Millions remain out of work, with fresh unemployment claims rising to 965,000 in the U.S. for the week of Jan. 14, the highest since August. Hardest hit continue to be hotel, restaurant and other service workers, with many of these businesses closed down by government coronavirus shutdowns.
Stagnant wages had already ensured more working people went into the current downturn living paycheck to paycheck, with rising expenses for housing, health care and other necessities. Many now face mounting debts and even greater insecurity.
These conditions effect workers worldwide. Ford bosses announced Jan. 11 they were immediately shutting down two of their three plants in Brazil, throwing almost 5,000 autoworkers and thousands more who make auto parts out of work. Unions there have called for protests at Ford dealerships nationwide.
Despite these conditions workers are looking for ways to stand up to the bosses. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, are pressing ahead with their fight to establish a union in the face of bosses’ resistance. United Steelworkers at Constellium in the same state just concluded a four-week strike, beating back some of the bosses’ attacks on their working conditions and seniority.
“Whenever working people stand up to the bosses, they provide an example to millions of others,” Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City mayor, told striking produce workers at the Hunts Point terminal in The Bronx Jan. 17. “Democrats and Republicans say ‘we’ must all work together to make things better. But they protect the interests of the capitalist class that exploits working people, and we need to protect ourselves,” he said.
“My campaign presents a course for workers to fight together against the capitalist rulers and their parties,” he said.
“Our unions need to lead workers to fight for a law cutting the workweek with no cut in pay. Thirty hours work for 40 hours pay!” Calero said. “We need to fight for a federally funded public works program to put millions back to work at union-scale wages building hospitals, houses and schools that workers need.”
Crisis in bosses’ parties sharpens
The SWP campaign is underway as conflicts between and within the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties are sharpening. Even as Donald Trump leaves office, the Democrats moved to impeach him again, charging he instigated an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. They and some Never-Trump Republicans are determined to prevent him from running again in 2024. They hope to have him indicted, to attack his businesses and chip away at his ability to communicate with those who support him.
From progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the Clinton-Obama wing of the party, Democrats all claim Trump’s assertion that the presidential election was stolen is itself a “criminal” act. They say remarks he made to thousands of supporters before a relatively small group of conspiracy theorists and would-be paramilitaries, confederate flag carrying rightists and a few overenthused Trump supporters broke through security and briefly occupied the Capitol Jan. 6, constitute an “incitement to insurrection.” In fact, what Trump had urged his supporters to do was to walk “to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Likewise, many Democrats are demanding that Republican senators who raised questions in Congress about the Electoral College’s certification of Joe Biden’s victory be driven from office.
There’s no reason to think that November’s presidential election was conducted any more or less fraudulently than many other U.S. elections. They’re all rigged. The bourgeois electoral system is “rigged on behalf of the propertied owners and their large rent-collecting meritocracy,” wrote SWP leader Steve Clark in 2016 in The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record. The squashing of Bernie Sanders primary challenge to Hillary Clinton that year shows what bourgeois forces “will do when they’ve decided the result of a nomination or election beforehand.”
The electoral process is rigged the most against the Socialist Workers Party and any other working-class party that tries to run.
Target is ‘deplorable’ workers
The real target of the Democrats’ drive to destroy Trump is the millions of workers who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Biden. They include millions who refuse to accept what has been inflicted on them by the bosses and the government and are repelled by the contempt increasingly and routinely shown them, especially by liberals. These are the workers Hillary Clinton called “deplorables.”
The capitalist rulers increasingly fear working people, who are beginning to see that the bosses and their government have no “solutions” that don’t dump the costs of the crisis of their capitalist system on us. In 2016 and 2020, many backed Trump, another capitalist politician, hoping he would provide something different.
To reinforce the demonization of workers who voted for Trump and the need for special measures, thousands of armed National Guard troops were deployed to the Capitol prior to Biden’s inauguration. Many governors also mobilized troops around state Capitol grounds. The Transportation Security Administration is stepping up its surveillance of flight passengers and placing more federal marshals on planes and at airports.
As the Biden administration takes over, and Democrats have thin majorities in the House and Senate, this will do little to change anything fundamental about the class realities workers face today, nor what we need — getting more of us back to work where we can organize together with co-workers to defend ourselves. Instead, the Biden administration encourages workers to depend on the capitalist state, rather than rely on our own capacities to join together in struggle.
“Workers need our own party, a labor party, we can use to fight back and win allies,” Calero told the Militant. “The SWP is running to set an example of the fighting perspective we need in charting a course to take political power into our own hands and end once and for all the dictatorship of capital.”