By Greg Geboski
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday, November 3, election, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to ignore the results of the election if he lost. Well, he is trying that—and he is still getting a disturbing amount of support from the Republican Party and his die-hard followers. For the most part, though, it’s not working. A record of just under 80 million voters cast their ballot for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and their subsequent selection by the archaic and undemocratic Electoral College seems secure, for now. Rational capitalists, all sectors of the corporate media, and even the President’s own family are urging the notoriously pigheaded Trump to get out of the way. Surprises aside—and this is Trump we’re talking about, so rule nothing out—the brutal, lying, clowning grifter who by the end of his term had embraced overt fascism is, to use Trump’s own favorite insult, nothing but a loser.
In Madison, on Saturday, November 7, an early-morning press conference at the state capitol called by organized labor and a number of political action groups was interrupted by the announcement that CNN had declared Biden the victor. A crowd grew through the morning, and a celebration continued through the afternoon, with anti-Trump chants mixing with cheers for a Biden-Harris administration. This contradiction was mostly ignored, at least for a day of celebration. How this plays out—solidarity around the defeat (at least for the moment) of Donald Trump and fascism but division between liberals and socialists over support of the passive, conservative corporate agenda of a new Biden-Harris administration—will be key to whether anything like democracy in the US, let alone solutions to the myriad crises facing the vast majority of its people, will continue beyond a happy blip in 2020.
It’s hard to remember the feeling of potential crisis around the November 3, 2020, election from even a few weeks ago. The potential for a direct attack on democracy was, however, real. Weeks before the election, Madison DSA was out front in the key swing state of Wisconsin in planning a response to any threat to a democratic election here. Madison DSA put out a call to political, labor, and community groups throughout Madison and the state. Through a series of meetings and initiatives the Defend Democracy Alliance was formed, a coalition declaring that ‘the threat of a second Trump term, especially one stolen through anti-democratic means, must be countered by massive opposition.’
The Alliance focused on the necessity of defeating Trump at and after the election, while also understanding the equally grave necessity of then countering whatever failed capitalist business-as-usual regime is bound to follow. The Alliance organized or publicized a series of Madison-area actions leading up to and following Tuesday’s election, tied together by a post-election online forum.
The week of actions by the Alliance included an immigrant rights rally on Sunday, a pre-election forum organized by Madison DSA on Monday, actions to protect the polls led by Freedom Inc on Tuesday, an outdoor Tuesday night post-election watch party organized by Sunrise Madison, an after-election rally held Wednesday afternoon at the capitol by Freedom Inc, a car caravan to the capitol organized by Allies for Black Lives in the late afternoon, capped off by an early Wednesday evening rally at the capitol to Defend the Vote, organized by Our Wisconsin Revolution, Socialist Alternative, Indivisible Madison, and Madison DSA. The rally was hosted by Juliet DePaula of Socialist Alternative and Andre Walton of OWR, and among the many speakers were immigrant rights activist Larissa Joanna and Benji Ramirez of Madison DSA. An all-day online forum, covering both the events in Madison and featuring speakers from throughout the country and Wisconsin, was produced and broadcast by the organization WI Will Win, led by Madison DSA co-chair Laura Valderrama.
The Defend Democracy Alliance met on November 8, the Sunday after the election, and will meet again on December 6. The Alliance agreed to continue in operation until Trump is finally removed from office, and, depending on the result of future discussions, maybe beyond that.
Despite the seemingly decisive electoral defeat of Trump, there were clear and ominous signs that his brand of fascism is strong and has wide popular support in the US. Trump brags that he received more votes in an election than any sitting president–and, unlike so much of what he claims, this is correct. The Biden campaign followed the lead of the unsuccessful Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016, targeting high-voting white professionals in the suburbs who were expected to be disgusted with Trump. This time, after four years of Trump’s lies, embrace of white supremacy, and criminal negligence which has now caused over a quarter million COVID-19 deaths, there was enough disgust to push Biden over. But a clear majority of white people across all age groups still voted for Trump, including 55% of white women. And although a striking number of women voters overall favored Biden over Trump, it is a fair conclusion that an unspoken campaign of “our accused rapist is better than your accused rapist” was unlikely to have contributed.
As in 2016, the Democratic presidential candidate counted on Black, Latinx, and union organizers to organize their voters for the election. This succeeded spectacularly, but the Democrats’ contemptuous strategy of assuming these votes shows signs of potential collapse without a Trump to organize against. Almost unbelievably, Trump somehow managed to increase his share of the Black and Latinx vote, with only the large turnouts providing a clear net gain over 2016. As both congratulatory and critical mainstream media analyses have shown, Biden’s suburban electoral coalition is a weak one that has voted Republican before and will likely do so again, barring the choice of an incompetent like Trump.
So although the Donald Trump threat appears over, the Trumpist fascist threat is far from it. And more of the same will only allow it to rise to power again. Socialists must push for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and guaranteed housing for everyone. We must fight for defunding the current police, mass incarceration, and Gestapo-like immigration systems, and for rebuilding the justice system from the ground up. We must defund, dismantle, and redistribute the wealth of the US imperial war machine. It is clear that an end to climate and public health crises will arise only through international cooperation, and the US must act accordingly. The Biden administration must not only finally stop the pandemic but give direct cash payments to everyone until this crisis is solved. The new administration must be held to its promises of expanding worker and union rights, and raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour; socialists should demand that it rise even above that.
And we shouldn’t stop there. Continued failure to address the stark economic, health, racial, and environmental crises that stare the US in the face will lead to a successful push for power by the Right in the coming years, this time with fascists who know what they are doing.