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PSL Statement

Harris vs. Pence debate: No real choice under capitalist “democracy”

The Vice-Presidential debate this week served as further evidence that both the Democratic and Republican parties have nothing of substance to offer for the working class. Neither Kamala Harris nor Mike Pence were willing to even consider the type of dramatic changes to the economic and political order necessary to address the dire crises facing society. 

Harris’ performance in particular showed that the Democratic Party has no intention of moving in a more progressive direction. Having vanquished the challenge from Bernie Sanders and the movement that developed around his presidential campaign, the Democratic Party elite is now free to advocate the right wing politics they were forced to partially conceal before. 

One area that this was most pronounced was on the environment. In response to Mike Pence’s repeated efforts to associate the Democratic ticket with the Green New Deal, Harris expressed her determination to allow one of the most devastating forms of fossil fuel extraction to continue. “Joe Biden will not end fracking. He has been very clear about that,” Harris declared.

It is true that while Pence engaged in crude climate change denialist rhetoric — “the climate is changing. But the issue is, what’s the cause … ” — Harris expressed her belief in “science.” What a perfect example of the kind of choice offered by this system: Do you vote for the politician who refuses to accept that human civilization’s very existence is threatened by climate change, or the politician who agrees that it’s real but won’t do anything about it?

Harris ludicrously attempted to portray herself as part of the uprising against racism that has become a defining feature of politics in the United States, saying, “people around our country … marched shoulder to shoulder, arm and arm, fighting for us to finally achieve that ideal of equal justice under law. And I was a part of those peaceful protests.”

Mike Pence retorted, “When you were DA in San Francisco, when you held that office, African Americans were 19 times more likely to be prosecuted for minor drug offenses than whites and Hispanics. When you were Attorney General of California, you increased the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks in California.” Pence is a rabid racist who unquestioningly supports the police and demonizes protesters as mindless rioters and looters. But the point he was making about Harris’s record was true.

On U.S. war and aggression abroad, neither candidate challenged the basic premise of American empire. Pence bragged about carrying out the illegal assassination on Iraqi soil of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, an act of aggression that nearly engulfed the Middle East in catastrophic warfare. Harris offered up ridiculously false platitudes like, “And the thing that has always been part of the strength of our nation, in addition to our great military, has been that we keep our word.”

The word “union” or “labor” was not mentioned a single time. Neither candidate talked about ending the obscene wealth inequality that defines the economy and is exploding every day. No one discussed the possibility of the cancellation of rents and mortgage payments with no accumulation of debt. Neither Harris nor Pence would dream of declaring health, education and a job or income basic human rights guaranteed to all. 

That is why the Party for Socialism and Liberation is running Gloria La Riva for president and Sunil Freeman for vice-president. Workers deserve to vote for someone who truly advocates for their interests and are proven fighters in the struggle for justice. 

Abolish the Supreme Court!

A key issue that is rightfully causing deep concern is the composition of the Supreme Court. Barring a major turn of events, it appears likely that Trump and the Republicans will by election day have succeeded in installing three ultra right-wing Justices. 

Because judges are appointed to lifetime terms, a conservative majority could very well control the Supreme Court for decades and launch wide ranging attacks on the rights of oppressed people and the working class. Advocates of “lesser of two evils” voting often point to Supreme Court nominations as a reason to back the Democratic candidate no matter who they are. With the situation so bleak under the current set up, many of these same forces are now raising the demand to “pack the court” — increase the number of Justices and use their appointment as a way to establish a progressive majority.

But why should an institution as undemocratic as the Supreme Court exist in the first place? Nine elite lawyers who are appointed — not elected — for life control the fate of hundreds of millions of people. Throughout U.S. history, they have with few exceptions acted as a backstop for the status quo, rolling back the progress people’s movement have won through struggle as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs’ platform for his 1912 run for president demanded, “The abolition of the power usurped by the Supreme Court of the United States to pass upon the constitutionality of the legislation enacted by Congress. National laws to be repealed only by act of Congress or by a referendum vote of the whole people.” We in the Party for Socialism and Liberation echo this demand, as relevant now as it was a century ago.

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