Todd Chretien makes the argument in the Socialist Worker for apparent complete voter abstention November the fourth, a tactic even many anarchists critique as extreme and many times counterproductive; Noam Chomsky’s comments being here relevant.
For instance, surely it is better to have Obama become President and support bills that make it easier to join Unions - such as EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act - and thus actually organize workers than to have McCain’s opposition. Smaller and compromised reforms can play a small part in a larger and completely autonomous program: such as organizing workers into Unions, establishing a strong Union movement, this in turn helps instill class consciousness as Marx phrased it and, as some left-Marxists – Anton Pannekoek coming to mind – observed: trade unionism plays a necessary role in class struggle, it could serve as the embryo from which a completely autonomous workers’ movement could emerge from.
It is true as surely the International Socialist Organization would argue that, as Pannekoek wrote: “trade unionism is an action of the workers, which does not go beyond the limit of capitalism. Its aim is not to replace capitalism by another form of production, but to secure good living conditions within capitalism. Its character is not revolutionary, but conservative…So there comes a disparity between the working class and trade unionism. The working class has to look beyond capitalism. Trade unionism lives entirely within capitalism and cannot look beyond it. Trade unionism can only represent a part, a necessary but narrow part, in the class struggle. And it develops aspects which bring it into conflict with the greater aims of the working class.”
But from the confines of “…the narrow field of trade union struggle widens into the broad field of class struggle. But now the workers themselves must change. They have to take a wider view of the world. From their trade, from their work within the factory walls, their mind must widen to encompass society as a whole. Their spirit must rise above the petty things around them. They have to face the state; they enter the realm of politics. The problems of revolution must be dealt with.”
But for the short-term it makes a difference to the impoverished, the hungry, the sick and so on whether or not there is going to be four more direct years of anti-union policy, regressive taxation, tax cuts and large subsidies for the upper most bourgeois, mass home foreclosures, unlimited debt, not just an imperial refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also potentially war with Iran and other potential McCain administration targets. Not to forget that McCain's choice for Vice President, Sarah Palin, agrees with Cheney's treacherous and false belief that the Vice President is "in charge" of the Senate and that she "can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes..."; such as legislating hate and discrimination, she's vehemently opposed to gay marriage and equal rights, even further restrict abortion rights or worse and so on (recall that the next President is likely to nominate a few Supreme Court Justices, we can't afford any more nominated by the likes of McCain and Palin).
Surely all of this matters to the ordinary population, which is why the population is going to hit the polls in droves and elect Obama in a landslide; possibly why Chretien is so complacently dismissive of voting for Obama.
A vote for Obama to ensure the demise of the neoconservative foreign policy establishment, among other things, does not mean that those few moments in a booth marking a piece of paper will render the voter incapable of, after leaving the polling station, organizing an autonomous opposition (completely independent of the Democratic party).
The IWW (the Industrial Workers of the World Union) has been conducting a successful international campaign to unionize Starbucks baristas , among many other actions, and in the United States baristas are constantly being fired for attempting to unionize: if for only this reason Obama should be voted for by people concerned for the working class, he will support policy that makes it easier for workers to join unions and McCain won’t, that’s a difference that matters.