Trump remains a force as U.S. midterm elections approach

By JAIRO MONTEROJO 

Midterm primaries in the United States are underway. The Republican Party’s right wing consolidates its strength with significant primary wins on the gubernatorial and congressional levels. The Democratic Party stagnates, unable to deliver on its key promises and with a historically low approval rating, around 40%.

While the GOP is gaining major ground in its fight against abortion access, voting rights, the Environmental Protection Agency, etc., the Democrats will attempt to mobilize its voters on the basis of empty promises to address these issues. For working-class people in the United States, these elections represent the growing threat of a right-wing backlash against our working and social conditions and raise the need to organize our class in response.

Even after mixed election results among Trump-endorsed candidates across the U.S., Trump remains the Republican Party’s most popular figure, and the right-wing politics that characterize him provide the winning ticket among that party’s voter base. His name and endorsement provided a boon to candidates such as Sarah Huckabee for the Arkansas governorship and J.D. Vance from Ohio; Ken Paxton in Texas for the state’s attorney general position, defeating George P. Bush, member of the Bush family; and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race. He endorsed nearly 130 candidates vying for various levels of power, of which more than 100 have won, although with some notable losses, such as David Perdue’s loss to Brian Kemp for Georgia governor and Madison Cawthorne’s loss for a congressional seat from North Carolina.

Trump’s power in the Republican Party is not absolute. The party’s right-wing program predated Trump and is embraced by the majority of the Republican Party. Even with GOP candidates who reject Trump’s stance on the election, such as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, they stand for the same politics and will bring forward other figures who can implement it with greater efficacy and brutality, minus Trump’s characteristic antics.

The American Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism tracked 100 Republican candidates with direct connections or sympathies for groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and conspiracy theories, such as QAnon. And while key corporate PACS cut their financial support for GOP politicians after the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., they’ve largely returned to support the GOP’s far right wing. They see the writing on the wall; the Republicans are poised to take control of Congress, and they desire to be in that party’s good graces for the sake of their profits, regardless of their initial rejection of these politicians after the Jan. 6 event.

Now that the committee tasked with investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021—when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the transition of executive power to Biden—is revealing its findings, the lies and manipulations of Trump and his acolytes are becoming transparent. However, it appears unlikely that this legal maneuver, orchestrated largely by the Democrats, who are aware of their weakened position prior to the November midterms, will have any significant impact on the outcome of these elections. It will primarily cement the existing divide that exists within the two-party system and among voters in general.

The GOP will take no responsibility for the violence that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, and will continue to peddle its claims of election fraud as one of the bases for its electoral campaign. Trump’s reputation among Republicans might suffer given the Jan. 6 committee’s findings that clearly demonstrate Trump’s incompetence and potentially perilous role within the MAGA movement. For now, Trump is still the face of the MAGA movement, but that could change as the Jan. 6 hearings play out and Ron DeSantis poises himself as the potential successor to Trump. 

Throughout the world, far-right movements and politicians maintain power through the brutal repression of resistance, the implementation of drastic cuts to social services, extractivist policies that destroy ecologies, and reactionary ideologies to justify their policies. This includes Orban in Hungary, Putin in Russia, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Modi in India, and the far-right trend in the GOP—which is now its dominant current. These political forces are supported by grassroots right-wing movements that target leftists, workers, and oppressed groups through terror and intimidation, as evidenced by the white supremacist violence against Black people in the U.S. and the attacks on abortion centers.

The rise of the far right is a symptom of the capitalist system’s crisis of profitability and an expression of the polarization among the bourgeoisie in terms of how to respond to the social and economic crises this gives rise to. The far right in the U.S. is reaping the fruits of decades of methodical organizing in preparation for a moment like this, in which the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the weakening of the EPA provide momentum for the right wing to push further in their application of their reactionary policies.

What about the Democrats?

Biden’s team is painting a fantastical picture of the U.S. economy due to reportedly low unemployment. However, even while unemployment is relatively low and wages have increased, inflation is workers’ major concern because of its effects on their living conditions. On this matter, the Democrats have no plan other than to blame Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and increase interest rates. While this war has worsened access to food and increased hunger in the semi-colonial world, the Biden regime attempts to absolve itself of responsibility for the role its sanctions on Russia play in exacerbating this attack on working people’s lives. However, he and his party are unwilling to enact the basic social provisions that would improve working people’s living conditions here, or anywhere, including lifting Afghanistan’s debt or the Build Back Better act, even after drastically reducing its social supports for child care, education, etc., failed to garner the majority enough support within its own party to prevail.

As in previous elections, the Democratic Party will attempt to position itself as the only viable alternative to the growth of the right wing. While the issues of abortion and gun control might garner the Democrats more votes than they otherwise would have gained, the extent to which this will translate into greater voter turnout from its base in the upcoming elections remains to be seen. In the unlikely scenario that there is a significant increase in Democratic voter turnout that plays an important role in the outcome of the elections, it will be working people’s reaction to right-wing policies that motivates them as opposed to support for President Biden.

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, Biden and the Democrats promised to defend reproductive rights. Yet they must be held to account for their failure to pass progressive reproductive rights legislation when they had the ability to do so, including President Obama’s failure to codify abortion access as a federal right under his presidency.  Most recently, Nanci Pelosi endorsed anti-abortion candidate Henry Cuellar against Jessica Cisneros in the Texas Democratic Party’s primary elections.

On the other hand, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and several other congressional Democrats recently faced arrest at an abortion rights rally in Washington, D.C. Their action is little more than a performative act since, as they’ve demonstrated numerous times, they will submit to their party’s policies, none of which include building a mass movement to defend reproductive rights. Their focus will be, as with the entire Democratic Party, to vote blue by conjuring working people’s legitimate fears of the growing right-wing backlash in the United States.

The recent labor struggles in places such as Minneapolis and Sacramento public schools, Starbucks across the U.S., and the Amazon union victory in Staten Island demonstrate the unified power of workers and oppressed people to empower our class and improve our conditions. It is this lesson that must drive us in the current struggle against capitalism and its most virulent right-wing expressions: working people can only rely on our independent, organized power to beat back the right.

In the current struggles for reproductive rights, unionization, community safety, against police brutality, etc., workers and oppressed people must mobilize in the streets and workplaces to win our demands. And rather than relying on the Democrats, working people and the organized labor movement should build their own party—a militant workers’ party. We cannot depend on any other force but our own.

Photo: Trump speaks at Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images)

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