I am not mechanically advocating that there is never a time and a place to participate in bourgeois elections: clearly the Nepalese comrades have validated the need for tactical flexibility. However, I will say that orienting the social-movement left around "defeating McCain" is in fact, a complete compromise with bourgeois political framework. We learned from the previous presidential election in 2004 that the Anyone but Bush equates to supporting one oppressive wing of the ruling class against another wing does not, in anyway build space for people's movements, in fact the opposite is true: it depletes precious resources and activism into bourgeois elections. More importantly, as revolutionaries our focus should never be simply to build up individuals to pit them against the system. There is no record of this being successful or even beneficial to people's movements. Bernie Sanders might state crushing damnations of the Bush regime, but will he offer liberation? No. Nancy Pelosi once spouted impeachment rhetoric, and then quickly retracted once she acquired her personal political power. The point is not that all candidates in every election are corrupt (necessarily) or liars, but that even in the best circumstances elections serve this ruling class, as Emma Goldman poignantly exemplified: if voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
Some claim that we must vote for Obama to defeat McCain. Why? And what difference will Obama make? In stark honesty, he will change nothing. The oppressed will continue to meek out existence and continue to be the oppressed and the ruling class will continue to enjoy their privileges. The claim that we "need" to vote for Obama to save us from the evils of McCain is in fact a calculated distraction from the fact that Obama is in every significant way aligned with John McCain anyway. Worse yet, this orientation serves to legitimize bourgeois rule. It makes their game (elections under their system) appear as the only valid arena for political struggle, when in fact for us - the oppressed - it is anything but. The victories we have won, however small, have been won by fighting the system from the outside, not the inside. The Civil Rights Movement suffered the brutal repression of the bourgeois state and survived to win its legitimacy. It was never "voted" as acceptable, it was won. This relates concretely to the elections today and is demonstrated by Obama's wholesale ditching of his long-time spiritual advisor, Rev. Wright who himself offered genuine criticisms of the system, only to be castigated later as a crazy radical simply for disturbing and playing outside the bounds of the white-supremacist power structure. These reflections are not nihilistic. The message isn't that our situation is hopeless - only that being duped into participating in their elections is not a path toward liberation. We should have hope and faith: in the masses, and the vitality of building a new movement that can genuinely pose a challenge to capitalism-imperialism.