“I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party,” wrote African American scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois in 1956.
William Edward Burghardt DuBois, eloquently writing almost 60 years ago, has captured precisely my personal feelings concerning the farcical quasi-democratic charade marketed as an “election” facing Americans this November. In this ineffectual exercise, Americans will be granted the privilege of choosing between one of the two candidates already vetted by the affluent power brokers of the Evil Party, to use DuBois’ accurate characterization; one, Romney, is from the Republican faction and the other, Obama, is from the Democratic faction.
The Evil Party represents the wealthy plutocrats, the “One Percenters” in today’s parlance, who manipulate politics for their benefit exclusively, which means an ever-accelerating transfer of wealth into their treasuries. Except for a brief fling with humanistic policies in an attempt to quell the social unrest of the 1930’s when the government was on the brink of being overthrown by the unemployed masses and war veterans who had been denied promised benefits, the U.S. has always been like this. As W.E.B. DuBois pointed out, “This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth.”[i]
He goes on to comment on the vulgar corporate profits that existed even then, “Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing.”[ii]
Despite Lincoln’s allusion to a “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, the U.S. government is “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.” Moreover, it has been designed to function this way, as DuBois explained, “It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry.”[iii]
Government sponsored austerity programs have been around a long time, too. DuBois described the stratagem employed by the rulers, which is to make the poor pay for as much as possible so as not to burden the rich with anything approaching their fair share, as he protested, “The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor.”[iv]
There is a single, monolithic plank in the Evil Party’s platform and that is war; never-ending, resource squandering, life-snuffing, human rights-crushing, justice-perverting, global-colonizing and obscenely profitable war. Globalization is merely the current euphemism for this war used by the moneyed elite. Perpetual war and the preparation for it is now and has been since the inception of the United States the primary preoccupation of its ruling class, as W.E.B. DuBois stated over a half a century ago, “The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind.”[v]
That was true of the administration then, it is true of the administration now, and it will be true of the administration after the next Inauguration Day, 20 January 2013, when one of the two factions’ candidates will assume the office of the presidency of the United States.
Let us examine the candidates’ positions. On so-called “defense” spending, other than a one-time 2.5% cut in fiscal 2013, Obama’s proposed defense budget increases in parallel with Romney’s, and is slightly lower over the next ten years by roughly $600 billion. Neither candidate’s projection includes other war costs. On social programs, Romney is in the lead for austerity cuts, axing $1.28 trillion over the next ten years as compared to Obama’s budget projections. This would result in a net savings over ten years of about one year’s worth of defense spending by the fiscally more austere Romney,[vi]
an amount that could be easily absorbed by other war costs and black budget expenditures. With the incumbent breaking a promise to close the Guantanamo gulag within a year, neither candidate seems to object strongly to indefinite detention. Both candidates appear to believe that military intervention should be at the sole discretion of the executive. Both favor the continuation of the U.S.-led NATO war in Afghanistan until 2014. As far as policy toward Iran is concerned, the incumbent broke a promise to meet with Iran’s president without preconditions, both candidates say that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon and that the military option, i.e. U.S. aggression, is not off the table.[vii]
So where is the choice that I should vote? Whichever candidate I would choose would have essentially the same war budget, more or less the same gutted social programs, the same apparent acceptance of indefinite detention to include U.S. citizens, the same conviction that the president has the legal authority to use military force at will, the same position on continuing the war in Afghanistan, and the same bellicose policy toward Iran.
How could we change this? Imagine if 2, 3 or 4 million U.S. citizens boycotted the national election this November and took to the streets in protest. We just might be able to bring together the critical mass of citizenry necessary to initiate the real change the prevaricating presidential incumbent from the Democratic faction of the Evil Party spoke of four years ago. Nothing short of this kind of widespread civil disobedience bordering on open rebellion will bring about the needed political, social and economic changes for democracy to flourish in the United States.
But know that the plutocrats have been forewarned and are ready with countermeasures against this so-called “Black Swan” (a highly unlikely event) of a massive popular uprising. Former Director of (U.S.) National Intelligence testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2009 stated “...economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period.”[viii]
Moreover, the planners in the U.S. Department of Defense are already prepared to contain widespread social unrest and acknowledge “this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”[ix]
W.E.B. DuBois took a harsh tone in justifying his boycott of the 1956 U.S. presidential election and even hinted not so subtly at rebellion:
“Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible
For those who would accuse me of squandering my vote, being unpatriotic or worse because of my decision to boycott the 2012 election, stop your prattling about my responsibility to vote in a democracy when there is no democracy in the United States. America is an oligarchy controlled by a shadowy group of ultra-rich plutocrats.[xi]
Voting is nothing more than a symbolic gesture since the real selection from among the prescreened candidates is made by the Electoral College.
To borrow the articulate words of W.E.B. DuBois, call me back to vote when the U.S. can hold a fair election on real issues. In the mean time, I will not be holding my breath.
[i] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [ii] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [iii] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [iv] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [v] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [x] Ibid., W.E.B. DuBois. [xi] Victor Menotti, Jack Santa Barbara, Tony Clarke, Vandana Shiva, and Dale Wen, Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis. San Francisco: International Forum on Globalization, December 2011. URL: http://www.ifg.org/pdf/IFG_OTO_report.pdf (Accessed 13 September 2012).