Playing the Lesser Evil Game to the Hilt

Hopefully, readers will allow this writer the luxury of just one little conspiracy theory. I have written that the now-disappeared Bernie Sanders Clinton sheepherder was a put up job aimed at bolstering the image of the flagging Democratic Party at a time when revulsion against Wall Street politics stands at an all time high. But what about Donald Trump? Could he be a Democratic Party sheepherder as well? Could we be witness to a first time doubly whammy, wherein the Wall Street magnates play both ends against the middle? Could Trump be the ruling class’s lesser evil game played to the hilt? Could he be capitalism’s insurance policy that their chosen representative, Clinton, can’t lose?

In the muck and mire of U.S. politics “lesser evilism” has always been employed to describe the “extremely evil” candidates of the Republican Party. Recall Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater or the Bush family candidates, or Republican right-wingers Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich. Very evil men to be sure! All warmongers, mostly racist, anti-union, witch hunters, anti-immigrant, some (like Buchanan) even flirting with more overt neo-fascist and anti-Semitic rhetorical outbursts. With regard to all these rightwingers, sometimes called “fascists,” or “neo-fascists,” or “wannabe fascists,” liberals and many progressives sternly warned that we had to vote Democrat to keep them from running the country. They invariably and dutifully marched in line, or better, rushed to the front of the line to support capitalism’s latest “lesser evils,” sometimes vehemently denouncing all who refused to tow the line.

The liberals’ “lesser evils” included the 1960 Kennedy/Johnson ticket, with the millionaire cum billionaire JFK clan of Papa Joseph Kennedy Sr., the eighth richest man in the country, backing his son John F. Kennedy. Kennedy Sr.’s resume included service in the FDR administration as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, from which position he had to be recalled because of his steadfast preference for Hitler, with whom he tried to organize personal and unapproved meetings while Hitler was slaughtering Jews and bombing British cities. Said Kennedy Sr. at the time, “Democracy is finished in England. It may be here” (Boston Globe, Nov. 10, 1940).

JFK’s running mate was LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson), the Texas segregationist who was added to the Northern Democratic Party-led slate to balance JFK’s liberal image with one more familiar to the racist Democrats in the Southern states, almost all of whose top elected officials were KKK and White Citizens Council supporters. But again, they were also and always touted as the lesser evil to the Republicans. And, indeed, on paper, they were. Kennedy was a civil rights advocate and defender of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Johnson was a former FDR new dealer.

Next came the 1964 LBJ vs. Barry Goldwater election context, when liberals were told that they had to vote for LBJ because Goldwater was a fascist who threatened to use nuclear weapons. LBJ, whose pre-election promise was that “American boys would never be sent to Vietnam,” proceeded to send over and maintain, on average, 500,000 troops per year to pursue the U.S. genocidal war that killed four million Vietnamese and 58,000 American young men. But Johnson too was recast as liberal civil rights crusader, with the 1964 Civil Rights Act to his credit, leaving aside the truth that it was the massive civil rights movement that forced racist apartheid America to make the necessary adjustments.

Then we were told that the lesser evil cause required a vote for Southern segregationist stock like Jimmy Carter (Georgia) and Al Gore (Tennessee). Carter’s Southern racist deeds were recast in a liberal small farmer image. He was perhaps the last holdout, almost to the end, urging the disgraced President Nixon to never resign over the Watergate scandal. Carter, a member of a segregated church, was elected to a local school board where he bussed white kids past segregated Black schools to avoid the embarrassment of having them walk by.

In all these cases and others, when it came to running the country, election time rhetoric aside, the twin parties of capitalism followed their ruling-class one-percent patrons in implementing whatever the multi-billionaires and near-trillionaires desired. Such is the case under the reign of the Great Deporter, warmonger, world’s leading shale gas fracker, and National Security State top dog, President Obama, who oversees the all-pervasive government surveillance monstrosity. But Obama too, is cast as a liberal soft-spoken humanist.

Clinton’s reactionary record

With this in mind, let us return to Hillary Clinton. Her record as a warmonger is undisputed, having been among the top leaders of the central government agencies and institutions that approve, if not administer, all the wars waged by imperialist America in recent years and decades. These include overt and covert wars, privatized death-squad wars, sanction and embargo wars, and all the Middle East wars as well as the secret wars waged in Latin and Central America. Clinton’s role in the military coup that removed the elected president in Honduras, and her support for the U.S.-backed Egyptian military coup that removed the elected president of that country were par for the imperialist course.

On the critical issues of racism, prisons, and the police, Clinton’s record of support to most of the major racist laws proposed and implemented by the Democrat Party ranks her as high as any Republican. Clinton’s record includes support to each and every reactionary and bipartisan law, from those that aimed at filling the prisons with Blacks and Latinos to work at near slave labor “wages” (the average prison wage in the U.S. is 50 cents per hour) to the elimination of “welfare as we know it” legislation proposed and implemented by Bill Clinton.

Clinton lobbied for passage of the notorious Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1994. Addressing the “Women in Policing” awards that year, she lauded the act, arguing for more police, more prisons, and tougher prison sentences: “We will be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat, violent, criminal offenders—three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back through the revolving door.”

Hillary Clinton has never disassociated herself from support to AEDPA (Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act), a bipartisan law signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, which gutted basic civil liberties and obliterated the historic presumption of innocence that previously guided, or was supposed to guide, all legal proceedings. The AEDPA, for the first time in the modern era, compelled federal judges to grant a “presumption of correctness” to the factual findings of state court judges in death penalty and related cases.
The law was enacted because, prior to it, a full 40 percent of state court convictions in murder cases were reversed on appeal to federal courts, usually based on findings of police and prosecution planting of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, outright corruption, racist practices, and more. Today, the new law requires that in appeal proceedings the “facts” used by racist state courts must be presumed to be correct.

Today, few doubt that Hillary Clinton is the ruling class/Wall Street candidate that has dutifully served a capitalist class in major crisis due to the inherent contradictions in this profit over people inhumane capitalist system, itself. Clinton’s near historic high negative approval ratings are close Trump’s. That’s why the ruling class decided to give Bernie Sanders a shot at sheepherding the unwary and questioning back into the Democratic Party fold, Sanders “political revolution” and “socialist” proclamations notwithstanding.

Inevitably, when the dust cleared, Sanders, dutifully leaped on board the Clinton bandwagon. His Democratic Party convention speech pathetically burnished Clinton’s standing by attributing his own “left-sounding” rhetoric and platform promises to Clinton, as if she had adopted them. The same with “left-wing” Democrat and former Republican, Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the liberal apologists for capitalism. For both of them, their criticism of Clinton as Wall Street’s nominee evaporated instantly after their sheepherding assignment was completed.

Clinton’s “credentials”

Let’s be frank here. Hillary Clinton has supported every key ruling-class policy during her lifetime of “service” to capitalist America’s chiefs. She is and has always been the compliant ruling-class and Council on Foreign Relations think tank-approved choice. And then there is Donald Trump, whose daily reactionary moronics surpass all his predecessors, no matter how much his handlers and the Republican hierarchy plead with him to recast his image. Yet these vain efforts have all come to naught. It is as if today’s media pundits believe that the American people are not only lacking in long-term memory but short-term memory as well – as if yesterday’s hysterical rants can be obliterated with a new, perhaps slightly less offending speech tomorrow! Yes, Trump presses on almost as if his conscious objective is to drive down his poll ratings to make sure that his are lower than Clinton’s. A recent collection of some dozen poll ratings has Clinton ahead on average by 47 percent to Trump’s 40.

And Clinton’s lesser evil credentials today?—the reasons daily put forward by her kept corporate media pundits and paid advocates?

Could it be that she today pontificates, as opposed to yesterday, that she is for free state college and university tuition? Or that she is for improving the very health-care system that she previously tried to gut when she headed her husband’s corrupt and failed 1992 attempted health-care revision? (See “Clinton’s Health Care Fraud: A corporate cure at workers’ expense,” 1993, by this author.) Or maybe that she is supported by Michelle Obama and a host of other African-American apologists for racist capitalism?
Indeed, Clinton’s most precious “credential” is that she is running against a man who verbalizes what Clinton has actually put into practice. In this regard, rarely a day passes when the front page of The New York Times, and multiple inside pages as well, coupled with related corporate liberal media propagandists across the country, bash Trump with abandon, while trumpeting Clinton’s sanity and earnestness.

Trump’s racist, sexist, misogynist, and xenophobic remarks about women, Blacks, immigrants and Muslims, his alleged draft-dodging, his spurious gambling casino bankruptcies, his rip-off real estate university scams, his advocacy of violence against protesters, his claims that he can re-negotiate ruling-class trade pacts by making better “deals,” his delays in repudiating support from open racists and neo-fascists like former Klan leader David Duke, his climate crisis denials, etc. are exposed for all to see. Clinton’s record is essentially ignored while her poll-watching advisers caution her to apologize for past transgressions and pledge fealty to a better future performance.

One “important difference” between Clinton and Trump is that Clinton listens to her pollster advisers and appears to be a relatively enlightened person, in fact, making a habit of nodding agreement with Sanders’ “progressive” rhetoric, while the bombastic Trump, almost as if he has gleefully accepted the assignment to lose the election, is presented as a man who almost literally seeks out new bear traps to stick his foot in.

Perhaps to the credit of the American people or in homage to their refrain from participating in this year’s election fraud, close to half of the eligible voters decline to register, and another half of those who do resister don’t vote. It appears that this year’s figures might provide evidence of an even greater disgust with what is posited as “American democracy.”
Clinton’s latest campaign effort, supported by Obama, is the accusation or suggestion that a unstable or volatile president like Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, might just start a nuclear war that could destroy the world. Most media pundits neglect to “research” the facts that demonstrate that almost all U.S. wars, including the atomic bombing of Japan, were conducted under the “sane” Democratic Party president’s auspices.

In this periodically orchestrated election-time charade, Donald Trump says what Hillary Clinton does. But the blood of millions, the misery of millions, the lives of millions, are on Clinton’s hands and all her capitalist associates. There are no pure hearts in ruling-class circles.

And, to be absolutely clear, should Trump be elected, he can be expected to be the same servant for capitalist America, no less and no more, because like all “elected” officials, he will become the willing prisoner of the real policy makers in the U.S., the elite .01 or less who decide how best to advance their interests and not their elected mouthpieces, whether their tongues are tempered and polite like Clinton’s or brutally ugly like Trump’s.

In the U.S. today the ruling rich face no immediate and serious obstacles to the relatively smooth functioning of their system. They have gone to great lengths to establish formidable firewalls to absorb social discontent, beginning with the Democratic Party and including the present often corrupt labor bureaucracy and an unprecedented number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). All these consciously function to channel discontent into safe ruling-class politics and many other well-established institutions aimed at thwarting the development of independent and anti-capitalist organization of the working class to fight for its own interests.

In politics, in capitalist elections in particular, the constant refinement and pursuit of “lesser evilism” is among the most powerful and well-honed ruling-class instruments, promoted by tens of thousands of professional media pundits, newspapers, television and radio shows, and the vast educational system itself. With regard to all of these, the objective is to drill into the heads of the vast majority that they live in a democratic society where an elected government operating under the rule of law and all its institutions treat all equally.

Today, this fundamental myth is under scrutiny as never before, with the growing majority coming to realize from their direct experiences that they live in a society governed by the one percent and that Wall Street, the major symbol of this one percent, (actually closer to .01 percent or less) makes most of society’s critical decisions. Increasing majorities have come to understand that this one percent essentially pays no taxes, steals some 90 percent, (according to the official statistics today) of all new wealth and otherwise organizes society to advance its own interests against all others.

The same one percent organizes wars for profit and plunder around the world that today the great majority oppose. And this same one percent presides over a society where institutional racism in all its manifestations, is the real “rule of law” and where the rapidly approaching horrors with regard to global warming proceed unchecked because capitalists profit from the continued, if not increased use of fossil fuels, no matter the cost to life on earth itself.

Today’s intentionally lopsided election contest is evidence that the ruling rich are nervous about the future and especially wary that the ever-deepening social discontent will find expression in the electoral arena and in the streets as independent, anti-capitalist organizations of the working class and its allies among all the oppressed emerge to challenge injustice in all its forms, including the predatory system itself. This will include the formation of working class organized and controlled parties based on new as well as re-invigorated fighting trade unions and a concurrent rise in the growth, vitality and influence of the revolutionary socialist left.

To prepare for this emerging radicalization in consciousness and organization Clinton and Trump, in the name of “national security” see the need to put in place the future instruments of mass repression for when they are deemed necessary. This includes the massive government surveillance operations that reach into every household in the country and beyond. Both capitalist parties foster the militarization of the police, the National Guard, and other repressive institutions, to ready them for action should the ruling class feel threatened by an insurgent working-class opposition.

Contrary to their belief and expectation a truly massive fightback can be defeated by brute force and massive repression, history has demonstrated that the opposite outcome is the more likely.

When tens of millions—the vast majority—reach the point when they can no longer tolerate capitalist injustice, exploitation and oppression, the 99 percent can and will prevail and usher in a new social order.
American citizens and their non-citizen allies have two revolutions to their credit to date—the revolutionary war that ended British colonial rule and the civil war that ended chattel slavery. Both of these momentous battles nevertheless left behind the institutionalization of minority capitalist rule.

Today, capitalism’s gravediggers constitute the 99 percent. Their conscious organization and education now, and in the course of struggle, will bring forth a mighty power fully capable of bringing into being a socialist society that will change the face of the earth and free its peoples from the horrors of the present crisis ridden and predatory system.

Jeff Mackler is a staffwriter for Socialist Action. He can be reached at  socialist