by Toby O’Ryan, reprinted from revcom.us.
Last night I watched the MSNBC response to the election of a number of Democrats in off-year elections around the country progress from giddy to rapturous to delirious. I’m always glad to see a stone racist like the Republican pig who ran in Virginia repudiated, but listen: investing our hopes now in a “Democratic tidal wave” in the elections of 2018 would be a deadly illusion. And here are three reasons why:
One, neither these elections nor the ones in 2018—nor the Democrats more generally—will do anything to reverse or even put the brakes on the Trump/Pence regime’s vicious and insanely risky foreign policy. If anything, any sense that he is losing political ground within the U.S. will make it more, not less, likely that he will go to war. Such a war would enable the regime to carry out severe repression within the U.S. and gain support on a “rally ’round the flag” basis. Right now, there is not a single major Democrat offering any substantial or consistent criticism of this. Indeed, the “we are more patriotic than he is” logic of what the Democrats are doing would lead them to support Trump in such lunacy—as they did with George W. Bush in 2002-2003.
Two, the leading Democrats have not only held back from calling for Trump’s removal, they have made it a policy to oppose raising even the question of impeachment. Hence, the regime, which has already done incalculable damage in just 10 months, will have more than three more years to work its lunacy. The Dems are repeating the “strategy” they used during the Bush years: become more like the Republicans in what they will say is an effort to win more voters and supposedly “isolate” Trump, and then do nothing to oppose him (which they couldn’t even if they wanted to, as they will have gotten elected on a basis that does not oppose America’s “right” to dictate to other countries). People in the United States of Amnesia may not remember that when this strategy “worked” for the Democrats in 2006, this meant that they did NOT oppose Bush’s escalation of the war in Iraq right after that election (the “surge”) nor did they roll back the highly repressive Patriot Act or any other of Bush’s extraordinarily repressive measures, all of which were fascistic in their own right.1
Three, on the idea of focusing efforts on elections in 2018 and 2020. First, there is nothing guaranteeing that the Republicans will not use racist gerrymanders and ballot disqualifications to feed into the advantage already given to them by the Constitution.2 So while people are drawn off into the electoral processes of 2018 and 2020, there will be nothing to stop the horrors against all the people and groups under the gun of the Trump/Pence regime from not just continuing but almost certainly intensifying. The regime will be compelled by its own logic, the logic of fascism, to double down on their triad of white supremacy, male supremacy and America First chauvinism. The breakneck destruction of the environment and the violence being done to the rule of law—not to mention the culture—will continue as it has now. Indeed, the very dynamic we see today—where Trump, unable to pass legislation, uses the vast executive powers already available to the president to launch offensives on these fronts as part of feeding red meat to the fascist hordes he’s cultivated and unleashed—will very likely intensify.
This does not mean that Trump has it all sewn up, nor that the divisions that do exist at the top cannot become part of what ends up removing this regime. But this will not happen unless millions take the streets in a sustained, nonviolent movement. This makes it more, not less, urgent to demand that the nightmare end NOW, and that the regime be driven from power; more, not less, important for people to take up and get into or unite with Refuse Fascism.
Why Democrats Are a Flypaper Trap for Anyone Who Hates This Regime
“If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.”
Ask yourself—at a time when people who are outright fascists themselves like W. and Corker are criticizing Trump’s foreign policy as reckless, what prominent or even not-so-prominent Democratic politician has done anything close to that? If you said none, you’d be right. We are talking about someone threatening World War 3, and they are saying nothing!!
And let’s look at WHO they have and will have you supporting. Take this guy Northam, who won the Virginia election. Northam voted for George W. Bush twice—that is, not just in 2000, when it was plain that Bush was running as a standard-bearer for the Christian fascism which had already revealed itself as an extremely malignant force, but in 2004 after Bush’s outrageous war against Iraq, after Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, after Afghanistan, after Bush’s administration had begun its threats to go to war with Iran, and after the Patriot Act, probably the most repressive piece of legislation in U.S. history. Northam, now hailed as the new great standard-bearer of diversity, could not bring himself to stammer out an endorsement of the removal of monuments to the southern Civil War murderers to those who carried out slaughter in upholding slavery, nor would have called out his opponent’s incredibly vicious and racist campaign for what it was: a vicious, racist, fascist campaign. And this is the kind of person you’re going to put your hopes in? Yet this is clearly where Pelosi and Schumer want to go—and this is the whole logic of the Dems.
The Democrats are one of the two ruling parties of the imperialist system. They differ with Trump on how best to serve that system, and this sets the parameters of what they will—and will NOT—criticize him for. Right now, they are moving to siphon the resistance to Trump off into strengthening their party, to put some constraints on Trump with the various investigations being launched, and to confine the terms to certain domestic issues. If there is a massive movement in the streets, some of the contradictions that they do in fact have with Trump may come into play… but they would even then try to constrain things. Without a massive movement clear on its goal, this will go nowhere… and worse.
I won’t here try to go further into this. I will say that the “why” of all this is deeply covered in Bob Avakian’s new talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America—A Better World IS Possible, as well as in the films REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, and the essay “Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces For Revolution.”
The point of all this is that, as Refuse Fascism has reiterated, the people in their millions must end the nightmare.
1. These measures included the government’s “right” to try those they deemed terrorists in military trials where defendants are afforded fewer rights; the indefinite isolation of prisoners without charges in the torture chamber of Guantánamo; the use of torture, vastly expanded government powers to legally spy on people, right down to the library books they took out, as well as the right to legally forbid people from even saying that they had been spied upon or were enlisted in spying upon others.
2. The Constitution, as a document originally written to protect the power of the slaveholders, gave extra political weight to rural areas and sparsely populated states in determining representation in a concession to those slave-holders, and that legacy lives on today—which is why not only did Trump get elected while losing the popular vote, but Democrats in many states as well as the country as a whole can and do consistently outpoll the Republicans but end up with fewer seats and less power.