Two Sides of the Same Coin: US Democratic and Republican Parties

The United States, still the most powerful imperialist power in the world, will be holding its 57th presidential elections this November 2012 wherein the American people will once again choose which particular representatives from among its ruling classes shall oppress them in government.

I recently read the late Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the American Political Conventions of 1968 and it’s interesting how nothing much has changed since Mailer wrote his coverage of the events leading to the 1968 U.S. presidential elections.

Composed of coverage of the Republican convention in “Nixon and Miami, August 5-9,” and of the Democratic convention and the street protests around it in “The Siege of Chicago, August 26-29,” Mailer’s reportage provides sharp insights into American political culture.

Mailer’s description of the delegates of the 1968 Republican Party Convention in Miami is revealing of the strata really represented by this ultra-conservative party:

Exceptions noted, they were obviously in large part composed of a thousand of the wealthiest Republicans in the land, the corporate and social power of America was here in legions of interconnection he could not even begin to trace.

This includes:

The military power (to the extent that important sword-rattlers and/or patriots were among the company, as well as cadres of corporations not unmarried to the Pentagon, yes even the spiritual power of America (just so far as Puritanism, Calvinism, conservatism and golf still have the Wasp on American faith more intense than the faith of cosmopolitan, one-worlders, trade unionists, Black militants, New Leftists…

Of course, there’s not much difference with the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago which Mailer also describes as attended by some of the most corrupt politicians in the country. But then, as in now, the Republicans still took home the prize for their explicit faith in the Manifest Destiny:

They believed in America as they believed in God – they could not really ever expect that America might collapse and God yet survive, no, they had even gone so far as to think that America was the savior of the world, food and medicine by one hand, sword in the other, highest of high faith in a nation which would bow the knee before no problem.

The Republicans criticize a big government that threatens honest hardworking Americans with more taxes, state regulations over free enterprise, and welfare for lazy minorities. But then less taxes and state intervention would only give more leeway for big corporations to gobble up smaller businesses and provide lesser assistance to the needy. Mailer hits the mark in this observation:

The corporation and the small town had remained ideologically married for decades… The small-town faith in small free enterprise would run smash into the corporate juggernauts of technology land; their love of polite culture would collide with the mad aesthetics of the new America; their livid passion for military superiority would smash its nose on the impossibility of having such superiority without more government spending; their love of nature would have to take up arms against the despoiling foe, themselves, their own greed, their own big business.

Yet it is clear regardless of the conflicting rhetoric that both contending political parties will defend the interests of the financial oligarchy that has lorded over the U.S. and a big chunk of the world since the turn of the 20th century and will launch wars of aggressions in behalf of their interests.

Regardless of which party gains the presidency, the U.S. will continue to keep the Philippines under its sphere of influence and control and retain it as a source of cheap labor and raw resources as well as a dumping ground for its surplus capital and manufactured goods.

This November 6, the choice is between President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney of the Republican Party. But does the two actually offer the American people a real choice?

In the past decade, George Bush the Second invaded Afghanistan and Iraq for oil and did not hide his devotion to capital. Barrack Obama continued the occupation of the two countries and bailed out the big banks after they became bankrupt after a decade of financial hocus pocus.

But even as there are no basic differences between the two candidates in as much as they both represent the class interests of the corporate elite 1 percent, it is interesting to note how the two vying political parties and their presidential bets package themselves to the American people.

The Republican Party does not hide its loyalties to monopoly capital but misrepresent this as favorable to small town white families and entrepreneurs. It prates about the primacy of free markets against the evils of so-called big government social welfare spending.

The Democratic Party on the other hand tend to prettify its allegiance to big business by the use of liberal language and empty populist promises of catering to the interests of the lower classes and marginalized minorities.

Like in the 1960s described by Mailer in his book, this reality continues to be reflected in the recent presidential campaign by Obama and Romney.

The U.S. now suffers from the worst socio-economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The American people are now confronted with soaring unemployment, homelessness, hunger, inaccessible education, health, and other social services, and worsening poverty and inequality. But these social realities are scarcely even mentioned by the Obama and Romney in their campaigns.

The differences between the two candidates are being played up in the mainstream media. However, there are more agreements between the two camps than points of divergences. Compare Obama and Romney’s statements on U.S. military and foreign policy:

As long as I am commander-in-chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.

I believe a strong America must – and will – lead the future. I will insist on a military so powerful that no one would ever think of challenging it.

Now who said which? These are words spoken by a true imperialist. And it’s not just that. The two basically shares the same platforms on stimulating the private sector (i.e. big banks and companies) through massive tax cuts, the further privatization of education in the guise of school reforms, state support for US energy corporations, and cutbacks in health care!

In 1968 the election season did not prevent the American people, especially the youth, from agitating and marching against the Vietnam War, racism, and for civil liberties. Today’s Occupy Wall Street has been largely pushed back to the margins but when Mailer was covering the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago a few thousand youths were then fighting pitched battles against the police.

Incidents of police brutality, like the one Mailer himself experienced back in 1968, are one of those rare moments when the absence of difference between parties of the ruling classes are crystallized:

A National Guard officer said, “You’ll have to step back.”


“Just step back.”

I’m a reporter for Harper’s Magazine, and I wish to be able to describe the barbed wire on that Jeep.”

“Don’t be wise-apple around me,” said the officer. “Step back.”

“I’m doing a story.”

“All right, take him in!”

“For what? Describing your Jeep?”

He was seized. Three or four soldiers seized him… in his ear he could hear his drinking companions following behind, loyal enough to stay near in this fat squeeze of barbed wire Jeep. He could hear them saying to the soldiers, then the cops, “Have you guys gone crazy? He’s a journalist.”


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