The US political system is rotten and offers nothing to ordinary people. This is the main conclusion from this week’s election.
Socialist Worker went to press before the full results were known, but central lessons are already clear.
Perhaps the Democrat candidate Joe Biden may still win. But he should have given Donald Trump no hope of winning. Trump should have been swept aside.
As voters went to the polls Trump presided over a country with just under ten million coronavirus infections—a toll that is still rising sharply.
One in ten Americans said they could not buy enough food and a fifth said that they cannot access medical care because it’s too expensive.
Trump has systematically promoted racism and sexism, boosted fascists and threatened to destroy democratic rights.
He made clear before the election that he would use any method, legal or not, to hang on to power. And yet he managed to outperform the polls and analysts’ expectations.
Socialist Worker wants Trump out. His defeat would be a blow to racists and the far right everywhere. He must not be allowed to use the undemocratic courts to halt the vote counting.
Outrageously on Tuesday he sought to stop votes being counted. But he was following in the steps of George W Bush, who stole the election 20 years ago.
The Democrats’ right wing campaign failed to mobilise many working class people, and left some open to Trump’s demagogic rhetoric. In vast swathes of America where he should have won easily, Biden did not focus on the bitter anger in society.
Trump won in many areas devastated by factory closures, a raging pandemic and poverty.
In working class areas of Ohio, Michigan, Alabama and Georgia, communities that have been shattered by policies designed for the rich did not come out for Biden. He offered no real hope except a return to a supposed “normality” that had let down ordinary people.
He didn’t attack the rich or offer a transformation of the health system. He lined up with the fracking industry rather than urging action on climate change.
Trump is often described as alien to the US system, an inexplicable force that has polluted the clear streams of political life. But in reality he is a particularly sharp expression of that rotten system.
For decades both Republicans and Democrats have ruled over a vast transfer of wealth from workers to the rich.
In the late 1970s, the richest 10 percent of the US population, ranked by income, received about one third of total US income.
They now receive about half.
This top one-thousandth of the income ranking now takes about the same total income as the entire bottom 40 percent of the US population.
That theft continued under Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama just as much as under Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Trump sometimes clashes with sections of the US ruling class, and many of them would prefer Biden in the White House. But Trump is a representative of the richest and most powerful people in America.
Nearly 170 years ago the former slave Frederick Douglass made a great speech mocking the American political system of the time.
He denounced it as “fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes”.
That description still rings true.There has to be a struggle against that whole system, whether represented by Trump or Biden.
The alternative to Trumpism does not lie in the Democrats. It has to be rooted in the resistance seen in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women’s marches, the wave of teachers’ strikes and the first national auto workers’ strike for 40 years.
This was the power that Biden deliberately spurned, fearing that he would be seen as soft on rioters or a supporter of socialist policies.
That power has to be mobilised to stop Trump’s fraud at the polls.
More importantly it needs to be built further to combat racism and demand that coronavirus is tackled, rather than allowing it to sweep through the population.
Class struggle and the fight for socialism is the alternative to the reeking corpse of US politics.