Why antiwar fighters should not be fazed by election results

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Fri Nov 8 19:48:44 MST 2002


Lou,

    It was inevitable that the initial steps of the new antiwar movement
would be taken at the call of relatively narrow coalitions such as Answer
and NOIN. Nothing wrong with that. I agree with those who commend NOIN and
Answer for the initiatives they have taken in this regard.

    What would be a mistake is to try shoehorn the movement going forward to
the relatively narrow confines of such groupings. Today's Security Council
vote puts the war drive against Iraq back in full gear. The forces that --I
hope-- can be drawn into opposing the war are much, much broader than those
who would be willing to affiliate with Answer.
There is a need to find a vehicle through which to coalesce with those
forces. That is what a lot of the comments on this list re. WWP's role and
Answer have been about.

    It is certainly legitimate for Answer or WWP to aspire to play a big
role in future protests. But it should not be done in such a way as to limit
the number of forces sitting at the table, as full and equal partners in the
movement.

*  *  *

    The statement is an issue of a totally different order. I think it is a
misreading of the activist layers and those coming into motion around the
war to try to explain things in an American electoralist framework. With no
active boycott campaign, with every single message aimed at the population
telling them to go out and vote, over 60% of the adult population just said
NO -- a landslide by any measure.

    There are many reasons for this.

    Like the $800 million raised on a national level by the Democrat and
Republican national committees and the central House and Senate PAC's of
each party in this electoral cycle. That's not counting any of the state
parties or local candidates own fundraising. Most people think elections are
BOUGHT, not WON -- and they're absolutely right.

    Like the fact that 98.5% of incumbent members of Congress get
re-elected.

    Like that of the 435 congressional races, fewer than 10% --I think the
actual figure the news media consortium VNS worked with for polling purposes
was 37-- were competitive. In all other races, the (non-incumbent) candidate
is so outgunned in terms of resources that they might as well not be
running -- and in fact in quite a few districts there was no one running
against the incumbent at all.

    And what is true of the house is also true of the Senate, of the
Governorships, of the state legislatures and so on down the line.

    The two-party-system isn't some hyper-abstract last-analysis concept. It
is a living, breathing, material reality, a parasitic caste, a corps of tens
of thousands of office holders who in their vast majority run either
unopposed or with only token opposition. Around the edges, and for the very
top posts, the two parties fight each other. But for the huge overwhelming
majority of Democritans and Republicrats, it's live and let live, a
self-perpetuating layer of political parasites, an electoral duopoly.

    One animal with two heads that feed from the same trough.

    The massive abstention by working people (and it IS by working people,
as anyone who has ever closely examined exit poll demographic data will
realize) is simply a recognition of this reality. It's not that they're
apathetic about *politics* in the sense of policy; it is that they
instinctively understand that elections have nothing to do with determining
who runs the country or how it is run. As the Supreme Court reminded us only
a couple of years ago.

    I *cringe* when I read stuff like that the elections could have been a
referendum on the war. No they couldn't, and we shouldn't suggest to people
that they might have been. It isn't a question that a group like Answer
can't give a fuller explanation of all the reasons why this is the case.
It's that it sounds phony and contrary to the real experiences of working
people.

    That is why I think you comrades from workers world were ill-advised to
sign onto this kind of statement and it would have been better for ANSWER to
cast its online petition simply as that, rather than a "vote." We want to
identify with and draw around the kind of people who when  they see a bumper
sticker "Don't vote -- it only encourages them" nod their heads and smile.

    There is a radical disconnect between official American
politics --including the news media-- and where mostpeople eat, breathe and
live. Everything we say and do must be calculated to identify us with the
real people side of the disconnect, demistifying that holy of holies of the
bourgeois-democratic religion, the ballot box.

José


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