By JEFF MACKLER
On the Joseph Biden side of the 2020 capitalist election spectacle stood the military establishment, albeit quietly, including Trump’s Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the latter fired by Trump a few days after the president’s Nov. 3 election defeat. Trump’s ever-diminishing coup threat, refusing a peaceful transition should he lose, had no takers in the military, not to mention in his own cabinet. Vice President Mike Pence made sure to follow Trump’s post-election podium bluster that he had won with assurances that no such claim was credible “while the votes continue to be counted.”
Both Milley and Esper had balked in June at Trump’s threat to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to quell Black Lives Matter and all other protests across the country. “Not at this time,” they repeatedly insisted, in contrast to the moron Trump’s threats and insistence that this was the time. While few among the ruling rich discounted Trump’s incessant threats, no section believed that a military solution to the mass anti-racist protests, which mobilized an unprecedented 15-26 million in the streets in 2000-plus cities and towns following the police murder of George Floyd, was necessary. They had other means in mind to corral the mass hatred of society’s systemic racism into safe channels. The Democratic Party, the historic “graveyard of social movements,” was and remains their first choice.
Trump had warned on June 1 in a White House Rose Garden speech, as federal law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets and noxious chemical gases at peaceful White House area protestors, that if the nation’s governors didn’t call up National Guard troops to “dominate the streets, I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” To make his point, the bragging demagogue sent a relative handful of plainclothes federal officials to Portland and Minneapolis to momentarily grab and disappear small groups of peaceful protestors only to be repudiated by local and state officials. Shortly after, both Milley and Esper, publicly repudiated having escorted Trump, bible in hand, from the White House to nearby St. Peter’s Church for a one-minute photo op aimed at displaying his military might. Trump literally posed himself as under the command of his military establishment, with a momentarily intimidated Milley – dressed up in combat fatigues – playing along as if Trump had actually invoked the 1807 Act.
Democrats had more generals than Trump
Biden’s VP running mate Kamala Harris, a pro-corporate Senator and self-described “top cop” as California’s tough on crime Attorney General, bragged during her pre-election debate with Pence that her Democrats had more generals and national security officials on Biden’s side than Trump’s Republicans. The Democrats, constantly publishing lists of Biden-supporting military tops and defecting Republicans, made no bones about who they looked to for credibility.
The FBI and CIA, the new Cold War “Russiagate” establishment, similarly lent their weight to Biden as did the vast majority of the corporate media. Biden’s red-baiting Democrats and their FBI/CIA friends, nevertheless were repeatedly incapable of proving that Russia had spent a dime supporting Trump, not to mention Putin’s government stealing or tampering with U.S. ballot boxes.
Less than a week after the election, Trump signaled his intention to boot the FBI and CIA directors while he replaced defecting or equivocating NSA and Pentagon officials with more reliable toadies. The nation’s billionaire class weighed in on Biden’s side, according to Forbes magazine, with 131 of the super-rich contributing generously to Biden, compared to a paltry 93 for Trump. The 2020 election contest included record spending of $13.3 billion, nearly double the amount spent in 2016, with Biden outspending Trump in the last months by a factor of two to one.
Republican stalwarts support Biden
Well known Republican establishment figures like former President George W. Bush, warmonger-in-chief for his two terms of service for the ruling rich, joined the Biden team. Bush’s presidential credentials included his ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team plus a few posts that he assumed by virtue of his lineage to his multi-billionaire Cold Warrior father, President George H. W. Bush, whose bona fides included being the director of the CIA. Biden’s team included former body builder and film star Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was promoted to the California governorship by the then world’s richest corporation, General Electric, and via his personal ties to the Kennedy clan.
Biden’s coalition included all wings of the Democratic Party including the “progressives” like Bernie Sanders and the AOC Squad, all of whom joined in 2018 and 2020 to support every single Democrat running for election, including the most overtly reactionary.
Biden’s racist record
Biden’s history as the Democrats’ long-term designee to align Southern racist segregationists with the North’s “liberal” Democrats was highlighted when he was called upon to eulogize the infamous Southern racist Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond in 2003, whom he called “my friend” and has recently praised.
Thurmond’s mid-century Dixiecrat platform, when he was vying for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, included the following gem: “We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program.” Indeed, Biden was chosen for the VP slot when he was Obama’s running mate due to his established skills in aligning to the Democratic Party the same Southern racist bigots, today disguised with labels like “conservative” or “centrist” or “Blue Dog” Democrats.
The latter term alludes to a dog being left out in the cold – in this case, they claim to be left out of the Democratic Party’s supposedly “liberal” mainstream – so long that it turns blue. This wing of the Democrats, today representing some 26 members of congress, is a group of politicians ever defecting or threatening to defect to the Republicans, who the mainstream Democrats need in order to hold on to their narrow House majority.
Movement For Black Lives presses for Biden
The Biden campaign witnessed the Democrats’ ongoing capacity to capture promising social struggles, as was the case with the Black Lives Matter movement and its associated Movement For Black Lives (M4BL). The latter’s self-appointed and largely corporate Democratic Party-funded “leaders” sheepherded unwary Black anti-racist activists and their supporters among white youth into Biden’s reactionary camp – lock, stock and barrel. From M4BL’s online Black National Convention, to the Al Sharpton-initiated March on Washington, to literally every elected Black Democrat in the country, the promising mass mobilizations against ongoing police brutality and murder and against U.S. systemic racism were turned to the Biden campaign.
The precondition for membership was to obliterate Biden’s past racist record and to re-cast his image as a virtual crusader for Black equality. Malcolm X said it well in describing the Black Democrats of his time as “cigars,” that is, “fire on one end and fool on the other.” Today’s Black Democratic Party officials – Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford calls them “the Black mis-leadership class” – are far from fools but rather the conscious agents of capitalism who have taken on the assignment of herding the oppressed into the master’s corrupt vote-hustling machine… for a price, of course – perhaps a corporate grant or a future petty post in the machine.
Tragically, the same holds for the mis-leadership of the large Latinx community and the hardened bureaucracy of today’s ever-declining trade union movement. They, and thousands of corporate-funded NGOs played the sheepherding role to the hilt and will be expected to continue to do so. Richard Trumka’s toothless AFL-CIO, for but a few vague promises to throw a future bone to his tail-wagging whimpering bureaucrats, can be expected to do the same. In the absence of anything resembling an independent working class break from capitalist politics – a fighting labor party in alliance with all the exploited and oppressed – the trade union vote split 60-40 between Biden and Trump.
Biden’s racist, imperialist record disappeared
Disappeared from these sheepherding politicians’ and bureaucrats’ discourse was Biden’s key role in crafting the overtly racist crime bills, virtually authored by police “unions,” that sent millions – majority Black, Latinx and Native Americans – to the nation’s increasingly privatized, for-profit prison-industrial-complex, put to work for Fortune 500 corporations at slave wages. Biden was compelled to offer up a few words of apology for this “mistake” as he did for his support for the Iraq War, an imperialist mass slaughter that murdered 1.5 million Iraqis, justified by lies of Iraq possessing “weapons of mass destruction.” Biden’s admitted “mistakes” were taken for good coin by so-called progressives, because they had once again found a “greater evil” to oppose.
Disappeared from the “progressives’” rhetoric were the Obama administration’s multi-trillion dollar corporate bailouts via quantitative easing (printing money) and gifting it to the corporate elite at near-zero interest rates. Disappeared were the Obama-Biden bloated military budgets and their seven simultaneous imperialist wars for profit and plunder against poor and oppressed nations.
Wedded to the marrow to solving capitalism’s ever-deepening crises at the expense of working people, the Obama-Biden administration came to office with majorities in both houses of congress and proved incapable of advancing the interests of the vast majority. Obama-Biden became the world’s leading immigrant deporters, frackers, offshore drillers, secret surveillance orchestrators, and warmongers. Elected by their ruling class superiors, they oversaw the de-industrialization of large portions of the country, wherein ever-declining U.S. profit rates were to be countered by hiring Chinese or Vietnamese or Mexican workers to operate U.S.-owned plants at a fraction of the labor costs in the U.S. Those plants that remained in the U.S. or were constructed during the Obama-Biden reign were subjected to the ongoing replacement of workers with robots or with speed-ups and cuts in wages, benefits and pensions. In truth, Obama-Biden laid the basis for what Trump-Pence continued. Trump’s reactionary nationalist appeals were aimed at workers whose jobs were eliminated by Obama-Biden and their predecessors. Trump’s promises notwithstanding, few if any jobs were brought back to the U.S.
“Progressive Democrats” an oxymoron
Capitalist elections are orchestrated at every level – zero exceptions – by the U.S. ruling class, that is, the tiny multi-billionaire cum trillionaire class that owns and controls society’s key economic, financial and political institutions. Workers are periodically allowed to cast their votes for one of the two twin partiers of this ruling class. The election game is rigged at every turning point from near-zero access of working class parties to the ballot or to the corporate media, not to mention to the multiple billions required for serious participation.
The sheer notion that the capitalist Democratic Party has a “progressive” wing is utter nonsense. “Progressive Democrat” is an oxymoron. Bernie Sanders and the likes of The Squad are allowed to participate only because they lend credibility to the charade. They joined the Biden team because to do otherwise would end their spurious claims that the diseased capitalist system can be reformed to meet the needs of the vast majority. They are band aids on a capitalist system that cannot do otherwise but deepen its degeneracy in extracting yet another pound of flesh for its profits regardless of the consequences in human lives.
Ideology of the ruling class
In capitalist society, the dominant or all-pervasive ideology is the ideology of the ruling class, the class whose representatives, fundamental structures, institutions and corporate media control the dissemination of ideas. It is only when mass forces in struggle emerge among capitalism’s victims – led by conscious fighters with a clear counter-vision to capitalism’s endless justification for its continued minority rule, that the Truman Show-Potemkin Village fantasy world is challenged at its core. That time is rapidly approaching as capitalism’s ever-intensifying inherent crises compel countless millions to challenge its very right to exist.
Within days of Biden’s victory, he and his associates have already sounded a major retreat from the pathetic and empty few promises they were able to muster. Today we hear Biden speaking of a renewed bi-partisanship, of an America where everyone’s needs are met, where compromises with the Republicans are the order of the day.
Emerging class polarization
The 2020 elections revealed a growing polarization in U.S. society, registered in the votes alone. Both capitalist candidates received the highest popular vote totals ever – Biden with some 79 million votes, including some 87 percent of the Black population, and Trump with 73 million votes, including a majority of white voters. That the majority of white voters again cast their vote for Trump and the Republicans was no surprise, although a number of these had previously been Obama voters or voted for Trump because they believed, falsely, that he would return lost top-wage jobs to de-industrialized regions, as opposed to their present employment at near-poverty wages brought on by the Democrats. The record keepers tout the fact that 65 percent of the eligible electorate participated, up from the 55 percent in 2016. The 35 percent who did not vote, however, were deemed by pollsters to be people who were disillusioned with the system itself and/or people who believed (correctly) that their vote made no difference.
Another 10-12 million were banned from the rigged process entirely because they were immigrants without papers. Millions more were disenfranchised by court rulings because they were ex-felons. Additional millions were victims of a broad range of voter suppression measures aimed at students and the communities of the oppressed more generally.
No doubt, significant layers of the white population, including workers and small business people, have been influenced by Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant scapegoating, believing that the most oppressed, rather than the exploiting ruling class elite, were responsible for their ever-declining standard of living and decreasing economic security. Many others, however, voted for the Republicans because they saw the Democrats as catering to the giant corporations that sent their jobs overseas. A tiny few, relegated to small clusters of neo-fascist thugs and related hate group provocateurs, no doubt took sustenance from Trump’s racist vitriol and the cops’ disposition to ignore their violent attacks on peaceful protestors.
Broad left capitulation to lesser-evilism
Tragically, the 2020 elections witnessed the near collapse of the “socialist” left, with one after another party or group, crossing the class line to join Biden’s “lesser evil” camp and especially after their touted “democratic socialist” standard bearer, Bernie Sanders, another capitalist candidate with a carefully crafted Don Quixote image, was unceremoniously eviscerated in the course of the Democratic Party primaries. Sanders, thrown under the billionaire-financed oncoming Biden bus which denounced “socialism” and all of Sanders’s modest proposed reforms of an unreformable capitalist monstrosity, stayed the course, as he had promised, to the end, perhaps with a future seat at Biden’s cabinet table, pending his agreement to maintain the fiction of the viability of “bore from within” the monster and proceed as usual to champion the “lesser evil.”
To those who spent the past year supporting me as Socialist Action’s 2020 candidate for the U.S. presidency and to those new fighters for our revolutionary cause who joined us along the road, I express my deepest gratitude. We have a world to win replete with a new generation of emerging dedicated fighters aimed at the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist beast once and for all. Join us!