Armed far-right gangs kill people protesting for justice and equality, while a reactionary president aspires to dictator status. No doubt about it, the political situation in the U.S. is grim.
From the day the Electoral College anointed Donald Trump, some of his opponents have labeled him a fascist. He’s not far from it, in terms of his racist, sexist, anti-queer, xenophobic beliefs and policies. But for fascism as a system to triumph, it needs more than a leader (and probably needs one with more mystique and intellectual firepower than Trump).
Crucially, it also needs a mass base and storm troopers ready and able to smash the working class — which is the ultimate aim of fascism, the last stand of endangered capitalism.
How can working people deal both with the increasingly aggressive right wing and Trump’s seeming intention to refuse to leave office, no matter what?
Neo-Nazis and their White House cheerleader. The potential for the development of a broader neo-Nazi movement taking aim against workers, women, people of color, immigrants, radicals and socialists can be seen in seedling groups like the Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys (and Girls), the Boogaloos, and Q-Anon.
Trump has encouraged the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and ultra-right conspiracy theorists all along. He is infamous for his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” when fascists held a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer.
Trump’s “very fine people” are now getting into the streets to attack Black Lives Matter protesters. People like Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed protesters Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Much of the recent violence against anti-fascist and racial justice demonstrators has come from small-businesspeople like pawnshop owner John Rieple, who fatally shot Calvin Horton Jr. in Minneapolis, and bar proprietor and retired Marine Jake Gardner, who shot James Scurlock to death in Omaha, Nebraska.
To come to power, fascism relies on a particular type of mass base: desperate people from the middle class, or in Marxist terms, the petty bourgeoisie. In a time of economic crisis, they can be easy prey for the politics of scapegoating. Equally, though, they can be won to the side of the working class if it provides sound arguments and shows it is ready to fight and win against the Hitlerites.
Today the question on many minds is: Will the right-wing street thugs mobilize to help Trump steal the election?
Will Trump win? Lose? Steal the election? The outcome is impossible to predict at this point.
Trump may clearly win; he may clearly lose, in which case he may either prepare to leave in a tantrum or refuse to accept the verdict; or the result of the vote could be cloudy for days or weeks afterward. It took more than a month to resolve the 2000 election, which was stolen from Al Gore with no significant fight from him or his Democratic Party. And this time, much of the balloting will be by mail — if Trump does not manage to suppress this — and that will slow things down further.
Already, Trump is trying to rig the election through intimidation and by perpetrating ridiculous conspiracy theories about rampant voter fraud. In truth, the real electoral fraud is committed against voters, not by them. This is thanks to gerrymandering, keeping minor parties off the ballot, excluding some groups from voting (like undocumented immigrants and, in some states, people convicted of felonies), putting up barriers for other groups (like students, seniors, people of color), gutting the Voting Rights Act, and so on.
The nightmare scenario is that a close election will give rise to something like civil war, with Trump calling on both the military and his far-right supporters in the streets to suppress opposition and keep him in the White House. His criminal buddy Roger Stone has said Trump should declare martial law if Joe Biden wins — and, for good measure, should throw prominent figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg into prison.
A tight contest could very well end up in the Supreme Court again, but Trump is unlikely to wait to act. In a Fox News interview, he vowed to “put down” election-night protests “within minutes.”
What can be done. The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) has no illusions about capitalist democracy. But clinging to the rights we do have under this system is far better than living in an outright dictatorship!
First of all, if Trump loses but tries to hold on to power, it will be crucial for his opponents to immediately take to the streets en masse and stay there. The right wing can’t be allowed get the upper hand, and the Democratic Party can’t be trusted to fight back, even in its own partisan interests.
What’s needed will be a mass, nationally coordinated movement to defend basic democratic rights. The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union could call a conference designed to take up the legal challenges involved.
The union movement could play a crucial role. The best tool for resisting a stolen election would be a general strike. The AFL-CIO should call such a strike, demanding that the election results be respected and Trump leave office. For this to happen, the rank and file will have to press for it and take the initiative to organize strike committees.
FSP proposes that workers establish self-defense guards to protect protesters and strikers while also striving to win over the military and National Guard.
No matter the upshot of the election, workers and oppressed people will have to continue to battle for their rights and lives. Racial injustice will not go away under either Biden or Trump. Neither will economic hardship and vulnerability, nor will the woeful U.S. government response to climate change, nor will any of the myriad problems the working-class majority faces every hour of every day.
This is a fight for the long haul, and working-class unity will be necessary for success.