The Election-Industrial Complex

As the seemingly endless period of political campaigning in the United States will soon draw to a close, we on the left must access the damage; but more importantly, we must understand the means by which the damage was dealt; the “representative democratic” system. In this execution of bourgeois democracy there were two lines of direct benefit: one to the ruling class as a whole by (falsely) reaffirming its political legitimacy and another to the corporate media, into which the tremendous fiscal reserves gathered by the Obama and McCain campaigns are deposited. Hopped up on the new opiate of the masses (a Harvard millionaire’s take on “change”), voter turnout is bound to be high while ratings skyrocket and ad revenues explode. All the while this political-media reciprocation makes it clear that by way of an election-industrial complex the ruling class finally found a way to make this pesky habit of voting carry its financial weight.

Political Entrenchment

Before we delve into the (relatively new) economic benefits to certain sectors (obviously not the economy as a whole), we need to review what makes bourgeois parliamentarianism so necessary to the maintenance of capitalism. Going back in history to the transition from feudal to bourgeois rule, it would be a tough sell for the budding capitalist class to mirror the absolutism of the landed gentry. On the one hand, some concessions had to be made, but on the other the dictatorship of a minority class still had to be enforced. A system dependent on corporate cash, electoral ostracism, and (as will be focused on later) media hegemony had to be forged, dressed in sparkling rhetoric to entrap progressive forces and dupe the vast majority. The established media, as an institution dependent on the capitalist system, will naturally play a leading role in presenting this illusion of choice.

Before we can understand just how warped the version of the election the corporate media gives, we have to get the real picture. We have John McCain, a millionaire from a military family who famously owns seven houses, and opposing him is Barrack Obama, a Harvard-educated millionaire lawyer. As for the current financial crisis, we know where both of their interests lie. As of late September Obama’s number one contributor is Goldman Sachs, closely followed by Citigroup at number three while 35% of Obama’s top 20 donors are connected to big banks. At the same time, the five largest donors to the McCain campaign are major banks, with Merrill Lynch taking the top spot, kept company by the 60% of his top 20 contributors who are major players in the banking industry.

Both candidates are ardent imperialists; they just differ on their preferred target. McCain, as architect of the surge, has made it clear that he’d like to continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Obama is widely seen as the peace candidate, although he has used phrases like “residual forces” in order to mask the fact that he plans on leaving behind tens of thousands of soldiers to deny the Iraqi people sovereignty. However, he has, quite openly, called for an escalation in Afghanistan. Apparently moving mass-slaughter east a few hundred miles is change we can believe in. On Iran, McCain and Obama keep referring to the government as a sponsor of terrorism (read: not subservient to the West), and both back sanctions that, as the tragedy in Iraq during the later half of the 1990s has shown, are just as devastating as weapons of mass destruction. Obama might carry a bigger carrot and McCain a bigger stick, but every action they’ll take towards the Third World will advance the same arrogant imperialist system.

A race between almost identical candidates presents a twofold problem to the media and the bourgeoisie. First, something this inconsequential doesn’t sell advertising time. Second, not only will people be bored, but, infinitely worse, they’ll be angry. God help the capitalists if people vote for a progressive like Cynthia McKinney or a revolutionary like Gloria LaRiva. Collectively and in a decentralized fashion driven by a common goal, a script rivaling the latest Hollywood blockbuster was put together.

The country is in crisis, an unpopular president has led an unpopular war and the economy is on the verge of collapse. Who appears to rescue the ignorant masses? Barrack Obama! He looks different than those who proceeded him, his name sounds different (his bank account looks the same); he has to represent change, right? But this untested man might not be up for the task; who could challenge this newcomer in the tradition of the hard-line heroes of yesteryear we once trusted with our safety (and the rest of the world burned in effigy)? A maverick, a war hero (don’t let the burnt flesh of innocent Vietnamese men, women, and children lead you to call him something else), John McCain. And the best part is that you get to “decide”! * Not applicable to undocumented workers or felons

Economic Perks

Beyond the theoretical consequences that overt tyranny (or, more accurately, what would very soon replace it) would have on the financial situation of the corporate media, there is a direct business opportunity that presents itself to motivate not only the executives at the top but the rank-and-file reporters for almost impeccable collusion with the greater capitalist superstructure. Tremendous yields are derived from the spectacle of the bourgeois elections, demonstrably so with the television news networks.

CNN, one of the giants of cable news, attracted roughly 2 million viewers in February of 2008, when the primary elections were heating up. Between 2004 and 2008 (when coverage of the 04 presidential election, mid-term election, and 08 presidential election flowed together almost without a pause), CNN doubled its profits, making an extra $200,000,000. Media behemoth News Corp. (owner of Fox News) reported (also in February 2008) a 9.5% increase in revenue and a $10,000,000 increase in net income, greasing the wheels of Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones. NBC (owner of MSNBC) saw a huge increase in revenue as the primaries began, 8% ($33,000,000) and a 10% increase in profits.

Beyond increases in ad revenue for the television stations, print, radio, even non-media sectors (signs have to be made, venues rented, etc.) benefited. To understand the magnitude of this, we have to look at the enormous sums of cash raised by the campaigns. Cumulatively, the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party have gathered $511,040,553. Their Republican counterparts have together raised $415,950,247; meaning that the twin parties of war and capitalism have, together, nearly one billion dollars to funnel to their close friends, the bourgeois captains of industry. Coupled with increases in profit for local news outlets as well as international ones, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that American “Democracy” is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Our Democracy

When speaking of building a society based on the participation of the masses of society, they have failed (as I hope I’ve just made obvious), we will succeed. What will our democracy look like? Sparing the details of how this new apparatus of government will be established or what exactly the institutions by which the will of the people is executed will look like, there are several principles we must adhere to. First of all, for the people to truly be masters of their collective destiny, civic institutions must be participatory. At all levels, the representatives must be constantly in touch with constituents. Of course, different institutions of state power will carry this out as appropriate; municipal officials may rely on community meetings while national delegates may hear the voice of the people via mass organizations (trade unions, cooperative federations, etc.). All elected officials must be subject to swift recall at any time and, most importantly, they must be of the same stock as the vast majority of society; they must be working class people themselves.

The above, however, is secondary. Civic institutions are set up to meet the needs of those who hold material power, the ruling class. So what institutions of economic participation can assure that the people rule? First, democracy must begin at the workplace level. The day to day administration of the means of production, whether it’s a fast food restaurant or a major auto plant, must be left to the workers and their democratically elected workplace leaders. In facilitating this democratic process, trade unions or other independent, revolutionary mass organizations could play a very helpful role. In order to eliminate the anarchy in production, and inequality and stratification amongst the working class itself as well as defend this new society, a planned economy is an absolute must. This, by necessity, will be done at a broad, national level. However, the process by which these plans are made must be based primarily on consultations with all sectors of society so that it truly represents the needs and wants of the vast majority and prevents bureaucratic corruption.

The radical left must organize the fight for a new society, but do so tactically. Does this mean voting for the lesser of two evils? Certainly not; in fact, Obama’s “Hope” will do nothing but pump life into the dieing capitalist system. Does this mean running tactically in the elections? Certainly; if possible, we should use bourgeois institutions as a platform to spread the message that there is an alternative to this wretched system. We must expose the hypocrisy of the bourgeois show elections, in large part by pointing out the profiteers and their role in shaping public opinion. As neo-liberalism begins to collapse, let’s use the 2008 elections as both a starting point for a mass movement and an example of the fact that capitalism and democracy are antithetical.

Walter Smolarek is a student and supportive of the progressive presidential campaign of Gloria LaRiva and Eugene Puryear. He encourages you to learn more about it at Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

38 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. simuvac said on November 1st, 2008 at 8:14am #

    The diagnosis is accurate. The cure for this disease is less obvious. Perhaps the only solution, outside of violent revolution, is to wait for the system to collapse under the weight of its own lies and corruption. Of course, the wait may be too long and destructive for anything life-affirming to survive.

  2. Don Hawkins said on November 1st, 2008 at 9:51am #

    Will world leaders seize the challenge and act? Only if mass outrage demands it and even then change at best may be minimalist and short-lived. If history is a guide. What better time to prove history wrong. If not now, when? If not by us, who? If not soon, maybe never. If that’s not incentive enough, what is? Stephen Lendman

    Stephen was talking about the economy but those words work very well for climate change and what needs to be done. Mass outrage on a grand scale is needed and how does that happen? That is the question.

  3. jacksmith said on November 1st, 2008 at 11:50am #

    I see you all have not lost your fight :

    GOOD! Because we have a lot to do. You! (the American people) are going to have to take back control of your elected government at every level, and set your government back on the right path of service to you, and the greater good of the World.

    Barack Obama and the democrats are your best hope of doing that now. Tell your family, friends, and everyone you know to support them as best they can. Because the Bush McCain vote fraud, vote cheating, vote buying, vote manipulation machine is already hard at work to cheat you again. And we all know what a disaster that has been the past 8 years of Bush McCain.

    Barack Obama and the democrats will need all the power you can give them at every level of government (Federal, State, County, and local City elected governments). Obama and the democrats will have an enormous mess to fix for the American people, and the rest of the World. A mess caused by the corrupt Bush McCain administration.

    You see, starting back in 2000, and before 911, it was mostly the Republican governors, Republican legislatures, and county elected Republican officials that conspired with the corrupt Bush McCain administration to raise college, and university tuitions by the fastest, and highest rate increases in American history. Some state tuitions went up by as much as a WHOPPING! 30% in one year.

    The reason the Bush McCain administration did this was to force struggling working class kids into the military to pay for the sudden jump in tuition. Which was forced on them by the corrupt Bush McCain administration, and their corrupt Republican Governors, and republican controlled state legislatures.

    See, Bush McCain had plans to get us into all these immoral, foolish, criminal, and unnecessary wars from the start. So they could use these wars to seize power, and later to get reelected. But, for their evil plan to work they needed more volunteer soldiers struggling to pay for an education whose blood they could spill to help them seize more power. Remember Bush McCain’s “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” theatrics.

    The exploitation, and lost lives of these finest Americans is despicable, disgusting, immoral, corrupt and criminal. And it makes me SICK, and ANGRY!

    You will have to vote for Obama, and the democrats in overwhelming numbers to overcome the Bush McCain vote fraud machine. Vote early if you can. Then help your fellow Americans cast their votes now, and on through election day. Vote for Obama, and the democrats like your life, and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. Because it does. You will not survive 4 more years of “Let Them Eat Cake” Bush McCain, and their republican allies.

    Just look at the mess we have now.

    You can fix this mess with your votes for Obama, and the democrats. And REMEMBER, no matter which of us may stumble or fall, the rest of you must continue to surge forward for Barack Obama, and the democrats, and for your-selves most of all. The children, and the World are counting on us.

    It’s in your hands now. And I know you will get it done.

    God bless all of you.


  4. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 1st, 2008 at 12:11pm #

    lying, cheating, deceiving is institutionalized in all branches of governance.
    it is in cia, fbi, police, religion, education, jurisprudence, military, advertising, entertainment, politics, media.
    these r mere aspects of a whole. or one cld say structural aspects of one structure.
    msm always focuses on just one aspect: politics and politics/selection/election.
    working class people need to know this and behave accordingly; ie, study each and every aspect and connectedly w. every other structural member of governance.
    govts come and go but the governace reamains unchanged. thnx

  5. Don Hawkins said on November 1st, 2008 at 6:10pm #

    This time is different bozhidar and why you ask? Well this time it’s about the whole ball game. The downside of knowledge. Another way of looking at it knowledge not for the betterment of the Earth but for profit. Notice I said the Earth as human’s are only part of the Earth at least for now. Reason to overcome our instincts.

  6. DavidG. said on November 1st, 2008 at 6:13pm #

    Hey, Bob, do comments in stereo work for you?

    Regarding America’s ability to change, I reckon that those with money and political clout will resist all changes and I reckon that the possibility of Americans rising from their couches to claim their rights is nil.

    I did a post called DumbFuck. It’s an eulogy for George, an outsider’s view.

    Just click on my name…

  7. Michael Hureaux said on November 1st, 2008 at 7:40pm #

    Working class Jack Smith came forward and eloquently defined for us all once again as to why the Obama machine is going to be such a wash, and why the labor movement continues to sink. Because, you see, it’s all about electing the “democrats” now. And that’ s all you’re going to hear from Obama and any of his supporters for the next two election cycles. Support the “democrats”, even as they continue to bomb children in AFghanistan and hand all the country’s infrastructure to the richest pricks in the world here at home. They’ve only got one strategy, you see, and that strategy is TRUST ME, referring to themselves.

    To hell with them all. Get ready for a wild ride.

  8. Sam said on November 2nd, 2008 at 2:02am #

    Here is an excellent article written by my vice presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez of Nader/Gonzalez.

    What Do They Have to Do to Lose Your Vote?
    The Trail of Broken Promises


    Excerpt: Watching the Democrats in the final weeks of the presidential election has been a lesson in revisionist history. While they lament the terrible crimes perpetrated against the American people by George Bush and vow to keep fighting for our rights, they conveniently gloss over the fact that they have no standing to make such claims. Indeed, the Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, have actually voted with President Bush’s agenda, making them complicit in his acts, not valiant opponents defending our liberties…On the street when I am approached by an Obama/Biden volunteer or someone who tells me they’re voting for Obama, I usually ask “What about the FISA vote?” And each time I hear in return “What’s that?” Or if I say, “You know he supports the death penalty,” I usually hear in response, “No he doesn’t.” At what point will there be intellectual honesty about what is happening? People are voting for Obama because they find him to be an engaging public speaker and like his message regardless of his history of being part of the very problem he professes to want to fix. Most people don’t want the actual facts to interfere with the desperate hope that he is everything they want him to be. Do you really want to vote for someone who has already voted to take away your civil liberties because of some vague wish that he’ll act differently as president? Obama himself, speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, made a remark that could just as easily apply to him, and, unwittingly makes the case for why no one should vote for him: “We can’t afford a president whose positions change with the politics of the moment. We need a president who knows that being ready on day one means getting it right from day one.” (Salem, OR, 3/21/08). If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I would advocate it. But it isn’t doing that.
    What is your breaking point? At what point do you decide that you’ve had enough? What do they have to do to lose your vote? End Excerpt.

    Full article here:


    Vote independent or boycott the elections

  9. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2008 at 6:41am #

    ATMOSPHERIC concentrations of methane, “a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide”, have risen for the first time in eight years, prompting concern about the pace of climate change.
    A global study in Geophysical Research Letters found the first increase in methane levels this century — by about 28 million tonnes since mid-2006 — was in part due to release of gas in and near the Arctic.
    CSIRO senior climate scientist Paul Fraser said the data was in line with predictions that rapid melting of Arctic ice would create natural wetlands, one of the most common methane emitters. “This is not good news for global warming,” he said.
    Over the past decade, methane emitted from wetlands, rice fields, cattle, bushfires and coalmines had been largely offset by absorption of the gas by dry soil and through atmospheric oxidation, Dr Fraser said.
    “Over the past year, the total sources have overwhelmed the total sinks and methane has started to rise,” he said.
    Methane is estimated to be responsible for about 20% of global warming since the Industrial Revolution.
    The published study comes after British newspaper The Independent reported that scientists aboard a Russian research ship had found millions of tonnes of subsea methane was bubbling to the surface and being released into the atmosphere off the Siberian coast this northern summer.
    Research published in Nature Geoscience last week found the first evidence that the rise in Antarctic temperatures in recent decades was caused by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gas.
    The research, led by British scientist Nathan Gillett, compared temperature rises at the Arctic and Antarctic since 1900 with four computer simulations. Only models that factored in man-made emissions were able to reproduce the changes observed in the real world. This is a step on from last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which identified evidence of man-made climate change on every continent except Antarctica. The Age

    Can we slow this process, yes but it is to late for many and do you see any plans for what we can’t stop, no why is that? It’s bad for business and remember ignorance is strength listen to your leaders tell you lies as the truth is a weakness and who is the best choice on Tuesday well we the people comes to mind, think of this as kind of a war.

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 2nd, 2008 at 7:17am #

    Thanks for the excerpt from Matt Gonzalez, Sam. And you quote Gonzalez as saying:

    “If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I would advocate it. But it isn’t doing that.”

    If Gonzalez had presented his highest priorities as opposing the Iraq War and Bushco’s trampling on American’s civil liberties when Nader picked him (last February?), I might still be supporting their ticket. Instead, the first two priorities of Nader’s Veep candidate were: election reform, and ameliorating the condition of the poor in America.

    Election reform and poor relief ARE good priorities of course. But they were not and are not what needs to be done before anything else can be accomplished, nor are they exactly designed to garner attention and votes.

  11. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2008 at 7:52am #

    “The Old Soup Kitchen”

    It was midmorning in New York City and the soup kitchen was full. The tired the hungry the poor. Not much talk this morning tired and beaten down it showed on most people’s faces. Someone looked up just in time to see three large SUV’s, pull up in front. Men in suits with those rap around dark glasses began to unload box’s from the SUV’s and headed in the old soup kitchen. It was two day’s before the Presidential election and this was part of get out the vote. They kind of stormed there way in and started to give out Styrofoam box’s made in China to the tired the hungry and the poor. Then the head man who they called Smith said vote for our man his name is on the box. Everybody got a box of food except this old man siting in the corner. This Mr. Smith person looked over at him and said what’s a matter with you are you unamerican or something. The old man looked up happy with his soup and said no I will vote but it will be a write in vote. Mr. Smith then said that is a wasted vote. The old man said so be it but I will write in we the people. Almost all the tired the hungry the poor heard this and together took those Styrofoam box’s made in China and dropped them on the floor and then stepped on them and said me to write in we the people. Well Mr. Smith said don’t listen to this old man he is nut’s and doesn’t know how the World works. The old man said, Oh really and took some eggs out of one of the Styrofoam box’s made in China on the floor and started to throw eggs at these men in suits then everybody joined in and needless to say the men in suits headed for the door. It was a strange site to see three SUV’s heading down the street covered in eggs and ham and hash brown potatoes and then the tired the hungry the poor went back in the old soup kitchen and began to talk and think and organize. Now for all you USA USA drill baby drill and ignorance is strength people out there if you find this shocking well that’s why ignorance is strength and you probably still don’t understand. Have a wonderful day.

  12. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2008 at 9:26am #

    Will the tired the poor the hungry organize? Probably not and the USA USA drill baby drill ignorance is strength people will they win? Oh yes, win what I don’t know and in just a few more years probably not a lot of winning going on around the globe. Don’t forget to vote and bring a pen.

  13. Walter Smolarek said on November 2nd, 2008 at 10:08am #

    Are any of you considering Gloria LaRiva? Nader’s reformism doesn’t go far enough; the only way we’ll see real change is if we break with the capitalist system, from which all of these social ills are created.

  14. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2008 at 10:59am #

    DHAKA (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged developed countries not to neglect climate change as they tend to a global economic slowdown and called on rich nations to help poor countries prone to global warming.

    “The leaders of the developed countries should not neglect the issue of global warming,” he told a news conference at the end of his two-day visit to Bangladesh on Sunday.

    “A one-metre rise in sea levels would displace 30 million Bangladeshis and deal a catastrophic blow to economic growth and development,” Ban said.

    Experts say climate change will hit Bangladesh’s nearly 150 million people from all sides over the next 50 years with sea levels rising in the south, droughts in the north, river erosion as glaciers melt and disease risk growing with greater humidity.

    50 years is along time in this atmosphere. A total focus is now needed now means today yesterday would have been better. The first few months of the next administration and congress will tell the story of Earth with or without human’s. If we see anything short of total focus then welcome to the age of ignorance and all that will bring.

  15. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2008 at 12:02pm #

    Now crazy people don’t think there crazy. Now all we have to do is figure out who’s crazy. A little hint have you ever watched Foxnews or CNN or MSNBC you know the talking heads. Would you say many of these people have an effective contact with reality. Come on put on your thinking cap.

  16. Walter Smolarek said on November 2nd, 2008 at 1:05pm #

    The PSL campaign’s position on the environment:

  17. ajohnstone said on November 2nd, 2008 at 3:19pm #

    In Britain and most of America , there exists no fundamental objection to the electoral system; the provisions for voter registration, nomination of candidates, counting of votes, declaration of result,etc can be inherited by socialism and, with modifications, continue to be used. We also think, of course, that the present electoral mechanisms can be used to express and count, more or less fairly and accurately, a majority desire for socialism. So we’ve no interest in running down the system as such. The way to show that you accept the electoral system but reject the sham choice of candidates is to go and use it but not vote for any of the candidates.

    Basically, there are only three ways of winning control of the State: (a) armed insurrection; (b) more or less peaceful mass demonstrations and strikes; (c) using the electoral system.

    The World Socialist Movement has adopted (c), but without ruling out (b) or even (a) should conditions change (or in other parts of the world where conditions were different).

    But this is not simply putting an “X” on a ballot paper and letting the Socialist Party and its MPs establish Socialism for workers. The assumption is that there will be a “conscious” and active Socialist majority outside Parliament, democratically organised both in a mass Socialist political party and, at work, in ex-trade union type organisations ready to keep production going during and immediately after the winning of political control. The most important precondition to taking political control out of the hands of the owning class is that the majority are no longer prepared to be ruled and exploited by a minority and they must withdraw their consent to capitalism and class rule and they must want and understand a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control.The vote is merely the legitimate stamp which will allow for the dismantling of the repressive apparatus of the States and the end of bourgeois democracy and the establishment of real democracy.It is the Achilles heel of capitalism and makes a non-violent bloodless revolution possible.What really matters is a conscious socialist majority outside parliament, ready and organised to take over and run industry and society; electing a socialist majority in parliament is essentially just a reflection of this. It is not parliament that establishes socialism, but the socialist working-class majority outside parliament and they do this, not by their votes, but by their active participating beyond this in the transformation of society.

    Having adopted (c), various other options also follow.
    Obviously, if there’s a Socialist candidate people who want Socialism are urged to vote for that candidate.
    But what if there’s no Socialist candidate?
    Voting for any other candidate is against the principles. So what to do? The basic choice is/was between abstention and spoiling the ballot paper.Not voting at all is a valid option , but casting blank ballots or some other form of actively announcing not voting is better .One or two spoilers/blank voters can be ignored, tens of thousands or even millions could not be – especially if backed by a vocal movement explaining the situation. A concerted campaign of spoiling the ballot paper by writing “socialism” across it would signify a write-in vote ( of course , now with electronic voting , this choice is now denied us ) .

    What we say is that democracy can and does change things, that it is not democracy that is the problem, but rather that it is the system underlying the democracy, that makes it imperfect. What we have to do is push for more democracy, not less . We want to protect the idea of democracy but not the idea that voting someone into power will solve your problems for you. Nor the idea that voting for something is in itself enough. We protect the idea of democracy by propagating the case for it and by practising it. And also by calling for an organised and collective campaign of spoilt ballot papers.

    The World Socialist Movement has never held that a merely formal majority at the polls will give the workers power to achieve Socialism. We have always emphasised that such a majority must be educated in the essentials of Socialist principles and have a party democratically organised .It is the quality of the voters behind the vote that, in the revolutionary struggle, will become decisive.

  18. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 2nd, 2008 at 3:43pm #

    Thanks for this, ajohnstone. I’ve long believed that there has never been a socialist government anywhere in the world – so widespread and resistant to change has capitalism been. Although in wartime, in some countries, there has been more than a command economy, which probably would be a fair characterization of America, 1940-1945. that is, I would be surprised if the WSM or anyone else could point to any government, ever, having a legislative body comprised of a majority labeling themselves “socialists.”

    And accordingly, I very much appreciate this discusson about the relation between socialist aspirations and voting under capitalism.

    I assume you’ve seen Naomi Klein’s interesting movie, The Take?

  19. Max Shields said on November 2nd, 2008 at 4:25pm #

    Frankly, Jack, I think, given your desire to calculate who of the least evil should be voted in, McCain would serve the larger cause much better than an Obama.

    Obama will double down the Clinton pacification of progressives. There was nearly dead silence during Clinton’s rampaging of Somalia, Iraq, Haiti, and Bosnia. Much the same with NAFTA and well-fare reform and of course his infamous signing of the Gramm et al deregulation of the financial system.

    With Obama you’ll have the added disadvantage of a near zealot number of believers in Obama no matter what he does, plus he’ll keep race as the centerpiece. He’ll be a loser for poor people of all color and yet keep the issue at bay with progressives because he is a person of color.

    No, McCain will make change happen. Obama will keep the system lock step in place. Obama will be the great protector of corporate capitalism; and he silence much of the politic left as he does it.

    Time will tell; but if we’re playing political calculation games than that’s the way I see it from here.

    Otherwise, vote your conscience – it just takse a little courage.

  20. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 2nd, 2008 at 4:40pm #

    You tried running this little slant on it past your European interneters, Max?

  21. Max Shields said on November 2nd, 2008 at 6:24pm #

    Lloyd I’ll answer your question when you explain it. (European interneters?)

  22. Max Shields said on November 2nd, 2008 at 6:43pm #

    Another way to respond to jacksmith’s plea for Obama is to ask: Why would you throw your vote away when Obama is expected to have a landslide win on Tuesday?

    Why not just vote your progressive conscience – I’m making a rash assumption here that you are a progressive who thinks the following are reprehensivel positions: keeping US troops in Iraq (as well as mercenaries) for indefinite time, escalating a war in Afghanistan, endorsing capital punishment (even when no murder occurred), supporting the notion of nukes, natural gas, “clean” coal, off-shore oil drilling as integral parts of a “new” energy plan, threatening Iran with war, providing the ultimate support for Israel over the Palestinians, voting for circumventing FISA as well as the Patriot act over civil rights, voting for the bail out of nearly a trillion dollars for Corporate financial markets, supporting NAFTA/Free markets, threatening to invade Pakistan to kill Bin Laden, demonizing Hugo Chavez, promoting the continuation of the embargo on Cuba, his pledge against gay marriage, retaining a privatized-insurance-employer-based health care system and the list of anti-progressive stands goes on and on.

    All of the above are Obama positions on some of the most critical issues facing America.

    Now if you agree with Obama’s positions which are clearly aligned to his “opponents” with the exception of some small “degree” than by all means vote for him. You don’t need to shout it out on DV. There are millions of people who will fearfully go to the polls and do the same.

    But if you really want change, you can send a big message by voting for Nader or McKinney or the Socialist candidate.

  23. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 2nd, 2008 at 7:56pm #

    Max. Interneter = a person you communiccate with over the internet.

  24. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 5:08am #

    And who do you think my European interneters are? I’m curious.

  25. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 3rd, 2008 at 8:35am #

    david g,
    what does ” Bob, do comments in stereo work for u?”‘.
    i agree that at this time amers cannot change much if anything.
    but in decades or centuries, education may rouse people. thnx

  26. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 3rd, 2008 at 10:35am #

    Max. I “know” that you are European — although that “know” is based on some old comment(s) at Dissident Voice which I could never find now. And since you obviously have access to the Internet and are a voluble and informed person, I assumed there are European persons with whom you share your opinions.

    But if I know the name of a European interneter you may have communicated with, I did not know they were European and/or I did not know you have communicated with them.

    Finally, and although you didn’t inquire into this aspect of the situation, I’m under the distinct impression that Europeans generally (not to mention the rest of the world ouside of America) are of the opinion that a McCain presidency would be light-years worse than an Obama presidency.

    Hence my query to you, and its unbelieving mien.

  27. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 11:26am #

    Lloyd, sorry to disappoint, but I’m not directly Euro – back a couple of generations.

  28. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 3rd, 2008 at 12:25pm #

    No disappointment. You’re still Max Shields.

    And for what it’s worth, Max old buddy, Karnak predicts a McCain win tomorrow. If Obama wins, I’ll throw up my hat in the air. But if McCain wins and you’re right and things don’t get worse, I’ll eat it.

  29. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 1:37pm #

    I am neither expecting a McCain win; nor am I recommending him. I’m recommending folks who believe in the Obama positions (first they need to know them!) vote for him; while those who argree with Nader’s vote for him.

    But if all one is doing is calculating the lesser of evils (a most cyncial twist of democracy) because they think Obama will be better for the country, but are in fact “committed” to Nader’s positions, I say, why not vote for McCain, who would pretend to be a “progressive” while serving the needs/wants of the corporate elite as will Obama.

    If after reading this you still think I’m predicting a McCain win….well than you’re on your own, sir.

  30. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 2:00pm #

    Corrected version:

    I am neither expecting a McCain win; nor am I recommending him. I’m recommending folks who believe in the Obama positions (first they need to know them!) vote for him; while those who argree with Nader’s vote for him.

    But if all one is doing is calculating the lesser of evils (a most cyncial twist of democracy) because they think Obama will be better for the country, but are in fact “committed” to Nader’s positions, I say, why not vote for McCain, who would NOT pretend to be a “progressive” while serving the needs/wants of the corporate elite as will Obama.

    If after reading this you still think I’m predicting a McCain win….well than you’re on your own, sir.

  31. Deadbeat said on November 3rd, 2008 at 2:57pm #

    Max offers the following nonsensical tactic…

    But if all one is doing is calculating the lesser of evils (a most cyncial twist of democracy) because they think Obama will be better for the country, but are in fact “committed” to Nader’s positions, I say, why not vote for McCain, who would NOT pretend to be a “progressive” while serving the needs/wants of the corporate elite as will Obama.

    There are aspects of the Obama domestic position this is progressive. His tax cut for the middle tier is progressive as well as eliminating retirees making $50K or less from the tax rolls.

    To say that lesser evil is a “cynical twist of democracy” imply that the U.S. election is “democratic” which they are not.

    Also every election requires a thoughtful strategy. In 2004 it was much more important NOT to vote lesser evil than it is in 2008. That’s because in 2004 the Left has a change to build upon the Nader’s ~2.5% showing in 2000. Had the Left not dispersed the anti-war movement and the Greens and Nader made a serious run in 2004 there was no doubt that Nader could have achieved the 5% threshold that would have gotten him into the 2008 debate and made him a serious alternative for this election cycle. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and the Obama campaigned filled the void that the Left help to create.

    Therefore voting for Obama as the “lesser evil” make sense since the Left offers in 2008 NO VIABLE ALTERNATIVE. Cynically suggesting a
    vote for McCain is irresponsible on its face. Look at how McCain has been running his campaign with all its racist overtures. It is one thing to dislike Obama for his policies but to harbor such dislike that it cloud one’s judgment to eliminate all nuances IMO reflects poorly on the person making the criticism.

    In fact voting “lesser evil” is acknowledging that one is not voting for Obama based on a progressive agenda but voting in order to prevent a reactionary like McCain from taking the White House. I would consider that being extremely pragmatic especially since the Left offers no viable alternative.

    I noticed that both Chomsky and Zinn has now come out for Nader however where were these hypocrites in 2004. Both advocated voting for John Kerry. Both offered no criticism of the Left diffusing the anti-war movement and both never suggest that the Greens and Nader build a united front. These two offer both inconsistencies and confusion.

    Also the Obama election does offer a chance to challenge the history of U.S. racial discrimination. Putting a real African American (that is someone who is considered “black” by the African American community not someone who happens to be “black” like Clarence Thomas) in the White House is historic and is a PROGRESSIVE event especially when considering the void that the Obama campaigned filled this election year.

    The Left IMO should accept an Obama victory in 2008 so that they can REFLECT upon their errors from 2004. The error most especially that needs reflection is how they allowed Zionism to tear apart the best opportunity it had in years to really build a grassroots movement.

  32. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 3rd, 2008 at 3:30pm #

    we on dv shldn’t belitle or attack other people’s conclusions, ideas, opinions, etc.
    instead, juxtapose ur own ideas, wishes, opinions, and facts.
    if we don’t do that, we’d be emulating miseducators among the media-politico- educational ‘elite’.
    to iterate, let us not runs dwn selves. msm, politicians will do that; thus, we don’t need to. thnx

  33. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 5:07pm #


    Are you saying that Obama is progressive because he wants to roll back taxes to early 1990s? That’s at best faint “praise”. This is only “progressive” through the eyes of a Republican pol. Obama has made every effort to brand himself as a centrist. Only Dem/delusional progressives bend this to anything resembling “progressive”.

    But on the issue of taxes, I would argue that income tax is NOT a progressive tax. Why? Because income is elastic and wealthy people rarely pay it – regardless of the political machinations. That’s the secret that the Repub/Dems/Corporate elitest keep for the “average joe”.

    When you tax income you always hurt middle income people who do not have the means to “hide” that income by using the law and accountants. (Remember who creates the laws, DB?) So, a tax on hard earned income is a penality that pays mostly for war directly and indirectly. (Unless you think we have a trully universal/single payer health care system, and top notch infrastructure, and a life style to match or GNP?)

    So, this little tax talk is a game that the Dems and Repubs parade out during election season.

    As far as voting for lesser evils “making sense” well one person’s sense is another person’s folly. You have millions of Americans who will go to the polls and vote for one of these two clowns without knowing where they stand on key issues. Most will vote against the other rather than for anyone. I don’t call that “strategic”. I call it dumb. But hey, when was the last time civics was taught in our schools, or people actually read newspapers, or heaven forbid – BOOKS? The only genius in this system is that it expects an illiterate group of people to do most of the voting. The others will stay home or vote for someone else.

    I don’t see all that much difference between Barack Obama and Clerance Thomas. I see even less difference between Obama and Colin Powell. So, real African American is kind of weird. I suspect Thomas’s lineage goes straight back to American Slavery. Obama’s doesn’t.

    Last, you dwell on Zionism, Obama is a born-again Zionist if you believe what he says about Israel vis a vis Palestinians.

  34. Deadbeat said on November 3rd, 2008 at 5:55pm #

    Max, I read your previous post very carefully as you remarked the following…

    But if all one is doing is calculating the lesser of evils (a most cyncial twist of democracy) because they think Obama will be better for the country, but are in fact “committed” to Nader’s positions, I say, why not vote for McCain, who would NOT pretend to be a “progressive” while serving the needs/wants of the corporate elite as will Obama.

    Your point is to infer that it is always wrong to engage in “lesser evil” voting. I dispute that inference. In this election year I fault no one who supports Nader’s position yet decides to vote for Obama instead. The problem is that you possess such disdain for Obama that you are advising “lesser evil voters” to vote for McCain instead because “McCain, who would NOT pretend to be a ‘progressive'”. What I’ve said is that your argument is reckless.

    Since you are making an argument FOR voting FOR McCain I chose to point out where Obama is more “progressive” than McCain. I needn’t repeat that here.

    Last, you dwell on Zionism, Obama is a born-again Zionist if you believe what he says about Israel vis a vis Palestinians.

    Unlike you Max I don’t dismiss, obscure or deny that Zionism as a major problem across the political spectrum of the United States. It was a major factor for the diffusion of the anti-war movement and the reason that there was a void this year filled by the Obama candidacy.

    You argue on the one hand that Zionism is not a factor of U.S. body politics yet complain about Obama’s Zionism. That demonstrates a lack of consistency and duplicity. Your position on Zionism makes your disdain of Obama appear more hyperbolic than cogent and lack credibility.

  35. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 3rd, 2008 at 6:01pm #

    Well, old friends and foes, it’s good to read your continuing dialog. Words have failed me so much, I’m posting “Protest Art” articles almost exclusively over at OpEdNews these days, downloaded mainly from artnet’s Artist Works Catalogues. See:

    Anyhoo, I hope to read your comments there but can’t promise I’ll try to engage them any more than I do here at DV. Words….words alone are certain good. To quote the Master. So…

    keep ’em coming!!


  36. Deadbeat said on November 3rd, 2008 at 6:23pm #

    Max says..
    So, real African American is kind of weird. I suspect Thomas’s lineage goes straight back to American Slavery. Obama’s doesn’t.

    You response Max, demonstrates your ignorance and lack of cogency and nuance. Real has NOTHING to do with lineage. It is all about acceptance by the African American community. It also show how little solidarity you have with this community otherwise you would not have responded in that manner. Clarence Thomas is perhaps the MOST REJECTED African American politician ever by African Americans.

  37. Max Shields said on November 3rd, 2008 at 8:33pm #


    Even your argument for tax roll back is weak – Obama doesn’t plan to implement this until 2011 when the Bush tax cuts expire. Plenty of time for that to become an empty (and forgotten) campaign “promise”.

    Deadbeat, if African Americans “reject” Thomas, it is his politics they reject, not his heritage which cannot be denied.

    Obama’s father came here on his own free will several decades ago. Surely you can’t deny those facts.

    Until recently, Obama’s blackness – ability to represent African Americans – in Chicago was in constant question. He won elections because of white Jewish voters. He was rather disdained by most blacks, as I understand it, as being too white.

    Yes, today, compared to the Republican white male (McCain) African Americans relate more to Obama; but it seems that was true of the so-called first “black” President Bill Clinton.

    None of this crap, DB, is worthy of casting a vote for a person.

  38. Deadbeat said on November 3rd, 2008 at 9:06pm #

    Max retorts forgetting that he set up this discussion by recklessly suggesting that “lesser evil voters” vote for John McCain which BTW African American voters will not do and will perhaps vote for Obama by a factor of 99%.

    Even your argument for tax roll back is weak – Obama doesn’t plan to implement this until 2011 when the Bush tax cuts expire. Plenty of time for that to become an empty (and forgotten) campaign “promise”.

    Election are for voting for politician’s promises. You cannot predict the future Max therefore you have NO evidence that Obama will not implement his proposed tax cuts for the middle tier payers. McCain clearly offers no rollback whatsoever from the regressive trajectory. Therefore between McCain and Obama, Obama offers a more progressive promise.

    Deadbeat, if African Americans “reject” Thomas, it is his politics they reject, not his heritage which cannot be denied.

    Max, what it means to be “black” has to do with politics NOT the lineage. It is not all about skin color Max but then you are “brother” so I assumed you knew that (sarcasm).

    The reason why Obama is getting support from the African American community is that he is better on the issues than McCain and Obama this year has offered up programs that are even more progressive than both Dean and Kerry in 2004.

    Unlike you Max, African American do engage in “lesser evil” voting because they HAVE TO BE pragmatic. Because McCain is running a blatantly racist campaign African American voters will come out in droves to vote for Obama. African American will use their vote to REJECT this kind of politics and therefore to African Americans, Obama is worthy of their vote.

    You may not like that Max but that is the REALITY. Unfortunately there are many voices on the Left this year who reject that reality. Once again that reinforces why the Left has little to NO solidarity with the African American community. Which when you understand that the Left’s so-called “strategy” is to weaken the Democrats, having NO solidarity with the Democratic Party’s most loyal voting bloc is pretty fucked up.