U.S. post-election political crisis deepens

Trump supporters protest the presidential election results at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Nov. 8. (David Goldman / AP)


Since Joe Biden was declared president-elect, Trump has refused to concede, rejecting the tradition in the U.S. political system leading to the “peaceful transfer” of power. Instead, Trump continues to repeat lies and conspiracy theories about a stolen election and Democratic Party corruption. The truth is that both bourgeois parties are corrupt and in the pocket of Wall Street.

Emily W. Murphy, a Trump loyalist and General Services Administration head, has so far refused to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” freeing funds for Biden’s transition team. GOP members of the Senate, with a few exceptions, refuse to officially recognize the results—with Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell repeating the myth that election fraud took place.

McConnell said, “President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options. … Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”  Secretary of State Pompeo, speaking in a press conference, predicted a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”  

Supporter of President Trump during a rally in Beverly Hills, Calif., Nov. 7 (Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP)

Fox News personalities have continued to heap doubt on the election result although other Fox reporters have reported that the allegations are not credible. Appearing on Fox News, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sprinkled a little anti-Semitism onto the discussion by claiming that the election result is “a left-wing power grab financed by people like George Soros.” A few months ago, Gingrich claimed that Soros was financing violence in U.S. cities during Black Lives Matter mobilizations. Soros, who gives to liberal causes, is at the center of numerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the world.

Some Republicans urge acceptance of Biden transition

Some ruling-class figures and GOP politicians have pushed back against this disinformation and resistance. A growing number of GOP senators, including Thune, Graham, and Grassley, are now saying that Biden should receive the daily intelligence briefing. Thune, the majority whip, said, “It’s important from a national security standpoint, continuity. And you’ve seen other members suggesting that. I think that makes sense.”

 A former GOP congressional representative from Michigan, Mike Rogers, tweeted similarly: “Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place. @JoeBiden should receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) starting today. He needs to know what the latest threats are & begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security.”

Philadelphia GOP City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who helped oversee the count, earned an attack by Trump on Twitter by say that there was no fraud. Schmidt said, “If evidence of widespread fraud, or evidence of any fraud at all, is brought to our attention, we take a look at it and we refer it to law enforcement as we always do in every election.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper belonging to billionaire Sheldon Adelson, called Trump’s attempt to undermine the election a “disservice” and urged Trump to face reality. The paper wrote that “rhetoric from Trump surrogates alleging widespread illegal activity has been devoid of detailed evidence supporting the charge that there was a concerted effort to ‘steal’ the election through corruption.” 

In the meantime, Attorney General Barr, who has tried to use the Justice Department as a legal firm for Trump, issued an order to investigate possible fraud. This resulted in the resignation in protest of long-time Justice official Richard Pilger. Pilger cited the order as a violation of a 40-year policy of non-interference in elections.

Trust in the government declines 

The purpose of the post-election maneuvers by the Trump camp seems to be to whip up the Trumpist base into a frenzy and to undermine Biden’s ability to rule. Numerous “Stop the Steal” demonstrations by Trump supporters have taken place around the country. The Proud Boys, a violent neofascist group, have announced that they will hold a “Million MAGA March” in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14 to protest the election result. When asked about the event, Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said merely, “People want to show up and have their voice heard.”

This Trump-created chaos has the effect of further undermining the legitimacy of capitalist state institutions and deepening the ongoing political crisis. In 1964, polls stated that public trust in the federal government was more than 70 percent. In 2015, trust in the government had fallen to 19 percent. In 2016, trust in the presidency had fallen to 20 percent and trust in Congress sank to six percent.  

The government, state institutions, and capitalist political parties have presided over the destruction of working-class living standards for decades as the bosses seek to increase profitability on the backs of the exploited. Every aspect of working-class life has been degraded—from the right to organize unions, to pensions and benefits, and to public education. Lacking their own political party, workers often either vote for the “lesser evil” or to punish the party in power. Working people, petty bourgeois layers, and oppressed nationalities correctly see the ruling-class parties as disconnected and elitist. 

Both of the bosses’ parties lied to get the U.S. into endless wars in the Middle East, passed laws that strengthen the national security state, and have defended police violence against oppressed nationalities. Both parties have given Israel a blank check to continue genocidal policies against the Palestinian people. Both parties played a role in the creation of massive wealth inequality. 

Is this just a fundraiser?

GOP and Trump campaign email pleas for money to fight for a recount and to stop the alleged election fraud contain a fine print that says the funds can be diverted to pay off campaign debt. According to Talking Points Memo, “In reality, there is no election defense fund; the donations are siphoned into a mix of various committees. Up until Tuesday, some of the money was being used to pay down the Trump campaign’s debt. As of Tuesday morning, though, the formula was changed to funnel most of the money into Trump’s new leadership PAC called Save America.” The Trump PAC and the RNC split contributions 60% and 40%, with negligible amounts going into a recount fund. 

It seems like one purpose of the current drama is to divert attention from Trump’s effort to build his post-election war chest and to bolster the funds available for the Georgia Senate run-off. 

Is this a coup?

Trump’s refusal to openly accept the result has stoked liberal claims that Trump is attempting a coup. On Monday, Nov. 9, Trump fired Defense Secretary Esper via a tweet and proceeded to replace top civilian officials at the Pentagon with loyalists. This includes the installation of retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata as an acting undersecretary for policy. Tata is known for racist and Islamophobic statements, including the assertion that Obama is a terrorist. Esper and members of the military brass had pushed back at Trump’s desire to use troops against protests during the George Floyd mobilizations. More recently, Esper had been delaying withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. 

It should also be noted that both retired and active-duty U.S. military officers have stated publicly that the armed services will obey “legal” orders and to express support for constitutional rights. The notion of a coup is farfetched. Trump does not have sufficient support in the military or in the ruling class to simply set aside constitutional processes and declare himself the winner. Above all, the ruling class wants political stability in order to not interrupt business as usual. 

If a military coup is out of the question, however, is an institutional or self-coup possible? Both are situations in which, to some degree or another, the executive power takes on more power and refuses to follow constitutional processes. An extreme example of this is the 1992 autogolpe in Peru of President Aberto Fujimori. Fujimori dissolved both the judicial and legislative branches of government and assumed these powers for himself. 

Certainly, lawsuits and appeals to bourgeois legalism are not how a coup is stopped if such an eventuality occurs. Mass mobilizations and powerful political strikes that engage broad layers of the working class are the only way to stop a coup.

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