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 workers.
When 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 Communist.”
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 issues.
Writer 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 presidency.
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.
Source: Socialist Appeal