As of this writing it’s unclear who won the U.S. presidential election. Ballots are still being counted in several “battleground” states. Trump prematurely and illegitimately declared victory early this morning, and will likely challenge a Biden victory by attempting to suppress votes not yet counted. He has vowed to take this fight to the Supreme Court, where he has just secured a solid right-wing majority.
Many of the ballots last to be counted in these states are from early voters in Black majority urban centers such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta — those most inclined to vote against Trump. A record 100 million-plus voters are estimated to have voted early.
Rallies are taking place all over the country today around the demand to count all the votes. These actions are pulling out people — particularly people of color — who drove long distances to wait in long lines in all kinds of weather to cast their votes. To some extent this election became a referendum on the most blatant, vile, divisive and uncensored white supremacy and bigotry emanating from the White House. Many will see the inconclusive vote results as a setback.
Trump’s early push to stop the vote count continues a pattern of dirty tricks that include robocalls with false information, deliberately sabotaging postal deliveries, putting up fake ballot drop-off boxes, disenfranchisement of former prisoners and migrants, and physical assaults and intimidation, including attacking voting rights marchers in North Carolina.
After a judge ordered the postal service to conduct a sweep of unmailed ballots and prioritize their timely delivery, Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy refused to comply. The Justice Department backed DeJoy.
The bigot-in-chief’s fraudulent declaration of victory is but the latest example in a long, ugly history of denying Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities the basic right to vote. The electoral college itself, which skews results with a “winner take all” state-by-state selection process, is rooted in efforts of enslavers to maintain political control over how U.S. presidents are chosen. Real democracy is a myth in this country.
While limited by their politics and ties to the Democratic Party, today’s demonstrations are taking the struggle against racist voter suppression beyond the confines of the voting booth. What’s all the more significant are calls emanating from sections of organized labor for a general strike if Trump refuses to step down. Even if this doesn’t happen, the importance of this conversation – of workers withholding their labor as a form of mass political protest – must not be underestimated.
Get ready for a big fight, regardless
Even if the rallies achieve their goal and secure Biden’s path to the White House, the epic struggle unfolding since the COVID-19 crisis and the lynching of George Floyd will intensify. Among the huge numbers who voted for Trump are the many racist police, whose associations — misnamed unions — endorsed the president. They are openly allied with white supremacist paramilitaries such as the “Proud Boys.”
Since these pro-fascist elements may be buoyed if Trump ekes out a victory and full of venomous hatred if he doesn’t, progressives and anti-racists will have to step up their defense of people of color, migrants, homeless, protesters, LGBTQ2S+ people, women, people with disabilities, youth and others.
Black and Latinx workers in the South and Southwest, where Trump carried most of the states, could be particularly vulnerable to hate crimes. The Old South, with its long history of segregation and the lowest level of unionization, is where new manufacturing in steel, auto and other industries is now concentrated. White workers are targeted with the most hateful rhetoric, intended to pit them against the most oppressed workers.
A significant section of the capitalist class favors and funds Trump’s fascist appeal. Donors among the super-rich hail from the financial, real estate, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, and other industries. Without their support, super-PACs such as America First Action would collapse.
But the popular movement would also have to fight a Biden/Harris administration. In this election campaign, the Democratic Party avoided appealing for support on a progressive basis, even though it observed a new, historic, anti-racist movement developing. Rather, the Democrats ditched Bernie Sanders in favor of Biden, pandered to Trump’s socialist-baiting, rejected calls to defund the police and distanced themselves from The Squad — Congresswomen of color Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayana Pressley, who just won reelection.
Biden’s own history includes passing racist “anti-crime” bills as senator, presiding over record numbers of deportations, and engaging in sexist behavior as vice president. He has done nothing to stop police killings, including the 2014 murder of Tamir Rice that occurred during his tenure. Both as an elected official and as a candidate — with a long list of ruling class backers himself — he has expressed a solid commitment to U.S. imperialism in foreign policy.
Was the choice of Biden a factor in the Democratic Party’s poorer-than-expected performance?
The only way forward for working class and oppressed people is to take the struggle beyond the narrow arena of capitalist elections. A range of tactics must and will be employed, from street protests to general strikes. The prospects for independent mass struggle are the best antidotes to any demoralization or discouragement among those who were hoping for an electoral wipeout of Trump.
All hell could break loose soon. Class struggle, the driving force of past and future history, is our ray of hope.