a pro-social, anti-war direction of empowerment of the people. While the imperialist rich try to present their dangerous and backward direction as a path to change, the people are charged by history to occupy the space for change and step up organizing for a new pro-social direction towards an anti-war government and their political empowerment.