When social justice, peace or civil rights movements become massive in scale, and threaten to become uncontrollable and begin to win over large numbers of people, the Democratic Party begins to shift and presents itself as a supposed ally. Its goal is always to co-opt the movement, demobilize its forces and block its development into an alternative, independent political force.To rephrase this, a little more simply:
The Republican Party has historically acted as the open advocate for a platform which benefits the rule of wealth and corporate domination. They argue ideologically for policies benefiting the corporate rulers. The Republicans seek to convince the middle classes and labor to support the rule of the wealthy with the argument that "What's good for General Motors is good for the country," that what benefits corporations is also going to benefit regular people.
The Democratic Party is different. They act as a "broker" negotiating and selling influence among broad layers of the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. The Democratic Party's core group of elected officials is rooted in careerists seeking self-promotion by offering to the corporate rulers their ability to control and deliver mass support. And to the people they offer some concessions, modifications on the platform of the Republican Party. One important value of the Democratic Party to the corporate world is that it makes the Republican Party possible through the maintenance of the stability that is essential for "business as usual." It does this by preventing a genuine mass opposition from developing.
The job of the Democratic Party is to inspire hopes of progress, and the job of the Republican party is to dash them on the rocks of reactionism and greed. In this way the country can be trapped in an endless cycle of buildup and letdown, and still feel as if we're getting somewhere. It is a symbiotic process, each side feeding off the other to perpetuate both.
Will we elect a black or female President someday? Definitely. This year? Quite possibly. Will it be momentous? Significant? Historic? Of course.
Will it really change anything? No. But it gives us inspiration and hope, regardless, and makes us feel as if we're getting somewhere.
I grant you, this is a deeply cynical perspective. I grant you further that as a white male, I probably lack a proper understanding of the importance of this kind of symbolism to other groups, groups who historically have been more-universally fucked over by the ruling class.
I will also say that I would love to see Obama win, for no other reason than symbolism and to provide that kind of hope and inspiration, because I think that's what America should be about. (I'd love to see a woman elected for the same reason, although, in my opinion, Hillary's election would be a step backward as far as genuine progress goes.)
But I don't for a second believe that electing a black or female President will change anything, in a fundamental sense. It will not end racism or sexism -- it could, in fact, aggravate them. Not that the prospect of aggravating racists or sexists gives me any pause, but having something to organize against will certainly help their respective causes. Perhaps these demons do need to be lured out into the daylight before they can be laid to rest, but if that is the case, taking the White House will mark the beginning, not the end, of the struggle.
And once met, there is no guarantee that the battle will go the way progressives hope. Too many people benefit too much from fostering ethnic and cultural factionalism to just let it become just another ugly chapter in history. Reactionism and greed, remember, are always the other half of this equation.
And to be clear, the above is just a tiny chunk of the cynicism lodged within me as we march toward this election. To put it bluntly, with expectations built up so high, how will we handle the letdown?
I'm not referring merely to the possibility that Obama will lose, though that is a part; even if he wins -- building up hopes even higher -- there will come the inevitable pushback, the inevitable letdown, the inevitable realization that the forces arrayed against humanity have no intention of giving up that easily.