The Election in Alabama: What It Does—And Does NOT—Mean, and What Must Be Done

December 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Last Tuesday night, with people all across the country closely following the race, the Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated the openly Christian fascist fanatic Roy Moore in the election for senator from Alabama.

Moore campaigned on an openly anti-gay platform and record. He had repeatedly called for criminalizing same-sex relations and had even been removed from the Alabama (!) Supreme Court for refusing to uphold the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. He campaigned as an extreme anti-abortion fanatic.

Beyond that, Moore had openly lauded slavery! When asked at a rally in September “when America was last great,” he harkened back to more than 150 years ago, when “families were united—even though we had slavery—they cared for one another.... Our families were strong, our country had a direction.” Moore has also said that there should have been no more amendments to the Constitution after the first 10—meaning that the end of slavery, the rights of women and Black people to vote, the right of people to be citizens, the stricture against states denying people rights guaranteed to them in the federal Constitution—all these would be off the books. And note well: neither Moore nor any of his supporters (least of all Donald Trump) ever tried to “walk back” either of these outrageously racist statements.

Yet with all that, Moore almost won! Plus this: Moore was not only slavery-loving, gay-hating, patriarchal nutcase, he had also been hit with allegations that he had abused teenage girls when he was in his 30s. While the allegations have not been proven, Moore did admit to seeking dates with teenagers while an adult (albeit, he claimed, with their mothers’ permission!). Had this last point not cut down the Republican turnout, it has to be said that it is likely that Moore would have won.

At the same time, other factors entered in as well. For one thing, Black people in Alabama turned out in record numbers to vote against this pig. More Black people voted in this off-year off-month election than had voted for Obama—and this is so even though outrageous measures taken by the Republican Party since Obama’s election have seriously cut down the ability of the masses of Black people in Alabama to vote at all. This could well signal an extremely heightened sense of the danger that Moore—and beyond Moore, Trump, who backed Moore—poses to Black people, as well as a revulsion against his whole program. While voting will not be what stops Trump—and we’ll come back to that point—had Black people simply not turned out, it would not only have meant Moore ascending to the Senate and great prominence, but could have signified a deep defeatism. So there is a positive aspect here.

Moore was also up against a section of the Republican Party concentrated right now in some Senate Republicans. These senators, like Trump, favor fascism but they have some differences with an even more openly fascist and racist section led by Steve Bannon.

But again, we should not be jumping up and down in joy because Moore lost; we should be noting and soberly assessing the fact that the race was as close as it was. Had Moore even received 10 votes, that would have signified something extremely ugly. The fact that this candidate who openly longed for the days of slavery and flaunted his hatred of LGBTQ people got over 650,000 votes and that this included 68 percent of the white people who came out to vote... that is a shame beyond ugly, and something that has to be soberly confronted.

Why Did Moore Almost Win?

The fact has to be faced that there is a significant section of white people—in fact, a majority—who have been mobilized around a fascist program that more or less openly identifies “American greatness” as based on the virulent and open subordination of Black people, the open domination and demeaning of women and gay people (and in the case of LGBTQ people, the outright denial of their basic rights), the ethnic cleansing of immigrants and Muslims (as well as a theocratic domination of government and civil society by fundamentalist Christian fascism), and an even more highly aggressive U.S. foreign policy. This is not only true of Alabama, but of the country as a whole—the ugly fact is that Trump won a majority of every section of white people in 2016 and that even a foaming-at-the-mouth racist and sexist like Moore, so far out that even some Republicans openly called for his defeat, could win a decisive majority of white votes in Alabama.

This hard-core fascist movement is rooted in the whole history of this country in slavery and then white supremacy, the deep ties between Christian fundamentalism and white supremacy (as Bob Avakian has stated, “The ‘Bible Belt’ in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt”), the reaction against the changing of morés around women and gay people, the American chauvinism that has continued as the dominant assumption for the vast majority, and the ways in which the Republican Party for over 40 years has been steadily building up a fascist base and infrastructure rooted in this. To get a sense of the depth of these roots, readers should watch Bob Avakian’s talk given this fall: “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” If you’ve seen it before, watch it again—because this truth cannot go out of focus. This fascism is deeply, deeply rooted, this movement has been built up and is convinced of their supposedly “God-ordained” righteousness, they think this is their “last chance,” and they are not going to go away lightly.

And Who Is Doug Jones?

Moreover, Moore did NOT lose because Doug Jones squarely confronted and called out the fascist movement represented by Moore. Jones did not even run on a liberal platform. Nor did he openly proclaim that he wanted to bring forward Black people and progressive whites into a coalition to defeat this viciously racist, sexist, and American chauvinist campaign.

To the contrary. Jones ran as a “tough-on-crime Democrat.” Translation: Jones styles himself in the mold of Bill Clinton, whose policies exacerbated the massive criminalization and incarceration of Black and other “minority” people, and who even made a spectacle of presiding over the execution of mentally incompetent Black man, Ricky Rector, at the height of his first presidential campaign. Jones kept his support from prominent Black people “under the radar” until the very end of the campaign. He fully backs the murderous U.S. military—as he has stated in an interview with “You have to be smart about how money is spent. The federal budget is very large and it contains many components. But I think in today’s world, defense spending is very important, making sure we have a capable and modern military to protect this country is incredibly important. That is the most paramount thing.”

This is an approach that under Clinton and then Obama consistently attempted to placate these fascists, and consistently conceded the initiative to them in the name of “being bipartisan.” In the case of Obama, this meant saying, after Trump won the election on an openly white supremacist, sexist, and hyper-chauvinist campaign, that he and Trump were ultimately “on the same team” and that we should hope for Trump's success.

Jones was lauded for making the race about “local issues” and Moore, and not allowing it to “turn into a referendum on Trump”—that is, not even going after Trump himself, apparently for fear of alienating or provoking Trump supporters whom he might otherwise either win or at least get to stay home. Jones not only refused to sound the alarm about the grave danger the Trump/Pence regime represents to humanity, much less expose its fascist character, he is now calling for reaching out to the racists, misogynists, and chauvinists who voted for Trump and Roy Moore!

In a press conference after the election, talking about a congratulatory call from Trump, Jones said they talked about seeking “common ground”—on what, pray we ask? On the preservation of white supremacist monuments? On deportation of immigrants? On potential war against North Korea and in the Middle East? On the attacks on the media and rule of law and science? On “infrastructure and jobs,” the favorite Democratic trope... which is just another term for normalizing a fascist regime, with momentum and dynamic seeking to consolidate fascist rule? The point here is not that Jones supports Trump on any or all of these policies, but that the very act of “seeking common ground” itself legitimizes this American Hitler and ideologically disarms people for what is going to have to be a serious struggle to uproot this fascism.

Charles Blow and Deceit and Self-Deceit: Is Trump an Anomaly of America?

Yet someone like Charles Blow, who has previously called Trump fascist and sounded the alarm about him, now claims that this election is an “omen,” to quote the title of his Wednesday column in the New York Times. According to Blow, the narrow defeat of Moore “proved that Trump was a fringe candidate who tapped into an American ugliness and rode it to a fluke victory with the help of a foreign adversary.” Then he goes on:

Trump is both anomaly and abomination, and America wants to carve him out like a cancer.

We can certainly agree with Blow that Trump is an abomination. But an “anomaly”? Anomaly means something that is a sharp deviation from the norm. Again, we want to urge readers to listen to BA’s talk, where the real history of this country, here and around the world is squarely confronted, and where the depth and cultivation of this fascist movement that Trump and Pence head is gone into. But for now we’ll say this: you cannot truly look at an America in which the very land was stolen and its original inhabitants genocided, in which the entire foundation of its economic, political, and military power rested on the gigantic historic crime of slavery, in which the power thereby gained has then been used to terrorize, dominate, and ruthlessly exploit people all over the world, a country which led the heedless plunder of the environment that has now brought us to the brink of disaster... you cannot even look at the trajectory of Nixon to Reagan to W and accurately call Trump an “anomaly.”

Trump has in fact coalesced various fascist forces that have been building with increasing velocity in the wake of the 1960s. The driving underlying contradictions that the U.S. faces at home and internationally have caused big sections of the ruling class to see the Trump/Pence regime as necessary and last-chance now, and they judge that they have to move fast to consolidate. Trump’s continual threats against leading Democrats do not principally flow from his narcissism but the judgment of his faction that these Democrats must be at minimum further cowed. The Democrats for their part will not resolutely oppose Trump for the reason that to dislodge and confront the fascist regime and the roused fascist base of that regime, would require mobilizing their base and initiating a process that could spin beyond their control, delegitimizing them (and their complicity in many aspects of the fascist agenda, particularly towards the most oppressed and on the world stage)... and could even lead to delegitimizing the whole system. Hence the Democrats walk a tightrope of attempting to hem Trump in with things like the Mueller investigation which do not get to, and intentionally lead away from, the essence of the matter—fascism—and which make the terms those of patriotism vs. lack thereof.

The portrait of Trump as an isolated anomaly in all this is not only inaccurate—it is disarming and causes real damage.

More Deceit and Self-Deceit: A Strategy... Of Accommodation Leading To Disaster

Blow is driven to this distortion of where Trump stands in relation to America and its history by his fervent desire for the main point of his article—the notion that, in his words,

The Resistance is marching on, emboldened, with a strategy and a proof that the strategy can work.

The assumptions behind this statement are dangerously wrong. This strategy is to avoid calling out the fascist nature of the threat we now face and to work through elections and the Democratic Party. This strategy calls on people to pour their efforts into electing Democrats in 2018. But even if in defiance of the way that the system is already set up to nullify the votes of the most oppressed and those in the urban areas, and even if somehow the regime is not able to proceed with its efforts to drastically further cut down on the rights of Black and other minority people to vote...even if with all that the Democrats somehow elect a majority, this would NOT in itself mean the removal of Trump. The leadership of the Democrats has continued to insist that Trump NOT be impeached and that such talk be ruled out of order altogether. And Blow, let it be noted, says nothing to the contrary.

Moreover, do you think these fascists will do nothing in the face of an electoral defeat? What if the shoe in November 2016 had been on the other foot? What if Hillary Clinton had lost the popular vote but slipped in through the electoral back door (as Trump did)? Do you think that Trump would have called for people to come together and accept the result, as Hillary Clinton and then Obama did? Obviously, nobody knows for sure, but if you think back Trump was preparing his followers to reject any loss as the result of “rigging.”

The point here is not that such an election defeat in 2018 is improbable. The point is that this hard core is convinced that they are right and this is their last chance to “take their country back”—that is, to hammer down a fascist form of American capitalism-imperialism—and they are not going to be deterred by an election defeat.

Fascism will not be defeated by not confronting it. It will not be defeated by refusing to name it as such—and Blow, who has often called the regime fascist has, for whatever reason, chosen not to use that term in this column. It will not be defeated by not calling out what Bob Avakian has called

the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the “superiority of western civilization,” as evidenced in Trump’s recent speech in Poland. (From The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenge Before Us)

A Logic That Leads to Supporting Horror: Trying to Defeat Fascism by Adopting Its Slogans

And fascism will certainly not be defeated by attempting to clothe oneself in the very slogan of the fascist movement itself. Yet Blow goes on to say this:

The Resistance has come to take its country back and make America great again. That means posing a plausible electoral threat to all things Trump and every person who supported his defilement of this country. (our emphasis)

W. T. F. Those are the terms on which you’re going to fight the Trump-Pence regime? “American greatness” has only ever been, and can only ever be, a slogan rooted in the Manifest Destiny that justified the extermination of the Native peoples who originally lived here and the enslavement (and then continued torture and super-exploitation after outright chattel slavery ended) of the millions kidnapped and dragged here in chains from Africa.

By the way, note that the goal here posed by Blow is not even the outright electoral defeat of the Trump/Pence regime, but instead has been reformulated to be “posing a plausible electoral threat” to it. This supposed strategy—in the context of literal horrors being perpetrated right now against immigrants and Muslims in this country, plundering the environment, theocratic packing of the courts, and aggression and oppression backed by the U.S. all over the world right now from Yemen to Somalia to West Africa to Palestine... and in the context of the threatened horrors against Black and other “minority” people, against women and LGBTQ people, and the extremely heightened danger of cataclysmic nuclear war—is a strategy for capitulation and defeat. And in this current context, it is unconscionable.

There is a reason that the Democratic Party will not and cannot call out and seriously oppose this. Even as many oppressed and working people cast votes for them, they represent the same capitalist-imperialist system that Trump does, and they will tell you as much: they stand for capitalism, they stand for the “projection of American power” (which means imperialism), they stand for “American exceptionalism,” which means that America among all countries is exceptionally good (when in fact it has been exceptionally rapacious and bloodthirsty), and so on. They are, in other words, a party that represents the interests of the ruling class. They have differences with Trump, even very serious ones, but they prize the continued order and functioning of the system over the possible threat to that order that could be posed by political upheaval, so they attempt to curtail and clip the wings of people’s anger and channel this into “safe channels.” At most they aim to use the anger of the people to pose some sort of constraint on Trump; in fact, they aim to render it harmless. They are not willing to risk the stability of the system in calling out the horrors and illegitimacy of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, or calling out the people into the streets to protest and oppose this regime.

Then there’s this: if you build a movement on the logic of the Democrats, and the strategy of that movement is working to elect Democrats (oops, sorry, working to nominate candidates who pose a plausible threat), what happens when Trump tries to get out of some domestic political crisis by going to war? Then, when the Democratic leadership rushes to prove their patriotism by supporting Trump (as they did with Bush II and Bush I and Reagan, and as they did with their own leaders Clinton and Obama in the numerous acts of aggression that they launched or supported), where will you be? When Trump uses such a crisis to severely heighten repression and the Democrats support him—as they did with Bush II when they nearly unanimously supported the Patriot Act and the unlawful imprisonment and torture of Muslims within and outside the U.S.—in a form that could certainly be even worse than Bush... where will you be?

In their hip pocket... or worse still, justifying what you once would have called out as crimes as “necessary evils.”

There IS a Chance to Defeat Fascism and There Is Still Time to Do It, if...

As we have stated before, and it is still true, this does not mean that Trump has it all sewn up, nor that the divisions that do exist at the top cannot become part of what ends up removing this regime. But this is neither going to continue as an open-ended possibility, nor will it happen unless millions take the streets in a sustained, nonviolent movement. This makes it more, not less, urgent to demand that the nightmare end NOW, and that the regime be driven from power; more, not less, important for people to take up and get into or unite with Refuse Fascism; more, not less urgent, to truly confront the fascist nature of this movement and the deep roots of that fascism within U.S. society and the capitalist-imperialist system that drives that society.

There is no easy way out, no shortcut and no way around what this will take: millions of people demanding Trump/Pence Must Go!—voting in the streets with their feet to make this happen.



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