The Coastal Post - July 2000

Lesser Evils: The Politics of Capital

By Frank Scott

American consumers of democracy shop at a marketplace in which the labels on the packages are different, but the contents the same. Ad campaigns and issue positions vary, but the commodities are manufactured by the same firm. Like most merchandise, the goods are affordable only to the capable bidder, and while campaigns strive for appeal to the middle, the product itself is produced and distributed by the top.

Public opinion will be twisted and turned by millions of dollars before the November elections, but most of the minority that votes will be against, not for, the major candidates. This may offer hope for a breakthrough in the monopoly that controls America's politics of capital, as minor parties stand a chance of gaining a foothold among disgusted consumers. But it will continue a long tradition of lesser evil voting.

Many concerned citizens genuinely believe in one franchise of corporate politics, but most will vote to save the nation from the horror which will occur if the other franchise is elected. Some will vote to make life better for all, but all will merely insure that things get worse for some.

This is the substance of profit and loss politics under Capital. Horror does take place, with the only difference being who suffers most, how quickly and to what extent. But suffering is guaranteed, with the choice of lesser evil.

As an example, Bill Clinton has been called the best president Black America has ever had. He has appointed more blacks to his administration and is more comfortable than any other president when he is in the company of black people; especially if they are of the educated and professional class.

But during his presidency, the number of young black men in America's prisons has enormously increased. Blacks represent 13% of the nation's arrests for drug related offenses, but 59% of the convictions. When we see photos of Clinton smiling with his black friends and associates, we should remember that they certainly have done well, but those with less money have done much worse, especially if they are young men or single mothers. Profit for some is always accompanied by loss for others: this is a guarantee in the lesser evil system.

Both corporate parties are defenders of that system, with minor differences in just how much government they allow, either as gentle regulator of the market, or supplier of band-aids for the bloodletting that is the final outcome of free market economics, for those not moneyed enough to be "free."

Democrats respond to union finance, and by tradition they rally to the support of workers and other ordinary people. But they do this in ways that maintain corporate capital's power and control over the system, and they see to it that notions of democracy as something other than financial power are not treated too seriously.

A minority of Democrats speak to issues like peace, health care and higher wages, but they aren't really allowed to do much more than speak. This small group within the party keeps progressive politics alive as a hope for the future, but the controlling interest for the Democrats is the same as the Republicans. It is corporate capital. Only the ignorant or naive think otherwise.

The Republicans have long been known as the party of the rich, but they occasionally take on a more populist tone . As liberal politics have become more elitist, using working class taxes to support middle class interests, Republicans have often seemed to speak for working class citizens. They do so with even less honesty than the Democrats.

The disintegrating moral state of the nation, long obvious in its capacity to commit mass murder all over the world, has come to general awareness mainly through issues like school prayer , abortion and other personal rights battles. These often pit an educated, affluent minority against a majority with less financial and professional clout. And again, contrary to political mythology, Republicans, often cynically, seem to take the side of the latter group. Pity the poor voter.

The breakdowns that produce religious fundamentalism in less developed parts of the world do the same thing here in the rich center of global capitalism. Just as the lack of democracy and the ravages of market forces have driven millions in the developing countries to religion as a haven in a heartless world, here in the USA, "progress" has created social divisions which drive people into houses of god. These seem to offer cheaper moral solutions to the problems that markets can only solve with expensive immoral commodities.

Both major candidates profess close personal ties to god, specifically the New Testament Jesus. One identifies Jesus as his favorite philosopher, and the other as a moral guide, consulted before any dilemma by asking; what would Jesus do? Their Christianity is in keeping with the American majority, said to worship god, pray and believe in a hereafter. That last might be due to the miserable reality experienced by so many in the here and now. But the candidates follow the polls and focus groups, so Jesus it is. This does not stop them from rushing off to, say, the Israeli political lobbies, to profess faith in the Old Testament deity's Jewish holy land, more for dollars than god.

This is the religious aspect of American lesser evil politics: God is mentioned before, during and after every lie or murder, whether of an individual or of an entire people. Whichever party the corporate candidate is from, it operates exclusively under god's franchise. Voters are advised to pray , pick a lesser evil and say Amen. That's the politics of capital, but it's a hell of a way to run a democracy.

Coastal Post Home Page