Cynicism is a very useful tool for
those in power. Although it inherently expresses a sense of
dissatisfaction, it offers nothing as a way out. The charade of the
two-party system has done a lot of damage to American workers’
perception of politics in general, and created a situation where
cynicism and apparent apathy is widespread. What is needed in the US is
a party that represents working people. Such a party would go far in
combatting the cynical and apathetic attitudes of many toward politics,
as there would finally be a force led by workers in the interests of
Bill Maher, the comedian turned political commmentator, was recently
asked on CNN if he thought Sarah Palin has a future as a presidential
candidate he opined, “I don’t know about a presidential candidate, but
I would never put anything past this stupid country.” When angry
callers asked Maher to clarify what he meant by his statement they were
met with the curt response: “I don’t need to clarify, it is!”
Sadly Maher’s sentiment finds echoes among many who identify
themselves as “liberal” and “progressive.” Paradoxically it is a view
that is utterly reactionary, unscientific, and elitist to its core.
After all, like everyone else in the mainstream media, Bill is no
Marxist. As he once put it, “Of course Capitalism is good, I am not a
Cynicism is a very useful tool for those in power. Although it
inherently expresses a sense of dissatisfaction, it offers nothing as a
way out. The charade of the two-party system has done a lot of damage
to American workers’ perception of politics in general, and created a
situation where cynicism and apparent apathy is widespread. Just listen
to a little bit of the late, great, George Carlin and you’ll see just
how deep-rooted it has become.
The two-corporate-party setup in the US tends to churn up a lot of
political confusion. The lack of a fundamental difference between the
two parties reduces much of the political discussion to extremely petty
Gore Vidal expressed this quite well when he said: “We only have one
political party in the US, and that is the property party, which
essentially is corporate America, which has two right wings, one called
Republican and one called Democrat. I can’t say I like either of them.”
We couldn’t have said it better – no wonder most American workers are
alienated from politics!
When the elections roll around, the decision as to which politician
to support often boils down to their personality traits rather than
their platform. Incredibly, polls show that Americans have consistently
elected the presidential candidates that they would rather have a beer
with since Reagan. In the case of Sarah Palin this is all too true.
Being the first woman and “regular hockey mom” to come so close to the
Presidency, she is of serious symbolic importance to many women, who
rightly are disgusted by the glass ceiling for women under this system.
The same is true of Barack Obama. What he symbolizes for millions of
poor and working class Americans, and especially minorities, is
extraordinary and cannot be underestimated. If the mainstream narrative
is to be believed, his Presidency ushers in a “post-racial” era in US
politics. But has there really been any fundamental stray from the
policies of Bush? The fact is, despite the color of Obama’s skin, he
and the Democratic Party represent the very same people behind the Bush
One major reason for the current apathy is that millions of people
feel that they have nothing to vote “for.” After all, as Michael Moore
once put it, the lesser evil is still evil! Many people have given up
on simply voting “against” the “other” party.
What is needed in the US is a party that represents working people.
Such a party could be the political expression of the labor movement to
combat the attacks of both the Republicans and Democrats. Such a party
would go far in combatting the cynical and apathetic attitudes of many
toward politics, as there would finally be a force led by workers in
the interests of workers, particularly the most exploited sections of
society, minorities, immigrants and women.
What excuse would anyone have to be apathetic or cynical if such a
party existed? Of course, many mass labor parties around the world have
had time to develop a strong bureaucratic crust on top, which acts
against the interests of the workers they are supposed to represent,
but their power is increasingly being challenged by the rank and file.
An American mass party of Labor would be forged in flames that most
careerists and bureaucrats are terrified of, the flames of struggle!
A Labor Party would drastically change the dynamics of American
politics. American workers would quickly reclaim the militant
traditions of labor battles that once shook the country. This may seem
like ancient history to some, especially those like Bill Maher, but
history has a funny tendency of repeating itself on an even higher
level than before.
Folks like Bill Maher, while being astute commentarists on the
absurdities of the system, have no faith in or even the remotest
conception of the potential power of the working class to change
society. Once American workers have a mass political party of their
own, Maher and co. will have to find other things to joke about.