We read in the Boston Globe (Friday, January 4th) that the results of the Iowa caucuses among Democrats and Republicans are important for the unprecedentedly intense grassroots interest they reveal in the upcoming presidential election. But more to the point, to the extent voters in Iowa are still trying to make those two creaky old suits of armor work, they remain profoundly clueless.
On the surface, they appear to be lining up once more to perform the symbolic ritual of Throwing the Rascals Out. This time, it is true, the Rascals are a smelly bunch of radical pro-corporates quaintly christened "neoconservatives" - but who are in fact capitalist revolutionaries in the service of the military-industrial complex, out to stack the transnational energy deck in its favor. They have teamed up with an early protg, Osama bin Laden, to give political insurgency a slick new retro cachet, privatizing terrorism, which before the era of liberation struggles had always been the prerogative of the state. Now the whole corporate sham is tottering at the hustings.
The Iowa Democrats who made Barack Obama's day have never learned that the capitalist system is not designed to deliver the goods to the Little People who make up the working class. Nor have they learned that the same system has no compelling need to balance the interests of con?icting economic sectors. Gazing into the Globe's statistical crystal ball, we notice that "affluent, highly-educated voters" and blue-collar workers have seemingly patched up their quibbles of the 1960s. While this sounds superficially encouraging, that they have joined forces against a common enemy matters far less than that they still see the future as a little box in which capital rules their lives.
Iowa Republicans who on the other hand swooned over Mike Huckabee, the Baptist minister from Arkansas, portend a dark thundercloud of antagonism, a constituency that feels the Corporates in the Republican Party have swindled them. Huckabee's success brings the threat of a split to the policy level. The CheneyBush faction's last best hope, Mitt Romney, threw an awful lot of money down a hole in a frantic effort to sew the corporate-evangelical alliance back together again. Without the religious right there to deliver the votes, rolling back the New Deal will die on the vine, and Republicans will have to resume jumping through their Moderate hoops.
The only big question for the moment, therefore, is not whether workers will finally wake up and realize that capitalism is a bad system that is going to kick their butts no matter whom they elect, but only whether they will manage to reinstate economic issues as a political vehicle and end the Great Hijack of the ballot box launched by the New Right in 1960. With global warming heating up political dialogues around the world, moral character is going to seem like an awfully stale talking point anyway to a majority that approaches, with a sick feeling in the pit of its stomach, the question of whether human society still has a future. But in the meantime it has a certain sci-fi feel to see the media drawing such absurdly tiny conclusions from such enormous questions.-Roel