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Independent Socialist Group interim statement on 2020 US election
Jeff Booth, Independent Socialist Group in the US, co-thinkers of the Socialist Party
Vote counts are too close to call for the Presidential election. Anti-Trump protests began in some cities overnight including in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Oregon, and Seattle. The recent Black Lives Matter movement against racism and police brutality is energizing protests around the unfolding election results.
Corporate pollsters and the corporate media were predicting a Biden/Democratic Party win for President and possibly the Senate. Biden, with a slight lead in popular votes and electoral "votes", is now trying to reassure supporters it's not over until it's over. He is stressing votes not yet counted. Liberal media "analysts" and Democratic Party operatives, like in 2016, are shocked at how close the race is.
Trump is claiming he has "won". He's been demanding that vote counting stop, calling the election a fraud, and betting on the Supreme Court as a way to "win". Both corporate parties are threatening legalistic challenges to the election results.
Claims of voter fraud and voter suppression schemes, like manipulating and cutting the postal service and disrupting mail-in ballots in Republican-dominated areas were also a part of the pre-election period. Republicans also led the way in further limiting voting locations and early voting drop boxes for ballots, and the Republican Party in Texas tried to stop drive-through voting in the Houston area. But both corporate parties are guilty of voter suppression seeing as the Democrats forced the Howie Hawkins/Angela Walker Green Party campaign off some state ballots.
This election cycle was promoted as "the most important in history". The usual election hype is fueled by billions of dollars from the super-rich and big business to control and legitimize a dictatorship of big business over electoral politics. The big money spent on the elections and propaganda centering the corporate two-party system as the only "choice" was intensified in this election by the COVID pandemic, the deepening economic recession and increased social protests, most significantly the Black Lives Matter and related protests. Liberal "leaders" also did their best to divert and demobilize most of these protests into campaigning and voting for Democrats, often the same Democrats who presided over police brutality and mass incarceration in the first place.
It was also clear this time around that the majority of the capitalist class was backing Biden in the Presidential campaign. Trump's unpredictability, exemplified in his personalized and racist political attacks against any political opposition, means that the super-wealthy are warier of supporting him, seeing Biden as a more stable leader of American capitalism. And Trump and Republican policies in general are currently seen by corporate owners as too provocative to keep social and economic protest movements from growing before and after election day.
The $14 billion spent on the elections by corporations and the government seems to have resulted in a larger than normal voter turnout, labeled "historic" in the corporate media. However, campaigning energy in public was non-existent in many areas. The pandemic was a limiting factor but the lack of visible enthusiasm was largely due to many working people sensing that there were no solutions being seriously put forward by the corporate parties. Empty promises, personality-based election campaigns, and the lack of a political party for working people didn't add up to much real campaigning activity other than surface-level sparring on social media and marking a ballot for "the lesser of two evils".
No Good Choice for Working People
The corporate media stressed there was a huge, stark difference between Biden and Trump. Trump used much of his time as President to campaign for re-election and his speeches and social media outbursts were self-serving and filled with outright or coded racism, and right-wing populist lies about the economy.
Biden mostly ran against Trump rather than for meaningful policies. He attacked Trump for not being Presidential enough. Biden's campaign speeches tended to focus on getting back to "normal" - pre-Trump, and pre-COVID-19. Biden's talking points focused a lot on the Trump administration's weak responses to the pandemic. Biden would bring up general and vague talk about jobs and the economy but usually without details or sincerity.
As usual, the two corporate parties have a lot in common despite the corporate media stressing differences in this election campaign. Neither the Biden nor Trump campaigns proposed real solutions to the pandemic.
There was no mention or even hint of a government-run program for a vaccine or effective treatments, including taking big pharma and healthcare under public control. Both their campaigns, and the two parties more generally, opposed Medicare-for-All in the middle of a global pandemic.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats trade blame on the failure to produce a second "stimulus" package during a deep recession. Both corporate candidates and parties campaigned on more funding for police (despite the BLM movement) and more military spending on top of record-high military spending. Both Biden and Trump constantly attacked socialist and progressive ideas, demonstrating the fear that the ruling class has of an organized working class.
Differences exist between Biden and Trump in style. There are differences in some policies, for the most part buried in fine print and with no accountability to ensure follow-through. The Democratic Party campaign used liberal, capitalist soundbites about the economy, similar in tone and empty promises to Trump's conservative, capitalist economic populism. Biden hid his long career as a corporate politician deeply tied to the Dupont/DOW corporation and the credit card and banking industry. While Trump peddled bigotry, Biden hid his record of support for segregationist policies and allying himself with Jim Crow politicians like Strom Thurmond. Biden tried to bury his leading role in mass incarceration policies like the 1994 Crime Bill.
Neither Biden, nor Trump, nor the Democratic and Republican Parties were a choice for working people, including progressive or left activists. The left missed this opportunity to use the elections to help sustain, build, and unite progressive protest movements like BLM, housing rights protests, and the Howie Hawkins/Angela Walker campaign as a step towards organizing for a mass, progressive and left workers' party. Part of the anti-Trump protests emerging now should include renewed organizing for a new, alternative political party for working people.
The Independent Socialist Group (ISG) supports protests against Trump trying to steal the election.
Whether Biden or Trump are declared "winner" we call for activists and organizations to:
- Protest against voter suppression and any attempts to throw out votes in this election.
- Protest and organize for more resources for elections, state and national holidays for voting, abolishing the electoral college, ending gerrymandering, and further expanding democratic rights.
- Organize and unify renewed protests against police repression, racism, and police brutality.
- Connect anti-Trump protests and protests for more democracy to economic and social conditions: no evictions or foreclosures, no layoffs, nationalize COVID-19 vaccine and treatment development and distribution, universal free healthcare now, a national minimum wage of $20 an hour!
- Organize against lesser evilism and build a mass, progressive and left political party for working people.