On Tuesday, November 2, a majority of Amerikans went to the polls to enjoy democracy at home in the form of elections allowing them to choose which imperialist will rule the world for the next four years. Many called this the most hotly contested presidential race, and no wonder, with the candidates so similar on virtually every issue, it was a tough choice for the Amerikan people. But in reality, the President is just a representative of the ruling class in Amerika, and it doesn't matter which representative wins: Amerikan imperialism will go on exploiting and oppressing people around the world.
With a huge "get out the vote" campaign, this election included the "Vote or Die" slogan initiated by P. Diddy, and endorsed by plenty of celebrities including 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Jay-Z. This slogan, targeting young people, is an insult to the thousands of people dying every day at the hands of Amerikan imperialism, led by the Amerikan president elected by the Amerikan public every four years. A better slogan for the Amerikan people would be "Vote and watch people die around the world so you can enjoy cheap gas and clothing, and the other spoils of war." Voting for which imperialist will rule the world is not a form of activism, it is a decision to concede to the imperialists that they will rule. We at MIM chose to fight back against the imperialists every way we can.
On election day Bay Area MIM and RAIL activists set up our usual weekly literature table outside a subway station to collect petition signatures to shut down the prison Security Housing Units (SHU). This week we also put up some anti-imperialist-elections posters. Locally we have been campaigning against the imperialist elections, arguing that people should not waste their time choosing between imperialist candidates but instead should be organizing to overthrow imperialism.
An ISO (International Socialist Organization) activist showed up to hand out flyers promoting Nader for President with a quote from Eugene Debs about it being better to fight for something you believe in and lose than not fight at all. When questioned about whether this quote was really true for the ISO, given that Nader is openly pro-capitalist, the ISO activist said he definitely would be happy to see a capitalist as President.
This is a good admission from the ISO: they really are just fighting for a re-distribution of the superprofit pie among Amerikan citizens. The Amerikans steal the superprofits from the Third World, a natural result of capitalism which exists as a system where some people profit at the expense of the majority of the world's people. In Amerika, where the imperialists share superprofits with the large middle class (petty bourgeoisie), people have a material interest in seeing this capitalist system continue. We would like to propose that the ISO change names, so as not to confuse people any longer, to the International Capitalist Organization, to better represent the goals of their organization. ( The ISO is descended from a variant of Trotskyism and a leader who joined the Cold War, just as Irving Kristol and many other neo-conservatives are Trotskyists or neo-Trotskyists and advise the like of Wolfowitz in the Pentagon.)
In the Bay Area, the Anybody But Bush (ABB) organizing was very vocal. After the election results, many people talked about defecting to Canada, as if a victory for Bush suggested that the country was wildly different than it would be under a Kerry presidency. The ABB folks turned a blind eye to Kerry's record and policies, which were as staunchly pro-invasion, pro-police state, militarist and imperialist as Bush's.
Some more politically aware activists still succumbed to the "we must get Bush out" arguments. One such person wrote to us: "One could argue that it is thus all the _more_ critical for progressives who currently have not been illegally/unconstitutionally denied the right to vote to 'get out their votes' in numbers that swamp out the votes of the half of this country that doesn't care about justice, thus supporting the interests--at least in the long run--of the disenfranchised.
"My mother is (to some degree) dismayed that I voted for Ralph Nader just now, on the off chance (Mom, what are the odds?) that California could swing over to Bush. The Don't Vote message would seem _potentially_ to become far more blameworthy for a Bush reelection than people voting for superior third-party candidates.
"But, all of what I said is, of course, on the level of what elections can (and can NOT) achieve, and in that sense I support your perspective completely. Thus, I am a very conflicted political individual right now!!!"
Obviously this persyn understands MIM's argument that elections are not a forum to effectively fight imperialism right now, but still doesn't agree with MIM that a vote for Nader is a vote for capitalism, not a vote against the imperialist system. In reality more than half the country turned out on election day to support imperialism. Record turn out voted in overwhelming numbers for the Bush/Kerry ticket, with independent candidates (including Nader) getting very few votes. Not everyone who voted for Kerry is pro-imperialist, there are some anti-imperialists who were persuaded to vote to get Bush out, but the tremendous participation in the election is indeed an endorsement of so-called Amerikan democracy.
The day after the election Not in Our Name called for an anti-war protest in downtown San Francisco. The crowd of several thousand had a strong anti-Bush current with many chanting "Fuck Bush" and carrying anti-Bush signs including one which read: "November 2, 2004 was a very bad day."
November 2 was a bad day for the Iraqis, Amerikans killed or forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing Amerikan invasion. It was a bad day for the Afghan people learning the results of their imperialist-imposed October election that put into place another imperialist puppet. It was a bad day for Palestinians under attack by Amerikan-backed Israeli military forces. And it was a bad day for California prisoners who learned that the proposition to reduce the scope of the state's Three Strikes law that seemed certain to win was defeated after a last minute media blitz of lies and distortions from Governor Schwarzenegger. But November 2 would not have been a better day if Kerry won the presidential election in Amerika, putting a new face on Amerikan imperialism.
In fact this rally suggests that the Bush victory may serve to polarize and energize more activists as it is not clear the anti-Bush crowd would have turned out for the rally if Kerry had won. Bush certainly has polarized the imperialist powers of the world, and we can only hope that he will continue with four more years of the same, fueling greater inter-imperialist rivalry and possibly providing the Third World liberation struggles some greater room to fight back.
When Kerry conceded the election to Bush he called for unity among Amerikans. MIM calls for disunity, defectors to the anti-imperialist camp. Join MIM in recognizing that for the majority of the world's people the outcome of the Amerikan imperialist elections always means four more years of the same murderous system of imperialism.