Apathetic vote in U.S. general elections

The number of people who voted this year was lower than in prior elections. Read more here to find out how many people voted.

The Democratic Party was defeated by the Republicans in the November 2 general elections. However, this did not translate into a protest vote against the Democrats but rather into an apathetic vote as most people stayed at home during Election Day.

This time around, the working class did not vote en masse as it did when Obama won.  After taking several anti-popular measures that included bailing out the banks and Wall Street, Obama’s lost support. Obama‘s inaction before rising unemployment contributed to the Democrats‘defeat. During the campaign, the labor bureaucracy helped Obama and the Democrats by contributing large sums of money to the Democratic Party and mobilizing workers to vote Democrat.

An anti-democratic system

Among other factors that led to the Democratic Party’s defeat is a bipartisan anti-democratic system that does not allow for democratic representation so minority parties cannot run candidates; a lack of  political alternatives. For example, people know that there is not much difference between Democrats and Republicans. And contrary to countries abroad, here we vote on weekdays as oppose to weekends or holidays. There is also a lack of political propaganda in the streets and neighborhoods where working people live. Further, no everyone can vote in the elections as there are thousands if not millions of people who do not have the right to vote. These include immigrants and poor and working people who have committed minor legal infractions.

The Tea Party

In the meantime, the right continues to grow. The right uses racism as a political weapon to divide African -Americans, Latinos and white workers.  However, Obama remains silent and does nothing to stop the right since dividing the working class is part of the ruling class attack on workers. Under Obama, raids and deportations of immigrants have continued unabated and the number of detention centers where immigrants are treated like animals have not decreased. Additionally, cuts to school and healthcare continue-in fact many hospitals have closed in many urban cities.

The reality is that the bourgeois press backs the right and has done so since Obama came to power. Now the mainstream media is trying to portray Obama’s defeat as a victory for the right and the Tea Party, the ultra reactionary wing of the Republican Party.

But the right did not make big gains in this election. Although the Republicans won more seats in the legislative branch, the three leading Tea Party-backed senate candidates lost since they were too reactionary for people to stomach. In fact, out of 130 Tea Party candidates only 40 won.

The Tea Party is not a popular movement: its social base is conservative, white and middle class. It is a movement that has benefited from a well-orchestrated media campaign led by Fox and other conservative media outlets. It is funded by the pharmaceutical industry that opposes any reform to the healthcare system. In recent years, popular demand for healthcare reform has grown so the ruling class uses the Tea Party to attack any reform that challenges capitalism.

A Defeat for  the status quo

The apathetic vote in November was a defeat for the American political system at the hands of the working class. Actually, the American ruling class fears that the electoral system is losing legitimacy. In the final analysis, the elections revealed the extent of the political and institutional crisis facing the U.S. as a result of the world economic crisis.