On November 6, the electoral circus in the United States ended with the reelection of outgoing President Barack Obama, who defeated his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. While most of the American and Canadian left applauds his reelection, the question remains as to what will this really change? Is having the Democrats at the head of the United States of America really a good deal for the masses?
The two main presidential candidates certainly had different rhetorics. Mitt Romney appeared as a defender of ultraconservative ideas from the religious right, including a strong opposition to abortion rights. Romney symbolized the old myth of the “self-made man” and called for “individual initiative” and “less government.” As for Obama, he appeared as a little more committed to the ideals of the New Deal in terms of social policy. He wants to put some balm on the heinous suffering caused by capitalism. But in the end, Obama is also committed to defending the US bourgeoisie, and he never really defended the working class. Due to Obama’s disinterest in reigning in capitalist greed, poverty has actually increased in the last four years in the U.S.
In the United States as anywhere else, capitalism is more than a “bad government.” It is a whole oppressive system that also relies on an army and a heavy administrative bureaucracy. This is why even if they adopt different rhetorics, Romney and Obama’s policies are not so different in practice, both in terms of economic and foreign policy. There is no difference between them in regard to the war in Afghanistan or the air strikes that keep killing civilians in Pakistan and Somalia. Both spent billions on their campaign, and Obama continues to increase military spending, even though America has the largest army in the world and many Americans can’t afford good heatlh care or good food.
Obama’s attempts to reform Medicare were stalled —not only because the Republicans control the House of Representatives, but also because Obama is not interested in seriously improving the lives of the poor. The two parties share a common goal: that is to defend the interests of the big imperialist bourgeoisie in the context of a decline of the American Empire.
So will Obama’s reelection give something to the proletarian and the oppressed masses? Absolutely not. The impoverishment of the masses will probably be sugar-coated (Romney’s election might have actually led the Liberals and the official “left” to raise the barricades and fight back).
But the masses do understand what is really going on: the abstention rate of nearly 40% demonstrates that voting for one or the other does not even give the hope of a change for the poorest among us. As long as the masses won’t organize themselves to overthrowing the whole rotten system, capitalism will continue to fill the pockets of the minority who exploit the workers, in the United States as elsewhere.