The failures of the US Democratic party and president Joe Biden have opened the door to electoral success for the Republicans in the mid-term elections scheduled for 8 November. The Republicans, dominated by supporters of former president Donald Trump and infected with open racists, hope to take back the House of representatives and possibly the Senate.
By wiping out the Democrats’ control, they would then be able to block anything they regard as progressive. They would work with Biden only over measures such as bolstering arms supplies for the proxy war in Ukraine.
Trump continues to push the lie that 2020 election was fraudulent. He had defended the far right attack on the Capitol on 6 January 2021. And he had recently added a new element of antisemitism.
He warned Jews to be more appreciative of what he had done “before it is too late”. He advised them to be more like “our wonderful Evangelicals”. But Republicans win votes now just by mobilising the most backward views but also by a false claim to be outsiders who stick up for ordinary people.
Inflation is at a 40-year high, with the price of housing, food and healthcare all rising sharply. Republicans blamed the rising prices on increased state spending and the government’s reliance on importing fossil fuels from overseas. Of course they don’t object to the military budget of over £700 billion or the money funnelled to war in Ukraine.
But in a poll conducted by NBC News in September, voters favoured the Republicans by 20 points when it came to the economy. With the Democrats lagging behind when it comes to the economy, they hope that making promises about abortion rights can win them votes.
Facing the prospect of defeat, Biden has promised that the first piece of legislation he will sign if the Democrats increase their seats in Congress is a federal law codifying the provisions of Roe v Wade. He launched the policy surrounded by young people and the words “Restore Roe”. But it’s an illusion, seizing on a crucial issue and directing people’s anger about the attack on abortion rights and directing it into the dead end of the Democrats.
Biden could already have passed such a law if he had been ready to sweep away the filibuster rule that allows a minority to block legislation. But he has not been prepared for the upheaval that would involve. And the Democrats will still face a filibuster after the elections, unless all the polls are hugely wrong.
Centring the defence of abortion rights on voting for the Democrats guts the campaign on the streets. It takes away from the guerrilla actions to defy the law and defend women. The Women’s March called for a “Summer of Rage” after Roe v Wade was cancelled by the Supreme Court. But there was not a single national action called by the Women’s March. The Women’s March did call for a weekend of action in early October, but only to link action to voting for the Democrats.
The president’s time in power is now littered with broken promises. He has failed to reduce, let alone abolish, the US’s vast nuclear arsenals and has presided over a massive increase in military spending. He has left in place most of Trump’s brutal immigration policies.
The biggest assault on abortion rights happened under his watch. He promised trillions would be funnelled into infrastructure projects and to fighting climate change. But the money he promised was cut in half. All these retreats opened the door to the Republicans and will strengthen far right forces.
To defend and improve living standards and abortion rights requires strikes and movements on the streets, not tailing the Democrats.
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