As the Nov. 3 election draws near, and liberals’ hysteria about the possibility that Donald Trump could be reelected reaches a fever pitch, it’s clearer than ever that neither the Democrats nor Republicans offer any way forward for working people.
The only party presenting a course to fight the massive joblessness and hardships, often perilous working conditions, and inadequate health care is the Socialist Workers Party presidential ticket, Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett.
“More than anything, workers need to be at work,” Kennedy said at a meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Oct. 24. “It’s there that we can join together to fight the bosses who push the burden of the crisis on our backs. It’s there that our struggles can change the conditions we face and it’s there that we can begin to build the kind of union movement we need.
“We need a labor party,” Kennedy said, “to lead millions to end the bosses’ exploitation of our labor by taking political power into our own hands and establishing a workers and farmers government.”
Liberal warnings about the grim outcome of a second Trump term are reaching a crescendo, with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicting “the end of American democracy” if the president wins. “White men, mostly without a college degree” are Trump’s base, sneers Charles Blow in the same paper. His presidency is not a period of “momentary insanity,” but “the beginning of a soft civil war” of the “aggrieved,” led by Trump, who are “fighting for white power.” The only way Republicans can win the election, Blow claims, is to cheat.
Liberal frenzy to oust Trump
That argument is echoed by the middle-class left. The Shut Down D.C. group says Trump will attempt a coup and will only be driven from office with “direct action,” including violence, by self-appointed “defenders of democracy” like themselves.
In 2016 Trump won votes from millions of working people who successive Democratic and Republican administrations had dismissed as “deplorable” and treated with open scorn. He has governed for a capitalist ruling class that is accelerating efforts today to push the deepening economic and health crisis onto the shoulders of workers and farmers. Democrats have spent the past four years using an FBI-led witch hunt to try to overturn the 2016 election.
During their final debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Oct. 22, neither Republican Donald Trump nor Democrat Joe Biden pledged anything more than generalities about creating some jobs, someday in the future. They offered nothing to stop profit-hungry bosses throwing more of us onto the streets in the meantime.
Both act as if new government regulation or issuing more and more debt can paper over the ruinous effects of the slowdown in capitalist production and trade, rather than action by workers, farmers and our unions to press for our own class interests. Biden promises if he wins he will prepare measures to eventually create 18 million “green” jobs, while Trump claims his policies have put 11 million back to work since the pandemic began.
But over 23 million people are collecting unemployment benefits today, and that figure masks the true extent of the crisis, with millions more out of work and unable to get help either because they don’t have “proper” papers or they don’t qualify under government “guidelines.” Many workers have exhausted their maximum of 26 to 39 weeks of state unemployment benefits. Special federal “pandemic” benefits expire Dec. 31.
Despite a weak federal government ban on evictions that began Sept. 4, the numbers threatened with being thrown out of their homes rose in mid-October, as landlords found loopholes in the regulations. In five states alone — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas — some 9,500 eviction notices were filed since the moratorium.
“Workers and our unions should demand the government fund a public works program that puts all those cast out of a job back to work immediately, at union-scale wages, to build the houses, hospitals, schools and other things working people need,” Kennedy said. “When the bosses threaten layoffs, we need to fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in weekly take-home pay.”
Debate over lockdowns
Biden and Trump debated whether it is necessary to impose more lockdowns to combat the recent spike in coronavirus infections. Trump says no, “We’re learning to live with it.” Biden says under Trump’s presidency, “we’re learning to die with it.”
But there is no common “we.” The economic crisis and the pandemic fall in starkly different ways on different classes.
Long before the pandemic, the for-profit nursing home bosses crammed elderly workers into understaffed facilities. When the virus spread, government at all levels did nothing to stop them from becoming incubators for the disease, leading to a wide swath of deaths. The lives of the elderly are no longer of value to the bosses when they can no longer exploit their labor. Infection rates at nursing homes across the country began rising again in late September, as they have among the general population.
Neither Biden nor Trump propose using the federal government to make available to all the effective treatment that Trump received when he got COVID-19. Neither proposes to end the anarchy of the for-profit pharmaceutical bosses who seek advantages over their rivals, as opposed to pooling resources to get a vaccine as quickly as possible.
The liberal media has tried to bury discussion of an Oct. 4 petition by three epidemiologists who say shutdowns caused “irreparable damage.” Known as the Great Barrington Declaration and signed by thousands of other medical personnel, it says lockdowns contributed to “lower childhood vaccination rates” and “fewer cancer screenings,” with the burden falling hardest on the working class.
The signers urge what they call “focused protection” for the most vulnerable, particularly those living in nursing homes and other retirees.
In addition, millions of workers in the U.S. are more susceptible to infection because bosses cram us into confined workspaces while they speed up production. “Workers and our unions need to wage a fight to wrest control of production from the hands of the employers, including line speeds and all aspects of health and safety,” SWP candidate Kennedy said.
In contrast to both the bosses’ parties, SWP candidates act on the needs of the toiling majority and point to our capacities to change our conditions and to transform ourselves. They are getting a widespread hearing in the final days of the campaign.
Whoever sits in the White House in 2021 will rule for the bosses and bankers. What matters is the continuing efforts of workers and farmers to find a revolutionary working-class road forward.