Can Elections Change The Direction Of Our Country?
I have often written about the fraudulent nature of elections and the futility of voting as a way of changing the policies and priorities from serving the 1% to meeting the needs of the 99%. Following is an explanation as to why I think that.
First, let me say that I’m not against all elections and under all circumstances. But, do I think elections have the potential or ability to dramatically and fundamentally change things and set the country on a different course in this country? No, I don’t. I think not only they don’t and are meant or set up not to, but they’re actually a way of preventing and avoiding real change? Such deception by offering a fake as a replacement for what’s actually needed is nothing new. Often, when people collect signatures and put a progressive proposition on the ballot that some corporations are against, the latter introduce an alternative that is advertised as better, but which in fact, doesn’t accomplish what the original one intended. The fake is the means for avoiding and thwarting the real. By presenting elections as the way to achieve change – how often do we hear: if you’re not happy with the current policies, vote; when do we hear: protest? – they’re avoiding and distracting from what could actually bring about real change, namely, a grass roots movement by an informed population exerting direct pressure from below, rather than voting for politicians who ultimately depend on corporations to get elected and are under their order and influence, once elected. Remember, Dr. King didn’t run for office, which he very well could have, especially when he had millions of supporters. The ruling class would have loved for him to do that. If he had, not only he wouldn’t be on FBI’s kill list and spied on and followed and plotted against, but would have the Secret Service’s protection, too. But, unlike Obama, he wasn’t in it for his own ambition and personal gain. He knew what the job description for heading US imperialism was and he didn’t want it. Instead, he wanted real change, and that’s why he was leading marches rather than taking campaign contributions from corporations which he would then have to return the favor. Even Ralph Nader, who periodically runs or used to run, never tried to organize street protests and marches, though I’m sure he’s not against them. That’s a significant difference.
After 8 years of George W. Bush, when the majority wanted a change, every candidate was promising it, including the Republicans. And, it wasn’t just Bush who continued corporatist and anti-worker policies, Clinton before him was not much different and neither were those before him, with some variations, and certainly not Obama, after him. The fact is, there is great consistency and continuity in policies of the US government and the reason is that while the particular president and his party may change, the class that they represent doesn’t. If you want to know if you can achieve change by voting, just ask unions of this country who support and vote for Democrats every election cycle and get disappointed every single time. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, each time. A politician does not walk into a vacuum to bring with him his new plans and program. He’s like a manager of a company who gets hired to maximize profits for the company, except that in this case, he works for the entire class.
Had the ruling class not offered people the fake means for having a voice, people would eventually find their own way and we all know what that way might be. But, elections in capitalist countries are not only meant as a means of public deception. The ruling class does pick and choose between competing views within the system, but it’s all within the system. So, elections are fake as far as the working class is concerned. For the ruling class, elections are a way of evaluating their options and picking the ones that best suit their needs at any given time. So, in that respect and for them, the elections are very much real and serve a purpose, in addition to being a tool for public deception.
Not only does the ruling class have all holes covered to make sure there is no systemic change, elections are also conditional: they will count and tabulate the results and stand by them, as long as they know they won’t lose their power. Once they realize it might not go as planned, the mask will come off and all pretense of “democracy” and respect for “rule of law” and “the Constitution” will get cast aside and they will roll out the tanks and the helicopters. They take their power seriously and are not about to give it up easily.
Since the system is set up to maintain the status quo and keep the ruling class in power, elections under these circumstances can only give them legitimacy and “mandate” to go on with their anti-working-class policies. However, if by some rare chance and in the unlikely event, we get a candidate with a revolutionary program who can garner enough votes to have any chance, sure. why not? We can vote. And, when the government dismisses him or her and nullifies the election results, it might help create a movement. But, as I said, that’s very unlikely, and remember what the job title and description is: heading US imperialism. Those who supported Obama in 2008, didn’t just make a mistake about the person, though all signs were there that he wasn’t a progressive, but also about the system and what was possible within that system.
I believe our focus must be on exposing their elections that are influenced and decided by big money. When we participate in them, it seems hypocritical of us to try to expose them and point to what really works, while at the same time taking part in them.
So, why is it highly unlikely if not impossible for a candidate to change things? Because the ruling class remains in power. Power does have consequences. Regardless of your politics, belief system or ideology, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or “Independent” or “socialist” or a Marxist, you’d have to agree that what determines which class gets to dictate its policies depends on which class has the state power; i.e.: controls the police, the law making, the courts, the media, the economy, the military, etc. If the point is to change policies from benefiting one class (currently the capitalists) to another (workers), and if the policies that are imposed on the society are those of the class in power, then it follows that if the working class wants to set policies, instead of corporations, then, it has to take power from corporations and their owners. Only then can it change the economic system from being based on corporate profiteering to one that meets people’s needs, from one that considers means of production the private property of some wealthy individuals to one where they belong to the entire society, from one that benefits a few at the top to one that benefits all. But, that would not be possible without taking the state power which means disarming the 1% and purging them from all positions of power. It means expelling their politicians, their judges, their generals, and dismantling their armies, their spy agencies and their police, and taking away and nationalizing their corporations, including their mouthpiece, the media, which brainwashes people on their behalf. Without taking the state power and all its organs from them, we can’t make fundamental changes because as long as they remain in power, they will prevent and stop us and will sabotage and thwart our plans and will eventually crush us and we’ll be back where we started.
In short, fundamental change will require taking all levers of power and influence from the 1% and empowering the working class and that means revolution. Elections are not set up for taking state power from one class for another. The latter is a revolution and a revolution is considered an act of war and will be dealt as such because now you’re trying to get from them what really matters and gives them the ability to rule.
It’s with that understanding and within that context that I think we must view elections. If, for example, you can use elections to take power from them, then, fine, try it, but, real change will ultimately require state power and that can only be accomplished through a people’s revolution, which is nothing, but class war – and it is a war – in its most advanced and final stage.