The following is a statement by Socialist Core on the upcoming 2020 US presidential elections
The upcoming presidential elections in the United States will take place at a crucial moment in world history. The capitalist economic system is currently facing one of its worst crises. The ecological crisis of our planet has gone from bad to worse, as capitalism proves to be incompatible with social or environmental sustainability.
The covid19 pandemic is having a massive impact on the poor and marginalized millions who have limited access to health care, are losing jobs and exposed to the greatest risks. The health crisis was years in the making and as a result of the very poor government response to the pandemic, more 8.7 million have become infected and 225 thousand people have died in the US.
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a turning point in American politics as it reflected a process of growing polarization to the right and to the left. It emboldened the right and fascists, but it did not deter the working class, the black, latino and immigrant communities from fighting back. Women have also been at the forefront of the resistance against the Trump regime.
The Black Lives Matter movement and millions of people responded to the brutal killing of George Floyd with the biggest mass movement since the 1960s. A broad movement challenged racism and police brutality in spite of repression, calling for defunding the police and demanding jail for the killer cops. Both the Black Lives Matter movement and the feminist movement point the way forward. Also they show the need to build a political organization that embodies those struggles, as well as those of the working class, which in spite of the obstacles poised by the union bureaucracy has participated in hundreds of strikes this year, many of them in solidarity with BLM.
The antiracist rebellion weakened the Trump bid for reelection. A Trump re-election would continue to pose a threat to working people in this country by emboldening white supremacists and the far right, and continuing to trample on democratic gains.
The majority of people in the US want to end the Trump presidency, which has been especially beneficial to corporations. Like that majority, we recognize that President Trump has spread racism to sow divisions in society and further marginalize African-Americans and immigrants. Trump and its ultra-conservative allies have also pushed for anti-abortion policies, a setback for women’s reproductive rights.
We too want to defeat Trump and his brand of right-wing populism. But we think that replacing a recalcitrant reactionary politician with a politician like Joe Biden is not the solution. As revolutionary socialists, we want to be honest and warn people that Joe Biden won’t allow significant advances against capitalist exploitation, racism and all forms of oppression, since he represents the Democratic Party, the other capitalist party. In fact, the democrats have failed in exercising a coherent opposition to the Trump presidency. The real opposition has come from the mobilized masses in the streets and that’s where a real political alternative is in embryonic form. As Trump has vowed not to concede if he loses the election, we call on workers to demand plans from their unions to strike if there is any fraud attempt by the Trump administration, and for all activists to prepare to take to the streets. Some unions, for example in Seattle, are making statements in this direction and even considering a general strike, which is very positive, but it’s their responsibility to go beyond words and organize.
In the US, the two parties of capitalism, the Republican and Democratic parties respectively, continue to serve the interests of the rich, and in the world they practice imperialist policies. As it is, for working class people the US presidential elections offer no political alternative to adress their everyday needs. For example, since the beginning of the pandemic, housing activists all over the country have demanded rent cancellation. But the demand to cancel rent for people who lost their jobs and income during the pandemic has faced resistance from both president Trump and the Democrats. If there is an eviction moratorium in place it’s because of the pressure from below. The so-called democratic system in the US is rigged. To avoid that emerging political forces representing working class interests attain representation in Congress and in the Senate, as there is no proportional representation, enforcing a two party hegemony. The second-degree election through the electoral college violates the one person one vote principle. On top of that, there are gerrymandering practices and voter suppression tactics used by the republicans directed specifically against African americans, Native americans and other oppressed communities. We need to fight to put an end to these antidemocratic characteristics of the US electoral system.
We live in a rich country that has enough resources to provide basic services like housing and free, universal healthcare to all, as well as access to free public education at every level. To achieve real economic and social change, that puts the needs of the working class, the youth, the popular and marginalized sectors, above profits and to end racism and repression, it is necessary to fight for a government of the working class. We must place all our present democratic and social struggles in that perspective.
We stress the need to organize and fight in the streets and beyond the electoral arena, organize our side in a new political alternative, a new independent left party or movement that truly represents the interests of the working class, the youth and the anti-racist movement. An important step in that direction would be a united front of the socialist left. Unity in action and carrying out the necessary debates, would help to build that political alternative for the millions that have mobilized this year and will continue to do so in the future against austerity, job losses, for the right to health care, against racism and in defense of democratic rights.
We understand and respect that millions of voters will use the Biden-Harris ticket reluctantly as a vote against Trump. We for our part will not vote for either Trump or Biden but call for a critical vote for any of the independent left presidential candidates. Also we support voting for independent left candidates at the local level.
No matter who wins the election, the struggle will continue.
Local elections and referendums
While the presidential election is understandably drawing most of the attention from the public, on November 3 other things will be decided as well. Regarding the election of the Congress and Senate members, we uphold the same position we have regarding the presidential election, we don’t vote for the two main capitalist parties but call for a critical vote for independent left candidates while denouncing the inequities of the electoral system which make it almost impossible for independent working class alternatives to have nationwide proportional representation.
Also there are candidates at the state and city level who we can vote for. They are committed activists taking part in union or community organizing, so voting for them is a way to strengthen that political activism. Such is the case of Dan Piper, teacher and union member who is running for state representative in the first district of Hartford, Connecticut. Piper is also a member of Socialist Resurgence. He advocates the public property of medical resources and virtual teaching to safeguard teachers, students and their families in the ongoing pandemic. Also he defends cutting the police budget and self determination and reparations for african americans, native americans and for Puerto Rico.More than a hundred initiatives and popular referendums will be held in 32 states, hundreds more at city level, on issues such as taxes, minimum wage, workers´ rights, marijuana consumption, voting rights and others. In the last two decades these initiatives and referendums have allowed for some democratic changes such as the legalization of interracial marriage in Alabama in 2000.
As a general guideline we are for minimum wage increases, as we think that every worker has the right to a dignified living wage. We are against regressive taxes, those which rely on “everyone”, meaning the working class instead of specific taxes for the capitalists. We are in favor of extending voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds in primary elections and local elections. We reject the attempt by Uber and Lyft corporations to push back on the recognition of their drivers as workers, by attempting to have them considered independent contractors and cutting their legal rights. We supperot the legalization of recreational marijuana consumption in Arizona, Montana and New Jersey, as well as its use in medicine in Mississippi and South Dakota. Also we support decriminalization of drug consumption in Oregon, where an initiative will be voted on to eliminate jail for drug posession and to create an addiction treatment and recovery program. Criminalization of drugs accounts for around 350 thousand people currently in jail, as an important element of the mass incarceration policy, about 15% of the total amount of people in jail, and obviously this policy is completely at odds with treating addiction and problematic consumption as a public health issue. We also are for respecting the right to vote of people under parole, which will be voted on in California, and in general against limiting the right to vote. Currently 30 states don’t allow for people on parole to vote. We support initiatives which aim at allowing for the defunding of the police, by for example eliminating legal minimums on the number of hired police officers.
As we can’t go into a more detailed discussion of every single issue which will be voted on, we recommend engaging in discussions with unions, leftist organizations and grassroots antiracist, feminist and community organizations to discuss how they view each of these referendums and take an informed decision while preparing to take the fight to the streets where they can be definitively won.