Greetings readers of Mirror on America! My bio at the About the Bloggers page tells a little bit about me. I am a long-time reader of Mirror on America and an admirer of the writings of the Angry Independent and the various contributors of this blog. When AI offered the opportunity to have more co-bloggers participate in the blog, I jumped at the chance. I also operate my own blog called An Ordinary Person and Politics in America where I deal with politics from the standpoint of an ordinary person living in the US.
I was wondering how best to introduce myself to the readers of this blog. I figured since it is about politics I might as well do it with an illustration of the basics of my own political beliefs. Below is one of the pieces that I originally wrote for An Ordinary Person which is about a political argument that I had with a dinner guest about a couple of years back. The conversation was illuminating to me in not only defining clearly what I really do believe, but to clear up any misunderstandings I had with my friend (and myself) on what I do not.
On Class-Based Politics
Yesterday I had an interesting exchange of ideas with a dinner guest. The conversation turned to politics, particularly the state of politics in American society. We both agreed that the Democrats are doing a terrible job against the Republicans. Where we diverged are our ideas of what will make it better. My friend is a Democrat by affiliation.
According to him, what needs to happen is for Democrats to get their act together and beat the Republicans. I diverged from him when I said that I have totally abandoned the Democratic party as representing my interests as an ordinary, working person. I told him that the Democratic party in the past decade has veered to the right in matters of economics that there is virtually no difference anymore between Democrats and Republicans who espouse a pro-business, corporate-dominated agenda based on free market ideology. Democrats, for all intents and purposes, now espouse the same things as Republicans in matters of economic policy (no matter what rhetorical style they use in appealing to the public).
I told him that what is needed is class-based politics where working people are organized politically to fight for their own interests.
This is when the discussion turned interesting. It turns out my friend disagrees with me. What surprised me is that his disagreement was based on him defending the idea of the US political and economic system as being primarily created for the benefit of business. Furthermore, to challenge it is tantamount to espousing Socialism or Communism. Basically he made several points:
• What is good for business is ultimately, good for workers
• The US is a capitalist country
• In Socialist economies people become lazy and complacent. They develop a tendency to over-rely on government handouts and not make any independent moves to improve their lot in life.
• Capitalism is ultimately better for workers than Socialism. Socialism doesn’t work.
• The US system of political democracy allows for representation of all points of views, even workers. There is no need to change the system.
What I said in response ultimately boiled down to:
• There is something wrong with the inequities that currently exist in American society. The skyrocketing cost of higher education, crumbling public schools, the persistence of racial and class inequality, the inequities of a for-profit-based healthcare system, etc.
• The American capitalist system works primarily to the advantage of and for the benefit of corporations and the rich. If you have money you will have access to the best this country has to offer. If you don’t you don’t.
• The Democratic party is not addressing these issues in any substantive way. The interests of ordinary people simply aren’t a priority for the Democrats. The Republicans at least are honest and upfront about their pro-business, pro-free market agenda.
• What is needed is a political party of, for and by working people to fight for their interests in the political arena.
Mind you I said nothing about Socialism or that the capitalist system is inherently evil. It was he who offered the “Socialism is bad” counter argument to what I was saying.
Just to clear things up here is what I believe:
• I believe in democracy. I believe in democratic participation. I am not out to “change the system” from its current model to a Socialist or a Communist model.
• However, I believe that the two-party political system is too narrowly focused and too dominated by pro-business and free market interests to represent the interests and concerns of working and middle class people.
• I also believe that the two-party system is rigged by the two major parties to keep out any outsiders who will challenge the dominance of the two major parties.
• I am perfectly willing to work within the confines of the US political and economic system.
• However, I also believe that the interests of ordinary, working people are not properly represented in the US political and economic system.
• The capitalist class is for its own interests, period—whatever makes them the most profit. They will choose the bottom line over the interests of working people when these interests clash 100% of the time.
• The business class and millionaires are overwhelmingly represented in positions of power and influence in this country. Working people are not. In order for things to get better for working people, this needs to change.
The first step to change is for working people to organize themselves into a political party which will fight for their interests in the US political system. Notice I say nothing about overthrowing the system or the government. What I actually advocate is a more active role in participating in the system to make sure the interests of working people get their proper due.