The victory of two Democrat senators in the southern state of Georgia has tipped the scales in Joe Biden’s favour just before he becomes president.
Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were confirmed as winners in the US senate election last Wednesday.
Warnock’s appointment is particularly significant—he is Georgia’s first black senator.
Their victory means the Democrats will control the US Senate, House of Representatives, and White House for the first time since 2010.
Pressure will now be on Biden to pass legislation as it can no longer be blocked by Republicans.
The victory has largely been attributed to the work of former member of the House of Representatives and voting activist Stacey Abrams.
Along with hundreds of community organisers she made it her mission to increase voter turnout, especially among black people.
Abrams achieved this. Georgia’s voters went out in record breaking numbers.
But attributing the victory to an individual obscures other reasons as to why Georgia may have voted for change.
Georgia is deeply divided. In 2019 5 percent of the state had assets of over $1 million. Despite the wealth, the poor in Georgia have sunk further into poverty.
Up to 18.5 percent of children live below the poverty line. And unemployment was ranked one of the worst in any state even before the pandemic. Georgia has been hit hard by the pandemic, with some of the highest case and death rates in the US.
An exit poll found one in six Georgian voters had suffered severe financial hardship because of coronavirus.
But unlike Georgia’s outgoing Republican Senators, the Democrat candidates offered those financially impacted by the virus a £1,472 survival cheque. This was crucial to their success.
Until recently Biden was against awarding such cheques. Yet in a speech made last Monday he stated, “By electing Jon and the Reverend you can make an immediate difference in your own lives.
“Their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check.”
Biden had no intention of granting survival cheques until he realised it would be beneficial for him to win the Senate.
The Democrats may have won in Georgia, but it is already becoming clear that Biden won’t act unless he is forced to.
Anti-racism and the South
Members of the Democratic establishment will celebrate the win in Georgia as proof that the south can swing in their favour.
Until the 1960s the US south was run almost exclusively by the Democrats who had held power since the end of the Civil War.
Democrats in the South, known as Dixiecrats, were in total support of segregation and brutally racist laws.
The Civil Rights Movement pressured Democrat president John F Kennedy for change from below. The US ruling class were also against open racist segregation because it wanted to portray the US as progressive during the Cold War.
Kennedy had to balance pressure from above and below against the need to keep support in the South.
But after he acted over segregation, the Democrats in the south began to split away.
In response candidates such as Republican Richard Nixon ran campaigns appealing to the racist Democrats in the south.
The Democratic party has never been an anti-racist one. Instead it uses anti-racist movements to win votes and at the same time hijacks these movements.
Anger burst onto the streets of Georgia this summer with the police killing of George Floyd and the murder of Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks.
The Democrats benefitted from the anger by presenting themselves as an alternative to the racist Trump.
But Biden’s only goal was to win the presidency. And he spurned the power of the Black Lives Matter movement because it didn’t fit with his neoliberal agenda.
Real change will not come through the Democrats or waiting years for elections. The real task is to change society and break apart the current system of two capitalist parties.