Cynthia McKinne=Al Gore?????

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Sun Jan 5 15:24:24 MST 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Friedman" <mikedf at>

> I see no reason to reject the position taken by the SWP
> (and not just the SWP) on support for Democratic party candidates. It is
> never a question of the politics of the individual candidate, whether a
> McKinney, a Dellums or a Wellstone, but of the political party -- the
> of which class -- they represent. Nor is it  that each election
> poses the question of class rule. Rather, elections represent a
> opportunity to expose class rule. And from this point of view,
> Gore=McKinney. Sorry to bring up the abc's, but you seem to have

In kindergarten, we learn the abc's, and that birds fly, fish swim, and the
Democratic Party is a bourgeois party.  In the third or fourth grade, we
learn more complex language skills, that some birds walk and swim and some
fish walk or fly, and about dialectics.  We read that no two things are
alike; apple # 1 is not apple #2, and is not apple #1 at a different point
in time.  We learn that "campaigning for Democratic candidate #1" is not
"campaigning for Democratic candidate #2".  We learn that what matters is
the actual set of forces in play in the given struggle situation; what is
developing, what is disintegrating, what is in conflict with what, etc. etc.
Sorry to bring up the abc's of dialectics, but some people seem to have
forgotten THEM.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time or more the 'rule of thumb' that
'Republicans bad, Democrats also bad' is trustworthy, but occasionally you
get a situation where the real substance of the electoral conflict is
different from the fake Republican vs. Democrat choice; where it is really
about "racism vs. self-determination" or "imperialism vs. anti-imperialism"
or sexism or anti-LGBT bigotry or even labor vs. capital (for example, if a
trade union leader were to run for the town council of some
company-dominated town).  The likelihood of such an exception increases the
smaller the consituency, the more peripheral the office with respect to the
imperialist state, and the more salient are issues of national or other
forms of oppression.  In the case of the successful Democratic nominee for
president, senator, or governor, you are just about completely safe in
relying on the above cited rule, and in treating the candidate as the
representative only of the particular corporate interests that must have
been funding his/her candidacy for him/her to get the nomination.  But in
the case of more local elections, the candidate may represent or may be
forced to represent something other than just 'the rule of capital'.

Elections generally represent a pedagogical opportunity to expose class
rule, but sometimes there are other particular aspects of the class struggle
that need exposing, and if you lock yourself into the pattern of always
taking the same approach to every election without any examination of its
particular characteristics, you miss some important opportunities and fall
into some embarrassing pitfalls.

For an example, you could look at the 1983 mayoral election in Chicago, in
which the only real issue in the contest between Harold Washington, an
African-American congressman, the Democratic nominee, and Bernard Epton, the
Republican nominee, was racism vs. democracy, and the thing that most needed
'pedagogical exposure' was the blatant and vicious racism that was endemic
to city government in Chicago and was the only basis of Epton's campaign.
In this election, Washington having won the Democratic primary, the entire
white racist Democratic machine establishment deserted him and provided open
support for the white Republican.  The Washington campaign organization was
based in the anti-racist movement in the Black community and was in essence
a separate party from the machine Democrats.  The election was very close.

In this situation, the SWP ran an independent candidate.  All their attempts
to make the election into a referendum on capital (SWP vs. the other two)
were completely ignored by everyone in the city.  It absolutely ruined the
reputation of the SWP in the oppressed community here and forced their
representatives into taking abominable positions to justify their isolating
themselves from, and really attempting to sabotage, the struggle that 98% of
the progressives and anti-racist workers in the city were involved in.  (I
particularly remember one SWP speaker arguing that campaigning for
Washington was just like campaigning for a Black co-worker to get a
foreman's job that he had applied for.  When he was asked what the hell was
wrong with opposing segregation in the workplace and defending a Black
worker's right to be a supervisor, he responded that it was a bad thing for
Blacks to be supervisors because it turned them into oppressors and
undermined class solidarity.  I am not making this up.  Obviously this kind
of line is going to get you a lot of respect in the oppressed community,

That's why it's important to go beyond kindergarten Marxism.  [This last
phrase may have a slightly harsher tone than I want, but the 'abc' metaphor
is so apt in this regard that I really can't resist.]

Lou Paulsen

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