Liberals, Conservatives and Elections
We know what the conservatives in both parties want: maximum profitability and free rein for corporations, with minimum or no regulations or taxation. They want the leanest and smallest government when it comes to the oversight or taxation of the corporations and the largest, most intrusive and coercive government when dealing with potential threats to corporations and their profitability, through incarceration, surveillance and the “enforcement” of the laws intended to control the population. They also want to expand the power and influence of the corporate empire, internationally, through wars and military interventions. A large, coercive and take-no-prisoner type government with a large and brutal police force, an expansive domestic surveillance program and tens of thousands of prisons in dealing with the working class, as well as the largest and most powerful military for controlling and subduing other nations is the formula for maximizing corporate profits. And so is, on the other hand, having the smallest and least effective government in dealing with corporations. The fact that they have been able to accomplish this is testament to the vast power and influence of the corporations and their wealthy shareholders, who make up only a tiny percentage of the society.
This of course is indicative of the complete absence of any influence by the working class, even though it is by far the largest segment of the population. This is what conservatives in both parties want and openly strive for and have to a great extent, achieved. But, what do the liberals want? The truth is that they want the same thing and work closely with the conservatives in achieving it, albeit with the minimum visibility and while trying to elicit the least amount of opposition and unrest. Liberals play the role of the good cop versus the conservatives who act as the bad cop. That’s because an exploitative system where the minority takes all and leaves the majority poor and disenfranchised, is most effective when using both the carrot and the stick, both open and unmitigated oppression and coercion, as well as, deception. The liberals thus become as indispensable for maintaining the existing order, relations, power structure and status quo as the more open and aggressive agents of the system among conservatives. The good cop might walk in with a smile and bring you coffee and cookies, but he too has the same job and mission as the bad cop, who will push you against the wall. The system needs and uses both of them.
Naturally, in a class society, there is a need for representing the working people, too. In the absence of real representation, much of it prevented by the ruling capitalists, this role is played by liberals. By presenting themselves as the representatives of the people, liberals effectively prevent any real representation that might arise for them. This doesn’t mean there is a deliberate and planned conspiracy to fake such representation. The political/economic realities create such a need and a part of the followers and ideologies of the ruling billionaires come and fill those positions, by default.
The conspiratorial view among some on the left that elections are all fixed and predetermined and the winner is already selected and the rest is just for show is inaccurate. Though conservatives and liberals in the final analysis both work to maintain the present power structure, the contest between the two camps for controlling the politics and policies is real. The Ted Cruz’s of the society, do really and vigorously compete against liberals for the chance to represent the ruling class with the difference that they do it more openly and aggressively, compared to liberals and could therefore accomplish the best possible conditions for maximizing corporate profits, more efficiently. But they could also not be the best choice in all circumstances, as their overreach may backfire and end up hurting the ruling class. At times, depending on political balance of forces and social conditions, the best choice for the rulers may be the liberals, including those who verbally attack big corporations and vow to make reforms. That may sound counterintuitive, but there is logic in that. The ruling class picks and chooses and promotes whom it needs or sees best suited to push forward its interests, whether they’re liberal or conservative. Sometimes, what’s needed is a Bernie Sanders and other times a Bush, Clinton or Ted Cruz. Elections give the class a chance to decide who’s their best representative under current conditions from either party.
Likewise, the liberal view that the system and the power structure can be fundamentally changed by electing a liberal reformer is naive and wrong. Contrary to such belief, liberals such as Bernie Sanders are not only not a threat to the system, they’re actually indispensable for maintaining the status quo. Obama was a good example, who ran as a “liberal” and won the support of many among the minorities and the liberal base, as well as, the billionaires, and ended up a most valuable asset for the latter. At other times and under different circumstances, the 1% chooses and promotes a conservative, such as Ronald Reagan or Bush or Bill Clinton. The difference is mostly in how these individuals present themselves to the public. So, for example, Obama was no less conservative than Reagan or Bush or in many respects even compared to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Donald Trump, but he successfully presented himself as a “liberal” and served the 1% without much resistance from the minorities and the poor. The method was as successful as it was deceptive. In fact, it was successful because it was deceptive. The ruling class may not have a use for Bernie Sanders, at this time, but it may very well need him or someone like him under slightly different circumstances, and that has to do with the level of unrest among the masses. The quieter things are, the more aggressive they can be and the more restive the population, the bigger need for liberals and reformers.
Saying that Sanders is no threat to the system doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t make any reforms. But, reforms are sometimes precisely what will maintain the status quo. By the same token, they also have no need for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, at this point. The former may be too divisive and provoke too much objection and the latter is too unpredictable and untested. This, however, doesn’t mean the outcome is completely and absolutely under their control, although they do have much influence on it.
Elections do take place and the ruling class does sometimes get nervous as to who may emerge to represent their interests. The difference they have with the working class is that they have the power to influence the outcome and impose their will, although that’s not foolproof or 100%. A best choice for them right now may be Hillary Clinton, who like Obama is a conservative advocate of wars and Wall Street in the guise of a “liberal”. One big plus for her is her popularity with Blacks, as was the case also with Obama. Marco Rubio may be another viable choice for them, although he lacks that advantage that Clinton enjoys, which is something that the ruling 1% pays considerable attention to when choosing their candidate. But, what’s also true is that the entire class of white wealthy billionaires don’t always agree on who’s their best person. They do sometimes disagree and compete to get elected whom they believe is best for their interests. The elections are their opportunity to do such vetting. The difference they have with workers, however, is that they’re much more class conscience and much more united and naturally much better at getting their person into office and influencing him or her, afterwards.
Whatever our approach and take on elections may be, they do take place and a significant segment of the working class do pay attention and are deceived and distracted by them. What’s important for the left, first and foremost, is to have a correct understanding of them and the social forces participating in them. It’s also important to understand the liberals’ role in society and what can and cannot be accomplished by them.