Civil and Human Rights

Party Fever

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As midterm elections approach, we see dire warnings of coming political apocalypse if Republicans sweep into power in Congress.

The recent October 2, “One Nation” demonstration in Washington, DC, built by labor unions, civil rights groups, women’s groups and the like, was essentially a rally supporting the Democratic Party, even though anger and alienation against the party is widespread.

So, support isn’t as much for the Democrats, as it is against the Republicans.

This is the politics of fear: “Don’t vote for me, just vote against the other guy!” In a sense, these are the dynamics around which politics revolve.

Yet, while it’s true that the Republicans represent much of the right wing, it’s not true that the Democrats are representative of the left.

The reasons are various, but can be summarized thus; in the Monthly Review of 1986, Arthur, K. Davis wrote, in the article “Decline and Fall”:

“Today there is no Left in the United States. There are only left wing splinters with no apparent prospect of gaining a mass following. In nearly every other Western industrial nation, the political spectrum includes Right, Center, and Left elements—this is the usual state of affairs in late modern capitalist societies. Socialist or Communist parties, or both, are part of the social landscape in West Germany, France, Italy, England. Even Canada has a small but influential social democratic party.”

Davis goes on to describe the U.S. political system as a Right to Center machine, in which both major parties are conservative—one slightly less so. And while the system may provide occasional concessions or even reforms, the vast majority of the electorate has no meaningful exposure to true Left ideas, which are not represented in the governing structure.

Davis wrote these ideas 50 years ago, and they still possess a certain resonance—if not more so.

Truth is, the winds of government have been blowing rightward for years. Today’s Republicans are so rightwing that they make their predecessors of only 30-years-ago look like liberals (in point of fact, quite a few of them were.) And today’s liberals would’ve constituted yesterday’s right wing.

And the Left is left—out in the cold.

The vast majority of Americans bitterly opposed the Iraq War, and expressed it through the biggest antiwar demonstration in generations. When the war went on anyway, and plunged the region into disaster, strong forces here hewed to the electoral option. A big slice of that social force voted for Senator Barack Obama (D.IL), anticipating an antiwar president.

What they got was more bombings, more troops and more militarism in support of the kleptocratic puppets in Baghad and Kabul.

If they feel uninspired for the midterms, who can blame them?

[Source: Davis, Arthur, K., “Decline and Fall”, Monthly Review, Oct. 19, 1960; repr.: ”Fifty Years Ago,” Monthly Review, October 2010, {vol.62:No. 5}, p.17], October 3, 2010