Elections and Anti-War Struggle

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at attbi.com
Sat Nov 2 06:02:33 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Julio Huato" <juliohuato at hotmail.com>
Subject: Elections and Anti-War Struggle

> Thanks for your reply.  I cannot vote in the US.  Still, those who can
> should.  I don't have a clear sense of local politics in the US, which
> should matter in a concrete decision, but I insist on my general advice:
> Vote for candidates who oppose -- or are more likely to oppose -- the war.
> This entails voting for the Democrats where necessary.

Well, since you may not be satisfied with 'theoretical' reasons not to vote
for Democrats, let me point out a few practical problems with this.

1) Very few Democratic Party candidates for the Senate or House of
Representatives, IF ANY, are against the war with Iraq.  Please don't be
misled by the fact that some Democrats voted against Bush's war resolution.
The Democrats who voted against it almost all voted, at the same time, in
favor of a Democratic amendment which said, in effect, "go to the U.N.
first.  If you can't get the U.N. to go along with you, come back here and
we will vote for unilateral war.  We are for the war, but we would like you
to make it multilateral if possible."  The Bush administration was not in a
mood to compromise, and opposed this amendment and demanded authorization
for a unilateral war of conquest.  So really the House and Senate votes were
not "war vs. no war".  They were "war today vs. war tomorrow".

Furthermore, please remember that the war against Iraq has been going on
since 1990 and takes forms other than all-out conquest.  There are the
murderous sanctions, there are constant "low-intensity" bombing raids
against Iraq which are not really of very low intensity, there is the
occupation of the north and south, there is the whole weapons inspection
regime, and so on.  In fact, you have to search far and wide to find a
Democratic candidate for Congress who is in any real sense against
imperialist war on Iraq, that is, who is opposed to ALL these forms of war.
There are arguments about tactics in this war, that's all.

2) The war against Iraq is not the ONLY IMPERIALIST WAR.  There are the war
on Palestine, on Colombia, on the Philippines, the continuing war on
Afghanistan, the blockade of Cuba, the war for the Caucasus and the Caspian
basin,  and so forth.  Not to mention the ongoing war against the oppressed
nations within the boundaries of the United States!

If you can find a Democratic candidate who is really opposed to ALL these
wars, I am not going to complain very hard if you vote for that person, but
I think the question is mainly theoretical.  People like Cynthia McKinney
get forced off the ballot.

3) Throwing away our political compass and voting only on the basis of "who
is opposed to the war" is very unsafe.  In some elections, a pro-war
Democrat might be running against a semi-Nazi Republican of the Pat Buchanan
variety, who opposes the war on Iraq because he thinks it's a Jewish plot.
(Find the "anti-war" commentary of Eric Margolis for another example of
this.)  PLEASE tell me you wouldn't favor voting for the Republican in this

4) Your addition of the words "who are more likely to oppose the war"
suggests that you think that politicians of the Democratic party, even if
they are pro-war today, may be anti-war tomorrow.  Why do you believe this?
Surely you don't believe they have consciences, latent internationalist
consciousness, or something?  Barring a handful of possible exceptions in
the oppressed communities, are they not completely dependent on the
financial support of elements of the imperialist bourgeoisie?  They will be
"anti-war" (in a very limited sense) tomorrow only if they conclude that
being anti-war will advance their careers more than being pro-war, taking
into account the effect on their campaign contributions; for example, they
might gain 20,000 potential votes by becoming anti-war, but they might lose
$5 million in campaign contributions and be unable to run for office at all.

Well, if you vote for them today, aren't you telling them that they can
remain pro-war and still get your vote?  If they are guaranteed the votes of
the anti-war left no matter what they do, then the sensible thing for them
to do is to steal votes from the Republicans by moving further to the right
and proving how "patriotic" they are.  Even from a non-Marxist game-theory
approach to the elections, you should not vote for Democrats until they
actually ARE anti-war (which, of course, they hardly ever will be).

Elements of the left have been voting for Democrats since the administration
of Franklin Roosevelt, and they have been moving steadily to the right and
fighting one imperialist war after another.  It is a strategy which has not
been validated by time.

Lou Paulsen

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