Bill Fletcher tries to say he’s as much of an Obama critic as anyone, but his clear logical conclusion is that we must, in the end, support Obama in order to counter the Republican’s racism. I must disagree.
First, racism has been a cornerstone of Republican presidential campaigns since at least the passage of the Civil Rights Act, almost 50 years ago. The only thing new in 2012 is that they will employ that strategy this time against an incumbent who is 50% African American. It won’t work. Racism is no longer a winning strategy in US presidential elections. It has almost no traction among younger voters and the non-white segment of the electorate is growing ever larger. Obama backers are praying for a Haley Barbour or Michelle Bachman to run against.
Secondly, efforts by both capitalist parties to minimize the vote are even more longstanding. Why do you think we vote on a Tuesday, a workday, instead of on a weekend or, better yet, declaring election day to be a national holiday – and that this is not even controversial? Voter ID campaigns are primarily directed at Latinos, who will be the principal focus of Republican racism in the 2012 campaign under the guise of “securing our borders” so only white people can cross them unencumbered.
More importantly, the real issues of 2012 are Obama’s slavish subordination to finance capital and the complete corruption of US presidential elections by unrestricted corporate campaign contributions. This morning, there is an article in the press about how Eric Holder, head of the “Justice Department” and another sold out African American, has, despite his early vows to do so, has failed to prosecute a single Wall Street financier for the fraudulent manipulations that led to the collapse of the speculative bubble in 2008. Never has it been more true that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the dominant capitalist parties.
But even more important is the corruption of the entire federal electoral system by corporate money in the wake of the Citizens United decision. To even participate in this travesty is to lend credence to fraud. Obama won’t need an army of small contributors (such as I was in 2008) in 2012. He has commitments for a cool billion from his billionaire buddies already in the bank. Nor will he need the army of progressive volunteers such as I was in 2008, instead reverting to the standard American way of vacuous 30 second television advertisements.
Nothing positive will come from the Left supporting a third party candidate either. The physics of our system dictates two parties fighting over what they collude to call the center. Furthermore, there is no credible third party. Those that exist have little structure, no money and unknown leadership. To participate is to agree to play a rigged game. Your odds are better buying lottery tickets.
The strategy of the Left should be to attack the system itself – to mount a vigorous and militant campaign to delegitimize the electoral process as corrupt. Millions of Americans of all political stripes hold this view already. This would involve picketing polling places, ballot mutilation, and confrontations with all candidates over the nature of their funding. There could be no more unifying, mobilizing and radical issue than democracy itself, or the lack thereof.