Not just hope, action

Submitted by AWL on 6 October, 2020 - 6:55 Author: Jim Denham
Sanders and Biden

• See here for other articles debating the US election, Trump, etc.

The author of the article “The case for backing Hawkins” (Solidarity 565) begins thus: “Anyone committed to basic human decency, let alone socialism, should hope that Donald Trump loses the American presidential election in November. Given the nature of the US’s electoral system, this means hoping that Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, wins.”

The conclusion would seem to be obvious: vote Biden.

But no: despite “hoping” for a Biden victory, we should not do anything to actually bring it about and — in fact — advocate a course of action that if it has any measurable effect, will make a Biden victory less likely.

The author arrives at this perverse conclusion by arguing that “elections cannot be seen as incidental snapshots... in which we stop all other politics... and then get back to our politics afterwards.”

But, surely, relating to the vast majority of class conscious workers, people of colour and other progressive forces, in advocating the only course that can stop Trump is — or should be — our politics? Those people are correct in treating the election as a “referendum on Trumpism” in which a Biden vote is quite obviously necessary. In joining them, nothing prevents us pointing out everything that’s wrong with Biden and the mainstream Democrats, or pointing out the need for independent political action and, ultimately, a working class-based labour or socialist party. The creation of such a party is a long way off, but our job is to educate advanced workers and other progressive forces in the need for such a party.

Does campaigning for the no-hope Hawkins-Walker Green Party candidacy help us do this? No it does not! An American comrade has put it like this: “The Greens, a party that lies dormant between presidential elections, can be a spoiler, but not a significant vehicle for anti-capitalist class education — having no presence in working-class life. Even less, therefore, can it act as a catalyst in key working-class communities hastening a break with capitalist politics.”

Space does not allow me to go into whether or not Trump and his movement can properly be described as “fascist” (I think it can, the author seems to suggest it’s not), but that’s not the crucial issue here. We can all agree, I hope, that Trump represents an extreme right-wing, authoritarian racist movement that represents a mortal danger to democracy, to workers’ rights, to women and to minorities not just in the US but world-wide.

Supporting the Green Party in this situation is not just irresponsible, but entirely counter-productive for socialists. The American comrade summed it up well: “Under these circumstances, there is no upside for a protest vote for the Greens. If such a vote delivers a victory to Trump, socialists will be held responsible for the debacle. Votes expended on the Greens will not open or strengthen other fronts of resistance in legislatures, workplaces or communities.”

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