September 21, 2020 By Art Perlo
Knocking on doors in my diverse, low- to middle-income working-class neighborhood, almost everyone I talk to says they will vote to dump Trump and elect Biden-Harris.
The next six weeks will see a struggle critical to the future of our country and all of humanity. Claims to leadership in the post-election struggles will be judged not by how precisely we analyze the nature of Biden-Harris and reluctantly conclude that they must be elected, but by how effectively we organize our families, neighbors, friends, co-workers. By how we participate with our unions and our community or environmental or civil rights organizations to register voters, turn them out, and secure the vote. By how we participate in and initiate rallies and events on racial justice and the unemployment and eviction crises, linking them to the election and its outcome.
It would be a mistake to underestimate the historic victory if my neighbors, and tens of millions like them around the country, propel Biden-Harris to prevail over Trump. A struggle that can put Biden-Harris in the White House will by necessity involve organizing and mobilization. And it will have to continue and grow beyond the election and inauguration of Biden-Harris. In order to prevail, it must involve and effectively organize even more than the millions who turned out in the months following Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
And this organizing is happening now, as it did in 2017, largely outside the structures of the Democratic Party—by labor, environment, youth, women, racial justice, faith, and community grassroots movements that are not constrained by any corporate agenda.
“And this organizing is happening now, as it did in 2017, largely outside the structures of the Democratic Party—by labor, environment, youth, women, racial justice, faith, and community grassroots movements that are not constrained by any corporate agenda.”
That mass movement has the potential to push far beyond any limitations of the Biden-Harris ticket. For those with a transformative vision for our country, there is nothing more important than to be part of that movement, starting with a massive turnout for Buden-Harris in every state.
The very real possibilities for progress that can be won from a Biden-Harris administration stand in stark contrast to the certainties of a second Trump administration. The indecent glee at the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, exhibited by Trump and Republican Senate leader McConnell, is only the latest warning.
If Trump is able to stay in office, the ultra-right will consolidate power much faster than in the previous four years. Trump (meaning not only Trump, but his circle of fascist ideologues and far-right corporate sponsors) will move aggressively to further seize control of the judiciary and all parts of the executive, including the military, police, and intelligence services. Congress will be further sidelined. The “lock her up” slogan they deployed against Hillary Clinton in 2016 is likely to be translated into criminal proceedings against political opponents and against mass movements.
Many elements of a fascist regime will be implemented while maintaining the facade of existing political structures. And for the majority of the working class, especially low- and moderate-wage workers and people of color, conditions will get immeasurably worse, with attacks on health care, Social Security, unions, education, environment, and more, as well as tax increases for workers as state and local governments try to partially fill the gap that will be left by the destruction of essential federal programs. Not to mention the further incompetent or even malign responses to public health, climate, and other crises that will come down.
The ultra-right, backed by the most reactionary sections of the ruling class, is determined to hold on to power. They will do everything to suppress the vote for Biden-Harris. They will dispute any election results that show Biden ahead and lay claim to keeping Trump in the White House. And if Biden is inaugurated in January and occupies the White House, Trump and his ruling class allies and the millions in his movement—including much of the leadership and rank-and-file of important police and intelligence agencies—will not recognize Biden as legitimate and will use every legal and extra-legal means available to sabotage his administration, including terrorism. A Biden-Harris administration will need an organized and mobilized base to counter this fascist legacy of the Trump administration.
The outcome will be determined by many interrelated factors. A critical factor is the ability of the mass movements, including labor unions and movements like Black Lives Matter, to overcome voter suppression and deliver an overwhelming vote by mail and at the polls. Another is the level of organization and commitment of the mass movements after Election Day to oppose Trump’s coup attempt.
And another vital factor is that a part of the ruling class supports the Biden ticket, for a variety of reasons, including some narrow interests, some broad capitalist class interests, some feelings of basic human decency, and some commitment to the political system of the U.S. which is being upended by Trump.
We all have to fight to organize a massive turnout to elect Biden-Harris, not because they are our chosen standard-bearers, but to save the U.S. working class and all of humanity from American fascism. And in so doing, we build the movements that will continue to fight for more advanced demands like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, racial and economic justice, an end to militarism—a movement that, objectively, must demand a fundamental transformation of U.S. society beyond the chains of capitalism.