Trump Was Defeated But Biden will Not Bring Any Real Change

Statement by Workers’ Voice/La Voz de l@s Trabajadores

Donald Trump has lost his re-election bid for the US presidency – something which hadn’t been seen since George H.W. Bush’s re-election loss in 1992.  While Biden has been declared the victor, with a narrow victory of 51.5% of the popular vote versus Trump’s 48.5%[1], Trump has so far refused to concede, and has been pushing baseless claims of voter fraud There is no question for us that Biden will be the next President, yet it is obvious that his narrow win is due to the fact that he was seen as an “anti-Trump” candidate and people had no deep illusions in his program.
In addition, Trump has advanced a strategy of delegitimizing the process of bourgeois democracy by filing legal battles to somehow overturn the election results. This is deepening the crisis of legitimacy of the bipartisan electoral system that both Liberals and Conservatives are desperate to resolve. In various states, Trump’s grassroots supporters have also attempted to intimidate voters and to stop the vote count. We know they are doomed to fail. But while it is clear that Trump has lost the election, “Trumpism”, and the conditions that led to the 2016 election, are far from gone.

Election Day and Post-Election: No Coup and Free from Right-Wing Militia Violence

This election has been framed by the Liberal establishment as the “fight for democracy;” setting up Trump as the representative of fascism and Biden as the defender of liberal democracy.  After the dust has settled, Biden’s clear ‘Anti-Trump’ platform led to an electoral victory, but it appears now even more clearly that the battle between “democracy” and “fascism” was smoke and mirrors. Additionally, following the FBI arrests of right-wing militia members who alleged to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, liberals feared widespread right-wing violence and intimidation on election day, which ultimately did not occur.
Yet, the delays in counting, due to more than 100 million votes sent by mail, have, without any doubt, created great political instability, allowing for the current electoral system to be openly questioned by Trump and the far right. And there is a patchwork system on how to count them. While Democrats encouraged voters to vote early by mail, Trump encouraged his base to go vote in person because of a general distrust of the postal and electoral systems, and raised questions about the validity and security of mail-in ballots, and has thus far refused to recognize the election results.  While there was no danger of a coup, there is a deepening crisis of legitimacy of bourgeois democracy.
While Trump continues to engage in pointless litigation, there was no coup and the institutions of bourgeois democracy are holding strong to enforce the law and count all the ballots.  We do not yet know whether any of these legal challenges, most of them very frivolous, will hold up in court (i.e. will go to trial or will be dismissed outright), but we know that all the institutions  of bourgeois democracy and corporate America are defending the legality of Biden’s victory. The armed forces had already broken with Trump in June showing their allegiance to bourgeois legality. Secretaries of State across the country, especially in states that were controlled by the Republicans such as Georgia, Pennsylvania or Arizona gave, during the ballot counting days, repeated press conferences saying, “the system is working, rules are being applied, there are no irregularities.” The major corporate news outlets, including Fox News, repeated this. Judges have already dismissed some of the frivolous Trump lawsuits. And Wall Street has shown no sign of turmoil.

Blue Wave?

The Democrats main goal in this election was to ‘dump Trump,’ offering no real program to solve the unresolved crises relating to healthcare and the COVID-19 pandemic, the deepening economic downturn, the environmental and ecological devastation, and the racial injustice and state repression and violence. What is clear from the election results is that the Democratic Party has failed to present any meaningful solutions to meet the needs of working class and oppressed people. Ultimately, there will be a divided government with Republicans projected to narrowly control the Senate (the GOP lost one seat, and the Dems picked up one, but there are still runoff races to conclude in Georgia), and so far it appears that the Democrats will narrowly maintain control of the House of Representatives (the Democrats lost 4 seats and Republicans gained 5).
The fact that Biden did not lead a Blue wave is not a surprise for us. He ran with the most conservative agenda a Democrat could have, and he was the candidate of a party that has continued to betray its promises. He was, thus, not able to convince large portions of the working class that either do not vote or voted for Trump that he has a plan for working people. Biden is largely seen as a candidate of the establishment to restore “normalcy,” – that is, the old order of US empire and neo-liberal democracy – a democracy in which an increasing number of Americans are disillusioned , and that continues to disenfranchise large segments of the population.

A Return to Normalcy?  Zero Confidence in Biden

After Biden’s victory, we will see massive pressure for unity, to ‘reach across the aisle,’ to restore the legitimacy of the two-party system, to do everything possible to prevent the deepening of the crisis. As the Democratic Party moves further to the right, there will be more pressures to not question the bourgeois character of democracy, to not question the legitimacy of the electoral college, to limit the capacity of independent working class parties to run for elections, lest they “divide” the progressive vote and strengthen the Republicans.
The 2008 financial crisis shattered any illusion of normalcy for working people as Yannis Varoufakis explained, ‘The Democratic party has demonstrated time and again its determination to prevent any challenge to the powerful.”[2]  While pensions were collapsing, and people were having their homes repossessed, Obama and the Democratic party initiated a full on assault of austerity on the working class and poor people, by bailing out the banks and Wall Street, funded with public money, and implementing neo-liberal policies leading to persistently low wages, job precarity, and underfunded public services.  In 2016, fueled by the deep frustration and disdain for the Democrats and their neoliberal agenda, Trump took advantage of this situation and threw both ruling class parties into crisis with his election – throwing the Democrats into chaos and taking complete control of the Republican party. After Trump’s time in power, the ruling class interests threw their weight behind Biden, seeing him “as a polite emissary of the bankers.”[3]
Biden asked all Americans to “give him a chance.” We respond that he has had a chance to show his true politics during more than four decades as a senator and eight years as Vice-president. During this time, Biden has made it crystal clear that he is a representative of US capital and empire, as evidenced by his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and his support for mass incarceration, the dismantling of welfare, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, free trade agreements, the bailout of Wall Street, mass deportations, fracking, etc. etc. The same applies to Kamala Harris’ dismal record as a prosecutor in ramping up mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities in California. We cannot afford to wait and see how the new regime puts forward the same regressive politics Democrats enforced when Obama held office, which they have  continued to enforce where they hold power now. It was precisely the failure of the politics that Biden and Harris represent that created the conditions for far-right movements like Trumpism to emerge. Our only way forward, is to organize and fight back in our workplaces and schools, to fight against the ongoing austerity measures, and put forward the need for independent, collective action. Yet, while we need to organize our resistance locally from below, we also need to begin building a broader front of our class to demand real solutions for the more than 21 million unemployed people (if we go by the official numbers), the growing housing emergency, the record number of Covid-19 infections, and to make meaningful progress towards  racial justice and immigrant rights.
We are confident that through those daily struggles we will manage to win a part of Trump’s electoral base to our side, and to convince them than our anti-racist and anti-sexist agenda is the only possible agenda for the working class. Racism, sexism and homophobia need to be addressed on a daily basis in the workplace and neighborhoods. As socialists, we must be ready for reactions and counter-reactions to those struggles, but also to embrace the fact that consciousness only advances through struggle. We also need to be ready for the far-right to intervene more openly in the coming dynamics of class struggle.
Yet the most important task posed to us today, is to start building an independent party, a working class party with a clear class politics and program. The attempts to reform the Democratic Party and turn  it into a working class party will continue  to fail.  This  election—and the unabashed embrace of the Biden campaign by the Sanders movement (to a much greater extent than during the Clinton campaign in 2016)—only provides further historical evidence for this reality . If we want to resolve the increasing polarization in our class in a way that prevents the development of fascism, we need to put forward clear independence, working class, socialist politics.
[1] The Guardian, November 8 2020.
[2] The Guardian.  November 8 2020.
[3] ibid

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