Elections in the USA, the symptom of a huge political crisis
Biden is now leading the election, after the first hours of vote counting projected Trump as the winner. At midday in Argentina, mid-morning in Washington [Wednsday, November 4th], Biden’s lead in the overall election remains of around two and a half million votes and two percentage points. The projection of the delegates assigned to the electoral college plus those from the states that are still counting (with Biden winning Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and three of the four that are split in Maine, and Trump taking Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia) would give exactly 270 voters for Biden to become president, with Trump at 265. The polarization is even more striking when one considers the record levels of participation and the extremely marginal support gathered by variants outside the two big parties. In Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin, the difference between Trump and Biden is currently less than one percentage point, so the number of missing votes could still change this result. The projection of congressional votes currently gives Republicans an advantage in both chambers, although this may also change in the count.
Trump has spent the last few hours advocating that vote count should be stopped, with the famous argument of the unreliability of postal votes, in order to hold on to the picture of his advantage in the count. From the first hours of the count, and even though he appeared at the head of the tally, Trump predictably claimed that there has been fraud and that he wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court so that he would win the election with the postal votes annulled. As he has explicitly stated, he will resort to every mechanism at his disposal to hold on to power.
Trump still believes that it is possible, by means of a coup, to repeat for the third time in twenty years the capture of the White House by a Republican president with a minority of the overall vote, like George W. Bush in 2000 and himself in 2016. This distortion of the popular will that emerges from the constitutional system design is also present in the Senate and guarantees an over‑representation of the rural areas, thus favoring the extreme conservative and reactionary policies that predominate in those regions. The US bourgeois democracy, which has been the excuse for countless imperialist military adventures for more than a century, reveals itself to be a swindle once again.
In the face of Trump’s threats of performing a coup, Biden called for «patience» while the vote count continues. He is confident that the support of big capital, the armed forces and the intelligence organisms, and even the historic cadres of the pre-Trumpist Republican Party will ensure an orderly handover. Wall Street is celebrating Biden’s comeback with a rise in stock prices. As we have said in Prensa Obrera, Biden is the candidate of big capital and they have put their resources into the fight to avoid a greater political crisis. Republican Senator Marco Rubio openly differentiated himself from Trump as he stated that no winner should be declared until all the submitted votes are counted.
Trump expected this support for Biden and keeps his bet, although the fact that the majority of the ruling class and the state apparatus reject his flirtation with a coup d’état is a strong conditioning factor.
Since last night, there have been demonstrations, like those of Black Lives Matter, that have been concentrated in front of the White House. Numerous trade union organizations have raised the need to take measures of struggle if a coup attempt advances. The leadership of the Democratic Party wants to avoid any confrontation that could open a crack for a greater popular protagonism, which would later become a conditioning element for a future government.
The fact that a president who transformed the world’s main power into the country most exposed to the pandemic, who presided over one of the biggest economic crises in the history of capitalism and a series of scandals and unprecedented internal crises is fighting for re-election is a profound anomaly, whether he win or lose. This lays, on the one hand, on the extent of the capitalist impasse that has been worsening and which has been the breeding ground for regimes of personal power and nationalist nature to prosper throughout the world and, on the other hand, on his opposition’s lack of attraction as an alternative to overcome this crisis. Trump’s Bonapartist attempt aimed to express a way out of the pre-existing crisis, which showed in the social tensions during the Obama administration. However, he never managed to consolidate that political project, amidst the impact of the renewed world crisis, the clashes with the masses and the outbreak of a popular rebellion within its borders, a mid-term electoral defeat and the division of the political apparatus on which he had relied to come to power.
Trump has in his way offered an (extremely reactionary) approach to how to confront the reality of the decline of the US as an imperialist power and of its global hegemony. He has won over even sectors of the masses to this perspective, promoting right‑wing groupings of various kinds from within the state to deepen that agitation.
The conservative character of the Biden-Harris formula and of their entire campaign has given Trump an enormous amount of ground. The left wing, the Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, have ended up assimilating into the apparatus of the Democratic Party against the expectations that they had awakened in sectors of the masses with proposals for reforms. This left has renewed their seats in Parliament and gained new ones, and defended the vote for the candidate of big capital. The contradiction between its growth in the heat of mass radicalization (the Socialist Democrats of America have already passed 70,000 members) and its drift to the right is something that the next period will bring into play.
Biden’s campaign has not made any proposal that would integrate the demands of the millions who won the streets of the country this year, more than at any other time in the history of the country. Biden is leaning toward a cabinet with former George Bush officials, not Bernie Sanders. Biden’s idea of a «normalization» of the country is untenable in the midst of a troubled world and a historic decline in America. It is not possible to turn back the time of history: the United States cannot go back to the former status quo.
It has been the containment of the mass struggles that the Democrats operated and the scandalous truce of the AFL‑CIO union bureaucracy in the face of a social massacre of the workers that allowed Trump to recover politically from the knockout that the rebellion against the militarization of society had given him only 6 months ago. The Democrats not only refused to concentrate the struggle against Trump to dismantle his political power, but they participated with Trump in the brutal repression against the masses. The leftists who rejected the slogan «Trump Out Now,» arguing that this would read as an electoral support for the Democrats, adapted objectively to the Democrats’ blockage against a resolution of the political crisis in terms of direct action and mass mobilizations.
The outcome is still open. The enormous political and social polarization that has settled in the US will continue to develop. Workers must seek the methods of direct action and collective deliberation to intervene independently in this political and social upheaval.
The proposal of taking the streets and going on a general strike in the face of a coup attempt by Trump deserves the support of all workers’ and combative activism. Neither the institutions of the bourgeois state nor the leadership of the Democrats can be trusted to prevent a coup. It is necessary to expand the deliberation right now, with assemblies in workplaces and neighborhoods that make political and organizational definitions. It is not a question of political support for Biden, but of rejecting any passive stand in the face of an attempt to form a government based on police repression and the mobilization of the extreme right in order to overcome the crisis, as this would favor the destruction of the US fighters’ organizations.
Any government that forms will be weak, with a partial support because of this deep division. An intervention by the masses will condition the future government and open a way to fight for all the urgent needs that continue at stake in the face of repression, racism, poverty, unemployment and lack of health care.