As the Republican Party staggers along under the weight of its corporate backers and its right-wing dominated ranks, we need to begin to ask whether we are approaching a period of readjustment in U.S. politics. Considering the present discontent with both parties, we are in a period when new formations will start to emerge. It cannot be ruled out that new capitalist parties might develop out of the bones of the Republicans. There is also the possibility of new parties forming on the left and the right. The question is open about how the Republican Party will develop out of its current crisis.
It can no longer be ruled out that a very messy primary weakens the party, or that the party becomes even more a creature of the right wing by electing an unreliable candidate like Gingrich, which causes a major part of its big business base to look elsewhere. We can’t even rule out new candidates emerging to “rescue” the Republicans from an embarrassment. Recent history saw the complete collapse of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan and the formation of a new capitalist party in its wake. This issue is not posed now, but we will need to be open to new possibilities and follow events as they unfold.
At present, there is no established big business candidate in the Republican Party race who is both a seasoned and trusted corporate candidate and can also ignite the party’s right-wing base as Reagan and Bush did in the past. Clearly, the Republican establishment is trying to push through Romney’s candidacy. But he is a weak candidate and his links to the richest 1% have been further exposed with the publication of his tax return, showing he paid less than 15% on his millions in wealth. The fact that this was exposed by fake “anti-establishment” attacks of consummate insider Gingrich shows how the class anger brought to the surface by Occupy has also begun to find expression even in the Republican primaries!
Romney has clearly been weakened by these attacks. We will have to see whether he can overcome it and continue as front-runner. If he is nominated, he could be quite a weak candidate. Also, if his anointment comes as a result of millions of dollars spent on attack ads and the meddling of the Republican establishment, this could lead to mass disillusionment among the right-wing base of the party. While at present Republicans are united in hatred of Obama, this could create unbridgeable divisions. It’s very possible that Ron Paul could run on the Libertarian Party ticket or launch some other new party. Also, it not ruled out that another such figure could break from the party and run as an independent.
In the present mood of anger at Wall Street and the elites, a candidate like Ron Paul could run as an independent in 2012. His furious attacks on bank bailouts and his opposition to U.S. intervention in the Middle East can attract angry workers and young people. Many can be confused and ignore his underlying vicious right-wing free-market libertarian policies, under which social programs would be jettisoned since they are considered an impediment to profit and individual rights.
Tapping into people’s economic fears, the Tea Party and individuals like Ron Paul will look to divert public anger into a right-wing agenda of blaming immigrants, using thinly cloaked racism. This is a real warning to workers and people of color of the agenda of the right wing. It is also a warning of the kind of political direction America will take unless we build a political alternative that puts the blame clearly on big business and organizes the working-class majority. The right wing can create huge divisions among workers, allowing big business to push through its agenda of cuts in living standards and to defeat unions and other organizations capable of fighting back against its agenda.
Socialists need to firmly expose the idea that Ron Paul is some kind of progressive alternative. If no left candidate is able to challenge him in the election, he could garner a considerable level of support and increasingly legitimize right-wing ideas. Already, Glenn Greenwald, a sharp left critic of Obama, published an article that, while not endorsing Paul, put forward a number of arguments for why he is a better choice for the left to support than Obama.
The superiority of Marxism as a method of thought is that it looks beyond the issue of “political independence from the two parties” and grounds its understanding of political candidates and political trends by focusing on their underlying class ideology. Ron Paul supports an unregulated free market. He is an advocate of the stripping away of obstacles that might prevent individual capitalists from further exploiting labor and the environment. As a result, he is a class enemy of the working class. But Glenn Greenwald’s comments demonstrate the possibility of serious confusion about Paul’s candidacy. If he ran as an independent candidate, we would need to aggressively unmask his right-wing economic and social policies. This is another reason why it is essential that a strong candidate on the left runs in 2012, to offer an alternative to angry, radicalizing youth who might be pulled into Ron Paul’s campaign.