The Democrats’ continuing witch hunt aimed at driving President Donald Trump from office is a danger to the rights and struggles of working people. It undermines constitutional rights and protections, attempts to criminalize what are political differences, and sets precedents the bosses and their government will use to attack the rights of workers, their unions and vanguard political organizations.
It’s not Trump’s foreign policy in defense of U.S. imperialism that bothers the Democrats and liberals. They are not demanding U.S. hands off Venezuela and Cuba, or Iran and Korea. Nor is it his anti-working-class policies here at home, however much they howl about them.
Above all, they hate Trump because his election signaled a deep sense among millions of working people that capitalism’s crisis today means their lives and their future are in jeopardy. These workers have a growing distrust and hatred for those they call “the political class.” Liberals have a fear — shared broadly by the ruling capitalist families — that over time this will lead to large-scale labor battles and independent working-class political consciousness.
This is the rulers’ real target — to weaken the rights of working people and attack their ability to act politically.
Disregarding the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — despite all his partisan efforts — found no basis to the charges that Trump’s 2016 campaign had colluded with Moscow, liberals are pushing new charges and fishing expeditions they hope will lead to indictment, impeachment or at least to uncover unseemly material that can cost him reelection.
The House Ways and Means Committee is demanding the release of six years of the president’s tax returns. Trump says no way, they’re my business.
Dovetailing with the congressional moves, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing a state bill that would prevent presidential candidates from getting on the ballot there if they don’t make their tax returns public. This violates basic constitutional protections of the right to privacy. Similar laws are being pushed by liberals in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island and elsewhere.
When some of Trump’s older tax returns were released, showing he had lost money, he joked that this only meant he was smart and saved money on his taxes. Millionaire bourgeois politicians like Trump — and like Obama, the Clintons and Bernie Sanders — have an army of accountants and lawyers to doctor their taxes.
But Socialist Workers Party candidates and many other workers oppose efforts by government bureaucrats to pry into their families’ financial affairs. They are nobody’s business.
Democrats, and some Republicans, are also pushing to greatly increase the number of signatures parties have to collect to get on the ballot, as well as moving the deadline for filing to run earlier and earlier, in some cases into the year before the elections! The effect — and intention — of these bills is to make it harder for independent and working-class parties, like the Socialist Workers Party, to get on the ballot.
House Intelligence Committee chief Adam Schiff is seeking to open a new round of “investigation” into the president and others in his administration. He threatens to use Congress’ “inherent contempt” power — which hasn’t been used in nearly a century — on administration officials who refuse to agree to be grilled or to turn over personal material. The “contempt” rule allows Congress to issue sanctions, including imprison people in the Capitol.
The rulers’ political police
Meanwhile, the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, is opening a probe into the FBI’s increasing role as a partisan spy operation against Trump’s 2016 campaign and his administration. This makes Democrats nervous.
“We have to stop using the criminal-justice process as a political weapon,” Barr said May 1, pointing to liberals’ efforts to criminalize political differences between Democrats and Republicans. But the capitalist “justice” system and its FBI political police have been used for decades to target and attack working-class militants and revolutionists like the SWP, with the support of Democrats and Republicans alike. The liberals’ push to do so today gives the rulers greater room to step up these attacks.
The 15-year successful political and legal fight by the Socialist Workers Party against spying and harassment by the FBI and other government agencies helped expose the scope of the rulers’ political police. Both Democratic and Republican administrations back to Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s used the FBI to target the SWP and its participation in the unions, the fight against imperialist war, struggles to overturn Jim Crow segregation and other legal activity.
A 1986 court ruling in the lawsuit detailed the hundreds of informers the FBI sent into the party. It describes 20,000 days worth of wiretaps over two decades and hundreds of burglaries of party offices and homes of SWP members.
When the liberals turn similar methods loose against Trump’s campaign and his presidency, it gives wider sway to political police spying and disruption and increases the danger to the working class. Every attack on constitutional rights will end up being directed against the working class and vanguard groups like the SWP. Working people need to fight every step advanced by liberals and the middle-class left — or anyone else — to undermine our political rights.