Barak Obama or Mitt Romney: Capital will be the winner

The US election result is not due until Wednesday and few hours later opinion polls will indicate that it will be close call.

Yet in reality we already know what many people in the US think of the two main contenders.

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney will come anywhere near winning the votes of the majority of US citizens.

At least 82 million people in the US are either not eligible to vote or have not registered to do so, out of an adult population of 232 million.

Even the most optimistic predictions are that no more than 136 million, or two-thirds of the electorate, will actually cast their vote.

Barring a last-minute landslide, only 70 million voters at most will plump for the winner, be it Obama or Romney.

The next president of the US and the most powerful person on the planet will receive the support of fewer than 30 per cent of the country’s adult population, or less than one-third of the electorate.

Disproportionately large numbers of the unemployed, youth and Asian and Hispanic people will play no part in the process.

In terms of participation in the electoral process, the US ranks 139th out of 172 states, according to the US Centre for the Study of the American Electorate.

It is not difficult to work out why.

In all developed capitalist societies, the political system is dominated by the powerful interests of big business. Nowhere is this more evident than in the biggest, most developed capitalist society of all.

In the US, the monopoly corporations play a central role in funding the major candidates and their election machines.

This is true of Obama and the Democrats, although the US trade unions play an important part in combating the imbalance that usually favours the more right-wing Republican Party.

The fanatically religious and blindly pro-Israel lobbies also exert substantial influence, not least because they, too, number many wealthy individuals and corporations in their ranks.

The mass media which control and shape the flow of information are mostly in the hands of multimillionaires and their giant corporations, although there remains a significant difference between Murdoch and his rabidly right-wing Fox News empire, on the one side, and Ted Turner and his more objective CNN news corporation on the other.

Nonetheless, between them the media monopolies dictate much of the political agenda, deciding which issues to cover and excluding the concerns of workers, the poor, the marginalised, the excluded and those with an alternative political agenda.

All of these factors not only narrow the public debate. They also reduce the political differences between the major parties and their candidates, ensuring that their policies broadly reflect the interests of US monopoly capital and imperialism at home and abroad.

Which is not to say that the remaining differences are not significant enough to warrant a preference.

Most progressives, liberals, socialists and communists around the world would prefer an Obama victory, despite his abject healthcare compromise, the betrayals of Guantanamo and Palestine, and the barbarities of drones in Pakistan.

A Romney-Ryan regime would attack women’s rights and further impoverish the poor while plunging the Middle East deeper into bloody chaos.

But an Obama win will not alter the reality that the US is, in Lenin’s classic characterisation, a “democracy of the money-bags.”

Whichever way the people vote, or don’t, the ruling class will triumph until monopoly capitalism itself is challenged.

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