What is the political road forward for workers in 2020

By Seth Galinsky
September 21, 2020

As the Democratic and Republican conventions began, most pundits thought that Joe Biden was a shoo-in for president. They pointed to the widespread layoffs, nationwide protests against police brutality and ongoing coronavirus pandemic under President Donald Trump’s watch.

But Trump has been appealing to working people and presenting himself as the “jobs” and “law and order” candidate. He paints the Democrats as enablers of anarcho-radical destruction and looting who care little about the effect on working people and small-business owners.

With two months to go to the vote, JP Morgan Chase and Las Vegas odds makers say it’s a toss-up, with rising odds Trump will come out on top.

The fact is, neither Biden nor Trump have any solution for the biggest problem facing working people — far-reaching unemployment.

The only voice for the working class in the 2020 elections is the Socialist Workers Party campaign and its presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett. The SWP is putting forward demands workers can use to fight for a union movement in every workplace, to advance their interests.

The party’s candidates call for the unions to fight for a government-funded public works program to create millions of jobs at union scale, building schools, hospitals and other things workers need. They say we need to organize to cut the workweek with no cut in pay, to prevent further layoffs.

The Republican National Convention, unlike the Democrats’ that showcased politicians and performers, included workers, farmers and small-business people. Alice Johnson — a Black woman who spent 25 years in jail for a first-time drug offense until her sentence was commuted by Trump — was a featured speaker. “There are thousands like me who deserve the opportunity to come home,” she said.

Trump presents himself as a champion of working people. “A lot of Republicans don’t want me to say that, but I’ll tell you unions are fine,” Trump said at a rally held during the Democratic convention. “What I talk about is the worker.”

Carnage facing workers continues

In 2016 Trump won support from many workers by highlighting the “carnage,” from factory closings to drug addiction. Now, after four years in the White House, he is trying to recapture some of that. He claims that under his watch, “America’s unprecedented economic recovery continues.”

In fact, the carnage will continue no matter which capitalist candidate wins the November contest.

Today’s capitalist economic crisis, exacerbated by government-ordered shutdowns on production and trade, takes a toll on working people. Despite moratoriums in many states, more than 40,000 families have been evicted since the start of the pandemic.

The official unemployment rate in August was 8.4%, down from 10.2% in July. At the same time, millions are without work and many major industries — from airlines to auto plants — are announcing layoffs. The 44-story, 478-room Hilton Times Square hotel announced it is permanently closing. CNBC reports 34% of New York hotels are delinquent in paying their bills. Amtrak announced that it is putting 2,000 rail workers on furlough and plans to lay off as many as 20% of its workers next year.

During the Democrats’ convention and since, Biden makes opposition to Trump the center of his campaign, shying away from talking about what he is for. Trump takes advantage of this, saying Biden is just a front man for radicals in the Democratic Party.

One of Biden’s central attacks on Trump is to blame him for the government’s negligent response to COVID-19. But both parties’ response to the pandemic has been anti-working-class.

At a Sept. 3 rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Trump pointed out that thousands of senior citizens died in New York state because Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered nursing homes to take in patients with the virus. This was a death sentence for retirees.

The U.S. government sent a hospital ship to New York City with hundreds of beds and set up a field hospital with 2,800 more at the peak of the pandemic, Trump points out. Despite overwhelmed hospitals in the city, those beds went largely unused.

Neither the Trump nor Biden campaigns say anything about the real problem — the for-profit health care “system,” which assures state-of-the-art treatment for the wealthy on private wards and overcrowded, understaffed, ill-equipped public hospitals for working people. That’s why there were not enough hospital beds or masks and other protective equipment for health care workers. It’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to tell those who are ill to stay home, unless they can’t breathe.

Biden refuses to say ‘antifa’

In an Aug. 31 speech in Pittsburgh, Biden finally said something about wanton destruction in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, saying, “Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.”

But he blamed the violence on Trump, never mentioning antifa and similar middle-class radicals who have hijacked what started as mass political protests against police brutality and turned them into small forays of anti-political destruction.

The violence is spearheaded by mostly Caucasian, middle-class radicals and antifa. They are aided by meritocratic Black Lives Matter leaders, who think the violence will force the rulers to give them a seat at their table.

Black Lives Matter leaders organize predominantly Caucasian marchers to target Caucasian neighborhoods, shouting “Wake up motherf—-ers,” demanding that the “white privileged” renounce their privilege and fork over cash.

Trump wins a hearing when he says that the antifa-type violence is most rampant in cities run by the Democratic Party. He points to Portland, where the Democratic mayor — who had made excuses for the antifa violence — fled his own home, after so-called protesters set fire to the complex where he lived.

Biden’s supporters are nervous about how he’ll do in debates with Trump, with some calling for him to refuse to participate.

The liberal media runs articles claiming Trump will refuse to leave the White House, regardless of the outcome of the vote. David Brooks’ piece in the Sept. 4 New York Times was headlined, “What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?” He says there’ll  have to be a uprising.

The article could have been titled, “What Will You Do If the Democrats Lose, but Refuse to Recognize the Results?”