We will soon find out the results of the U.S. presidential election.
Trump, the real estate magnate and reality show TV star, has been the capitalist class’s most zealous defender over the last four years. He lowered taxes for the wealthy and in the name of protectionism gave numerous handouts to major corporations such as Tesla, Amazon, Google and the like. Since the coronavirus epidemic has struck, the state has given unlimited amounts of money to companies in difficulty. Wall Street shares are back up to where they were in February while large parts of the population are sinking further into unemployment and poverty and are having to rely on food distribution.
The USA is the most powerful country in the world, the very symbol of modern capitalism. It’s home to the world’s top centers for medical research and advanced technologies, to some of the most innovative laboratories and renowned universities. And yet life expectancy is declining. That’s the price the population has paid to preserve the profits of private insurance companies and those of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Trump minimized the dangers of the coronavirus, opposed all forms of lockdown and even suggested we use bleach to protect ourselves. As a result, the USA is now the country where the pandemic has caused the most deaths. In New York, the dead were even buried in mass graves. Slaughterhouse workers, farm laborers, healthcare professionals, public transport workers, caregivers, African Americans, Hispanics, migrants, poor people, in short the bulk of the working class has been hit the hardest.
Trump has reinforced racial hatred, filthy prejudices and reactionary ideas. He has called for the use of force against anti-racist protesters. He’s also a misogynist. Against women who want to have free control over their bodies he has appointed ultraconservative justices to the court who will likely challenge the right to abortion.
However, if his rival Joe Biden wins the election, nothing will change neither for workers in the U.S. nor for those around the world who suffer under the domination of US imperialism. Biden has half a century of good and loyal services to big business, first as senator and then as Obama’s vice president. It’s not surprising that his campaign took in more donations from major capitalists than Trump’s. Biden may be less rude and foolish than Trump but if he’s elected he’ll defend the rich against the poor just the same.
This election is taking place in a tense climate. Following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis last May, millions of Americans protested in the streets against racism and police brutality both of which have plagued the country since the beginning as it was founded and built on the violence of slavery and segregation. Such protests are salutary. But far-right militias also demonstrated, encouraged by Trump. They had never actually disappeared, but a militiaman recently killed several anti-racist protesters, some tried to kidnap a governor and others marched around holding guns. If Trump loses, white supremacists might seek revenge, on African Americans, for example, like they did during segregation. And whatever the outcome of this election may be, they remain a real danger for the working class.
The USA is a reflection of our world. The crisis that has hit the US is also affecting workers in France. Here, too, social distress has caused its share of obscurantist, xenophobic and racist reactions and a surge in violence. French politicians are stirring up xenophobia, hatred of foreigners and Muslims and far-right activists such as those who paraded in Nice last week after the atrocious terrorist attack in a church, are biding their time.
What’s being played out in the US between Trump and Biden is also being played out here. In the past, younger generations and workers in the US have been a beacon of inspiration like in the 1960s when protests against the war in Vietnam and the fight for African American civil rights spurred other power struggles around the world. So, whatever the outcome of this election is, let’s hope that the workers in the U.S., the world’s leading power, won’t let the crisis get the worst of them. Let’s hope that they won’t let themselves sink into unemployment and poverty or be divided. Let’s hope that the working class will find its way back to the path of class struggle and fight against both the capitalists and their Trump- or Biden-like lackeys.