This Presidential Election

A “Dozen Floridas,” a “Vast Array” of Lawsuits, a “Lot of Mischief”...



Letter from a member of the National Revolution Tour

I thought the letter from a reader a few weeks ago, The Republi-Fascists’ Multi-Pronged Drive to “Win” the November Elections, was important. Since then the situation has only become more intense, with Trump tweeting about delaying the November election and repeatedly indicating he might not accept the results if it doesn’t go his way. Meanwhile pro-Trump Republi-fascists are escalating efforts, on all levels and on all fronts, to undermine the integrity of the upcoming election. As the letter put it:

...on the one hand, the regime and the Republican Party are pulling out the stops to “win” the presidential election, including by suppressing the vote of those sections of people likely to vote against them, particularly people of color. On the other hand, they are trying to “delegitimize” the election by claiming in advance that it is “rigged”—then if they lose, they can try to hold onto power while contesting or denying the results.

This includes state laws designed to make it harder for Black and Brown people to vote, an initiative to recruit 50,000 vigilantes, particularly ex-police and military, to “monitor” polling places and “suspicious” voters in battleground states, cutting back on places to register and to vote that are accessible to people of color, leading to longer lines and crowds during a pandemic, unfounded claims that mail-in (or “absentee”) voting leads to fraud, and attempts to undermine and sabotage this form of voting—which will be much more common this year due to the coronavirus.

All of this underscores the truth of what Bob Avakian says in his August 1 statement, that we are facing an unprecedented situation and an election like no other. In part 3, Bob Avakian writes:

It is of critical importance to continue to build resistance, right now and in an increasingly powerful way, against any and all repressive moves by Trump, including by building mass opposition to this regime’s attempts at voter suppression and through mass mobilization in support and defense of those who are targets of such suppression.

With the full awareness of what is represented by this fascist regime, and what it means that Trump is not only seeking to suppress the votes of people who will vote against him but is also preparing to utilize forceful, violent repression to remain in office if he is not declared the winner in the election, it is of critical and urgent importance to build now truly massive and sustained mobilization around the unifying demand that this regime must be OUT NOW!—with an orientation of being prepared to continue this even past the election, if the situation requires it.

This whole situation has alarmed people everywhere. And it has caused great concern among Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans within the ruling circles and the media—flowing not just from a desire for a Biden victory, but out of concern for the undermining of core “norms” of American democracy, like the peaceful transition of power, that give “legitimacy” to the whole system. Here I want to highlight two examples of these concerns.

1) The New York Times published a major article August 8, by four top White House correspondents, titled, “The Voting Will End Nov. 3. The Legal Battle Probably Won’t.” The article starts:

The stormy once-in-a-lifetime Florida recount battle that polarized the nation in 2000 and left the Supreme Court to decide the presidency may soon look like a high school student council election compared with what could be coming after this November’s election.

Imagine not just another Florida, but a dozen Floridas. Not just one set of lawsuits but a vast array of them. And instead of two restrained candidates staying out of sight and leaving the fight to surrogates, a sitting president of the United States unleashing ALL CAPS Twitter blasts from the Oval Office while seeking ways to use the power of his office to intervene.

The article describes the huge legal battle already beginning over the rules of the voting process itself, and the preparations being made for the fight over how the votes will be counted and the outcome contested. It details some of the key fronts in this battle, including the U.S. Postal Service (which is key to delivering absentee ballots in a timely way) now controlled by a Trump supporter, and being deliberately underfunded.

While both Democrats and Republi-fascists are gearing up in the legal arena for this fight, it stands out to me from reading this article that there are a number of factors favoring the Trump side if this fight is confined just to the legal arena. For one, Trump’s got a completely partisan Department of Justice on his side. Second, he’s got Republican-controlled legislatures in a number of key states. Third, in a chaotic situation the Supreme Court may favor the incumbent (Trump) in order to restore order. Plus Trump, being the fascist that he is, may disregard court rulings anyway. And he has been forging a federal paramilitary force, loyal to him, that can be called out if necessary.

All this underscores the point Bob Avakian makes at the end of part 3 of his August 1 statement:

Relying on, and confining actions within, the “norms” and “regular channels” of this system, including the upcoming election, cannot solve this profound and urgent problem, especially when dealing with a fascist regime and its fanatical followers that are determined to trample on and tear up those “norms.”

2) Earlier this summer, 67 former government officials and other high-level ruling class operatives, academic experts and journalists, came together for a series of “war games” convened by the “Transition Integrity Project.” One of the participants, David Frum, describes it in the Atlantic:

The sessions began with scenarios of what might happen on Election Day—a big Biden win, a narrow Biden win, a Trump win in the Electoral College coupled with a loss in the popular vote—and then played war games to ponder what might follow. The goal was not to make predictions, but rather to test scenarios and identify potential weak points in the system. The approach is common in the national-security world, but has not often before been applied to domestic politics.

Off of these sessions, Frum expresses some confidence that Trump can’t easily change the date of the election or cling to power if the electoral vote is certified against him. But, as he says,

The bad news is that there is a lot of mischief that can be done within the legal boundaries by a determined president, especially with the compliance of the attorney general and enough political allies in the state capitals.

And even in the scenarios where Biden eventually wins, Trump had “thoroughly poisoned the political system.”

Frum goes on:

Despite the president’s personal unpopularity as measured by polls, Trump’s side possessed—and used—important tactical advantages.

Those advantages start with the institutional powers of the presidency, notably the power to federalize the National Guard and take military control of state voting sites. They include also the asymmetry of the U.S. party system, and especially the fiercer team-mindedness of Trump loyalists and pro-Trump media.

The most persistent and powerful advantage, however, was the overconfidence of the legally minded Biden team that the Trump team would respect some norms and limits on its behavior. That expectation was again and again refuted by experience.

Frum goes into a number of specific situations and variables, on election day and in the intense period after, which are well worth thinking about. I also recommend checking out this article by another participant, Max Boot, in the Washington Post. Boot describes scenarios in which there would likely be “near civil war in the streets,” and right-wing militias unleashed, if there is not a clear winner on election night. He concludes, “Unless Biden wins by an electoral college margin that no one can credibly dispute, our democracy may be imperiled as never before.”

What most stood out to me reading all this is the point that Bob Avakian makes at the beginning of part 3 of his August 1 statement: “Simply relying on voting to oust this regime will almost certainly lead to very bad, even disastrous results.”

And what comes even more sharply into focus, in terms of the struggle that we need to wage, is: 1) It is significant, and a sign of how extreme the danger is, that the anti-Trump forces within the ruling circles are openly sounding the alarm in this way and moving to bolster the institutions and “norms” of the electoral process; 2) This can provide openings for the struggle of the people from below; 3) It would make a huge difference for Trump to actually be defeated in a landslide on November 3; 4) In any scenario, mass resistance to Trump’s attempts at stealing the election, and mass mobilization demanding the Trump regime must go now, is the critical ingredient that can change the whole equation; 5) These are the kind of crises where the legitimacy of the whole system can be called into question for millions of people, so it is critical for revolutionaries to wage the fight to defeat Trump and his fascist assault on this election from the perspective of, and while building up the forces for, an actual revolution to get rid of this whole system.

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