The Worst Show on Earth—The 2020 Yankee Election Circus is a Strictly Rightwing Affair
By Gabriel Haythornthwaite
The fury on what passes for a Left in the US has produced a lot of mystifying smoke but little in the way of purifying fire.
Once the Sanders camp was roundly defeated in the early Spring—this outing more by timely rightwing combination than rigging--and rather easily brought into the Biden camp with vague non-promises around green corporate welfare and selective tuition breaks—the political options for the Left came to a fast close.
Sun Tzou remarked that the successful general is one who secures the conditions for victory before battle. The rightwing Democrats did just that in securing the Sanders' capitulation well ahead of time. Since then, the debate over the general election has made the question of what the Left does during this time rather irrelevant. The Left lost the election 8 months ago and now people are reduced to arguing the tactics for and against lesser evil strategic voting.
Obviously, the leftwing Green Party challenge can only be a symbolic one at the national level. The Sanders’ bust-and-surrender demonstrates that the Left does not have near the power to win at the national level...hardly surprising given that this is the mightiest rightwing Empire in history. The battles up for political grabs for a would-be Left at this point are to be found at the local level—the Sawant insurgency in Seattle and the impressive 100-day Portland uprising being the most salient electoral and street-action examples of the day.
So it happens that the general election is a strictly rightwing affair. On the one hand, we have a far-Right incumbent who flirts with open fascism but whose isolationist chauvinism makes him a reluctant warmonger abroad tempting him towards diplomatic engagement with geopolitical enemies. And the challenger is a long-time hard-Right political insider who pays lip service to domestic faux-reform (like training police to shoot randoms and leftwing protesters in the legs rather than shoot-to-kill) and pledges a full restoration of the Empire's aggressive colonialism abroad. The working majority and national freedom abroad have already lost this election but the question of which Vampire directs the drones, deportations, corporate bail-outs and trade blockades matters from a know-your-enemy point of view.
My read is that the early voting has gone heavily for Biden while the in-person vote today will favour Trump. Overall, if this was an every-vote-is-counted affair then Biden would win handily. Trump's bumbling presiding over a plague and economic depression after filling his bank accounts and those of other billionaires with public dough is a recipe for defeat. His campaign has been incoherent and inept with his attempt at strong-manning catching COVID has probably underscored the lack of care he has shown in managing the pandemic. Where this has probably hurt Trump most is with older voters which I think, on its own, will prove fatal to Trump's re-election.
But this is not a clean contest, in fact it is much dirtier than the normal rigging that accompanies Yankee election circuses. How quickly this ends depends on the margin that Biden has with the early and today vote. The massive mail-in vote, also reportedly heavily for Biden, can be stalled or even annulled by Trumpy legal chicanery. Trump has already indicated that he will not accept any result than his re-election and I think it is guaranteed that he will not concede tonight or even this week.
But how far the Trump legal coup—challenges to state counting of mail-in ballots and a stacked far-Right Supreme Court—goes depends very much on the margins generated by the in-person early and today voting. If it is close enough to put state electoral college votes (an insanely anti-democratic set-up the elites seem happy with) in question that will deny either contender for Head Vampire a 270 EC vote, then Trump's legal coup may work. And Trump's legal coup will be assisted by the Democrats' inclination to accept such fascist moves as they did with the stealing of the 2000 election by now-beloved-by-liberals ghoulish war-criminal W Bush.
But if Biden has a clear margin in states that give him 270+ EC votes, then Trump's claims of victory will be contradicted by most of the corporate media and the calls on Trump to concede will grow, even from his own party and staff, to a point where he will fold. The only way around that would be for Trump to shift from legal to military coup--through a combination of police take-overs with GOP governor call-outs of the National Guard. Trump is capable of desiring and even getting his allies to work on this but it is far from likely that the Trumpies will have the gumption and organization to make this happen.
I strongly suspect that Biden will win his margin and Trump's presidency will end with a whimper during which he bargains immunity for himself and his family from prosecution in exchange for standing down. A number of Trump grifters posing as staff will be patsies going to prison in his place.
Biden will restore a short-term confidence in the Empire through a rightwing restoration of the Obama-Biden era of progressive lip-service with regressive policy on all fronts. The 'Left' that said it would pressure Biden 'Left' will back down saying, let’s give the old coot time to a point where they will then say nothing should be done to harm Democrats in the 2022 mid-terms. And after that, the 2024 re-election campaign. Soil, wash, rinse, repeat.
But Biden will preside over an economic Depression that rivals the 1930s while refusing to end social austerity or raise taxes on the rich much beyond their current historic low. Police murders will continue to set off spontaneous uprisings. From those uprisings, a new Left may emerge if the working majority can figure out how to strategically co-ordinate pressure on the authorities and use local and state elections to their advantage.
Abroad, Biden will double-down on the retro-colonialism of the day in both geopolitical aggression and corporate trade agreements. How this stance may generate broader anti-colonial and anti-capitalist responses is unclear but watch for some of the weak links of colonialism (Latin America and the Middle East especially) to become rather strained and thereby open the possibilities of renewed national freedom movements. Until then, the world will continue to be run along strictly rightwing lines with little in the way of a leftwing counter.
Gabriel Haythornthwaite is a PhD Candidate at Western University's Faculty of Education and a long-time political trouble-maker.