If early indications were true, the vote in Iowa to choose the Democratic candidate for US president was a bitter blow for establishment favourite Joe Biden.
Full results were delayed by chaotic procedural problem and had not been announced when Socialist Worker went to press.
Former vice president Biden is the choice of most of the Democratic establishment. But his campaign seems in trouble.
Early signs pointed to big votes for democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. Both candidates released internal campaign data that claimed victory.
Buttigieg plays on his relative youth and the fact he would be the first openly gay presidential candidate. But he is thoroughgoing neoliberal with strong corporate backing. And his background is in naval intelligence in Afghanistan.
Success for Sanders will be an embarrassment for the Democrat leadership. They have repeatedly used smears to try and discredit his campaign.
But his policies on free healthcare and education, and workers’ rights have offered an alternative to Trump.
The Iowa vote came ahead of Trump’s state of the union address on Tuesday night and his impeachment vote in the senate on Wednesday.
According to his administration, Trump was expected to use the address to “celebrate American economic and military strength and present an optimistic vision of America’s future”. He is promoting what he calls the “great American comeback”.
In reality this means bragging about attacks on migrants and toasting corporate success. And the “optimistic vision” of the future is likely to bring more of the same—and worse.
Trump seemed certain to be acquitted by the senate on Wednesday. A majority of 67—two thirds of the senate—would be required to remove Trump from office.
The support for Sanders is a sign of the widespread hunger for change in the US. It needs to be turned into action—not lined up behind the Democrats.
Whatever the result, a mass movement across the US is needed to make any real difference.