The good, the bad and the ugly

Some Thoughts on the November 3 National Election

Across the country, Americans celebrated the election defeat of President Donald Trump by Democrat Joe Biden (CNN – click image to play video)


First the good thing about the Nov. 3 Election outcome:  Donald Trump, a wannabe tyrant who seemed to be consciously channeling Italian fascist Benito Mussolini with his balcony appearances at the White House, and Hitler with his brown-shirted and black-shirted federal goon squad in Porteland Oregon snatching demonstrators off the street and hauling them off to secret detention locations, has been defeated, and will join a list of five other presidents sent packing after a single term in office.

A solid majority of US citizens, braving a near record epidemic that has killed nearly 250,000 Americans, infected over 10 million and crushed the domestic economy bringing unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression, gave the Donald their message:  “You’re fired!”

And they accomplished this feat in a particularly delicious way, winning in 24 states and the District of Columbia a total of 306 Electoral College votes.  That may not seem like a lot more than the minimum 270 needed to win, but the important thing it that it’s two more votes than Trump received in 2016 when he won the White House while failing to win a majority of the popular vote.

Trump back then, and all through his four-year tenancy in the White House, called his 304 Electoral College vote total “a massive landslide,” as he intitially did in an interview on Fox News after he won. It wasn’t of course, being only 34 votes more than the minimum 270 required to win.

But if Trump considered that win, even without a majority of the popular vote, to have been a decisive victory, what does he call Joe Biden’s 306-delegate win in the same Electoral College, a victory which comes with a popular vote win of 50.66% (and counting) vs. his own 47.67%?

The real winner of this election though was Stacy Abrams, the Black politician in Georgia who had her race for governor in 2018 stolen away by rampant voter suppression conducted by that state’s governor and secretary of state, who used a whole raft of strategies promoted by nationl Republican strategists to remove legitimate voters from the roles. The most  egregious suppression tactic they used was sending out mailings to Democratic voters asking them to return a card verifying their receipt of the mailing and showing they still lived at that address. Those mailings, deliberately designed to look like junk mail, if not returned led to the person’s name being removed from the voter rolls — an action the voter would only discover on trying to vote on election day. Another tactic, put to use in many Republican-led states this election year too, was to shut down most election centers in low income and minority neighborhoods, forcing those voters to wait in lines for hours to cast their vote. Un Houston’s Harris County, the Republicans got a Republican judge to shut down all but one official drop box for people to use to deposit their mail-in ballots if they didn’t trust the mail. That’s one box for 4.7 million voters!

Abrams, after losing her race for governor narrowly, determined to fix the problem in her state this time around by organizing a statewide voter registration campaign to boost the Democratic vote by 2020. She succeeded, with the campaign adding 800,000 new voters to the Georgia voter rolls — enough to give a victory to Biden by a narrow fraction of a percent, handing Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes to Biden. It was the first time Georgia has gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, more than a quarter century ago.  Abrams’  campaign to boost Democratic voter registration also enabled Democratic candidates for both of Georgia’s senatorial seats to make it to run-offs, one against a sitting Republican senator, and the other in a race with five other candidates for an open seat after a Republican incumbent had decided to retire. (Those run-offs will be held on Jan. 5, and if both democratic candidates win, Biden would end up with a narrow Democratic Senate with VP Kamala Harris voting as president of the Senate.)

The bad news is that the election showed that despite his moral, ethical, and psychological issues, his endless lies and denial of reality and scientific fact, and his clearly impeachable crimes and crimes of personal enrichment, Trump won the support of a staggering 70 million American voters.

That is a daunting reality for those of us on the left who understand that the US, the prime threat to world peace with its global military presence and its bipartisan willingness to wage war at will in violation of international law, and an outlaw state in terms of global efforts to address rampaging climate change, needs to be radically changed.

Somehow, although polls show 72 percent of Americans to want a national health system, 71 million Americans voted for a man, Trump,  who wants to kill off even minimal efforts to get there. (Another 76 million voted for another man, Biden, who has vowed to “veto any bill calling for Medicare for All.”)  Somehow, though most Americans struggle to survive on their wages and salaries and live paycheck to paycheck with no savings and no retirement security, nearly half of them voted for one man who has taken steps to destroy both Medicare and Social Security and another who has in the past shown a willingness to compromise with Republicans on a deal to weaken Social Security in the name of controlling the budget deficit.

Somehow, though a majority of Americans have told pollsters for years that if they could have a labor union at their job, nearly half of them voted for a man and a party that consider unions to be threats to profits and something to be discouraged, not encouraged and enabled, and another who, while professing to love unions, cooperated as vice president under Barack Obama in delaying an effort to enact “card check” union organizing to make getting a union easier, until Obama lost his Democratic majority in Congress, making such a reform impossible to get passed.

Meanwhile Biden, during his 47 years as a Democratic politician, backed and helped author a crime bill that locked up millions of people, mostly Black and Hispanic, on felony charges that left them unable to vote or even get  a business loan, college scholarships and loans ,or even a job, he attempted several times to join Republicans in undermining Social Security, and has consistently opposed any kind of national health care system, and yet he won the presidential nomination this year by shamelessly red-baiting leading candidate Bernie Sanders.

A majority of Americans decided voting for Biden, clearly no progressive and a politician with a sorry history of betrayal of poor people, people of color, and women, just to get rid of President Trump.

This leaves the American left, such as it is, in a quandary:  We know the US needs radical changes. The military budget, which takes half of every tax dollar collected each year by the IRS, need to be slashed. Health care, as the Covid Pandemic demonstrates dramatically, is a disaster in the US, and the only answer is some kind of socialised system where the government is the insurer as in Canada and most other modern countries. Global warming is reaching a critical stage and dramatic action is needed immediately to slash the use of carbon-based fuels just to slow the rate of global temperature rise. Major efforts are needed to address massive income inequality in the US that is worse than in the notorious late 19th century era of the Robber Barons. Higher education, and even decent schools for the young, are now out of reach or unavailable for low-income students. Yet in abandoning progressive candidates and choosing Biden as their nominee, Democratic voters also wound up returning to office in Congress a bunch of politicians for whom addressing these issues simply won’t happen.

And if Democratic primary voters had chosen real progressive candidates, would they have won in November, given the rabid but huge minority of Trump voters that we saw vote for Trump and the Republican candidates who succeeded not just in retaining control of the Senate but in whittling away at least six seats from the Democrats in the House?

These are tough questions that need to be addressed.

Trump has been defeated, which is an important victory. But we’re left with a very tenuous situation: a Democratic president who is a relic of the 1980s, a Congress stymied by a Republican-led Senate and a House still in the hands of an aging neo-liberal Democratic establishment, and now a US Supreme Court two-thirds of whose judges belong to the right-wing Catholic Federalist Society, most of whose members want to drag the US back into the 18th century,  and to eliminate most of the Bill of Rights Amendments to the Constitution (save for the 2nd Amendment).

It’s going to be a harrowing four years we face.

But again. Trump at least is on his way out the door.

Now the left needs to rally to make demands on President-Elect Biden. These should include (but not be limited to:

  •   Dropping the espionage and other charges against journalist Julian Assange.
  •   Rejoining the Climate Agreement and pushing for major action on climate change.
  •  Cutting the bloated military budget and halting the $1.3-trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program
  •  Rejoining Nuclear agreements negotiated  with Russia and Iran, endorsing the UN Treaty banning nuclear weapons, and entering into negotiations with Russia, China and the world’s other nuclear powers, including Israel, to achieve compliance with that treaty.
  • Ending US military involvement in Iraq and Yemen, and halting military aid to Saudi Arabia and especially to its war on Yemen.
  • Lifting sanctions on Venezuela and a campaign of sabotage against that country’s elected government.
  • Finally, Biden, who has admitted that his crime bill was a “mistake” and a disaster for poor and minority, especially Black, families. But that’s only words. Biden must act on that admission, and as president should pardon all current and former federal prisoners convicted under that act so that they can at least get on with their lives, obtain student loans, get decent jobs, vote and run for elected office.  It’s the least he can do to make up for the damage he has done.

There should no “honeymoon” for Biden from the US left!