Good Reforms Are Not & Were Not Won by Electing 'Good' Politicians
March 28, 2019
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented his New Deal because he (and the ruling class he represented) feared there would be a revolution if he did not. This is shown in great detail in my article, WHAT DID IT TAKE TO MAKE FDR'S NEW DEAL HAPPEN, AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE BERNIE SANDERS'S NEW NEW DEAL HAPPEN?
President Lyndon Baines Johnson abolished the racist Jim Crow segregation laws by forcing through passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he (and the ruling class he represented) feared there would be a revolution if he did not. This is shown in great detail in my article, Why the Notorious Racist, LBJ, Made Sure the 1964 Civil Rights Act that Ended a Century of Jim Crow Segregation Laws Was Passed.
The pro-working-class reforms that Norway is famous for were not implemented, as some claim, because of merely nonviolent (or electoral) actions by the working class, but because of workers waging the class war--often violently--"in the streets" as I discuss in my article, Not Nonviolence, But Class Struggle--Often Violent--Made Norway's Rulers Grant Big Concessions .
When people have relied on electing 'good' politicians to get something, it has consistently failed, as I show for every president from FDR to Obama in my article, Voting for President in America: History is Trying to Tell Us Something.
There is a reason why the U.S. ruling plutocracy holds elections, and it is NOT to enable ordinary people to control the government, as I show in my article, Why Does the American Ruling Plutocracy Hold Elections?
Many people "get it." For example, a Star Trek movie had Mr. Spock explaining in one scene that "Only Nixon could go to China." His point was that when the ruling class intends to execute a new policy (such as normalizing relations with Communist China) it sometimes needs to use a politician with a reputation for opposing that new policy (Nixon was famously anti-Communist). What politicians do is based on what their controllers (the billionaire plutocracy) want them to do, not what their public persona would make one expect.
The notorious racist LBJ abolished Jim Crow.
FDR, after campaigning on sworn declarations that he would keep the U.S. out of war, worked behind the scenes to ensure US entry into WWII. (This is well known among historians. See my book about it here.)
In his presidential campaign LBJ ran against the Vietnam hawk, Sen. Barry Goldwater, by pledging, "We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves." The popular joke after the election went like this: "They said that if I voted for Goldwater then American boys would be sent to fight in Asia. And they were right. I did vote for Goldwater and that is exactly what happened!"
President Richard Nixon was the ultimate war hawk, but he withdrew U.S. troops IGNOMINIOUSLY from Vietnam in 1975. Why? It wasn't because he had become a dove. And it wasn't because U.S. troops had lost a big battle. No! It was because American GIs were refusing to fight in Vietnam, as you can read in some detail here. The U.S. left Vietnam without winning the war because of massive opposition to that war "in the streets" (by Vietnamese peasants and American GIs in Vietnam and by the Civil Rights Movement joining the Anti-War Movement.) It had NOTHING to do with electing an "anti-war" president!
South Africa's President deKlerk, a staunch pro-apartheid politician, did a 180 degree turnaround in 1992 when he expressed the view that apartheid was no longer viable and held a referendum for whites in which he urged them to vote to abolish apartheid (which they did, with 67% voting to abolish it.) What made deKlerk do this? The answer is what was happening "in the streets" of the world: there was a growing world wide boycott against apartheid, and the rulers figured they could rule over and oppress people in South Africa better without apartheid than with it (as I show here [pdf])
HAVING PRESIDENT GENGHIS KHAN WITH A HUGE MOVEMENT 'IN THE STREETS' IS FAR BETTER THAN HAVING PRESIDENT JESUS WITHOUT A HUGE MOVEMENT 'IN THE STREETS'
If you don't understand why this is true, then you have not read (or understood the significance of) the articles linked to above. Try again, please.
If you devote your time and energy to electing a 'good' politician, instead of building a huge egalitarian revolutionary movement 'in the streets' (read how I am personally trying to do that here), then you are making the ruling class very happy, and certainly not making it fearful of what might happen if it doesn't grant good reforms. You are naive if you think this is helping to win the good reform(s) you're seeking.
Please don't say, "Well, I can do both: work to elect a good politician AND build the movement 'in the street'." Why not? Because in practice these two activities conflict with each other. Electing a 'good' politician doesn't just mean spending ten minutes in the ballot booth once in four years. No. It means working, with all of the time and effort one is willing to devote to changing the world, to persuade others to vote for that 'good' politician. This is a full time task and will take all of one's available "activism" time and energy--time and energy not devoted to building a movement 'in the street.' The ruling class understands this. This is one of the main reasons the ruling class holds elections in the first place. We need to understand it too!
The ruling class makes sure that any politician who calls for removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor (a.k.a. egalitarian revolution, which is what most people actually want) will be prevented by the mass media from being perceived as a "serious" candidate. Extreme character assassination and similar lies can accomplish this. As a result, activists who focus on electing a 'good' politician have to settle for the kind that don't call for egalitarian revolution (such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, etc., as I discuss here.) Working to get such a politician elected requires NOT talking about the goal of egalitarian revolution, since the politician opposes that goal. This electoral work thus conflicts with doing what MOST frightens the rulers--building an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary movement.