Socialist Worker

Celebrations at Trump’s defeat, but Biden is not the answer

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2730

Celebrations outside the White House in Washington DC

Celebrations outside the White House in Washington DC (Pic: Flickr/ Ted Eytan)


Joe Biden has won enough votes to be declared president of the Unites States (US). The defeat of the racist, sexist, pro-rich Donald Trump is a blow to the far right everywhere. His defeat is hugely welcome.

People in the US and other parts of the world have protested against him from the moment he won four years ago. Now, he is on his way out.

Demonstrations took place in cities across the US on Saturday, with people chanting anti-Trump slogans. From New York to Los Angeles, news of the result was met with cheers, honking and dancing in the streets.

But the election showed no great enthusiasm for Biden. One poll showed 56 percent of Biden Voters said they backed him because he was “not Trump”.

Biden should have crushed Trump by a landslide. But the result was perilously narrow.

Another sign that people were voting to oust Trump, rather than for the Democrats, came in the other elections held alongside the presidential one.

The Democrats actually lost seats in the House of Representatives and made only marginal gains in the Senate. If, as expected, Republicans win two runoff elections in Georgia, the Senate will remain under Republican control.

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As for the state legislatures, Democrats failed in their hopes to take control of chambers in Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan. And Republicans actually took control of New Hampshire’s legislature.

These legislatures matter because they are where issues such as abortion rights and police funding are decided.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state-level races, said it was the first time since 1946 that so few chambers were changing hands.

And Biden will rule in the interests of imperialism and the corporate establishment.

That’s particularly dangerous in a situation where the politics Trump peddles are far from crushed.

Biden is leading the national popular vote with 50.6 percent to Trump's 47.7 percent—a lead of over four million votes.

Because of the highest turnout since 1900, Biden has received more votes than any candidate in US election history—just short of 75 million.

But Trump is the second highest tally ever. His vote rose by over 8 million compared with 2016 and he has received over 70 million this year.

Refusing

For now, Trump is refusing to accept he has lost. He has pledged to continue with legal challenges to the voting in several states.

A key issue for Trump was his disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly a quarter of a million people in America.

Without Covid-19, Trump might have won easily.

Biden blasted Trump’s catastrophic handling of the pandemic during the election campaign. Yet he refuses to back universal health care—a policy that would immediately help millions of people in a pandemic.

When the number of cases climbed in March, Biden said he would veto a public healthcare plan.

Biden’s opposition to Medicare for All is part of a long-standing commitment to neoliberalism.

Speaking in 1995, Biden boasted about his long record of pushing through austerity. “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,” he said.

“I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.”

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Some on the left say that Biden must be made to “keep his promises” that he made during his campaign.

But they included support for fracking, backing for private medicine, no serious concessions to the Black Lives Matter movement and support for the police.

It also includes more determined use of US imperial power against Russia and China. His foreign policy has been largely ignored. It is warmongering.

Instead of Trump’s standalone “America First” approach, Biden is for rebuilding ties with the Nato nuclear alliance and traditional allies. The aim is to reassemble a broader force to repulse rivals globally.

A Biden presidency means austerity, lack of real action over climate chaos and backing for war.

He will create the conditions for a continuing racist right, with or without Trump.

The movements that fought against Trump, including the workers who have taken on their bosses, need to be strengthened.

There can be no honeymoon for Biden.

Watch a discussion on YouTube—US election, where now for America and the left? With August Nimtz, professor of African American studies at the University of Minnesota • Virginia Rodino, activist with Marx21 US • Paul LeBlanc, author and activist. Details here

What does the data say?

Exit polls have come up with varying accounts of what has happened in the US election.

What is really remarkable is they all agree that whatever shifts took place from 2016, they were all quite small. This reflects the lack of enthusiasm for Biden. 

Putting the surveys together shows:

  • Trump gained ground among richer people. Just over half of those whose family income was more than £76,000 a year supported him—compared with 45 percent in 2016. Those with family incomes of less than £37,000 voted Democrat by an 11.5-point margin (55 to 43), compared to an 8.2-point Democrat margin in 2016.
  • In the months leading up to election day, older Americans—who are at greater risk of dying from coronavirus—showed signs of disapproval towards Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Yet this year Trump won the “senior vote”. But it was by a smaller margin than in 2016. Voters aged 65 and older supported him 53-44 four years ago. This year, it was 51-48.
  • The data on younger voters is less clear, but on average the numbers suggest that the 18-29 age group, already heavily Democrat, did not significantly shift towards either party in 2020.
  • Trump made slight inroads with non-white voters, although the vast majority still voted for Biden. Florida’s Cuban community backed Trump by 55 percent against 42 for Biden. Latino voters shifted towards Trump by around 8 percentage points nationally since 2016.
  • Black people vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, by around 88 to 90 percent. In this election black voters appeared to move very slightly towards Trump, although the 2020 surveys do not agree on how much. 

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