Bernie, Billionaires, and PACs: Campaign Finance and the 2016 Presidential Election

BernieandHillaryWith the 2016 presidential race in full swing, top fundraisers are predicting that candidates and advocacy groups will spend a whopping $5 billion dollars on the 2016 campaign—more than doubling the 2012 haul of $2 billion. Ahead of the primaries, Democratic and Republican hopefuls are jockeying for position as the wealthy elite carefully vet candidates and decide who to back. Unchecked campaign spending is nothing new for American voters who are sick and tired of seeing elections decided long before they enter the voting booth—by the Koch Brothers, the Walton family, Sheldon Adelson, and a handful of other billionaires and corporate lobbies.

Review: “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

prisonbarsThe decay of the economy is leading to more and more people being shut out from the traditional labor market of capitalism. This section of society is targeted with particular viciousness by the state apparatus—often referred to as the “Criminal Justice System”—a misnomer if ever there was one. American capitalism has created the most incarcerated nation in the world. More people, as a percentage of society, are imprisoned here than in China.

Sanders’ Socialism and the Third American Revolution

BernieSanderFeaturedOn November 19, Bernie Sanders delivered an hour-long landmark speech at Georgetown University. After months of mass interest and media condescension to the self-described socialist candidate for President of the United States, he was to deliver a definition for his “democratic socialism.” Many workers and youth are attracted to Sanders because he attacks Wall Street, he is the only mainstream candidate to identify as a socialist, and he calls for a “political revolution” against “the billionaire class.”  His campaign raises a number of fairly radical discussions in ordinary American households. Where will his program of reforms lead? How is it achievable? And what exactly is socialism?

Which Way Forward in the Struggle for Abortion Rights?

AbortionClinicThe struggle for abortion rights has always been vitally important for Marxists. The choice of having and raising children is always more difficult for the working class. Many working class women are forced to obtain an abortion because they have no adequate or affordable child care, and cannot afford to simply quit their jobs. This is not as much of an issue for most wealthy women. Even when abortion was illegal, many ruling class women could have it done secretly and safely by a private doctor, or travel to a country where it was legal to have the procedure. On the other hand, working class women were forced to endure dangerous and unsafe conditions, with abortions performed by people who were often not trained medical professionals. Many women died or were severely injured by the procedure.

Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign: Can We Capture the Democratic Party?

Upton Sinclair“I say, positively and without qualification, we can end poverty in California . . . I know exactly how to do it, and if you elect me Governor, with a Legislature to support me, I will put the job through—and I won’t take more than one or two of my four years.” With these words, Upton Sinclair embarked on a campaign that would come within a few hundred thousand votes of winning the governorship of California.

Most remember Sinclair as a prolific left-wing author and muckraker who wrote well-known books such as The Jungle and the journalism exposé “The Brass Check.” Fewer people know about his insurgent campaign during the 1934 California gubernatorial election. Sinclair—a lifelong member of the Socialist Party—changed his party registration to the Democratic Party, and ran a popular left-reformist campaign to End Poverty in California (EPIC). The state’s existing government and business establishment was up in arms about his candidacy, and carried out a ruthless media campaign against his personal reputation and against his political platform. It is even suspected by many that Sinclair would have won the election were it not for these slanders and blatant fraud by the Republican Party on election day.