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Thursday, November 13, 2014

US political system faces “crisis of legitimacy” – Kishore on civic participation, inequality

Tough to summon energy necessary to take part in a system you don't believe in, one comprised of entrenched, corrupt public officials who deliberately fail to serve the public good -- and whom you hold in contempt
Excerpt, minor edits by Carolyn Bennett

Joseph Kishore 
he character of the American political system is an expression of underlying social relations,” Joseph Kishore writes. And the waning state of “the state and its agents is, above all, a product of” a pervasive, deepening “social inequality presided over by a parasitic oligarchy intent on war abroad and plunder at home.”


“Tens of millions of people in the United States have drawn the conclusion that the electoral process is a sham and no amount of participation will [correct or undo] the stranglehold of the financial aristocracy.” In the most recent mid-term election less than one-third of eligible voters – in 13 US states – went to the polls. Among these low-voting states were the three largest US states:

California (31.8 percent), Texas (28.5 percent) and New York (28.8 percent)—along with Indiana, Utah, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, West Virginia, Nevada, and Missouri.

US youth participation or lack of participation in the process was particularly illustrative of “the widespread alienation” among the citizenry: Among eligible voters aged 18-29, “only 21.3 percent voted” in the 2014 election.

Media organizations, trade unions and pseudo-left supporters of the Democratic Party in 2008 pushed for a Barack Obama presidency “as an agent of ‘change’ and a ‘transformative’ candidate.” Candidate Obama “made a series of promises signaling a sharp departure from the policies of the immediately preceding president, George W. Bush, who had left office the most hated president in American history.”

However, not only were none of these promises fulfilled “but there was never any intention of doing so.”


he “change” candidate’s performance was a “campaign of lies, reflecting the arrogant belief within the American ruling class that it can simply fool the American people through a combination of chicanery and slick marketing.” And the president in six years “has … presided over the most rapid growth of social inequality in American history, a systematic assault on jobs, wages and social programs, endless and expanding wars, and the strengthening of a police-state apparatus of spying and repression.”


The low turnout figures mean that many—perhaps the majority—of those elected received the votes of less than one fifth of eligible voters. And a cumulative effect of all data pertaining to the recent elections show “a political system facing a crisis of legitimacy.”  

Those who populate the White House, Capitol Hill and the various Governor’s mansions and state capitols have all the trappings of power, but any broad support for this power has eroded beneath their feet.

Approval rating of the combined bodies of the federal legislature (House and Senate) stays around “13 percent,” yet “more than 95 percent of all incumbents were reelected” in 2014. This means, Joseph Kishore concludes, that “despite the nearly universal contempt for the supposed representatives of the people, there is, in practice, no mechanism within the system for getting rid of them.”


“A qualitative turning point has been reached,” he says. “Millions of workers and youth unable to find any solutions within the established system will —and have already begun to—seek other means to defend their interests, e.g., with strikes, demonstrations, other forms of social struggle. They will increasingly search for political alternatives outside bourgeois politics.”

And “the responsibility of socialists,” he says, “is to actively intervene, prior to and in the midst of these struggles; to develop within the working class an understanding of the inextricable connection between the character of American politics and the nature of capitalism.

he seething discontent that is building up in the United States in relation to both domestic and foreign policy must be given an ever-more conscious anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, internationalist, socialist, and revolutionary orientation.”

Sources and notes

“The illegitimate US election,” Joseph Kishore, World Socialist Web Site, wsws.org,
November 13, 2014, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/13/pers-n13.html

Writer Joseph Kishore is National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (United States) and contributor to World Socialist Website (WSWS)


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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