2020 vote shows ongoing crisis of rulers’ two-party system

By Seth Galinsky
December 7, 2020
Hundreds wait to file for unemployment benefits in Frankfort, Kentucky, June 17. Only solutions both Democrats and Republicans advance to solve jobs, health crisis attack working class.
Lexington Herald-Leader/Ryan C. HermensHundreds wait to file for unemployment benefits in Frankfort, Kentucky, June 17. Only solutions both Democrats and Republicans advance to solve jobs, health crisis attack working class.

“The U.S. rulers and their government have begun to fear the working class.” That’s because “working people are beginning to see that the bosses and their political parties have no ‘solutions’ that don’t further load the costs — monetary and human — of the crisis of their system on us.”

That’s what Steve Clark wrote about the 2016 elections in his introduction to The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by Socialist Worker Party National Secretary Jack Barnes.

“Never before have the presidential candidates of both major capitalist parties evoked such political distrust, disgust and aversion among working people, youth and broad layers of the lower middle class.”

The 2020 election shows that this is more true today as working people face mounting job losses, with neither the Democratic nor Republican parties offering any protection from the impact of today’s capitalist economic, social and health crisis. Whichever way they voted, millions of working people increasingly distrust the bosses and their two main parties.

The Joe Biden campaign outspent the Donald Trump campaign by some 2 to 1 — one sign that the majority of ruling-class families preferred a Trump defeat. Facebook and Twitter censored pro-Trump postings and all liberal and many not-so-liberal news outlets portrayed him as the most despicable person to ever hold the presidency and a threat to democracy.

Their real target was the workers who voted for him, who — as Hillary Clinton infamously said in 2016 — are “deplorables” and “irredeemable.”

Lack of ‘blue wave’

The liberals hoped their anti-Trump hyperbole would lead to Democratic Party victories across the board. But there was no Democratic Party “blue wave.” They lost seats in the House and likely will fail to win the Senate. This worries editors at the New York Times. They have published a slew of opinion articles to debate what went “wrong.”

The left and liberal caricatures of Trump supporters as “bigoted, greedy and somewhat stupid white people” displayed “moral condescension,” noted Times columnist Bret Stephens, himself an anti-Trump conservative.

According to the media, Stephens wrote, “Trump is the most anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-woman president in modern memory. Yet the CNN exit poll found that Trump won a majority of the vote of white women against both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden,” and “improved his vote share over 2016 with both Latino and Black voters.”

Stephens argues against those in the Democratic Party who say race and gender are much more important than class. He says the media underestimated the appeal of Trump’s claim he would bring back jobs.

In fact, according to the Miami Herald, “Congressional Republicans in 2021 will have the smallest percentage of white males in modern history,” as a result of the election of a number of Black, Asian, Hispanic and women candidates.

The Biden “victory” is accelerating the factional warfare in the Democratic Party between the socialist wing personified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more mainstream Democrats. Times columnist Michelle Goldberg urged both wings of the party to stop “sniping” at each other and come together.

Instead, democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who lost to Biden in the primaries and then backed his campaign, said Nov. 20 it would be “enormously insulting” if Biden included Republicans and conservative Democrats in his cabinet but “ignored the progressive community.”

Patrisse Cullors, a self-appointed leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, sent a letter to Biden demanding to be part of his “Transition Team’s planning and policy work.” So far, Biden hasn’t got back to her.

The Republican Party has its own divisions, one wing led by Trump and the other by “Never Trumpers,” who yearn for a return to the days before 2016. Real estate mogul Trump presented himself as a champion of the working person, and called for “draining the swamp” in Washington.

While the pro-Trump New York Sun hailed him for forging a “Republican Workers Party,” others fear this will stir workers up. The election results ratcheted up these tensions.

“The former stability of the two-party shell game will not be restored,” Clark noted in his 2016 introduction.

The fact is neither the Democrats nor Republicans are capable of advancing a course in the interest of working people in the face of the massive unemployment that is a persistent feature of today’s capitalist crisis.

US ‘left’ blinds itself to class

Virtually the entire left called for a Biden victory. Typical is Workers World, the newspaper of the party of the same name, which is shocked that “even among white union members, a significant number backed Trump.” Why? Echoing the stance of liberals, their answer “simply put, is racism.” To make that case, they ignore the fact that nearly one in five Black men and one in three Latinos voted for Trump. They see everything through the lens of gender and race, as opposed to the class divisions that underlie all oppression and exploitation.

“An honest assessment of the consciousness of white workers can be demoralizing, to put it lightly,” the paper said. The accusation that working people who are Caucasian are “white supremacists” can only be made by a party that holds workers and farmers in contempt and has little connection with them.

Rigged elections

In the introduction to the Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, Clark points out that the 2016 election exposed the fact that the “bourgeois electoral system in the United States is rigged … on behalf of the propertied owners and their large rent-collecting meritocracy.” The 2020 election was no different.

The liberal media and the middle-class left ran a semi-hysterical campaign to try and oust Trump by any means possible from the day he took office.

The Socialist Workers Party— on the ballot this year in six states — knows more than a little about rigged elections.

Election laws aim to preserve both capitalist parties’  monopoly and make it as difficult as possible for a workers party to get its candidates on the ballot in most states.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rammed through changes in New York State last year that made it even harder, increasing the number of signatures needed for third parties to get on the ballot from 15,000 to 45,000.

Much of the bourgeois press refuses to cover SWP campaigns.

Despite this the Socialist Workers Party presidential slate of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett, along with a couple dozen local candidates, ran a bold campaign, finding widespread interest in the party’s action platform from working people around the country — in large cities, small towns and farming regions. They exchanged views with thousands about what working people can do together to defend ourselves, regardless of who those workers planned to vote for, or if they planned to vote at all.

Starting with the interests of the working class, SWP campaigners raised demands that workers and our unions can fight for today. This includes a government-funded public works program to put millions to work building and repairing needed infrastructure, cutting the workweek with no cut in take-home pay to prevent layoffs, and workers control of production.

Workers need to forge our own party, a labor party, based on fighting unions, to fight for political power and a workers and farmers government.