- Created: Wednesday, 19 October 2016 14:25
- Written by Steve Palmer
The primary elections are over, the party conventions have finished. Now the two main contenders, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are facing off in the Presidential race proper, leading up to election day in November. Steve Palmer reports.
Cynics often repeat the jibe that the US ‘has the finest democracy money can buy’. Both candidates are buying big. By the end of August, Clinton had raised $795m while Trump had raised $403.1m, and the cycle of fundraisers continues apace, lubricating the election process, squeezing out third-party candidates and buying influence with the future President.
Both candidates are millionaires individually, yet, hypocritically, both claim to be defending US workers’ jobs and wages, though Clinton has long supported and promoted globalisation and Trump has a history of exploiting cheap labour and opposing labour organising in his hotel chain.
Both are completely untrustworthy – for example Clinton has dissembled about the scandal of her emails (she broke security protocol by using a non-governmental account, hosted on a server at her home, while Secretary of State), and Trump has refused to release his tax records. Both are thorough-going imperialists: both candidates met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his recent visit to New York who announced on his return that ‘It doesn't matter which of them will be elected, the support for Israel will remain strong, the alliance will remain strong’. The only real difference is that you can choose whether you prefer their racism to be subtle or blatant.
We have experienced the first of the election debates. These are organised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which sounds very official. In fact, the Commission was devised in a dirty compromise between Republicans and Democrats to control the elections and keep out any third-party challenge unless they poll more than 15%. So alternative candidates such as the Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green’s Jill Stein are shut out, and voters kept ignorant of their policies and programmes, perpetuating the status quo. In addition they get thousands of hours of free television and media coverage to spew their lies and false promises.
The most oppressed workers – black people, Latinos and poorer white workers are shut out of the actual electoral system by discriminatory measures, such as requiring advance registration, or because they have been incarcerated. This privileging of the two parties is called ‘democracy’!
There is no doubt that the US ruling class prefers Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump as President – when Clinton was deemed to have ‘won’ the first debate between the candidates, markets bounced upwards. This is reflected in the media coverage, which is broadly pro-Clinton and recoils in shock and disgust at the latest Trumpism. However, it is the electorate that will decide and, at least up until the first debate, Trump was in close contention with Clinton. Predicting the winner of the election from national polls would be a risky undertaking, because the President is not elected directly by the popular vote, but by an ‘electoral college’, with its members – ‘electors’ – chosen on a State by State basis. Some States’ choices are predictable – for example, California, which has a strong majority of Democratic voters, will undoubtedly go to Clinton. Almost all States choose their electors on a winner-takes-all basis, so in California Clinton will get 55 pro-Democratic electors, despite a sizeable Republican minority vote.
About a dozen States are ‘swing’ or ‘battleground’ States, where the outcome is too close to call in advance and will be decided on election day. In turn, within these States, some counties are more predictable than others. Both campaigns will focus attention on these key States and counties, in the hope of swinging these States their way.
Plenty can happen between now and the 8 November polling day to swing voters in either direction. There are further debates scheduled between the candidates, the possibility of one Trumpism too far, while the State Department is set to release thousands of Clinton’s emails less than a week before election day, so this election campaign is set to run until the very last minute. Yet the contest is phoney, since both candidates are totally committed to capitalism and imperialism and are anti-working class and racist. Once again the choice is ‘Pepsi’ versus ‘Coke’ – no choice at all.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 253 October/November 2016