By Lil Joe
American (and European) workers often confuse the Democratic Party as the American version of the European Social-Democratic and Labour Parties. But this is not true. The American Democratic Party was originally the political party of the American slave-holders in the South, and their supporters in the North.
The Republican Party arose as an anti-slavery party in the North. The International Working-Men's Association supported the Republican Party as the anti-slavery party, but at the same time advocated that American workers form their own class party and form a direct alliance with, and support of the slave rebellion in the South.
The U.S. Democratic Party is also a class party. It is not a working-class party financially based in the trade unions, however. Rather the opposite. The Democratic Party is a capitalist class party. We must keep in mind the determining characteristic of a political party is not its rhetoric, or even its program and/or platform but its financial basis and, based on that, its social composition.
The Democratic Party is financially based in industrial capital, domestic capital. It only seems to be a labor party' because the American industrial unions have gotten out the vote and campaigned for the Democratic Presidential candidate. Historically, American workers, unlike workers in the industrialized capitalist countries elsewhere, do not and have not had a class party.
Of course, there have been political formations that call themselves “labor party “ and “worker's party.” But there has never been a labor party, in the United States that is created and financed by labor unions, and socially based in the working-class as a whole. A true working class party would run candidates for winnable national offices against Democrats as well as Republicans.
Labor party praxis advocates an understanding of economics of class struggle. The Democratic Party is financially based in industrial domestic capital, the American steel industry, for instance. Thus, in promoting tariffs the Democrats represent the interests of U.S. steel. That is quintessential although Democrats masquerade this capital partisanship as fighting for steel workers job security.
Yet the steel workers have not benefited from these tariffs. It is American capitalists in price hikes in production and distribution that benefit from tariffs. The American workers, and farmers, as consumers do not benefit from tariffs. Neither do workers and peasant as consumers in 3rd world countries benefit from tariffs benefit in their countries.
I must repeat. The Democratic Party is the party of capital, not of labor. The Democrats in the trade union bureaucracy would have us believe that the Democratic Party is "progressive," supportable by trade union's dues. This is class betrayal! Fundamentally, in the Senate, the presidency and the national judicial representations the Democrats are based in capital, not labor.
Were the Democratic Party a labor party it would be a creature of organized labor in politics, in their own name, as are the socialist parties in Europe, and Labour Party in Great Britain. To be held accountable to labor, the class party must be socially based in the working-class as a class, and financially supported exclusively by trade unions. But the Democratic Party in its national committee and in the Senate and upper chambers of States and in the presidency and judiciary is based socially and financially in contributions from domestic and/or industrial capital.
U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio presents himself as a worker militant. In fact, he is from the working-class but this is a case of the incidental or the inessential masquerading as essential. This kind of masquerade comes on the scene every Presidential election year. This masquerade—let's call it what is, a charade—has a history going back to the Communist Party U.S.A.'s promoting the millionaire Democrat Franklin Roosevelt.
The so-called Left laps up the Democratic vomit and rhetoric of "anti-party" Party hacks and campaign artists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who present the Democratic Party as the "progressive alternative" to the Republicans. Their rhetoric present themselves as Blacks in the Democratic Party rather than what they are, namely, Democrats in the Democratic Party.
The same conclusion applies to trade unionists who campaign for Democrats. Politically, they are not trade unionists in the Democratic Party but Democratic Party representatives in the trade unions. To build a successful labor party in the U.S., we must elect union members to leadership who will struggle for a Labor Party, rather than those who seek advantage as hacks for the Democrat Party.
The so-called liberal and "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party presents itself pragmatically as a "viable" alternative to the Republican "right-wing." The issue is lapped up by the American "Left" as urgently of pragmatic. Prior to its own Negro exhibit at its 2000 Convention, the Republican Party was presented as racist and fascist.
At its previous Party Conventions, the Democratic Party boasted that it "looks like America" implying that the Republicans were lily-white, i.e., racists. But, when the Republicans came up with their own Negroes and women speakers, the Black delegates to the Democrats said that they, not the Republican Blacks were the authentic Negroes!
But the Democratic Party has always openly presented itself as a party of capitalism. The Clinton-Lieberman Democratic Leadership Council made this class partisanship clear.
Yet, ostensibly "fighting fascism," the "Left" promotes the Democrats to "protect" workers, Blacks, Jews and socialist organizers from Republican "fascists." In reality, the Democrats are just as much based in, and representative of "corporate capital" as are the Republicans.
The United States Congress does not have a single trade unionist in it. In class terms, the Democrats and Republicans monopolize Congress as anti-communists, in effect, present themselves as a united front against labor. As a member of this Democratic Party and member of Congress, Kucinich is an integral part of the capitalist's political united front.
Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone (deceased) in the Senate, and John Conyers and Kucinich in the House of Representatives represent the Democratic Party in the labor and "progressive" movements. Conyers and Kucinich both have their out-of-inner-city poverty stories. They even support the idea of African-American reparation.
The big hoodwink of the American "Left" came when the Democrats ran Jesse Jackson for nomination. Although he knew he had no a chance of winning the Party nomination, Jesse Jackson's not-so-hidden agenda was to bring Black and "progressives" into the Democratic Party by promoting voter registration and elevating himself to a status as "President of African-Americans." This gambit made him a prominent player in the Democratic Party.
Jesse Jackson was a complete opportunist! Jackson knew he couldn't win— thought he talked about his grand momma's quilt and his moving "from the outhouse to the White House." Jackson advanced this class collaborationist line in racial terms in his typical rhetoric. He said, to paraphrase, Some Americans came on the free men ships and others on slave ships but now we're all "in the same boat.”
What is indeed clear, however, is that Black and White workers and unemployed homeless are part of the same working-class and the impoverished surplus population and have nothing economically in common with American capitalists.
On what rational basis could Jesse Jackson conclude that Howard Hughes and the Rockefellers are "in the same boat" with Black exploited workers and homeless Blacks sleeping in filthy alleys? Instead of an economic and political analysis, at his campaign stops and at the Democratic Party Convention, Jackson mealy-mouthed emotional rants comprised of out-of-poverty stories—"My dad was a share-cropper" and slogans completely void of political content—"Keep hope alive" and metaphorical anecdotal stories about how his grandma stitched quilts together with patches of different colors.
At the Democratic Convention, Jackson’s apologetic sermon appealed to Jews for forgiveness for his "Hymietown” remark, sloganeered about rainbows, and biblically referenced our preciousness in “God’s sight"—all these remarks were devoid of the oppressive political reality of black workers and America’s poor. Jackson abandoned working class needs for his primary Democratic responsibility, namely, to instruct his Convention "delegates" to support the Democratic Party candidate, Walter Mondale.
What we see playing out today, in the Presidential campaigns, both of Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, is the refinement by the Democrats of the Jesse Jackson strategy of bringing alienated Democrats back into the fold, and attract "progressives" to the Democratic Party. They know that they have no chance of winning.
The Democratic Party's 2003-4 Black strategy is to have Al Sharpton and/or Carol Mosely-Brawn to attract disaffected Black voters and women and to use Kucinich against Nader, or whomsoever the Greens select as their nominee to the Presidency.
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