The 2018 midterm elections are fast approaching. Mainstream observers have predicted that Trump’s lack of popularity gives the Democratic Party an opportunity to regain a majority in the Senate and Congress. Doug Jones’ Senate victory in historically Republican Alabama has given rise to such sentiment. Yet the struggle over Congress and the Senate, while important, is not the primary concern for the Wall Street and corporate donors that control the Democratic Party. That honor goes to the Trump Presidency. The ruling class desperately want to replace Trump for fear that his rise to the Oval Office marks the beginning of the end of the two-party arrangement in Washington.
And given the corporate media coverage of Trump and “the Donald’s” low popularity ratings, relegating Trump to a one-term Presidency should be a relatively easy task. However, few signs show that the Democratic Party can complete the task in a period marked by instability and crisis. Polls indicate Trump maintains a slightly higher approval rating than the entire Democratic Party. That’s because the Democratic Party spent eight years under Obama waging an assault on workers and poor people in the US, especially its most loyal base of support in Black America. Black American wealth plummeted, and poverty increased exponentially under the first Black President. War, austerity, and police-state politics defined the Obama era.
The Democratic Party collapsed under the pressure of a growing divide between old-guard Democrats and those who wanted reform in the party. Bernie Sanders encapsulated the desire among a significant number of Democratic Party voters for student debt relief, living-wage jobs, and single-payer healthcare. These sentiments were crushed by Hillary Clinton, who cheated her way to the Democratic Party nomination in service of the financiers and monopoly capitalists that saw her candidacy as the best bet for endless war and the unmitigated plunder of the planet. Her actions left her vulnerable to attack and laid the basis for her demise in the general election.
After a year of Trump, it would be understandable for progressives and liberals of all stripes to believe that the Democratic Party will change political course. The only clear course for the Democratic Party appears to be a détente with the Sanders wing of the party. After all, the humiliating loss to Trump requires that the politics of the party focus on winning back the voters who decided the Democratic Party had nothing to offer. This manifests as a political necessity, even if new appeals to Sanders supporters are nothing but rhetorical gestures to be dropped as soon as Democratic Party victory is secured. Yet what seems logical is merely idealism when one considers the objective state of US imperialism.
US imperialism is maintained by a class of profiteers whose monopoly over capital knows no bounds. Limited by the laws of value and the inevitability of crisis, this class of profiteers has sent the system into a state of stagnation. Private accumulation has reached its limit. Downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on productivity and technological advance has made the system reliant on credit and finance to sustain the lives of a growing mass of poor, unemployed workers all around the world. Mass incarceration, endless war, and police-state surveillance are the inevitable byproducts of a racist, capitalist society in decline. The Democratic Party is not a prisoner of these conditions, but rather a leading force in their implementation.
The Democratic Party has not learned from Trump’s victory because the institution can no longer operate independently of the forces that control it. The lords of war and capital are in complete control of what used to be considered the “lesser-evil” choice in the two-party duopoly. A brief overview of the corporate media affirms the increasingly popular notion that the Democratic Party is a mere instrument of the rich. Wall Street bankrolled Hillary Clinton to the tune of one billion dollars in 2016 and prospective candidates for the 2020 have already begun currying favor with the same donors. However, there are numerous signs that the Democratic Party has no clear plan as to how it will recover from its crisis of legitimacy despite the early focus on the next Presidential campaign.
The Washington Post recently named Bernie Sanders twice as the most likely Democrat to secure the party’s nomination in the 2020 election. While the rag of the richest imperialist in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has no interest in promoting the politics of Bernie Sanders, the admission of the Vermont Senator’s popularity is instructive. It is a signal to the ruling class that the Democratic Party needs to deliver real promises to its base if it is to defeat Donald Trump. However, the list of fifteen potential candidates also includes corporate politicians and business executives such as Corey Booker, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and billionaire Oprah Winfrey. Democratic Party voters may favor Sanders but the corporate executives that control the party couldn’t agree less.
Two recent reports in the corporate media make the Democratic Party’s disdain for Sanders increasingly clear. Just prior to the New Year, Politico published a piece that argues that the Democratic Party can defeat Trump with nothing more than a “Generic Democrat.” “Generic Democrat” is a watered-down term for corporate Democrat. Former Democratic National Committee chair Ed Rendell agreed, promoting former Vice President Joe Biden as the only “superstar” in the party that can defeat Trump. This is the same arch-racist Biden that has repeatedly mocked Asia as the “Orient” and spoken down to Africans alongside Barack Obama. Its also the same Biden that has received large donations from the baking industry, helped author the 1994 crime bill that vastly increased mass incarceration, and voted for the Iraq invasion of 2003.
Democratic Party leadership hopes that Biden and other corporate Democrats will see their stock rise in the coming 2018 elections. Party leadership has invested much of nearly two years waging a two-headed war against progressive politics in the United States in the guise of the so-called “Russian probe.” The ongoing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into so-called Russian interference in the 2016 campaign has both intensified the US imperialist war against Russia and its allies and brought significant consequences for the US left. Google and Facebook have changed their algorithms to suppress content from sites such as the American Herald Tribune, Black Agenda Report, and RT. Green Party Presidential Jill Stein has also become a target of the anti-Russian campaign. Yet the US maintains its illegal presence along the Russian border and in Syria under the false pretense that Russia is illegally occupying its own sovereign territory and that of its allies.
That the Democratic Party has repressed the left and simultaneously pushed for war is in keeping with recent history. What has been called “Russiagate” is nothing but a further slip down the rightward slope the Democrats have been sliding down for decades. Anti-Russian hysteria is a desperate attempt to move progressive and radical forces into the gates of the Democratic Party’s graveyard of social movements. In prior Administrations, top Democrats pursued policies such as the elimination of welfare and regime change in Yugoslavia and Libya while promising to protect its constituents from the horrors of the Republican White Man’s Party. At present, the Democratic Party has nothing to offer to even its most ardent supporters unless they sit at the top of the income bracket.
US elections are shoved down the people’s throats because the ruling circle needs the growing number of impoverished, mainly Black, masses to identify with the possibility of reform from above. This becomes even more fundamental since the system is currently incapable of reform that provides any benefit to the people. There were several periods in US imperialism’s history where concessions were granted in response to the fightback of oppressed people both here and abroad. The only reforms possible in this stage of the system are ones completely opposed to the well-being of people. Cosmetic changes may occur, but the general path of stagnation, poverty, and war will remain constant until imperialism is finally laid to rest by a new, just societal arrangement.