A New York Times/CBS poll published Thursday documents the disgust of the American people with the 2016 election campaign and their alienation from the two major corporate-controlled parties. By a margin of 82 percent to 13 percent, better than six to one, those polled said the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have filled them with revulsion.
According to the Times account, “With more than eight in ten voters saying the campaign has left them repulsed rather than excited, the rising toxicity threatens the ultimate victor. Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidate, and Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, are seen as dishonest and viewed unfavorably by a majority of voters.”
Both campaigns insult the intelligence of the American people. Trump appeals to raw anger, denouncing his opponent as a criminal who should be put in jail. Clinton and the Democrats alternate between portraying Trump as a sexual predator and smearing him as a tool of Moscow. Neither offers any serious program for improving the living standards and social conditions of the working class, the vast majority of the American people.
The election campaign is one more sign of the profound dysfunction of the US political system, in which two corporate-controlled parties, each defending the interests of the super-rich, enjoy a political monopoly. The Times/CBS poll is a statistical verification of what the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site have long argued: the two-party system leaves working people disenfranchised.
Each of the candidates, in different ways, seeks to direct social tensions within the United States along reactionary lines.
Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, representing the alliance of Wall Street, the military-intelligence apparatus and the complacent and self-satisfied upper middle class, where identity politics holds sway. Her program, were she to state it honestly, is to outwardly direct the social crisis in the form of intensified US military violence, first in the Middle East, but ultimately against Russia and China, both of which possess nuclear arsenals.
Trump represents an attempt to direct social tensions along extreme nationalist lines, appealing to racist and fascistic forces. While he claims, falsely, to have opposed US military interventions in the Middle East, he glorifies the US military and promises to unleash unlimited violence on any country that resists US demands. In the end, his pledge to “Make America Great Again” is little more than the English translation of Hitler’s slogan, “Deutschland Über Alles.”
The Democratic Party abandoned its former commitment to economic improvements for working people and began to restructure itself as the party of Wall Street and identity politics, appealing to newly privileged layers of blacks, women, gays, etc. The Democratic Leadership Council, under its chairman, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, became the vehicle of this transformation. In Hillary Clinton, this rightward movement has reached its culmination. The Democratic candidate has become the consensus choice of the political establishments in both parties.
The Times/CBS poll confirms the overriding feature of the 2016 campaign: the growing gulf between the American population and the corporate-controlled two-party system. Working people are moving to the left, but the two major parties continue to lurch to the right.
In the current election cycle, the political radicalization in the working class was expressed most openly in the mass support for the Democratic primary campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Thirteen million people, including the vast majority of young people who took part in the primaries, voted for a candidate claiming to be a socialist and opponent of the billionaires, an unprecedented political development in America. In the end, Sanders capitulated, endorsed Clinton, and demonstrated that his claim to oppose corporate domination of the political system was a fraud.