The Obama-McCain debate: Right-wing politicians agree on bailout and militarism

Original article, by Patrick Martin, via World Socialist Web Site:

Friday night’s presidential election debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain demonstrated that there is no choice in the 2008 presidential election within the confines of the official two-party system. Two candidates stood facing each other, espousing nearly identical positions in defense of Wall Street and American militarism which would, in any other country in the world, immediately identify them as representatives of the ultra-right.

It won’t be said enough: The Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the duoparty of the corporate/financial/miliarists. Anyone who says they’re ‘progressive’ or of the Left should flee the Democrats. Until that happens, ‘progressives’ and the Left will be walked over by the national Democratic party.

Both agreed that all possible resources must be mobilized to prop up Wall Street, regardless of the cost to working people. Obama declared, “We have to move swiftly and we have to move wisely,” although he did not explain why speed was required to save the banks and speculators, but not to stop foreclosures, layoffs and the destruction of working class living standards.

Both national parties, and their candidates for President, are in the pocket of the bosses. Anyone who claims to support the poor, working and middle classes should flee both parties. Those parties are interested in only two things: Money and power.

McCain praised the bailout talks in Washington, saying, “We are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we’re in.”

Amazingly, this bipartisan putsch is a move to save the financial elite. Should we be surprised? Does a bear s&%t in the woods?

Two days earlier, President Bush went on national television, to all but declare the bankruptcy of American capitalism, warning of an “imminent collapse” of investment banks, “the gears of the American financial system … grinding to a halt,” “a financial panic” and “a long and painful recession.”

Obama and McCain presented no such dire picture, and evaded answering the question of what impact the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street would have on their future policies should they win the election. The discussion of the financial crisis, which occupied the first half of the debate, seemed intended more to put the audience to sleep than to define the candidates’ positions.

The failure of neoliberalism should be no surprise. It has left a wake of devastated lives wherever it has reared it’s ugly head. The frightening thing is that both national parties are wedded to neoliberalism. They only care for the vast majority of Americans as spigots of cash.

On foreign policy, both candidates agreed that American imperialism has the right to deploy its military forces worldwide, attacking and invading whatever country the “commander-in-chief” deems necessary. Obama said that the lesson of Iraq was “we should never hesitate to use military force, and I will not, as president, in order to keep the American people safe, never hesitate to use military force.”

If you are anti-war, and especially if you’re a Democrat, this should make you shudder. It says that Obama is part of the war party. It says that there will be much more innocent blood shed in your name during an Obama administration. It says the Bush doctrine of preemptive war will stay in place.

The two candidates clashed mainly over which countries should be targeted for American aggression, with Obama favoring Afghanistan and Pakistan, while McCain remained focused on Iraq. Both threatened Iran and Russia. The Washington Post noted the consensus on foreign policy approvingly in an editorial published Saturday, declaring, “Barack Obama and John McCain don’t differ as much as they may lead voters to believe.”

Warmongers the both of them. Period. Add Biden or Palin to the mix and you have a truly frightening view of our future.

The most notable feature of the debate was the extent which Obama, marketed as the proponent of “change,” declared his agreement with McCain. After an extraordinary week of upheavals in the financial markets, Obama had every opportunity to go on the offensive against his Republican opponent. Instead, he repeatedly declared McCain was “absolutely right” on one point or another-a statement that recurred 11 times in the course of the debate.

Let’s be honest, if Obama agreed with McCain even once he shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee. Instead, the Democrats have their Republican Lite. The bosses couldn’t be happier.

Obama thus acknowledged that he and McCain share a common framework, which is the defense of the interests of the American ruling class, both at home and abroad. If he had been debating a socialist candidate, he would have had no agreement on anything.

American capitalism and militarism uber alles. We may well, later today, be in hock for at least $700 billion (on top of that money spent on AIG, Fannie, Freddy and Bear Stearnes) to save our dying capitalist system. We already know that the Defense Department is awash in taxpayer cash. On the economic and financial fronts, do you feel any safer?

There are two interpretations for Obama’s behavior: First, a considerable degree of political cowardice in the face of McCain’s strident defense of militarism and big business. Obama seemed abashed, and allowed McCain to interrupt him almost at will.

But given the highly contrived and orchestrated character of presidential election debates, it is likely as well that Obama was following a script-and there were reports that the Democratic campaign made a deliberate decision to include statements of agreement with McCain at regular intervals to present Obama as a seeker of bipartisan consensus.

Leadership? Maybe, but it’s a bad form of leadership. ‘Hope’ and ‘change?’ The only change is that it won’t be W overseeing the collapse of our society.

This is more than a matter of electoral tactics, but expresses the fundamental character of the Democratic Party, an imperialist party of big business that nonetheless is assigned the role, in the American political system, of appealing to working people, minorities and the oppressed in general.

Much the same as with Labour in Great Britain, the Dems have abandoned any pretense of being for the ‘little guy.’ There’s little profit to be made from backing the poor, working and middle classes. The real profit is to be made by backing the bosses.

This is what gives the declarations of leading Democrats such a half-hearted, tongue-tied character. Obama & Co. are always tripping over their own internal contradictions, as they seek to posture as the “people’s party” while reassuring the ruling elite as a whole and making conciliatory gestures to the ultra-right.

The contradictions are, in effect, lies. They’re triangulation at it’s worst. They’re evidence that only the bosses won’t get walked over. They’re now what serves as the heart and soul of the national Democratic party.

Obama does not represent an alternative to the right-wing program of the American ruling elite, but rather a cosmetic change to permit this program to be continued and even escalated. An alternative to the policies of imperialist war, economic austerity and attacks on democratic rights will only come from below, from the political mobilization of working people, independently of and against the two-party system, and on the basis of a socialist program.

You may disagree with the socialist program as an answer, but there can be no doubt that the Dems are in the pockets of the bosses. Keep this in mind as you head to the voting booth in November. There are alternatives available.

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3 comments

    • Shahryar on September 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    as I’ve said to my lovely wife many times, Dems will take your wallet, Repubs will kill you. Dems might kill you too, but it would be an accident.

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