....Whatever the outcome of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections, an unprecedented blow has been dealt to the stability of the capitalist party system in the United States. Since the consolidation more than a century ago of the Democratic and Republican parties’ domination of bourgeois politics in the new rising imperialist power, there has been nothing comparable.
In order for the two-party system to function effectively for the rulers, there needs to be a “lesser evil.” And the lesser evils need to alternate — a Democrat for a few terms, then a Republican, to and fro. That’s how it has worked for decades as an effective pressure valve to let off anger among “the electorate.”
But that’s not what happened in 2016.
Never before have the presidential candidates of both major capitalist parties evoked such political distrust, disgust, and aversion among working people, youth, and broad layers of the lower middle class. A recent cartoon says it all. It shows neighboring front yards, one with a sign saying “She’s worse,” the other with a sign saying “He’s worse.” Both are dead right! There is no lesser evil.
And the crisis conditions that have produced this shakeup in the bourgeois two-party setup aren’t going away. They are worsening.
What has been unprecedented in 2016 is the exposure of something the US ruling class has largely succeeded in obscuring for decades. It has shown in life that the bourgeois electoral system in the United States is rigged — yes, rigged on behalf of the propertied owners and their large rent-collecting meritocracy. The big majority of the ruling families — often mistakenly labeled the “establishment,” or “political elite,” by those hoping to obscure their class character — made clear a few months before the November elections that they intended to use television, newspapers, and any stick they could get their hands on to ensure Trump’s defeat.
The squashing of Bernie Sanders’s strong primary challenge to Hillary Clinton had already given new generations of workers and youth a display of what powerful bourgeois forces can and will do when they’ve decided the result of a nomination or election beforehand.
The ruling layers and top rungs of those who do their bidding live by different rules and moral standards. “Lyin’ Hillary” is wrong only in the many, many others that description lets off the hook, in both capitalist parties. Sanders and Trump alike decried the “rigged” system, whose game they themselves have contentedly played and profited from for years, and will continue to do so. But the eyes of millions of working people have been opened not to shadowy conspiracies, but to the everyday functioning of bourgeois politics in the United States and, in one form or another, the world over.
The former stability of the two-party shell game will not be restored....