Political freedoms are a key issue in US politics today

By Terry Evans
November 6, 2023

Even before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Democrats, the liberal media and middle-class left did everything in their power to bring him down. From the moment they set the FBI to spy on his campaign, to the multitude of legal cases filed against him and his candidacy today, they’ve trampled on constitutional freedoms that are crucial to protecting labor and political activity from government interference.

These rights were won in struggle by working people and will be needed more than ever as our class fights to defend ourselves from the impact of today’s deepening capitalist crisis.

The Joseph Biden administration and a lot of Democratic Party prosecutors have cooked up charges against the former president that strike blows at the right to free speech. He faces trial for violating thought-control conspiracy laws and racketeering and espionage statutes. The liberals’ target today is a rival capitalist politician, but these type of laws have been used first and foremost to frame up militant workers, opponents of Washington’s wars and communists like the Socialist Workers Party. They will be again.

Today in Georgia, Democratic Party District Attorney Fani Willis is mixing threats of jail time with offers of plea deals to Trump’s co-defendants, hoping to try to get them to roll over on him. He and 18 others are accused of racketeering by conspiring to “defraud the state.” In fact they were exercising their right to question the 2020 election result.

Three of the accused, all lawyers who worked with Trump, have pled guilty to lesser charges, avoiding jail time, and pledging to “truthfully testify” about the former president at his trial.

Millions of workers know from their own experience with cops, courts and prosecutors how threats of years in prison are used to coerce plea deals, undermining the constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial. The Democrats’ goal is to bar Trump from running in 2024, disenfranchising the tens of millions who want to vote for him, who they consider “deplorables.”

On Oct. 6 Hillary Clinton showed her disdain for people who don’t vote the way she thinks they should. She told CNN that “there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members” who support Trump.

Rulers’ fear of working people

The roots of the liberal-led assault on rights goes back long before Trump was elected. It lies in the rulers’ contempt for working people and, at the same time, their mounting fear we will challenge the deteriorating living and job conditions that result from their profit-driven assaults.

From the mid-1970s, employers sought to reverse declining profit rates by slashing wages, speeding up production, combining jobs and imposing unlivable work schedules and multitier contracts. On top of this, today’s rising prices have meant millions of workers have been forced deeper into debt or to hold down two or more jobs. Between 1979 and 2021 the productivity the employers squeeze from the working class rose 64.6%, but wages went up by only 17.3%. The difference was gleefully pocketed by the bosses.

The capitalist system is built on immense wealth for the propertied few while the most basic human needs of millions go unmet. Just one example is the opening of parking lots recently where workers who can’t afford to meet today’s soaring rents can pay to sleep in their cars, along with their families and pets.

Among wide layers of the working class there’s growing recognition that the Democratic and Republican parties don’t exist to deal with our problems.

In 2016 Trump, a well-heeled real estate tycoon, presented himself as an “outsider” and demagogically promised to take on the political establishment, end the carnage workers face and keep the U.S. out of war. Many workers who had voted for Barack Obama in 2012 voted for Trump, seeking some change.

Democrats, Never-Trump Republicans and the middle-class left responded by going to war against him, determined to prevent Trump from ever holding office again, assaulting rights workers need along the way.

More workers today are using unions to fight for what we need to be able to live and sustain our families. And more workers want to discuss the root causes of the problems we face — dog-eat-dog capitalism — and what it will take to build a different kind of world. They get interested in the Socialist Workers Party’s revolutionary class-against-class perspective.

Amid union battles and discussions about a road forward, the importance of the working class safeguarding constitutional freedoms grows. These rights protect us from the capitalist state and the exploiting class it serves. Defending these protections will remain at the center of politics through the 2024 campaign.