Photo: Biden speaks at the signing ceremony for the notorious 1994 crime bill
Today, just as has happened every four years since 1789, an avowed defender of the wealth and power of the ruling elite has been sworn into office as President of the United States. While a great many people are understandably relieved that Donald Trump is leaving the White House, Joe Biden’s Inauguration on its own will do nothing to remedy the urgent crises facing the working class and will do nothing to rein in the destructive role of the U.S. war machine abroad.
Having spent almost his entire adult life as a member of the political elite, Biden has accumulated a clear track record as a reactionary politician at the service of Wall Street and the Pentagon. Biden launched his career as an opponent of school integration and went on to employ viciously racist rhetoric as he pushed the laws that would form the core architecture of the system of mass incarceration. He has helped deregulate the finance industry, notably with his vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and his role passing the 2005 bankruptcy law. Biden was a dutiful steward of U.S. imperialism in the Senate and as Obama’s vice president. He voted in favor of the blood-soaked 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even proposed the colonial-style partition of the country as a means of putting down the resistance to the U.S. occupation.
In his acceptance speech, Biden emphasized the need for national unity, reconciliation and bipartisanship. With the Republican Party embroiled in turmoil following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, some elements may be inclined to take up Biden on his offer of cooperation. And they would do so knowing full well that historically “bipartisanship” has always meant that the liberals adapt themselves to the program of the far right, not the other way around. The Democratic Party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, the only reason that they would seek “bipartisanship” at this moment is that they prefer the program of the right wing to the program of the left.
But politics is dynamic, and the intervention of the masses of people can make all the difference. The struggle of the working class has the power to force even the most reactionary politician to offer concessions. Biden knows this, and there are indicators that some of his first acts in office may be designed to head off opposition from the left.
For this struggle to be effective, it must be independent of the Democratic Party and develop its own, socialist leadership. Under Biden it will become ever clearer that the dire problems facing the world are rooted in the capitalist system itself, not the individual politician who holds office. It will become ever clearer that revolution and the complete reorganization of society is the only way out of the multiple and intensifying crises of capitalism. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will redouble its efforts towards this end.