Wednesday, February 02, 2011


By Robert Halfhill
There has been a lot of discussion among liberals and people further to the left about
how the Republicans swept back into a majority in both houses of Congress after only two
years of the Obama Administration and Democratic Party control. Actually, this happened
before with the Clinton Administration.
With both Obama and Clinton, the Democrats came back to power with a lot of hope and
promise and, within two years, lost control of Congress after having disappointed their
base after not delivering on most of their promises. Their disappointed supporters were
too discouraged to make the effort to vote during the off year elections and simply
stayed home on election day. Analyses of the votes after both elections showed that the
Democrats lost not because of more people voting against them but because of the number
of their past supporters who didn't vote for them.
Clinton promised to admit the Haitian boat people fleeing Haiti to the United States but
instead detained the refugees in camps outside the United States. That subset of the
boat people who had AIDS were also detained. Some of the refugees with AIDS had only
three t-cells left and would die unless a medical parole allowed them entry into the
United States and access to U.S. medical care. Clinton's denying them refugee status
meant he would be as guilty of their murder as he would be if her personally had pulled
the trigger and shot them. Finally, some of the Haitian boat people were allowed into
the United States.
Clinton also promised to issue an executive order to repeal the ban on Gays and Lesbians
serving in the military. Instead, he gave us Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which lead to a
steady increase of Gays and Lesbians expelled from the military in each successive year
of the Clinton Administration. The military brass apparently decided that any indication
of being Gay or Lesbian, even unfounded rumor or an anonymous accusation, constituted
"telling", stepped up their investigations, and in each successive year,
expelled an ever greater number of Gays and Lesbians.
Even though there are provisions in International patent law allowing governments to take
over the manufacture of medical drugs if that is the only way their citizens can obtain
access, Vice President Al Gore, who would be the Democrat's liberal standard bearer in
the 1992 elections, served as the hit man for Clinton in bring U.S. pressure on poorer
third world countries, such as South Africa and India, to intimidate them into stopping
the manufacture of their own AIDS medicines. Never mind the millions and tens of
millions of third worlders who would die because they could not afford the expensive AIDS
drugs; the patent prerogatives of wealthy 1st world drug corporations much be preserved!
Obama promised to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Instead, he has delayed withdrawal
from Iraq well beyond the date he originally promised and escalated the war in
Afghanistan -- and in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Obama also promised a government health plan. This was compromised down to a government
option to compete with private health plans. But even this disappeared in the final
bill. The final version however provides private health insurance companies with many
new captive customers who are legally required to buy health insurance. I asked two
women acquaintances whether this new health care bill was any improvement and both said
yes. One woman told me that the new plan would pay for her preventive mammograms and the
other, a DFL office holder, said it was an improvement over what we had. So whether the
good of the larger number of people who will have access to medical care will outweigh
the harm of the larger number of captive customers who may be legally required to pay an
increasingly inflated price is a matter still to be determined.
Obama also promised to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense Of Marriage Act, but
to date, neither promise has been enacted into law, even though the Democrats had a
supposed filibuster proof majority in the Senate.
These events, as well as the record of how past Democratic Administrations failed to
carry out their promises, provide the evidence for what, at first glance, is a new
argument against those who advocate voting for Democrats on the grounds that Democrats
are the lesser evil. And that argument is: Even if you were right in arguing that
Democrats are the lesser evil to Republicans, and even if you elect them, they will
alienate their supporters by not fulfilling their promises and thus loose control of
Congress before they have a chance to do anything. So the tactic of voting for
Democrats, even if your others assertions were true, is still futile.
I can already hear the chorus of counter arguments. "You can't say that the
Democrats won't carry out their promises just because they haven't in the past. Human
behavior is not as regular and determined as that of objects in physics or astronomy.
Someday in the future, they may have learned their lesson and actually carry out their
We can make short work of that argument if we merely remind ourselves that the just
completed off year elections are estimated to end up costing about a half billion dollars
and the last Presidential election of 2008 is estimated to have cost about a billion
dollars. The wealthy special interests who have such enormous amounts of money are not
just contributing to political campaigns as a hobby or for their health. They expect
something in return from the candidates they contribute to and any elected official who
is too naive to realize that will soon find out when they don't receive any large
contributions for their reelection campaign!
This is why neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will fulfill the campaign promises
that will deliver any substantive improvements to the majority of people. They cannot,
if they want to receive the contributions they need to stay in politics. Unlike under
feudalism or slavery, the capitalist ruling class does not have a formal legal
designation as a ruling aristocracy. They maintain their power as a ruling class because
they are the only ones who have the large sums needed by politicians who want to get
elected to the government. (There are other mechanisms, such as their owning the major
media, etc.) And the ruling class in this country has quite cleverly set up two ruling
class parties; one, the allegedly lesser evil Democrats to serve as the good cop, while
the allegedly greater evil Republicans fulfill the role of bad cop. While the Democrats
could not maintain their image as the lesser evil or good cop unless they were slightly
less evil than the Republicans on some issues, they will never be substantively less evil
on any issues that can endanger the hegemony of their ruling class contributors, or on
any issues that will result in any substantive improvement in the lives of the majority
of people. And while in one sense, the Democrats are the lesser evil, in their good
cop/bad cop charade, they are both equally necessary for the survival of a bad system,
and in that sense, equally evil.
This is why the new argument from the last two Presidential elections against the lesser
evil tactic is only seemingly a new argument. There were people who figured out before
any of were born why the Democrats would inevitably renege on their promises because of
the source of their funding.
The modern history of America reminds me of the situation during the pre-Empire Roman
Republic. Through the history of the Republic, the plebeians fought for more and more
rights against the patricians. By the time of the Empire, the plebeians had won their
struggle for equal legal rights. But this was only in formal legal terms. By the time
of the Empire, most of the rural freeholders had been dispossessed by large landed
estates and had fallen into slavery or become part of the large urban proletariat in
Rome. Most of the population were poorer and had a lower quality of life than they had
under the Republic. And the Republic was a Republic in name only, although there was a
Roman Senate up until the fall of the Empire. But in reality, the government was an
Empire with the Emperors as absolute monarchs.
Will the history of the American Republic be similar, with an expansion of rights for
African Americans and other non whites, Women, GLBTI's (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and
Transgender and Intersexed Persons), and other groups while economic inequality, which is
now greater than it was during the Gilded Age just prior to the Depression, continues to
increase and our Republic become a Republic in name only under post 9/11 repression.
There is an alternative that has a chance of succeeding, at least an alternative that has
a greater chance of success than continuing to support the Democrats as the lesser evil,
which is sure to fail. There are far, far more people who are not members of the ruling
class than those who are, people who have to work for a living instead of the bulk of
their income coming from investments. If these over three hundred million people break
free of the siren song of the two party duopoly and make many small contributions of the
money, time and effort needed to build a viable third party that can fight the system,
there is a good chance of success because we are the overwhelming majority! Meanwhile,
those of us who are now in the minority that realizes the necessity of breaking from the
two party duopoly can keep plugging away at the task of building that third party now
until we convince a majority.
That is the only alternative. There is no get rich quick road to freedom! (SITE NOW BANNED ON AOL)
*Write AOL to complain, here:, or call 1-888-212-5537.


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