Is the US election a fully democratic election? This question has to be answered both historically and on a contemporary level. First, historically, the United States electoral system has never been fully democratic. After the founding of the country in the wake of the war of separation from Britain between 1775-1783, the right to the franchise was restricted to white male property owners, many of whom were enslavers. Their objective was to create a haven for the further importation of Africans for involuntary servitude and to forcefully remove the Indigenous Native people from their land. It would take nearly 90 years for slavery to be abolished legally in the United States. The abolition of slavery was the result of the resistance of the African people, their allies and the intensifying contradictions within the American system. The Civil War may have ended slavery legally, however, the failure to Reconstruct a democratic order after 1865 is still shaping the character of politics today. The electoral process is dominated by the racist politicians who are paid by the capitalist ruling class. Today both the Democratic and Republican parties represent capitalism and imperialism. Institutional racism is a social mechanism to enhance super-exploitation within the capitalist system. Although the two ruling class parties have different constituencies, the leadership of both are in line with maintaining the status quo domestically and internationally.
Candidates on a local, statewide and national level are promoted through the purchasing of ads on television, radio, newsprint and social media. These advertisements for candidates are very expensive. Republicans and Democrats spend billions of U.S. dollars every election cycle to ensure that the electorate is distracted away from the critical issues relevant to their social existence. Since the campaign ads are designed in a similar manner as the marketing of consumer products, the aim by the media consultants is to lower the standards for actual debate and to turn the battles for political office into personality contests. For example, in the 2020 presidential campaign between President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden, there are no concrete solutions being advanced to resolve the economic, racial and public health crises permeating the U.S. Whichever candidate prevails in November, he will be faced with monumental social problems which go beyond the existing capitalist system to resolve.
An element of the difficulty for parties other than the Democrats and Republicans is the lack of financial resources to effectively compete in the corporate media. At the same time these parties often lack creative approaches to campaigning. Moreover, these groups have failed to develop serious organizational capacity which is needed to draft programs that speak to the interests of the masses. Oftentimes these groups are not serious about building effective political machinery. These small groups tend to be centered around certain personalities and are therefore incapable of reaching a constituency beyond their limited contacts. What is needed is a mass party which can organize the working class, nationally oppressed, women, youth, farmers, environmentalists, artists and intellectuals for the purpose of taking power in their own interests.
Many people in the U.S. are deliberately discouraged from voting or becoming involved in politics. The ruling class promotes consumerism and individualism. The leaderships of the two main capitalist and imperialist parties in fact do not want the masses of workers and oppressed to take an active role in determining their destiny. Consequently, the absence of genuine political education and the dearth of avenues for participation alienates tens of millions of people. In addition, elections days are by rule not holidays. Many workers cannot get off for work long enough to stand in line to cast a ballot. Then of course the problems of voter suppression which can operate on a myriad of levels including outright stripping of the electoral lists, as has been done in Florida, Georgia and other states, along with denying those with criminal records the right to register, serves to limit participation. This issue of low voter turnout is a by-product of the selection by ruling interests of candidates who do not have favorable public images. This applies to people such as Trump, Biden, Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris as well.
The Democratic and Republican parties both support the State of Israel unconditionally. This position is a direct result of the relationship of these ruling class organizations to imperialism. Israel is the major imperialist outpost strategically placed since 1948 to carry out an imperialist agenda in West Asia and North Africa. Billions of U.S. dollars paid by working tax payers are funneled to Tel Aviv every year. Any candidate who criticizes Israel, the military-industrial complex and the capitalist system is immediately attacked by the corporate media, the Pentagon and the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. The plight of the Palestinians, who are fighting for national liberation, is routinely ignored by both ruling class parties in the U.S. Neighboring states such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the politically compliant Arab monarchies are all encouraged to “normalize” relations with Tel Aviv in exchange for military, economic and diplomatic support from the U.S. and its imperialist allies. Syria, Iran, the Lebanese, Palestinian and Yemeni resistance are consistently being attacked by Washington, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, and their collaborators. This is part of a broader strategy to weaken the independent revolutionary forces in the region and to enhance the power of the imperialist system.