Sent to the Shields Gazette, 13/10/04
What difference will the victory of one candidate over another in the presidential election really make to the ordinary American? The short answer must be very little. In practice the election is little more than a public relations exercise where American people are given their ‘sixty seconds of democracy’ to select an emissary of the owning class to safeguard and, if possible, to expand its class interests over the next four years. Since the function will be to represent the owning class, the victor and his government will have to pursue policies that ‘stimulate’ profit regardless of the hardships this may cause the wider population. At the same time they must appear to represent the interest and welfare of the wider population. This profit imperative is not because the election is being held in America but because the world’s dominant economic system is the profit system (capitalism) and any election to government in society as presently constituted involves choosing one of the political parties that embrace the ideology of capitalism.
In the quest to preserve the pretence that the average American has a real stake, control of public opinion is crucial. So the media functions to peddle distortions and untruths that blur this reality, to keep public opinion placid and render ordinary working people isolated and ineffective, so leaving the interests of the ruling class unchallenged and supreme. The US media add credence to the myth that the Presidential election carries real choice by eagerly analysing every minute perceived difference between the candidates, bombarding the electorate with patriotic rhetoric and fine sounding ‘promises’ while enthusiastically expounding the lie that the candidates share a common interest with ordinary working people. Their propaganda is heavily loaded with corporate and business ideology and praise for the virtues of the ‘free-market system,’ designed to perpetuate the fallacy that capitalism and democracy are inextricably linked, indeed synonymous. Whether the American electorate will choose George W. Bush or John Kerry is at this stage difficult to determine. What is incontestable is that the outcome will not be of benefit to the America’s (or the world’s) wage and salary earning class over the next four years.