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News ::
13 Oct 2003
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 16, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


The masses of workers have little to gain through the process of
capitalist elections, no matter how "free" and "fair" they may appear to be. The latest spectacle in California did nothing to put a dent in that rule.

Although it is obvious, it must be stated again and again: Money
dominates bourgeois elections. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who comes across
as the champion of the underdog in his action movies, has amassed a
fortune of half a billion dollars that lets him hobnob with the real
ruling class. His ability to afford millions of dollars of television
ads and his long history of being a fund-raiser for the Republican Party instantly made the media treat this screen celebrity as one of the very few "major" candidates for governor in a field of 135--even though he barely put forward a political program.

He argued that his personal wealth insulates him from "special
interests." It doesn't work that way. For example, it's an unspoken
requirement of membership in the U.S. Senate to be at least a
millionaire. And that's who passes all the reactionary laws giving tax
breaks to the rich, giveaways to the oil, gas and timber interests, and fat contracts to the military-industrial-banking complex, while putting leg-irons on workers' efforts to unionize.

Capitalist politics is really not that different from the world in which Schwarzenegger has worked. In front of the cameras, a carefully scripted fantasy is acted out. Its almost universal message is to rely on the superhero, whether he be a Terminator II or a president or a governor, to rout the bad guys and protect the people, who are presented as weak and unable to organize in their own defense.

Gray Davis, the ousted Democratic governor, was no superhero. He was
flabby and weak when it came to fighting the rapacious energy companies that stole billions from the state during the manufactured electricity crisis of two years ago. The current state budget crisis, which led to this unprecedented recall vote, can be traced directly to that and the many other ways in which the corporate thieves milked the public treasury to boost their profits in a period of market stagnation.

The energy crisis was a perfect opportunity to educate the people on the predatory nature of monopoly capitalism. But that's not a role the
Democratic Party wanted to take on, since it too is 150-percent
committed to this profit system. Nor did it want to arouse the people to the drastic situation facing them and urge them to mobilize against the corporate raiders.

That left the field open for a politically ambiguous and ambitious
figure like Schwarzenegger, with his strongman image. He played to the
whole house, Republicans and Democrats--taking a "liberal" stance on gay rights and abortion but opposing rights for the undocumented and having a history of support for the "English first" forces.

The election did not represent some broad sweep to the right among the
voters, as could be seen by the strong defeat of Proposition 54--the so-called "racial privacy" initiative sponsored by the right wing and
intended to weaken affirmative action.

Many organizations representing women, unions, environmentalists and
other progressive forces put hard-earned money into the campaign against the recall and for the Democratic Party. It's down the drain now. It would have been much better spent fighting on the issues.

The whole country is now heading into another electoral marathon. More
fantasy scripts will be acted out in front of the public. The movements for social progress will be under great pressure to become a tail to the kite of whoever gets the Democratic Party nomination.

It's a pressure that should be resisted. The place for the workers and
all progressives is in the direct struggle, not in the shadow play that passes in this country for politics.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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