It’s truly astonishing to watch the U.S. media and political establishment denounce the elections for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela as a so-called “threat to democracy and a power grab by the dictator Maduro.” That’s so completely preposterous on its face and especially ridiculous when one considers the long history of U.S. imperialism subverting democracy in Latin America and the rest of the world—often using the most brutal forms of violence.
It is an outrage, topsy-turvy and complete hypocrisy that the leaders of both major parties in the Senate are actually using the democratic elections in Venezuela as a pretext to go into full regime change mode against a democratically elected president. U.S. imperialism is, in fact, supporting an opposition in Venezuela that is full of oligarchs, racists, CIA functionaries and reactionaries that seek to overthrow the government using terrorist tactics.
It would be laughable—if this were not such a serious life and death matter—that the U.S. lectures to anybody about constitutional process.
The U.S. constitution was drafted over 200 years ago in secret by a small group of a little over 50 rich white men, most of whom were slave owners. Their main goals in drafting and adopting the constitution were to consolidate the rule of the wealthy, protect slavery, establish a government strong and stable enough to end ongoing rebellions and start carrying out the forced and brutal removal of the Native population. Over these goals, they constructed a shabby veneer of democracy in which a tiny fraction of the population voted and no one directly voted for the president, the Senate, the Supreme Court or military officials.
It is not surprising that the U.S. government, the corporate media and the CIA are erasing from view and trying to extinguish the millions of people actively supporting and defending the progressive, socialist-led Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. The lives of working and oppressed people mean nothing to the U.S. ruling class—from constitutional slavery until today.
Just look at how the U.S. state and media apparatus has worked night and day for the last three years to silence, ignore and defeat the Movement for Black Lives. The U.S. establishment has not done one significant thing to stop poverty, mass incarceration and racist police terror in this country, despite the fact that BLM has shut down the highways and streets of nearly every major city in this country and has completely changed the political discussion about justice both in this country and the world.
The U.S. Constitution
This is what James Madison, a wealthy slave owner and the principal framer and promoter of the constitution, said from the floor of the constitutional convention in 1787 according to the notes of Robert Yates: “In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.”
You can’t make this stuff up! Madison, in fact, thought that society was naturally made up of classes and that government should protect the upper classes.
The U.S. Senate was designed as an upper house on the model of the House of Lords in Britain—a hereditary body of oligarchs that was established to protect the rule of the “opulent.” There has not been one single day in the history of this country that the Senate—a body in which over 1,900 of the almost 2,000 people who have served in it have been white men—has not carried out its business in the interests of the ruling class. Just look at the Senate today—it’s full of people who live opulent lives who get elected with money from the wealthiest people in the history of the world.
Among other things, the original U.S. Constitution established the legality of slavery through a fugitive slave clause and counted slaves as 3/5 of a person so that slave states, which included New York by the way, could be represented beyond even their actual puny voting numbers. Some democracy! Padding your power and representation on the backs of slaves—human beings who were legal property based on the color of their skin!
In fact, the constitution in no way extended to Black people—or most people for that matter. Only a tiny fraction of the country could vote well into the 20th century. When the constitution and then the Bill of Rights were passed slaves had no voting rights and were forbidden by numerous laws from bearing arms, reading, assembling and so much more.
The original constitution set up the Senate not based on popular vote but on appointment by the state legislatures. To this day, the Senate decides who is going to be on the Supreme Court and has powerful legislative authority that constitutionally trumps even the power of the president.
A tiny handful of senators based on a seniority system and committee system in the Senate have control over the laws of the United States. No national law can be passed in the United States unless it is passed in the Senate and no law can be passed in the Senate unless it is allowed on the floor by a senate committee chairperson. For most of U.S. history, the senate committees have been dominated by straight up white supremacists—people who oppose equality.
The undemocratic U.S. Senate should be abolished and the U.S. Constitution needs to be scrapped.
The people in power in this country need to be stopped from mouthing platitudes about democracy. The working and oppressed people of this country should follow the example of workers and oppressed people in Venezuela who seek to make the laws their own. We should fight for a constitution of, by and for the people that abolishes the dictatorship of the rich and racists.
As a first step to help make a truly democratic country where the rich don’t rule, I am going to the People’s Congress of Resistance being held in Washington, D.C., at Howard University on September 16-17. You should join us.