Activists need to be prepared for a new and intensifying barrage of lesser-evilism in 2012. Every liberal organization and the various fronts of the Democratic Party will barrage workers, young people, and progressive-thinking activists with why they have to vote Democrat in 2012 in order to stop the Republicans capturing the White House and Senate.
Our pamphlet Challenging the Two-Party System provides a full range of arguments against this agenda of lesser-evilism. We can expect the lesser-evilist propaganda to cover the whole range of issues, from threats to abortion rights, affirmative action, immigrant rights, the environment, labor rights, LGBT rights, and the invasion of Iran, to attacks on civil liberties, etc. Pointed reference will be made to possible right-wing appointments to the Supreme Court. We should note Obama’s total failure to use his presidential office and filibuster-proof majority in the Senate to make left-wing appointments. Both his Supreme Court appointments were moderates at best. As always, the Democrats aren’t even willing to fight back against the right wing, let alone push through a progressive, working-class agenda.
In response to this barrage of propaganda, socialists will need to explain the abysmal record of Obama and other Democratic Party presidents on all these issues, and how re-electing Democrats will not improve our situation. Socialist Alternative has been completely vindicated by our stance in 2008 – in sharp contrast to the shameful position of almost the entire left who bent to the pro-Obama mood – when we explained the corporate character of Obama and how, once in office, he would continue to represent the corporate agenda, disappoint and demobilize his supporters, suck air out of movement-building, and prepare the ground for a return of the Republicans, as occurred in 2010.
Once again in 2012, socialists will need to honestly face down illusions in an Obama second term with clear arguments in order to warn other workers, youth, and activists who could get sucked into the Democrats’ fake left propaganda.
This year, an essential argument will be to warn of how the Democratic Party’s electoral campaigns will attempt to suck the energy out of the Occupy movement. Socialists need to warn how the Democrats will pressure Occupy to refrain from militant actions that would embarrass their corporate Democratic Party candidates. If Occupy fails to clearly stand against this and to expose the Democrats’ agenda and strategy, then it will be weakened as a movement for the 99% against the 1%. The initial impulse of Occupy to blame both parties for the crisis was correct and needs to be continually reaffirmed if Occupy is to continue as a powerful, viable movement.
The exact form of this agenda of lesser-evilism will also depend partially on who the Republican candidate is. If it is Gingrich or some other more “right” candidate, then we can expect a repetition of every scary and bizarre statement made by the right wing over the last decade. If it is Romney, then the attack will be more focused on his membership in the richest 1%, his business activities, his wealth, how he likes firing workers, etc. Of course, this ignores the fact that Obama is also a representative of the 1%.
Socialists also need to be prepared to mount an offensive against a possible independent Ron Paul campaign. As already stated, there is enormous confusion about Ron Paul’s politics. This is also true among some in the Occupy movement who look at his attacks on the bank bailouts and the Federal Reserve, his opposition to foreign wars, and his defense of civil liberties as attractive. Many see him as better than the usual corporate political candidate and may be inclined to vote for him. We need to be able to penetrate this façade and expose the consequences of Ron Paul’s economic policies.
Socialists need to unmask the libertarian economic arguments and expose how Paul is a candidate for the most intense exploitation of labor and the environment by the capitalists, how he is an enemy of working people. We should also expose his outrageous positions on race, immigration, gender, and the LGBT community. If we do not see a strong left candidate, we may need to put real effort into unmasking Ron Paul and preventing him from confusing the best activists and individuals who are now looking for an independent left agenda. Socialists need to clearly argue for Occupy and other left organizations to put up a clear program that can speak to working-class people and expose Corporate America, and to run candidates as the only way to really combat the effect of the lesser-evilism barrage in 2012. This can fortify individuals and activists against the barrage of lesser-evilism and could possibly help crystallize some independent left electoral initiatives on the ground. Unfortunately however, the prospects for a strong left electoral challenge in 2012 appear weak at this point in time despite the major opportunities for such an initiative, mainly due to the continued hold over the left by the Democratic Party and lack of clarity among more radical activists about how to tackle the challenge of the 2012 elections.