The Lesson of the 2012 Election
The Parties of the Oligarchy Are Dividing Us. We Need a Party of Our Own.
Obama, Romney, Democrats, Republicans—what do we learn from the froth of the 2012 election that will help us win our struggles for jobs, housing, health care, the environment, the rights of immigrants, and everything else we are fighting for?
The key lesson is that we have allowed our real enemy to divide us. And we cannot win if we are divided.
The politicians of the two, dominant, ruling-class parties have appealed to us as black, white, Latino, immigrant, native born, men, womenanything but as the working class.
In essence, we have been told not to consider ourselves working class, but to think only about the needs of our particular subgroup. The appeal by both parties to the “middle class” in particular was a way of saying, “Don’t worry about anyone else, just think about yourself and your family.”
Ethnic and racist politics go back to the beginning of the United States. Historically, the rich and powerful have used them to divide and conquer the working class. The ruling class—the oligarchy—has given some workers privileges over others, then pitted them against each other.
With this tactic, they hide the common class interests that unite us as workers. They keep us busy fighting each other for a piece of the pie and fighting for equality within the very system that is itself the source of that inequality, the capitalist system.
Our situation—the situation of the 99 percent—gets worse every day. Hurricane Sandy has reminded us, for instance, that because of the oil companies’ domination, the oligarchy cannot deal with the global warming that threatens to make the earth unlivable. They even refuse to give proper assistance to the storm victims.
Meanwhile, the economic hurricane that is hurling millions of people into permanent unemployment, underemployment, and poverty continues unabated. And the capitalist oligarchs again refuse to help the suffering.
Why is that? At the root of the economic crisis is the quickly evolving technology that is displacing human labor with computerization—robots. As workers are thrown into the street, corporations can’t sell their products to people who now have no money —and the capitalist system itself goes deeper into crisis.
The capitalists won’t pay—can’t pay—to support workers that they don’t need. So they demand that the people submit to “austerity” programs, cutbacks in education, pay, pensions, government services—the basics of our everyday life. And now they are moving to eliminate our democracy so that we can’t fight for a new, fair, egalitarian society.
The threat of open fascism grows daily.
But at the same time, the crisis of the oligarchy is laying the foundation for working-class unity, the unity of the 99 percent. Workers of all social strata are being plunged into a common poverty and pushed out of the system, regardless of color, gender, or nationality.
People are showing how fed up they are with the Democrats and Republicans and with the system itself. Fewer people voted in this presidential election than in 2008. Some 90 million didn’t vote at all. The vote for the rising Green Party, a party of the 99 percent, more than doubled.
To survive and prosper today, we have to unite around the needs of the people who the economic system is destroying. And what they need and demand is a society that guarantees the necessities of life to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.
The great mass of us, whatever our color, gender, or nationality, have one common identity we are the working class. And we have one common enemy the oligarchy and its capitalist system.
We can’t survive and prosper by fighting each other over pieces of a shrinking pie.
It’s time that we declare our political independence from the oligarchy and its two-party system and build our own party, one that will fight for a new, democratic, cooperative society free of poverty and inequality.
Let’s take that lesson away from the election of 2012.