[Marxism] RE: Voting by the U.S. Left--and the main stategic goalof2004

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at rogers.com
Sun Feb 22 11:08:17 MST 2004

Jim Farmelant really puts it very well, especially in his last sentance,
when he writes:

> I would have to agree with Tony Abdo
> that voting statistics from US presidential elections
> are virtually meaningless for gauging leftist
> sentiment in the American populace.  Most
> left-leaning voters in the US either hold their
> noses, then go to the polls, cast their
> ballots for the Democrats, and then return
> home to take a hot shower, or they simply
> stay home out of disgust over the process.
> Given the winner-take-all electoral system,
> the existence of the two-party system, where
> both major parties serve the interests of
> big capital, is firmly locked in place.  No
> third party is ever going to be able to challenge
> the two major parties, unless one of the two
> collapses the way the Whigs did in the
> 1850s, thereby opening the door to the
> GOP.  Just like back then, such an event is
> not likely to occur without a very major
> systemic crisis in which the ruling class,
> itself, finds its control under serious
> challenge.

I also thought Mark Lause’s statistics were misleading because they
compared the 2 million plus votes Nader received running as a Green last
election with the paltry number gathered in previous ones by a melange
of small Marxist organizations. Rip van Winkle, being unaware of the
different political character and greater popular acceptibility of the
Greens in this period, would think a great upheaval was underway when
confronted with Mark’s data showing a staggering vote spike for the
third party left candidate in 2000. The more relevant comparison for the
Greens is with earlier mass-based third party bids like that of the
Progressive party in 1948, Socialist Party in the 30’s, and Debs'
campaigns before and after WWI. It’d be interesting to know what those
totals were, especially as a percentage of the voting electorate, if
Mark or anyone else has that information.

Unfortunately, while Tony Abdo is right to question the stats, he is
engaging in his usual wishful thinking that the revolutionary left can,
in present circumstances, break the hold of the two party system – if
only it could unite to call more loudly and forcefully for a break with
the Democrats, and organize larger and more effective mass action
campaigns. If only. Dancing down that yellow brick road with the Greens
is only a slightly less fanciful case of wishful thinking.

The reality, as Jim points out, is that until there is a systemic
crisis, nothing works at the present time – not an entry into the
Democrats, not the Greens, not the far left. That’s not a lament, just a
suggestion about the need to keep perspective. The urgent polemics on
this list over what electoral strategy to pursue sometimes point to a
loss of that, and I've been as guilty as anyone. There'll be plenty of
opportunity for heat if and when a crisis does occur. I still think it
will first be expressed through the development of a mass left wing in
the Democratic party because, despite its bourgeois leadership, it has
the same social composition of organized workers and social activists at
its base as do the social democratic and labour parties elsewhere, but
we've already had  a good discussion and I have no great wish to revisit
the subject.

Marv Gandall

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