Greetings comrades and fellow workers,
Inauguration Day is a moment on the American political calendar in which most think both of the past four years, as well as the four years to come. This time around there is much food for thought as citizens all over the country attempt to grapple with the not only the last four years, but especially the Jan.6 and what this all means for the future of our country, but also for themselves and their families. Despite the pleas for unity, it seems the nation has rarely been more divided. And, like other watersheds in our history it is increasingly difficult for Americans of good will to see the differences that divide us as resolvable. This sentiment has perhaps become most acutely felt in the last couple weeks as some saw clearly for the first time that some of their fellow citizens do not necessarily share their notion of democracy or their understanding of democratic values.
The inauguration for many was a day of immense relief. A day when, after years of constant scandal and outrage, they could exhale and relax. The inauguration signaled to the “progressives” that it was finally time to return to brunch. Many have cherished the hope that all they had to do was wait out the clock on Trump, and that once he was out of office things would return to “normal”. The unfortunate reality is that despite leaving office, despite a peaceful transfer of power, Trump is not going to go away, and the political and social forces he rode into office have not disappeared. A great many Americans shocked by what they saw on Jan.6 had hoped that this event was the last gasp of Trumpism as a political force. The uncomfortable truth is that this is far more likely a harbinger of where of our politics is headed rather than an aberration.
Indeed, this perception of aberration, this pathologiziation of the person of Donald Trump, has been the main danger since the very beginning. The liberals have wanted to make our political problems out to be the result of the singular malignancy of the personality of Donald Trump. Donald Trump did not invent the social and economic forces that created the movement he bumbled and bungled his way into the lead of in a quest to assuage his pathetic ego. Just as the person of Donald Trump is not going to disappear from the political scene, neither is the noxious brew of racism, nativism, xenophobia, homo- and transphobia, the bullying style, the reliance on “alternative facts” and accusations of “fake news”, we call Trumpsim. There are indeed already politicians positioning themselves as leaders of this “movement”, trying to put the same constituencies that produced the Capitol riot to work for them, so to continue to profit financially and politically from them.
Looking backwards, the liberals will claim that the story of the Trump presidency was that our democratic institutions held firm, that our republic is strong. In fact the true story is quite the opposite. What Trump’s time on office showed - especially to the people of the world – just how far our institutions can be pushed without serious repercussions. Yes, Trump was impeached twice, and only twice, and yet despite no lack of evidence in either case it remains doubtful he will end up being convicted even once. Twitter has done more to hold Trump accountable than our democratic institutions. Only the most cruelly inhumane of his policies was effectively challenged and over-turned, namely the family separation policy. Despite the ridiculous liberal hyperbole about the threat of fascism that Trump constituted, he did lay the foundations, open the way, for an adroit populist demagogue to truly push the country towards fascism.
Trump and his supporters are indeed an ill portent, for despite everything that happened over the preceding four years Trump still received 70+ million votes. Indeed, if not for the COVID-19 pandemic it seems highly likely Trump would have won re-election. There are, as the Capitol riots made clear to some, perhaps for the first time, some very ominous forces coalescing in this country. Forces that are quite willing to deploy violence, to subvert the democratic process in whose name there are claiming to act in order to prevent changes they see as threats to “their” country. Their willingness to believe crackpot conspiracy theories – not only without any evidence, but despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary- and the erosion of consensus on notions like “truth” and “facts” signal a deep dysfunction in our society; one that Trump exploited but did not create. The ability of most to live entirely in a bubble of self-chosen “legitimate” news sources is a very worrisome portent. And, perhaps most concerning of all, the continued rhetoric around a stolen election promulgated by Donald Trump as well as his many enablers in the Republican party, represents a kind of “stab in the back” narrative for die-hard conservatives to rally around, a grievance they can nurse. Indeed, the politics of grievance, fueled by the neglect and contempt from both capitalist parties, will remain a feature of our political landscape.
Looking forward, what better way to summarize the prospects for the future than to use Biden’s own words, “nothing will fundamentally change”. So threatened were established elites even by the tepid social democracy being offered by Bernie Sanders that he was sabotaged at every turn. So threatening was the message of Howie Hawkins that he had a virtual media blackout imposed on him. Joe Biden will “accomplish” much by the standards of identity-politics obsessed liberals by having racial and gender diversity overseeing the capitalist-imperialist war-machine abroad, and maintaining the neo-liberal austerity regime at home. By the standards of helping working people, there can be little hope that a Biden administration will do any of substance to lift the broad working classes out of the mire they have been trapped in for decades. Instead of the $2000 a month economists and other experts say is needed, Biden is offering a one-time payment of $1,400. Instead of the $20 or even $25 an hour most workers need in order to live a decidedly non-luxurious lifestyle in most areas of the country Biden is lauded as progressive for offering $15. Instead of the Green New Deal needed to fundamentally reshape the way we create and use electricity Biden will re-join the Paris Climate Accord.
Whether Democrat or Republican in the White House, the socialist movement and the Socialist Party, have struggled for working people. The changing of the occupant of the Oval Office has never changed the conviction of the Socialist Party that working people must have a party of their own, a party that represents their interests. Neither of the dual parties of capital does anything for working people, because they serve another class, the bourgeoisie. This is why despite the change in administrations nothing seems to change for the great majority of workers. This is why Democrat or Republican, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. Why the poor live with the worst effects of environmental degradation and climate change, while the wealthy enjoy comforts and luxuries, and clean and healthy environments in their communities.
Passed by the National Action Committee Jan 21, 2021