Credit: Steve Schirra
The Democrats and Republicans have busied themselves the last month or so trying not to do anything, lest they jeopardize their electability.
Many progressive groups backed the Democrats as the party that will take away the least rights until the next election. So they haven’t been doing anything, either. And groups that have wanted to work for better conditions have been left isolated and unable to stage effective political actions.
This is the reality of elections in the United States. Candidates already in Congress waste at least a month campaigning to stay in office. And this stagnation causes leaders of movements themselves to stagnate and the movements fade away, if only temporarily.
For example, according to Project Vote Smart, the last vote Sherrod Brown cast before the elections was on Sept. 29. Mike DeWine did vote on a bill in October – a “yes” vote on a racist bill increasing militarization of the Mexican border – but that can hardly be counted as faithfully serving the public.
Brown and DeWine are not the only politicians to use slothful tactics. Nor can I blame them solely for the collapse of social movements.
Both parties have destroyed social movements. We have seen this most recently in the Democrats’ attempt to co-opt the fight for immigrants’ rights because they think it will garner them more votes.
As Green party politician Sarah Knopp said, “(Los Angeles) Mayor Villaraigosa has attempted to position himself as a centrist in the debate and has endorsed the McCain-Kennedy immigration proposal, which we find unacceptable.”
In other words, Villaraigosa came out against the Sensenbrenner bill and won some progressives over to the Democratic Party. Then he supported McCain-Kennedy, a bill that would put immigrants in the catch-22 of needing money but having to pay to cross the border legally.
So, once again, the Democrats attracted supporters by pretending to work for the people, only to turn their backs on the movement soon after. Malcolm X summed it up best when he said the Democrats’ strategy was to “tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.”
Still, activists believe the Democrats’ promises. The Democrats will help them change the conditions in this country, they think. And since they think the Democrats will help them, they put down their activist work and instead work to get out the vote.
Even worse, since many on the left think the Democrats will cure all the country’s ills, the Democratic victory Tuesday could mean progressive movements will stagnate even longer while they wait for the Democrats to live up to their promises – which will, of course, never happen.
Overall, elections dominated by the two capitalist parties in the United States are a waste of time. In Congress, candidates spend time getting their commercials played on TV and not focusing on the real issues. Meanwhile, activists throw their support behind politicians who waver on social demands.
Activists should instead work independently of political parties. Maybe then we can create a society that meets our needs.
Allen Hines is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]