The world’s shameful-est democracy

November 8, 2016

With Election 2016 finally lurching to an end, writers collaborate on a guide to what to look for on Election Day and in the days to come. Here, Alan Maass looks at the twisted path that the presidential race took in getting to the very bottom.

This evening, be sure to follow SW's live coverage as the results roll in during Election Night, at our Facebook page or on the Election Night journal.

WHAT A testimonial for a political system arrogantly proclaimed to be the "world's greatest democracy."

The 2016 election has been the longest campaign in history, beginning well before the absurdly long nine months of actual voting from the start of the primaries, with endless empty campaign events, covered wall-to-wall by the eyewitless media, and a total price tag estimated at $6.6 billion--bigger than the annual gross domestic product of each of the world's 45 poorest countries.

And it all comes down to a nearly deadlocked contest between the most unpopular pair of presidential candidates ever, each flailing around in the final days not mainly to put forward anything positive on their own behalf, but to position themselves as less unlikeable than the other one.

Hillary Clinton started her second run for president in earnest nearly four years ago after quitting her day job as secretary of state. Even when she wasn't in the news, she was hard at work, most of all raising unreal sums of money.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

The war chest behind Clinton totaled $1.3 billion as of mid-October--and unlike Barack Obama, who had the myth of his army of small donors, there's no question the cash is coming from the corporate and bankster elite that expects its voices to be heard in the Oval Office.

Then there's Donald Trump. We know from renegade adviser Stephanie Cegielski that the billionaire reality TV star got in the race with the goal of losing the Republican presidential nomination, but boosting his celebrity "brand." The candidate and his no-brain trust hoped he would come in second in convention delegates, behind whatever consensus candidate the party establishment finally united around.

Only the consensus never consensed. None of the 16 dunderheaded misfits and reactionary sociopaths running for the nomination ever overtook Trump's early lead in opinion polls, and he trounced a succession of rising rivals, while leaders of the first party of American capitalism looked on, horrified.

It may have been a shock when Trump won, but as Lance Selfa wrote for, it was inevitable that "the Republicans--based on their political direction in the past several decades--[would nominate] someone like Trump: an 'outsider' to the party apparatus, running on a 'populist' or 'anti-establishment' platform, who openly advocates nationalist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments."

Trump's victory was the Clinton campaign's dream come true, as we now know for sure, thanks to WikiLeaks. But first, Clinton had to survive a primary challenge by a 74-year-old political unknown who doggedly identified himself as a socialist even though that was a term of abuse in U.S. politics not so long ago.

BERNIE SANDERS is the reason why Election 2016, while excruciating in most respects, was also the most exciting in many years for the radical left, at least for a while.

For once, the presidential election was at least partly about issues affecting working people's lives. Sanders stood for a left-wing, pro-worker, anti-Wall Street agenda--and he embraced, under pressure, a radical message about racism, immigrant rights and other issues that he never highlighted in the past.

But that came to an end when Sanders acknowledged that Clinton would win the nomination, endorsed her, and then silenced all criticisms while Hillary Clinton stifled her occasionally progressive rhetoric from the primaries and started courting unhappy Republicans.

This is what Sanders promised to do all along--proving that the attempt to make a "political revolution" in a counterrevolutionary party is doomed, as the Green Party's presidential candidate Jill Stein put it.

For a time, it seemed as if Stein might benefit from the bitterness toward Clinton among Sanders' most enthusiastic supporters. But as the summer dragged into fall, Election 2016 narrowed into a classic contest between two forms of evil, lesser and greater. At every point, Clinton's most effective appeal was that she could stop Trump from moving into the White House.

Trump blundered and blustered his way through self-destructive debate performances and revelations of his glorying in serial sexual abuse of women. And still the election is close. The odds calculated by the website on the eve of the vote were a little over 2 to 1 that Clinton would win.

The last few months of Election 2016 have shown just how corrupt and degraded the U.S. political system has become, even for those who preside over it. But as left-wing author Corey Robin wrote, this is only the culmination of "a slow-motion erosion, over decades, of legitimacy, brought a ruling class that seems to have lost all sense of responsibility."

People will follow the election results tonight intently, including here at Socialist Worker, where you can find analysis and commentary throughout the evening on our Facebook page and at our Election Night journal.

But now, with the election results yet to start rolling in--meaning probably still time for you to vote for a far superior candidate to be the first woman president of the U.S., Dr. Jill Stein--let's recognize that Election 2016 has provided another abject example of why the two-party duopoly and the capitalist system it serves needs to be discarded and replaced so very badly.

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