Andrew Jackson & the origins of the Democratic Party


A break with the Democrats



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A break with the Democrats

In the peculiar origins of the Democratic Party--as an alliance of liberal reformers and slaveowners- -one can see, in embryonic form, how this party would serve in the future as a means of channeling popular discontent. Throughout its history the Democratic Party has brought together the most varied and opposed interests under the political dominance of the ruling class, from the absorption of the Populist Party in 1896 to the 1930s alliance of Roosevelt New Dealers, labor leaders and Jim Crow segregationists.

Ultimately, the ability of the Democratic Party to serve as a political lightning rod for opposition to the established order depended on the vast reserves of wealth of US capitalism. The hegemonic position of the American bourgeoisie after World War II contributed in particular to the creation of a labor bureaucracy unmatched in its venality and subservience to big business. The primary political function of the trade union bureaucracy has been to keep the working class tied politically to the Democratic Party.

The right-wing character of the Clinton administration is the result of a protracted historical process. The crisis of American and international capitalism has undermined liberal reformism, shattering the political consensus within the ruling class which existed from the 1930s to the early 1970s for policies of social reform. There is today no substantive difference between the policies of the Democrats and the Republicans. They are united in carrying out the demands of big business for the destruction of the social reforms of the past and the ever more brutal exploitation of the working class.

The outcome of the great struggles to come depends in no small measure on the ability of the most advanced workers to grasp the role of the Democratic Party and carry out, on the basis of a socialist program, a decisive political break with this organization.

IWB



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