At some point I will have to acknowledge the uselessness of continuing to beat the long dead horse of what passes for the "left" in American politics.
In point of fact, there is no real Left active in the American political system and there hasn't been one for many years. There are a few (very) fringe parties that take leftist, even revolutionary, positions on some issues, but they have no political influence at all -- some would say by the design and intention of the political system itself and by these fringe parties in cahoots with their own marginalization. They do seem to be oddly content outside the system, come to think of it.
In the mainstream of American politics, what's called the "left" functions as a slightly mitigating version of the ever-dominant American Right. I've pointed out that even St. Franklin Roosevelt was no "leftist," and the New Deal programs and policies that actually survived (like Social Security and Unemployment Insurance) are NOT leftist by any stretch of the imagination. They are basically survivalist policies of the Right intended to buy off the masses and keep the tumbrils and guillotines at bay for a while longer.
Now, however, since the Crash of 2008, the Right is going for complete control without the troublesome and burdensome necessity of carving out some benefit for the masses. They've been busying themselves with taking economic benefits as well as civil liberties away from the masses, selling off public assets at fire sale prices, destroying public education, reducing and/or eliminating pension benefits, making access to health care ever more difficult and expensive and setting up system after system of automatic revenue payments to corporate entities, many of which are now behaving like taxing authorities and private governments.
The so-called "left" in American politics and governance merely operates as if it were a helpful critic of Rightist policies. The "left" has no policies of its own except maintaining bits and pieces of the status quo and delaying and mitigating (somewhat) the more radical policies of the Right.
That's it. At one time, when there was something of an active Left in American politics, instead of reducing benefits and raising retirement ages, we would have been treated to arguments proposing to lower the retirement age and substantially increasing benefits. We would hear arguments to collectivize, nationalize industries and services and implement a broad-based public sector economy on democratic principles. Instead of ignoring Marx and other cogent critics of capitalism, we would have long ago explored and demonstrated alternatives to the kind of rampant crony capitalism we endure today -- a capitalist system that is depriving whole generations of a future.
If we had a real Left in our politics, the possibilities for the Future would be seen as unlimited.
But we don't have one. No, Occupy is not "the Left," not even close; it's not at root a political entity; it's more of a philosophical one. It may give rise to a political entity, but it hasn't yet. It has only given rise to ideas, opportunities, and demonstrations of alternatives to the current downward spiral.
The election will only have an effect on how fast and how harshly Rightist programs and policies -- most of which we are already familiar with -- will be implemented going forward. Neither major party is in any way interested in backing off from those Rightist programs and policies, any more than most of the governments around the world are going to suddenly jettison neoliberalism. It's not going to happen.
The only way to accomplish that end now is through efforts conducted outside the standard political system, and we've already seen that if those efforts show signs of succeeding, they will be violently shut down by the corpro-government.
If a genuine political Left is ever revived on the other hand, what might we see? What wonders might await?
A rational argument for not voting. [Note: a repost of the material at the link was disappeared at FDL because a moderator didn't want to "promote" the idea of not voting. It is obviously considered a dangerous concept that must be kept away from the masses.]