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FeaturesPSL Statement

Trump goes all-in on racist voter disenfranchisement after indecisive election night

After last night’s indecisive result, a massive effort is underway by the Trump campaign and Republican Party apparatus to prevent hundreds of thousands if not millions of votes from being counted. This effort has a clear racist character — hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots concentrated in cities with majority or near-majority Black populations have yet to be tabulated, and the final outcome of the election hangs in the balance.

The struggle for the right to vote has historically been a central feature of the movement for Black freedom in the United States. The ongoing effort at large-scale voter disenfranchisement recalls the tactics of paramilitary and judicial repression used to enforce Jim Crow apartheid. Many other oppressed people also face the prospect of mass disenfranchisement by the reactionary court system, including the right-wing supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Specifically, this is taking the form of court challenges in Michigan and Pennsylvania with the goal of stopping the vote count and ultimately disqualifying large numbers of mail-in ballots on bogus pretexts.

Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation are in the streets today resisting this racist voter suppression campaign. Our placards and banners tonight will read “Stop Trump’s Racist Voter Suppression!” and “Stop the War on Black America!”

We understand that the political crisis is dynamically evolving, and it is of the utmost importance to be tactically flexible and prepared to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.

The PSL’s branches have for weeks been preparing materials, banners and signs that were aimed at building a mass working-class movement to fight for the very reforms that Biden said he would veto: Medicare for all, defunding the police and the Pentagon, the cancellation of rents and debts, and so on. From day one of any incoming Biden administration, the essential thing is to launch a politically independent movement that will not wait in vain for the corporate-controlled Democratic Party to deliver progressive change. That is largely what happened when the Democrats controlled the White House and the Congress in 2009.

For today, however, we will keep those banners and signs on hold. The fundamental issue of this moment is the Republican Party’s attempted disenfranchisement of large numbers of working-class and Black voters. If Biden were to consolidate his victory in the coming days — as it appears he may if he can hold on to Michigan and Wisconsin, and squeak through in Arizona and Nevada — it would be essential to immediately prepare a struggle against that administration’s neoliberal program and Biden’s life-long program of imperialist war and intervention.

Even if Trump and his base intensify their battle against the legitimacy of a Biden presidency from the right, the necessary demands of the working class cannot be put on hold. In fact, Biden and the Democratic leadership cannot be trusted to lead a real struggle to fend off the the racist far-right; their every instinct is to compromise and conciliate, and to yield them public space. Regardless of who wins the White House, a major struggle against the organized far-right is coming.

Fighting to defend the democratic rights of oppressed peoples is not the same thing as becoming a tail to the kite of the Democratic Party and dropping criticism of Joe Biden. The Democratic Party elite is in a state of shock today, having predicted a landslide win for Biden and likely victory in the race for control of Congress. Biden has won the popular vote as the Democrats have in every election since 1992 with the exception of 2004. But the anticipated “landslide” in battleground states did not happen.

Why did this victory fail to materialize? Certainly Joe Biden himself was a primary part of the problem. He is an uninspiring, racist, pro-war, right-wing Senator who has been part of the political elite for half a century. He is opposed to all of the popular demands for social reform and organized his campaign around the idea that, in his words, “nothing will fundamentally change”. The Democrats could have nominated Bernie Sanders, or embraced a program of guaranteeing basic social rights, which would easily have won both the popular vote and the electoral college, but instead they chose to carry out a coordinated attack and consolidation to crush the Sanders movement and instead nominate a much weaker candidate whose only appeal was that he had name recognition and was not Donald Trump.

In addition, while the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, the huge deficiencies in the Democrats’ program towards the Coronavirus crisis may have given Trump a major electoral gift. Biden and the Democrats were not in favor of an income guarantee for unemployed workers, did not support the cancelation of rents and mortgage payments, did not support universal healthcare, or hardly any other measure that would alleviate the hardships faced by workers amid the pandemic. For a section of the working class, Trump’s relentless agitation against lockdowns and other public health restrictions may have appeared to be the only way to stave off destitution.

As of the writing of this statement, what is primary is that there is a racist attack of historic proportions taking place on the right to vote. The winner of the election is in doubt even though there is no dispute over which candidate received more votes. The completely bankrupt nature of “democracy” under capitalism is illuminated for all to see.

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