Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why Obama Won

Some on the left, both in the US and around the world, are trying to portray the results of the US 2008 presidential election as a “massive victory” for the left. However, Barack Obama is simply not progressive. He does not support universal health care and he lacks progressive positions on a number of other political issues that concern the working class.

Obama only represents the millionaires and billionaires who financed his presidential campaign. shows that he raised hundreds of millions of dollars more in campaign funds than his rival bourgeois candidate, John McCain. Simply put, Obama is now the new executive of US imperialism and nothing more then that. If the working class achieves any victories over the next several years, it will only be the result of a mass movement putting pressure on the Democrats to pass progressive legislation (e.g. universal health care, a complete withdrawal from Iraq, the Employee Free Choice Act, etc). Lenin also cautioned, "Elections are only one of the fields, and by no means the most important, most essential one... in which the socialist proletariat wages the struggle for liberty and for the abolition of all exploitation..." (When You Hear the Judgment of a Fool..., 1907)

That being said, the election was not a defeat either. It represents a setback for the Evangelical fundamentalist political movement, represented by the far-right crackpot Sarah Palin, who wants to turn the USA into a theocracy. If elected, Palin would have only been one McCain heartbeat away from power. The fundamentalist lunatics are now, temporarily at least, demoralized by their loss. Obama's victory can also be viewed as a rejection of racism, but it remains to be seen what legislation (if any) will actually be passed into law by his administration that benefits African-Americans.

The Green Party, with anti-imperialist Cynthia McKinney as its presidential candidate, increased the party's number of votes for president compared to the 2004 election and also elected a member to Arkansas’ state legislature. The Party for Socialism and Liberation’s presidential candidate, Gloria La Riva, also got over 6,800 votes, which was a better result than what many other minor party presidential candidates received. A Working Families Party candidate got over 10% of the vote in a statewide race (for attorney general) in Oregon, while a Green received over 20% of the vote in a race for US Senate in Arkansas. Unfortunately there were also setbacks, the Vermont Progressive Party lost one state legislature seat and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan only received 16% of the vote against imperialist Nancy Pelosi.

The organization of progressive forces outside of the Democratic Party’s machine is a key task and must be carried forward over the next four years. Despite some losses and vote totals that could have clearly been higher, there were also victories as well. Therefore, this bourgeois election’s results for left-wing minor party and independent candidates should be seen as a foundation for further progressive advances and victories in the near future.

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