Category Archives: Joe Biden

Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends

At the risk of counting chickens before they hatch, what would the return of Team Blue portend?

As is patently obvious, the US is in trouble. Climate driven heat waves and fires grip the nation. An already faltering economy with deep contradictions could only tank given the shock of the pandemic that has necessitated varying degrees of sequestering. In fact, the downturn had already started before COVID-19 hit. An already largely privatized healthcare system run for profit and a social ethic that rejects “socialized” public health measures could only have proven inadequate. Added to this mix, an historically racist nation was ripe for the righteous protests against overt injustices. These conditions pre-dated Trump’s presidency and predetermined the current calamity.

The designated chump is Trump

Trump is screwing up royally, but the root causes were unavoidable. Rather than owning up to the inherent nature of capitalism, which puts profits before people as its operating principle, elite opinion needs to point a finger at an offending scapegoat. Someone must take a fall and the designated chump is Trump. Witness Republican establishment figures defecting to the Biden camp.

Trump, under normal circumstances, would have a formidable advantage as the incumbent president. Of the thirteen US presidents since 1933, all ran for re-election except JFK who tragically did not have that choice. All but three won. These exceptions prove the rule that bad economic times doom the incumbent: Ford and Bush the Elder were defeated by recessions and Carter by “stagflation.”

Today’s circumstances are not normal. Trump’s incumbency may be a fatal flaw with conditions worse in many respects than the Great Depression.

Added to a collapsing economy and a nation aflame with racial justice protests, Mr. Trump has not improved his prospects by his mishandling of the COVID-19 contagion. A US passport was once the most accepted in the world. Now that the US leads the world in total pandemic deaths and ranks a high eleventh in deaths/population, only eight countries in the world are fully open to US tourists: Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Mexico, Serbia, Turkey, Zambia, and that most sought after destination of North Macedonia, whose national flower is the opium poppy.

The delusional fear that Trump will stage a coup to stay in power begs the question of what army and security apparatus would back him. Not the US military, nor the security state agencies – FBI, NSA, CIA and other spooks. Those institutions of the permanent state are no more in favor of Mr. Trump than most of the active US electorate, who will likely give him a boot this fall.

The next act comes with perils

In the midst of the pandemic, when health insurance claims would be expected to be out of control, health insurers have been garnering obscene profits benefiting from the public health emergency. Amongst the superrich, Jeff Bezos of Amazon added $87.1 billion to his net worth since the beginning of the year and Elon Musk of Tesla accrued another $73.6 billion.

Thanks in large part to the habitual intervention by the Federal Reserve for the owners of finance capital, Market Insider predicts “2021 could be a boom year for stocks,” while prospects for working people look grim and ever grimmer. Yes, Bernie Sanders was right that the “system is rigged” for the capitalist class.

Will a Democratic victory in November change any of this? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the current highest ranking Democrat, said it all: “we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.” Her net worth is $120 million.

Even major “liberal” Democrats, such as Elizabeth Warren, are doctrinaire “capitalist to the bone.” When asked to explain herself, the senator said: “I believe in markets and the benefits they can produce…for people.” True enough. The “people” who benefit from capitalism are the capitalists.

How about Democratic Party progressives like the “The Squad,” you ask? In the “graveyard of social movements” that is the Democratic Party, they are relegated to diversity window dressing with AOC getting only 90 seconds of fame at the Democratic National Convention.

Nominal independent Bernie Sanders tried an end-run for the presidential nomination but ran into the DNC’s “no progressives rule.” And if Biden wins in 2020 and Harris in 2024 and 2028, 2032 would be the first chance for a progressive Democrat to even try to run.

Speaking of the Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders praised Uncle Joe for – of all things – his health care policies. Michelle Obama carried chutzpah to new heights, criticizing Trump for immigration practices inherited from her husband. Can’t the best speech writers that money can buy come up with more convincing mendacities?

The enduring neoliberal project will continue with a likely change of guard from one party of capital to the other in January, though with a kinder face. We won’t have to contend with Prince of Darkness Pence and his buddy anymore.

The new feel-good Democratic couple will be spreading the love. And no one is feeling the “good” more than the capitalist class, rewarding the Democrats with donations of $48 million in the 48 hours after the announcement of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate. Just about every mainstream media article gushed about her amazing “qualifications,” the foremost being fund-raising. In plain English, her biggest asset is she is understood as serving the capitalist class.

The record of Democratic presidencies

It may be too soon to exhale with a Biden White House. If past performance is any indicator of future outcomes, a brief look at recently past Democratic presidencies is advised.

Under the watch of New Democrat Bill Clinton, the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, which was a factor leading to the Great Recession. NAFTA exported US union jobs while destroying small-scale Mexican agriculture. He dismantled Yugoslavia and bombed Iraq, contributing to the now perpetual destabilization of that part of the world. “Welfare as we know it” was abolished and mass incarceration instituted. Clinton was on a roll, with Social Security next on the chopping block, only to be stopped by the Monica Lewinski scandal.

While these were pet projects of the Republican wing of the US two-party duopoly, it took a Democrat to foist it on the populace. Notably, no major progressive legislation came out of Mr. Clinton’s watch. He adroitly felt “your pain” while inflicting it on the Democrat’s captured working class and minority constituencies, much to the pleasure of the class he served.

The next Democratic president, Barack Obama, had not even completed a term in the Senate before his meteoric rise to the Oval Office. Mr. Obama had the wiring, but part of his remarkable upward mobility came from being groomed and vetted by the ruling class to carry their water. He came out of the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, which successfully sought to make the Democrats the favored party of Wall Street.

After promising peace, Obama led the US into wars in at least seven countries. Although no major progressive legislation came out of the Obama presidency, his many handouts to the ruling elites include bailing out the banks with no one prosecuted for wrongdoing. He gifted Obamacare to the insurance industry while killing single-payer. He more than doubled fossil fuel production for which he proudly took credit.

The lesson is that it is often more difficult to mount an organized resistance to regressive policies when promoted by Democrats than Republicans. Recall the massive resistance to Bush’s war in Iraq that instantly vanished the moment Obama inherited that war and brazenly took Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates into his cabinet. Similarly, we have seen Democrats sabotaging Medicare for All, with Biden already pledging to veto it if it came before him.

Campaign promises Biden will keep

The only thing preventing Trump from self-destructing come November 3 is none other than the Democratic Party. Of all the potential candidates that could have walked over Trump – particularly Sanders with universal healthcare in a time of pandemic or even Warren with taxing corporations in a time of  record profits amidst a recession – they chose the one candidate who could lose.

The former senator from Mastercard has already assured Wall Street that their privileged position will be protected on his watch. The war mongers have been assuaged with the promise that the military budget can only go up. The insurance parasites know that government imposed private health policies are set in stone. The Zionists needn’t fret about the US recognizing Palestinian rights or of reversing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Worse than the climate deniers, Biden believes in the science of global warming and knows its catastrophic consequences. Yet he will do little about it and has already opposed a fracking ban. Fossil fuel subsidies will continue under the Democrats.

Note that these dubious promises were made on the campaign trail, while trying to attract votes.

A Biden presidency – austerity at home and imperialism abroad

Pelosi set the stage for a Biden presidency. The first thing the Democrats pushed through after “taking back” the House in 2018 was the “pay-go rule,” a fiscally conservative measure virtually guaranteeing that no progressive legislation can be funded. Then in March of this year the Democrats unanimously and without any debate helped pass the CARES Act, the largest single transfer of wealth from the workers to the wealthy in the history of the world.

Democrats, with the Obama/Biden administration and since, have leap-frogged the Republicans to the right on foreign policy issues in important respects regarding Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, etc. Democrats even oppose drawing down US troops abroad.

Trump has been all over the map, ineptly and inconsistently pursuing détente with Putin and while threatening Xi Jinping. With a Democratic administration, we can be assured of a more consistent, skillful, and lethal US imperialism, pursuing “full spectrum dominance” over the rest of the world.

Those who complain about Trump’s bungling should understand that the Biden alternative will be a more deadly and efficient rule of capital. We should be careful about what we wish for.

The post Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Reject Militarism on the Anniversary of 9/11

Nineteen years after more than 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, there remains a bipartisan commitment to fight an endless “war on terrorism,” instigate regime change coups, increase military spending, enhance US nuclear weapons, deport undocumented residents, curtail civil liberties, and militarize the police.

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the US have obscured “The Other 9/11,” the US attack on Chilean democracy in the US-backed coup on September 11, 1973. The two 9/11s are connected by what the CIA calls “blowback.” The CIA first used the term in describing the unintended negative consequences of the US and UK sponsored coup against the democratically-elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. The September 11, 2001 attacks were blowback from decades of US intervention in the Middle East. That doesn’t justify the terrorism, but it does explain it. If we want peace and security for our nation, we should respect the peace and security of other nations.

Contrary to Trump’s lies about ending the endless wars, his administration has escalated the “Long War” in the Middle East and North Africa with increased troop deployments, drone strikes, and Special Operations.

Trump is also morphing the War on Terror abroad into a war against dissent at home. He encourages and uses law enforcement to attack nonviolent protesters, calling them “thugs” and “antifa terrorists.” He encourages white racist vigilante militias that show up armed to menace Black Lives Matter demonstrators and to intimidate local and state governments in armed protests against climate action (Oregon) and COVID-19 public health measures (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin).

Trump encourages these actions with statements that amplify paranoid far-right fantasies that call climate change and COVID-19 hoaxes perpetrated by secret elite conspiracies. Trump has instructed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Border Patrol to violate immigration laws and subject immigrants and asylum seekers to unspeakable brutality, including separating children from their parents and internment in concentration camps where COVID-19 is running rampant. He stokes racial fears and civil strife to justify authoritarian rule. He calls the news media “fake,” the elections “rigged,” and promotes conspiracy fantasies on Twitter. Trump is sowing confusion and demoralization so people will not be able to resist repression by sections of law enforcement and the racist militias should Trump decide to resist a peaceful transfer of power. The ultimate blowback against US coups and wars abroad against democracy threatens to be a coup against democracy at home.

End the Wars on Terrorism Abroad and Dissent at Home

One of my first steps as President would be to end the wars on “terrorism” abroad and at home. Neither major party calls for ending the endless wars against “terror” abroad even though the top priority in the official National Security Strategy of the United States has changed to “Great Power Competition” with the goal of preventing the emergence of strong regional powers in Eurasia, namely China, Iran, and Russia. This New Cold War, like the War on Terrorism, is about the profits of US-based global corporations abroad, not the security of the people of the United States at home.

The nuclear modernization program initiated under Obama and continued under Trump with bipartisan support has destabilized the nuclear balance of terror and kicked off a new nuclear arms race. The nuclear threat, coupled with inaction by the great powers on the climate emergency and the proliferation of disinformation propagated by state actors on all sides that makes it difficult for publics to come to agreement on what to demand of their governments, has prompted the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move their Doomsday Clock the closest it has ever been to midnight.

I would end the saber rattling against Russia, China, and Iran in the Great Power Competition strategy and focus on diplomacy. We need to partner with other major powers to address our common problems, notably nuclear arms, climate, and cyberwar.

I would also end the bipartisan repression of dissent at home. With Trump’s encouragement, law enforcement is using militaristic tactics to suppress peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Both major parties are united in suppressing whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and publishers like Julian Assange, whose real crimes in the eyes of the National Security State is that they exposed its secret wrongdoings.

The US should speak out against violations of human rights and democracy wherever they occur, but that should not preclude also working with authoritarian governments to resolve life-or-death global issues like climate change and nuclear arms. War and threats of war are the most powerful destroyers of civil liberties, democracy, and human rights. Military threats, economic sanctions, and covert meddling in the politics of other countries only reinforces the nationalist rationalizations of authoritarian governments for repression at home in order to ward off threats from abroad.

The most powerful way to promote human rights is to set a good example. If the US wants its advocacy of human rights to be credible and effective, it must set the right example at home, where police killings of Black people are seen on social media around the world.  A country where there is mass incarceration in the largest prison system in the history of the world, and from where the US military is deployed in some 800 foreign military bases for its endless wars, making the US the nation that the world’s people consider the biggest threat to peace.

The Other 9/11: Chile

Thirty years before the United States’ 9/11, the CIA orchestrated the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected socialist government of Chile on September 11, 1973.

It is a tragic coincidence of the US bloody intervention history in Latin America that President Salvador Allende was overthrown and pushed to suicide on the same date that decades later would affect US soil by a terrorist attack. The same feelings that American felt of being violated by the first foreign attack since Pearl Harbor were felt in Chile that September 11 in 1973. The sin of Salvador Allende in the eyes of Nixon, Kissinger, and CIA Director Richard Helms was to advance deep socialist reforms that would create a more equal society, a just distribution of incomes, real freedom of expression, and a truly democratic framework that could allow, finally, the participation and voices of all sectors, specially the impoverished workers of Chile.

Sound familiar? These are exactly the challenges that the US faces today, problems that have riddled the US throughout its history and become worse in the Trump era – the authoritarian duopoly of Republicans and Democrats, voter suppression, third party suppression, deep inequality from coast to coast, and chronic poverty. It is the same kind of repression that Chile suffers today under the conservative millionaire Sebastián Piñera when people again advance the same reforms that Allende worked for and paid for with his life. It is the same social, economic, and political oppression that the two countries share on this anniversary of 9/11.

Aid, Not Arms – Make Friends, Not Enemies

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the Green Party of the United States warned against the danger that the two major parties and the corporate media would turn this horrific crime into a rationale for destructive wars abroad and political repression at home.

Instead of treating the 9/11 attackers as criminals to be brought to justice, the US used the attacks as a pretext for a long series of regime change wars in the Middle East and North Africa. The foreign policy leadership of the Bush administration had already written about the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” in order to provide the pretext for an invasion of Iraq to seize its oil fields. They wasted little time in getting started after 9/11.

The Authorization To Use Military Force (AUMF) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks passed Congress on September 18 with only one dissenting vote. The US invasion of Afghanistan started on October 1. The AUMF legislation is still the legal basis for today’s endless wars.

The Patriot Act, which gave the federal government broad new intrusive surveillance and investigatory powers that weakened civil liberties, was overwhelmingly voted through Congress by October 25.

The Bush administration, joined by the Democratic amen corner led by Senator Joe Biden, lied about weapons of mass destruction and about Iraq’s alleged role in 9/11 to start a second war in Iraq by March 2003.

After 19 years, US combat troops are now engaged in 14 wars. At least 37 million people, and as many as 59 million people, have been displaced by these wars, creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.

The annual observation of 9/11 has been turned by politicians into a militaristic celebration of American power that is used to garner public support for US military spending and imperial aggression abroad. Right after 9/11, the world was united in its grief for our country. It was a moment that should have been used to build peace based on mutual cooperation and respect.

Let us remember 9/11 this year by demanding that the US withdraw from its endless wars, prioritize diplomacy to resolve conflicts, end arms sales to belligerents, and provide humanitarian aid for war refugees, including reopening immigration to the US from these countries.

Let’s turn the US into the world’s humanitarian superpower instead of its global military empire. Providing aid instead of arms is the best way to promote peace and security. It is time for the US to make friends instead of enemies.

The post Reject Militarism on the Anniversary of 9/11 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Biden Urged to Adopt a Good Neighbor Policy Toward Latin America

Election season is a difficult time to develop good policies towards Latin America, since both Democrats and Republicans cater to the small, but organized, conservative factions of the Latinx community in Florida, vying for their votes. But if Biden wins the White House, there is a chance to reverse the Trump administration policies that have been devastating for Latin America, policies that punish innocent civilians through harsh economic sanctions, destabilize the region through coups and attempts at regime change, and close our borders to desperate people fleeing north in search of safety and opportunity, often as a result of U.S. security and economic policies.

The Trump administration openly calls its Latin America and Caribbean policy the “Monroe Doctrine 2.0.” The Monroe Doctrine — asserting U.S. geopolitical control over the region — served as a pretext for over 100 years of military invasions, support for military dictatorships, the training and financing of security forces involved in mass human rights violations and economic blackmail, among other horrors.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt distanced himself from this doctrine, outlining a new vision for relations in the hemisphere. His “Good Neighbor” policy temporarily ended the gunboat diplomacy that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the policy had its flaws, such as FDR’s support for the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, his administration’s failures were often the result of not adhering to the Good Neighbor principle of non-interference.

That is why over 100 organizations that work on issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean sent a letter calling for the next administration to adopt a new Good Neighbor Policy toward the region based on non-intervention, cooperation and mutual respect. Among the organizations calling for a new approach are Alianza Americas, Amazon Watch, the Americas Program, Center for International Policy, CODEPINK, Demand Progress, Global Exchange, the Latin America Working Group and Oxfam America.

The letter to the presidential candidates warns that in January 2021, the U.S. president will face a hemisphere that will not only still be reeling from the coronavirus but will also be experiencing a deep economic recession, and that the best to help is not by seeking to impose its will, but rather by adopting a broad set of reforms to reframe relations with our neighbors to the south.

First among the reforms is lifting the brutal economic sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua that are causing widespread human suffering, especially during a pandemic. These sanctions have not fulfilled their objective of regime change; the past 20 years of U.S. wars in the Middle East has taught us that U.S.-imposed regime change brings nothing but death and chaos.

Another reform is to put a stop to the hundreds of millions of dollars of police and military equipment and training that the U.S. provides Latin American and Caribbean countries each year. In many cases, such as Honduras and Colombia, U.S. funding and training have supported troops involved in corruption and egregious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings and attacks targeting local activists and journalists. Much of this militarized “aid” is transferred in the name of the decades-long war on drugs, which has only fueled a vicious cycle of violence. The letter asserts that the “war on drugs” is a counterproductive way to deal with a US public health issue that is best addressed through decriminalization and equitable legal regulation. It also calls for scaling down US “security assistance” and arms sales, as well as the removal of US military and law enforcement personnel from the region.

The letter points out that although the U.S. public has been rightly condemning any sort of foreign interference in our own country’s elections, the U.S. government has a history of flagrant interference in the elections of our neighbors, including training political groups it favors and funding efforts to marginalize the political forces it opposes. In Venezuela, the Trump administration has gone to the extreme of anointing a legislator, Juan Guaidó, as the unelected “president” of Venezuela and putting a multi-million dollar bounty on the head of the UN-recognized president, Nicolas Maduro. The letter denounces such blatant interference and calls on the U.S. to respect the sovereignty of other nations.

The endorsing organizations also denounce U.S. intervention in domestic economic policymaking, which occurs in large part through its enormous influence within multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank. In order to obtain credit lines from these institutions, governments typically have to agree to austerity measures and other policies that lead to the downsizing of welfare states and a weakening of workers’ bargaining power. Moreover, as Latin American economies are reeling from the pandemic, the U.S. must cease demanding the implementation of neoliberal models and instead support public health, education and other basic needs.

Regarding human rights, the letter notes the U.S. has a role in advocating for them across the hemisphere. However, it warns against the instrumentalization of human rights for political gain, since too often human rights violations in the U.S. or in allied countries are ignored, while violations in countries considered adversaries are magnified. It says the U.S. should focus — both at home and abroad — on the rights of historically excluded communities, including indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and migrants and refugees. It urges the United States to speak out when human rights defenders, including environmental and land rights activists and labor organizers, are in danger—a situation all too frequent in Latin America and the Caribbean today. It also calls on the U.S. to help depoliticize and strengthen existing multilateral institutions that defend human rights.

With respect to immigration, the letter insists that the next administration must undo the brutal harms of the Trump administration, but also reject the status quo of the Obama administration, which deported more people than any administration ever before and built the infrastructure for the Trump administration to carry out violent anti-immigrant policies. The next administration must hear the demands for immigrant justice, including a moratorium on all deportations; an end to mass prosecutions of individuals who cross the border; the re-establishment of asylum procedures at the border; an immediate path to citizenship for the Dreamers and for Temporary Protected Status holders; defunding the border wall; an end to the “zero-tolerance” (family separation) policy and other policies that prioritize migration-related prosecutions; and an end to private immigration detention.

As the region — and the world — anxiously awaits the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections, groups in the U.S. are gearing up for the possibility of a Biden win, and the need to push a new administration to make a positive contribution to the well-being of people throughout the hemisphere.

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Time for the Democrats and Republicans to Merge and Open up the Field to Real Leftist Parties

Now is the time for the two most disgraced parties in America to unite, and join together to fight the good fight for Wall Street, war mongering, and maintaining an America that’s the pity of the world. With so many Republican standard bearers and war mongers rallying around Joe Biden, becoming one single party is the logical trajectory. Let the Democrats be the ‘liberal’ wing of the Capitalist Party. They can push their weak social issues but on issues of discrediting and undermining everything from the postal service, health care, housing, social justice and everything that’s Black Lives Matter, they are in sync with the Republicans.

This fake dichotomy has been going on for far too long, creating an illusion of choice in America. Maybe this is an exception because it’s a referendum on Donald Trump, not on a Republican president. How many times in the past are so many Americans still unsure for whom to vote for as late as October? Since 1992, 100 days out the range of undecideds and 3rd Party supporters has been from 3.4% during Obama’s re-election to 22.1%, Clinton’s first run. With over 100 million actually voting, even 3.4 is a large number. In all these elections, if so many can’t decide which of the two parties to vote for, one must ask either, one, are they stupid? or two, are they smarter than everyone else that they can’t distinguish the two?

Looking at this most recent match up, we see how Biden and Trump are aligned on so many crucial issues, from opposing universal health care, supporting fracking and other life threatening environmental policies, financing the military and our empire to even levels the military doesn’t ask for, to massive incarcerations of people of color and the poor, to Israeli apartheid, to school vouchers and taking money away from public education. Did I miss anything? Sure, dozens of other issues they agree on.

The problems facing our electoral democracy (almost an oxymoron) are immense.  Both parties control each state and with that, they control the election process: Who can vote? What party can vote? What party can even be recognized and legitimized? Another problem is what will make up an anti-capitalist party? The Green Party is eco-socialist but horribly dysfunctional and since Nader’s 2.74% in 2000, the Greens have not gone over that mark. With its emphasis on decentralization, there is neither national unity nor discipline within the Greens. The party nominated Howie Hawkins but the Green Party of Alaska is putting up Jesse Ventura for its ballot. If the party had any discipline, Alaska’s Green Party would be excommunicated. And that they had for nominations for president individuals whose only asset is that their mothers would vote for them, with little or no organization behind them and inability to raise the measly required amount shows another level of not just dysfunction but a lack of respect for the very office they’re seeking.

There’s the DSA, but as long as they’re tied to the Democratic Party they will never be a voice for the people disenfranchised by the big two. Best of luck should go to the Movement for A People’s Party. Their platform is out of Sanders’s first run in 2016. It hits many, but not all the basic themes of a conservative leftist party: higher tax rate for the wealthy, pro-union, transparent elections, restorative justice, free (paid by taxes) services that are bankrupting Americans right now, etc. Their foreign policy is to attack our empire, support diplomacy rather than militarism, but is weak on Palestinian rights, as it calls for a two-state solution.

It is a shame that they don’t come out and say they, too, like the Green Party, are eco-socialist, or even an acknowledgement of socialism as a guiding principle, even if they adopt many of its positions. This is the 21st century. Most in this country who fear Communism or Socialism are already tied to the Republicans in particular and even the Old Guard of the Democratic Party fears it. Just look how Russophobia enveloped their entire psyche during Trump’s first three and a half years, and Russia isn’t even a socialist country anymore.

About the same number of eligible voters who vote, don’t. Like the undecided, many don’t see a difference between the two and more importantly, they don’t see how either represents their interests or that voting changes anything. This is untapped political wealth. We make it difficult for people to vote, having it on a work day and not having it as a national holiday. Voter suppression is rampant in both parties. Polling places are designed to discourage voting as they are often limited in high turnout areas. In some countries, voting is mandatory. Doubt that that would go over well here, though.

The failure of our 2-party system is why we have Trump, and Biden as the antidote. Even something simple like universal rank choice voting would be an improvement and would stave off demands on the system, but each party believes in their own exceptionalism to push for something more ‘democratic’. In 2016 the two most despised politicians in America ran against each other, after Cruz dropped out. Clinton was the only person who could lose to Trump. And now, it’s almost possible to say that Trump is the only person who could lose to Biden. If things are that bad, a real opposition party is needed. What is disappearing now is the power of voter shaming. For so many, voting for Biden is a Sophie’s Choice. And yet for so many others they will not be falling into that trap this time of the lesser evil. Americans who have been voting for ‘change’ since after Reagan might finally be waking up to the reality of what the two parties represent. It’s not likely that a true leftist party would ever be a majority, as the D/R Party would still dominate for generations. But with a real choice given to voters, along with Greens, Libertarians, and any other party, we could also see a more diverse political landscape, even with a possibility of moving to a parliamentarian system of representation.

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A Green New Deal for Workers

Workers in 2020 have a unique opportunity to vote to put two fellow workers in the White House. Howie is a recently retired Teamster and Angela is a dump truck driver. We know the economic realities that working people face in the United States. This Labor Day we call for a better class of people in the White House than the corporate crooks and flunkies that have been occupying it.

The COVID pandemic and economic collapse have highlighted the race and class inequalities in our society. With more than 35 million jobs lost, millions have lost their employer-connected health insurance in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 deaths are disproportionately afflicting working-class people, particularly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people. The case for universal healthcare through a publicly-funded Medicare for All has never been stronger.

As income disappears, the rent — already too high — has become impossible for many to pay. The threat of eviction is with many of us every month. Even if eviction has been stopped by a temporary moratorium for some of us, we see our rent piling up each month so that we will be evicted anyway when the moratorium ends. We need a federal emergency housing relief program that helps people make their rent and mortgage payments during the emergency. To fix the fundamentals of the housing crisis requires a major investment in public housing, this time not just as segregated housing for the poor but as high-quality mixed-income developments that include middle-income workers and professionals.

Congress and the president are responding to the economic collapse so poorly that the nation is falling into a depression. A poll this week reported that 50% unemployed workers, 8.3 million people, were unable to cover their basic expenses in August.

Trump and Biden rely on private enterprise alone to pull us out of this economic hole. Their public economic recovery spending proposals feature corporate welfare grants, loans, and tax breaks that will supposedly trickle-down to working people as new jobs. But with working-class consumer demand depressed, it is too risky for corporations to make job-creating productive investments. Instead, they will again invest their stimulus money in stocks, bonds, and derivatives, just rearranging and further concentrating who owns the productive assets we have rather than creating new ones.

Our alternative is large-scale public investment in new public enterprises and services to benefit the working-class majority. Our ecosocialist Green New Deal will create 30 million jobs in manufacturing, construction, transportation, energy, and agriculture to rebuild our production systems for zero-to-negative carbon emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It provides for a Just Transition of up to five years wage and benefits maintenance for workers displaced by this economic transition, but few will need it for very long with all the new jobs that will be created.

We create 8 million more jobs with an Economic Bill of Rights to a living-wage job, a guaranteed income above poverty, affordable housing, universal health care, lifelong tuition-free public education, and a secure retirement for every senior by doubling Social Security benefits.

The two corporate parties, who represent their Wall Street and big business donors, continue to undermine the rights of workers and let employers get away with breaking labor, health, and safety laws. It is time to repeal repressive labor laws, starting with the Taft-Hartley law that restricts labor’s ability to organize, act in solidarity, and engage in political activity. We need to enact new laws that enable union organization, including card check union recognition and the repeal of anti-union “right-to-work” laws.

We call for a Workers Bill of Rights, including workers rights to unions, to living wages, to portable defined-benefit pensions, to information about chemicals used at work, to refuse unsafe work, and to participate in enterprise governance. In order to increase economic security and strengthen workers’ power, we must replace employment-at-will laws, which let employers discharge workers for any reason or no reason, with just cause termination laws, where workers can only be fired for nonperformance or economic reasons. We must extend constitutional rights into the workplace, including free speech, association, and assembly, and freedom from warrantless employer surveillance, search, and seizure.

Even before the pandemic health and economic crisis hit, three super-rich Americans owned more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population, who earn a poverty-level median income of $18,000 a year.

Now, mounting COVID-19 deaths, economic depression, accelerating economic inequality, and climate collapse are all reasons to restructure our economy into a socialist economic democracy where the working-class majority is empowered to protect its interests and receive the full value of its labor. The first step is the ecosocialist Green New Deal for economic recovery as well as climate recovery.

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Now is the Time for a Second Party

Third Party Blues

Today, who is a Democrat? Who is a Republican? Is there really a difference?

It is no secret that the current electoral system in the United States is rigged. The two hegemonic capitalist parties have made it nearly impossible for other parties to participate in elections. The first hurdle is simply to gather sufficient signatures to get on the ballot. A national candidate is obliged to go through this daunting procedure in each state. Furthermore, each state has its own rules for ballot access.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, for example, the third largest party in the United States, the Green Party, spent $800,000 to get on the ballot in nearly all the states. Their electoral success was sufficient to gain a ballot position for the 2020 cycle in twenty-one states. They are currently pushing their Sisyphean rock up in the remaining states with a guarantee that they will have to do it again in 2024.

After all of this effort, the Greens garnered about 1% of the vote and the furor of ignorant Democrats, who blamed them for Hillary Clinton’s loss. The Greens are not why she lost, but they are a convenient target for those not gullible enough to swallow the Russian interference excuse.

Not only have the capitalist parties stymied attempts by other parties to get on the ballot, but they, or at least the Democrats (it’s not clear how Trump became the Republican candidate) strictly control who can become their presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders decided to make two presidential bids through the Democratic Party apparatus. It was a good choice for one major reason: under current circumstances had he run as an independent or on, say, the Green Party ticket, nobody would have heard what he had to say. He would never have filled auditoria and stadia to overflowing. He would never have made social democratic policies the focus of the Democratic Party primaries and given hope to tens of millions of citizens. But he never had a chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

I realized from May 2015 that Sanders hadn’t a chance of winning the nomination, not because he couldn’t win enough delegates, but because the Democratic Party would make sure, by whatever means necessary, that he couldn’t win enough delegates. The reason for my assessment was that the capitalist class in the United States, and the rest of the world, was in no mood to accept improved living standards for the American working class. In a climate where NAFTA had been in effect since the Clinton administration, millions of industrial jobs were being moved to cheap-labor countries, the New Deal had been under capitalist attack since its inception, and there had already been two major recessions in the 21st Century, what could possibly motivate the capitalist class to offer concessions to the working class?

So, what is to be done? There is no room for a third party to seriously contest the capitalist monopoly. There is not even room for a third party to join the Big Two. We live with a system that excludes by its very nature and by subterfuge a viable third party. However, there is a way out.

First party split—From Whigs to Republicans

Did you know that in the early years of the Republic the two parties were the Democrats and the Whigs? Then, within a very short period the Whig Party disappeared and was replaced by the GOP. Presto! Party A dies and is rapidly replaced by brand new Party B. That seems to be the only way that a new party can become a contender in the American system.

Here, in brief, is what happened. In 1852, when the question of slavery and the creation of new slave states was a heated issue, the Whig Party split. The pro-slavery faction migrated to the Democratic Party, which represented the slave owners. In 1854 the anti-slavery faction and others went on to form the GOP. During the remainder of the 50s the GOP won elections, and in 1860 it captured the presidency under Abraham Lincoln.

The essential thing to understand is that before 1852 there were two hegemonic capitalist parties. The United States was in the early stages of becoming an industrial power, having been essentially agrarian since its beginnings. The Democratic Party, founded by southern planter Thomas Jefferson, by and large protected the planters’ interests. The Whigs, on the other hand, were a mixed bag, based largely in the northern states, which were not as wealthy as the South. However, that is where the Industrial Revolution was making inroads, much to the consternation of the planters.

The planters’ capital was tied up in slaves, who produced their wealth, and land that the slaves worked. The emerging northern industrial capitalists, however, needed free wage labor – free in the sense of being available to work when there were orders and unemployed when there weren’t. The industrialists had no intention of feeding and housing the working-class year in and year out whether there was work or not. Furthermore, the North had a labor shortage. The last thing the northern industrialists wanted was for additional states entering the Union to be allowed to use slave labor.

Under the pressure of the slavery issue, the Whig Party split essentially along regional lines: southern Whigs found a comfortable new home in the Democratic Party. Northern Whigs were left with a rump party, with no ability to contest an election against the Democrats. That is where the brand-new GOP came on the scene.

Prospects for a New Second Party: Can History Repeat Itself?

Let’s return, now, to the current situation. Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign made it apparent that a significant segment of the electorate was delighted to vote for progressive candidates, who were winning elections up and down the ballot. These candidates were often running as Democrats and gaining seats in everything from city councils to Congress. The group-think was that the progressives would take over the Democratic Party and make it into a party of the people. I realized that the Democratic Party would not allow a takeover or even a significant change of course. The Democratic Party, just like the Republican Party, belongs to capitalists, just as does almost everything else in the country.

The DNC had already settled interloper Sanders’ hash, and long before that had turned the wave of progressives that entered the party in the 60s and 70s into tame cattle. I refer to the Black and Progressive Caucuses. Here’s the deal: if you want to have influence, such as important chairmanships, you have to toe the party line. If you don’t want a DNC-approved candidate to primary you and you do want support for your re-election campaigns, you toe the party line. Buckle under or disappear.

My hypothesis was that the upsurge of interest in progressive policy would split the Democratic Party like the Whigs in 1852. It made no sense to create a third party – the American political system isn’t big enough to contain it and the hegemonic capitalist parties. However, it might be possible to kill the Democratic Party by drawing the viable elements into a new party with a progressive program. The remaining rump Democratic establishment would have nowhere to go but the Republican Party.

Currently, a new organization, the Movement for a People’s Party, was attempting to build a broad coalition to form the organic base for a third party. It still exists but doesn’t seem to be very successful. Trump has frightened so many otherwise well-meaning people that they can’t think about anything else but getting rid of him. They would gladly vote for Lucifer to replace Satan in Hell and voting for a third party feels too risky.

So, my hypothesis had the migration going in the wrong direction. In recent weeks we have seen lots of “Republicans for Biden” activity with the support of establishment Republicans and their donors. Wall Street is pitching Biden and abandoning support for Trump. But the icing on the cake is that four Republicans were featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention, and that the progressives were frozen out. AOC got 60 seconds. Sanders got a sadly capitulatory keynote address.

How do we get there from here?

The GOP and Democratic establishments have always agreed on the big issues of empire and wealth distribution. They have lost their party to Trump, but all he inherits is the lunatic fringe base, which has no money to maintain the party’s infrastructure. This base will disintegrate when Trump leaves office.

So, it looks like the GOP establishment is migrating to the Democratic Party and bringing their big donors with them. Progressives can no longer pretend that they have any power within the Democratic Party. By the same token, if Trump is re-elected, his second term will be hemmed in by the massed might of the capitalists, who can stymie every move he makes.

The US will soon have an official one-party regime, the Democratic-Republican Party. That leaves us the opening we need in which to create our own party, a real opponent to the capitalists who have, up until now, held a monopoly on power. Our party won’t just be an electoral vehicle. As long as the capitalists control the country, there is little that working-class people can win through elections. In this conjuncture, where the third major economic collapse of the century coincides with a major pandemic, people are angry and ready to move at the least spark. The George Floyd uprising won’t be the last, and every uprising that follows it will provide larger and larger populations experienced in mass non-violent civil disobedience. That will be the environment for creating a mass party of the people and for ridding ourselves of an oligarchy whose time has passed.

Our party’s leadership will rise from among the leaders of converging movements of mass civil disobedience. In particular, movements for rent relief, debt relief and $15 an hour, BLM, and workers and teachers refusing to sacrifice their lives to COVID-19 will spark action from other sectors of the working-class. These movements will shut down the capitalists’ drive to return to “normal”. The new party’s program will be the demands that arise from these movements. It will achieve its ends the way successful revolutions achieve theirs: replacing the current rulers with our own selves, eliminating the middlemen, and reducing the capitalist class to working for us.

Today, the capitalist parties have no mass memberships. They only have employees who work for private corporations like the DNC. The citizenry can choose a fictitious affiliation with one of those parties at voter registration, but ordinary citizens have no say in how the parties function or who the candidates will be. Candidates used to be chosen in smoke-filled rooms; today they are chosen in smoke-and-mirrors primaries.

A people’s party should differentiate itself clearly from the phony parties. Party membership should be based on formal agreement with the party’s goals and a decision from a membership committee. Card carrying is an honorable party tradition that demonstrates the member’s commitment to the party. Dues cement the commitment and provide the essential money to maintain and grow the machine.

The time is ripe to form a party of the people. In the meantime, watch for a purge of progressive Democrats in the near future.

First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Now is the Time for a Second Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel’s Friends at the RNC: “Christian Zionists” Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party

It is difficult – and futile – to argue which American president has historically been more pro-Israel. While former President Barack Obama, for example, has pledged more money to Israel than any other US administration in history, Donald Trump has provided Israel with a blank check of seemingly endless political concessions.

Certainly, the unconditional backing and love declared for Israel is common among all US administrations. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive, primarily their target audience during election time.

Both Republicans and Democrats head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments and outright support, completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

To win the support of the pro-Israeli constituencies, but especially the favor of the Israel lobby in Washington DC, Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have deviated even further from the low standards set by the Democratic Obama administration. Despite his generous financial support for Israel and full political backing, especially during Israel’s wars on the Gaza Strip, Obama dared, at times, to censure Israel over the expansion of its illegal Jewish settlements.

The Biden-Harris ticket, however, is offering Israel unconditional support.

“Joe Biden has made it clear,” Harris was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26, “he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more.” The call was made to what the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

The references above are sufficient to delineate the nature of the Democratic Party establishment’s current support for Israel. Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democratic upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means molding US foreign policy in the entire Middle East region to serve Israeli interests.

For Republicans, however, it is a different story. The party’s establishment and the rank and file are united in their love and support for Israel. Though the Israel lobby plays an important role in harnessing and channeling this support, Republicans are not entirely motivated by pleasing the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC.

The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24-27 were all aimed at reassuring Christian Evangelicals – often referred to as ‘Christian Zionists’- who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the United States.

The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy, has morphed over the years – particularly during the Trump presidency – to define the core values of the Republican Party.

“This is apocalyptic foreign policy in a nutshell,” tweeted Israeli commentator, Gershom Gorenberg, on August 24. In Republican thinking, “Israel is not as a real country but a fantasyland, backdrop for Christian myth.”

Gorenberg’s comments were tweeted hours before the controversial speech made by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, who delivered his brief notes from “beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the old city.” The location, and the reference to it, were clear messages regarding the religious centrality of Israel to US foreign policy, and the unmistakable target audience.

Trump was even more obvious during an August 17 speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump announced to a cheering crowd, “and so the Evangelicals – you know, it’s amazing with that – the Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people … It’s really, it’s incredible.”

Unsurprisingly, 22 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as “Evangelical Protestants.”

This was not the first time that Trump has derided US Jews for not being as supportive of him as they are of his Democrat rivals. A year ago, Trump called Jewish Democrats “disloyal” to Israel. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” he said in August 2019.

This was not a simple case of Trump’s typical political insensitivity but, rather, the cognizance that the real Republican prize in the coming elections is not the Jewish vote but the Christian Zionists.

In his speech before the RNC on August 27, Trump recounted to this same audience his pro-Israeli accomplishments, including the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. “Unlike many presidents before me, I kept my promise, recognized Israel’s true capital and moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump proclaimed.

The moving of the embassy, always a great opportunity to repeat the word “Jerusalem” before a jubilant crowd, was the buzzword at the RNC, repeated by all top Republicans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. “President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem — and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” Haley announced proudly, which generated an approving cheer.

In all of their references to Israel at the RNC, Republican leaders adhered to specific talking points: Iran, the US embassy move, the recognition of the Occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories, the fight against anti-Semitism (silencing any criticism of Israel), and so on.

However, the Republican discourse seems to be detached from the traditional US foreign policy view that US support for Israel serves the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of Washington. This view, predominant among Democrats, seems to be almost entirely forsaken by Republicans, whose love for Israel is now dedicated to a purely religious mission.

In June 2015, when he was still a Congressman from Kansas, Secretary Pompeo once declared before a packed megachurch in Wichita, that the “battles” against evil is a “never-ending struggle,” one that will continue “until the Rapture,” a reference to what some Christians believe to be a sign of the end of times.

Addressing the RNC from Jerusalem on August 25, Pompeo must have felt that part of his spiritual mission has already been fulfilled.

The post Israel’s Friends at the RNC: "Christian Zionists" Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Two Parties Have Failed Us, But The People Can Succeed

The Republican and Democratic Party conventions showed that both major parties are failing to control the pandemic and protect people, address the climate crisis and clean up the environment, support families and businesses during the economic collapse, prevent police violence or deal with any of the other major problems we face.

These were two substance-less conventions. The Democrats focused on criticizing Trump without putting forward an agenda while the Republicans claimed Biden was a front for socialism when he is a deeply embedded corporate Democrat. Trump’s term as president has been a disaster and Biden has been consistently on the wrong side of history over his 47 years in politics. On issues today, both are out of step with the views of the majority of voters.

The two parties demonstrated that people must lead from below because the parties represent the wealthy and transnational corporations. We must continue to organize and build popular power if we are to win the changes we need.

Join us for a webinar and rally on Sunday, August 30 at 2:00 pm Eastern to learn how people can build power to shape the future.

After the DNC-RNC We Can’t Breathe: Keep The Struggle In The Streets
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The Two Parties Have Failed Us, But The People Can Succeed

At the Democratic Convention, no one used the phrases Medicare for all, Green New Deal, tuition-free college and vocational school, universal basic income, or wealth tax, even though all of these issues are supported by the majority of voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders, AOC, and Andrew Yang were silenced on issues they had championed during their campaigns.

At the Republican Convention, if those policies were mentioned, they were derided or called ‘socialist.’ The two parties did not talk about economic, health, and environmental policies because neither has any solutions. Instead, the bi-partisan policies they support have created the economic, public health, and environmental crises we are facing.

The United States is in crisis because the two-party system has failed the people and the planet. On a global scale, the United States is rated as a “flawed democracy” and corruption is on the rise. Studies within the United States find that popular support for a policy has no impact on whether it will be made into law by Congress, while wealthy interests have a significant impact over whether a law passes or fails. This is consistent with the United States being a plutocracy ruled by the wealthy.

As we have written in the past, the United States is a mirage democracy where the candidates are largely chosen by the power holders and the people get to vote for one or another corporate-approved candidate. A few progressive candidates are elected from time to time but they are marginalized at the federal level. If they do gain power, the elites move swiftly to rein them in or redistrict them out.

Third party candidates are kept out of the debates and the media, even left-leaning media like Democracy Now has not interviewed the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins although he’ll be on the ballot in most states. Third party candidates have to fight to be on the ballot in each state, a challenge often made more difficult by Democrats and Republicans challenging them and tying them up in court.

For this reason, many people throw up their hands and decide that trying to work within the two-party system is the only available option, as flawed as it is. But, where has that gotten us? Federal elections these days are more commonly about voting against what you don’t want rather than voting for what you do want. Lesser evil voting has driven a race to the bottom in the quality of the candidates because as long as people are voting out of fear, it doesn’t matter who the candidate is or what they stand for.

Trump and Biden as the major party presidential candidates this year are the result of the system we have. Whichever one wins in November, the outcome will still be a plutocracy. The climate crisis will still rage on with climate-transformed wildfires, derechos, and drought that destroy crops and strong hurricanes that flatten towns but the Green New Deal will be off the table. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to sicken and kill hundreds of thousands but Medicare for All won’t be an option. Workers will still be forced to work for low wages in unsafe conditions, families will lose their homes and students will be buried under heavy loans, but when Wall Street corporations or banks need help, the Federal Reserve will whisk their troubles away to the tune of trillions of dollars. Wars and interventions will continue as the Pentagon receives record budgets year after year, but for some reason, there isn’t enough money to fund our public schools, feed hungry families, or rebuild our failing infrastructure.

This system is protected by a security state that has no regard for human life, especially if you are black or brown. Time and again, the legal system lets the police get away with cold-blooded murder. This lack of accountability emboldens law enforcement. And now, it is clear from the recent events in Kenosha Wisconsin, and even before that, those right-wing militias are an unofficial arm of the security state. If this continues and they are not held accountable, they will also be emboldened to kill with impunity.

This is the reality in which we live. It is not the first time in history that this situation has existed in the world but it is unique to our generations in this country. We are living in a dark period, a failing state, and changing this situation is going to take hard work and sacrifice, but history also teaches us that people do have the power to take on the power elites and win.

After the DNC-RNC We Can’t Breathe: Keep The Struggle In The Streets, Webinar and Rally, Sunday August 30 at 2:00 pm Eastern.

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People have the power; protest in Ferguson City Hall in 2014

Building Power To Lead From Below

We are in the midst of a national uprising on multiple fronts of struggle. There are widespread protests against racist police violence and there have been more than 900 wildcat strikes since March over worker safety and low pay. Teachers are striking over school reopenings. There are ongoing protests stopping pipelines and extreme energy extraction projects as well as demanding action on the climate crisis. Just last week, there was a national day of protest involving actions in hundreds of cities to save the US Postal Service.

Since the Occupy protests of 2011, which focused on wealth inequality and political corruption, but also included system-wide change on low wages, police violence, the climate crisis, and student debt, people have been building deeper movements in all of these areas. During the Obama-era, the Fight for $15 began, along with Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, climate, and debt protests. When the pandemic and recession began, people started organizing General Strike and Rent Strike campaigns

The potential for people power has never been greater. Hundreds of thousands of people are ready to take the streets and stop business as usual. This is a time when every one of us has a role to play, whether it is sharing information in our communities (being the media), starting conversations in our social circles (education), organizing and mobilizing people in the groups we belong to or providing support for our neighbors and people who are in the streets (mutual aid). Learn how social movements create transformational change in our free online course.

No matter what happens this November, the protest movement must continue to fight for economic, racial, and environmental justice as well as peace. The next presidential Inauguration Day will need to be a day of protest when more people come to Washington, DC to make demands of the next president than are there to celebrate him.

The growing movement of movements has a broad foundation of education, organization, and mobilization on which to build. We have the ability to make this country ungovernable and if we use that power, we can make demands that cannot be ignored.