Do the Democrats offer real change?

Ohhhhhh. I’m so excited to share this article with you. It came to me in response to a question I proposed. The question: “What do you think about Obama and Clinton sharing a ticket?”I read the email, I read the following article and then I realized I’m tottering dangerously on a see-saw of my own complacency and maximum discontent.


Do the Democrats offer real change?   
Friday, January 18, 2008
By: Richard Becker

Not for workers and oppressed people. “Change” has become the buzzword of the seemingly endless 2008 presidential primary election campaign, especially among the Democrats.Having been historically locked out of positions of political authority, the African American community, women and all those who are sick and tired of the existing racist and sexist status quo will be excited about the prospect of having an African American or woman as president.

This is an important subtext of the 2008 presidential campaign.
George W. Bush and the right-wing Republicans are also aware of this phenomenon. This was the basis for the selection of Colin Powell as secretary of state and Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor in Bush’s first term, and the selection of Rice as secretary of state in Bush’s second term.

The Bush administration always asserted that it had more representation from women and the African American community than any previous administration. But the record proves that the nationality or gender of officials does not determine their policy. For working people, the imperialist and pro-corporate orientation of the Bush administration was most decisive.

Now, frontrunners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards each are seeking to represent themselves as new and different, a departure from the status quo. The reason for this is clear: The candidates and their pollsters have discovered the reality that tens of millions of people in the United States are fed up with the way things are going.

With the Republican candidates offering nothing but more of the same pro-rich, pro-war policies, many are placing their hopes on the Democrats to improve conditions for workers and to end the war on Iraq. The Democrats are also beholden to U.S. corporate interests.When it comes to foreign policy, the candidates’ records are even more revealing.

A glance at the foreign policy teams assembled by Clinton, Obama and Edwards indicates anything but “change.”

Hillary Clinton’s top advisors include Madeleine Albright, President Bill Clinton’s second-term secretary of state, and Samuel Berger, his national security advisor. Albright and Berger were involved centrally in maintaining the genocidal sanctions that killed more than one million Iraqis from 1990 to 2003. They also played key roles in the 1999 U.S.-NATO war against Yugoslavia. So, too, did Gen. Wesley Clark, another Hillary Clinton advisor. Clark was the chief military commander in the 1999 war.Martin Indyk, architect of the “dual containment” policy against both Iran and Iraq in the first Clinton administration is part of Hillary’s team. In U.S. foreign policy circles “containment” has been a code word for “destruction” for more than 60 years.Along with the better-known names, Clinton has a gaggle of former military officers advising her.

Barack Obama’s advisors include such infamous characters as Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and architect of the counterrevolutionary war against Afghanistan. Brzezinski described the U.S. machinations: “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. … The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War.” (La Nouvelle Observateur, Jan. 15-21, 1998)Also on the Obama team is Richard Clarke, “counter-terrorism czar” for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Dennis Ross, Clinton’s Middle East negotiator and now a fellow at the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy.Other top State Department officials from the Clinton administration working with Obama include Susan Rice and Sarah Sewall, both of whom are leading voices calling for U.S. intervention in Sudan.The foreign policy group of John Edwards includes fewer luminaries, but boasts of heavy Pentagon influence. Of Edwards’ 11 listed advisors, seven are former generals or admirals.

Not going to stop the war

One of the biggest issues in the campaign is the war in Iraq, which is opposed by more than 70 percent of the U.S. population according to public opinion polls. Correspondingly, all the Democratic candidates pay lip service to ending the war. In a fall 2007 campaign debate, however, their real positions were revealed.

Clinton, Obama and Edwards all refused to guarantee that they would remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term—2013.Why? The imperialist ruling class, as the leading Democrats and Republicans are well aware, has no intention of leaving Iraq. The largest embassy ever built in any country is now under construction in Baghdad. Fourteen permanent U.S. military bases are being built in Iraq.

Iraq is viewed by U.S. leaders as an incredibly valuable prize that they have conquered, and a key element in their strategy of global domination. They will not leave until they are forced out.On the one hand, they must appeal to majority sentiment by rhetorically calling for an end to the war. On the other hand, they must assure the ruling class that they will be trustworthy protectors of U.S. capitalism’s vital interests in the Middle East. Only dutiful managers for the capitalists can become presidents.

Not a ‘party of the people’   
The same concept is applied to all major issues in every election campaign. The Republicans openly represent the big money interests, while the Democrats pose as the “party of the people.” But it is all a scam, an exercise in dishonesty and deception.

At the leadership level, both the Democrats and Republicans represent the ruling rich. Both represent the interest of empire.

Corporate America fully appreciates that fact.
A 2007 study by the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that the top 10 corporate campaign contributors are giving more money to Democrats than Republicans. Goldman Sachs, a major Wall Street firm, donated 71 percent of its money this year to the Democrats.

Among Hillary Clinton’s top 20 contributors are Citigroup, Viacom, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Ken Starr’s former law firm Kirkland & Ellis, and major subprime lender Bear Stearns.

Obama’s list includes Goldman Sachs and Lehman brothers. Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gets 62.5 percent of her money from business Political Action Committees.

Throughout history, it has not been the government that has created the political climate for major social changes.

From the labor movement to the women’s movement, to the civil rights and Black liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s, substantial gains have been won by struggles from below. The mass movements created a situation in which many politicians were forced to grant concessions to alleviate social pressure.This is especially true of the Vietnam War—which was largely prosecuted by Democratic presidents. Real hope for the working class lies in building a powerful people’s movement—independent of the capitalist parties—that demands social change at home and stands in solidarity with those who are resisting imperialism abroad.

-Articles can be reprinted with credit to the Party for Socialism and Liberation–

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