The Real Meaning of the 2022 Elections

THE REAL INTERESTS OF THE MASSES WERE NOT ON THE BALLOT

As we write, the results of the election are taking shape. The Democrats won the Senate. The control of the House of Representatives has not been decided. A number of Republi-fascist candidates who denied the validity of the 2020 elections—“election deniers”—were defeated for key positions in some closely contested states, though many deniers were elected to positions elsewhere.

The results differed from most predictions of a “Republican wave,” and many people who put their hopes in the Democrats feel that they have avoided a disaster. Some are almost giddy, pronouncing the dawn of a new era. Some of them say that the blow to some of the candidates backed by Donald Trump signals the waning, if not the end, of the fascist threat.

We’ll get to the future of the fascist movement later. But first, there is a more fundamental point in regard to these elections:

The real interests of the masses of people were “not on the ballot.” Instead, things were posed on the terms of this system. That is to say, all the “issues” were addressed within the confines of what is possible under the capitalist-imperialist system and what different sections of rulers favor. The continued functioning of that violently enforced, global, profit-over-all, expand-or-die system sets the limits on how any social contradiction will be addressed—be it the environment, the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities, as well as of women, LGBTQ people, immigrants and so on. 1

The only way the interests of the masses could be truly addressed would be on the basis of an actual revolution of millions that overthrew that system, and brought into being an entirely new framework of genuinely socialist economic relations and entirely new political structures to serve that. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, provides a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for how that society would work, including the role that elections would play.

Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America cover 400

 

But let’s get more into how those capitalist-imperialist relations determined what was and what was not on the ballot in this election.

Police Murder and White Supremacy—Not on the Ballot

Just think about the real outrages that you care about. And then let’s examine the focus and content of the campaigns waged by the Democrats.

In 2020, after the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, millions of people went into the streets demanding an end to police terror and white supremacy. So what happened?

RevComs at rally protesting murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis.

 

Minneapolis, June 2020.    Photo: revcom.us

In 2020 and then even more in 2022, the Republicans brayed about being “tough on crime”—their racist code words for hammering down oppressed communities, especially the youth, even harder.

And what did the Democrats do? Warn against these barely disguised racist appeals? No! Refusing to be outdone, the Democrats claimed that they would be just as tough! They actually outdid the Republicans in “anti-crime” ads.2 They continued with their endless parade of Black “ex”-pigs and former prosecutors in high places like Kamala Harris or New York City Mayor Eric “The Black Giuliani” Adams. And of course, there was Biden, popping up like a jack-in-the-box, repeating “Fund the police, fund the police, fund the police.”

Biden emphasizing three times, "Fund the Police!"

 

President Biden, popping up like a jack-in-the-box, repeating, “Fund the police, fund the police, fund the police."    Photo: AP

Ending police brutality and mass incarceration is in the fundamental interests of the masses of people. But those outrages were NOT on the ballot and could not be on the ballot because this system not only cannot take any meaningful steps to root out white supremacy,3 but because it requires it. 

Three victims of police murder: Adam Toledo, Amir Locke, and Donovan Lewis.

 

Ending police brutality & mass incarceration is in the fundamental interests of the people. But those outrages were NOT and could not be on the ballot    

Stopping the War and Ending the Danger of Nuclear War—Not on the Ballot

Then there is what even the Meet the Press host Chuck Todd admits has developed into a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Biden and Putin have traded threats about the possibility of this becoming a nuclear war. And in the middle of this, Biden also went on TV to issue threats against China.4 A nuclear war is a potentially humanity-ending threat—yet this was barely discussed in the campaign!

In fact, what got reinforced was Biden’s extremely reckless position on this war and towards China. Even Biden remarked that the elections strengthened his hand on the eve of a planned meeting with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping.5

The Constitutional Right to Abortion—Not on the Ballot

handmaids-scotus-20201101-1024x683.jpg

 

Or think about abortion. Many Democrats did campaign for abortion rights and millions of women, and men, are reported to have voted for them on that basis.

But what will come of it? For decades the Democrats have let the Republicans set the terms on what is supposed to be a fundamental right. The fascists murdered nurses and doctors while the Democrats called for “common ground.” The Democrats allowed all manner of brazen fascists onto the Supreme Court on the basis of threadbare “promises” to “respect Roe v. Wade” (the precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion). Then there is Obama’s betrayal of his promise to pass a federal law guaranteeing abortion as his first priority when the Democrats had the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and House.

Last year, when it became clear that the fascist Supreme Court was in fact going to overturn this, the silence of the Democrats was deafening. The “pro-choice movement” tied to the Democrats either boycotted or outright attacked the one force that was trying to prevent the decision, RiseUp4AbortionRights.

It's true that people in Michigan, California and several other states did vote on measures focused on abortion rights, but it was just for those states. Reversing the Supreme Court ruling and restoring the nationwide right to abortion was not, and could not be, on the ballot. Instead, people must now fight state by state for what had been a constitutional right, thereby implicitly accepting as a fait accompli the outrageous Supreme Court ruling. (It is worth noting that the right-wing columnist Ross Douthat crowed in the November 13 New York Times over the assertion that in the short period since this right was overturned, an estimated 60,000 women who wanted abortions were instead forced to bear children against their will.)

A Feature, Not a Bug

We could also point to the destruction of the environment, the brutality and suffering rained down on those who are driven to immigrate here, and the even more fundamental—and invisible—fact that this whole “way of life” rests on the super-exploitation of billions of people in the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East (including 150 million child laborers!). In all of these realms and more, the interests of the masses were not on the ballot.

In every case above and more, the effect of this whole thing has served to reinforce outright reactionary programs, and to undermine any real orientation toward eliminating the profound injustices and continuing outrages that characterize this society (and the world as a whole). Think about it: the racist practices of the criminal justice system… the unjust and dangerous imperialist war in Ukraine… even the Supreme Court overturning of the right to abortion—all these got reinforced through this election.

Again, to end any of these—let alone to get to work on the environment, or the excruciating refugee crisis racking the world—you need an actual revolution.

On the Supposed Defeat of the Fascists

As to the alleged “defeat” of the fascists, now being trumpeted by liberal commentators: to paraphrase Mark Twain, “the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.”

To be clear, the fascists did suffer a setback to some of their plans, including their strategy of getting the power to directly control the election machinery in key states. But the political obituaries of the fascist movement overall and of Donald Trump in particular have been written many times before—from the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton to the Access Hollywood tapes of Trump and on up to the January 6 attempted coup. Yet like in a cheap zombie movie, these fascists always return, more vicious and determined than before.

Why? The rise of this fascist movement is deeply rooted in some of the most essential contradictions of this system. In the eyes of the Republican Party, the frankly modest but important reforms of the 1960s and ’70s in regard to the rights of Black people, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people “went way too far.” As these fascists see it, those concessions now pose a threat to the continued operation of this system and its ability to hold together in the face of international challenges and radical economic and social dislocations within U.S. society.6

In addition, the millions that they have summoned into political life—including the hard core of the Christian fascist movement—are not going to be stuffed back into the bottle. In short, the fascist Republican Party intends to remake the whole society, one way or the other—either through the rules of the system, or through force and intimidation (January 6 was not even two years ago!), or most likely some combination of the two.

Washington, DC, January 6, Insurrection.

 

Washington, DC, January 6, rioters loyal to Trump stage a coup attempt.    Photo: AP

The Democrats, for their part, first and foremost represent the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism and not “the people.” Above all, they aim to ensure that system’s ability to dominate and plunder the whole world. Democratic presidents were directly responsible for wars against Korea and Vietnam that took the lives of 6 million people combined (!), as well as numerous “smaller operations” which they either launched or supported (including the so-called “war on terror” that took the lives of over a million Iraqis, as well as many other people, and right down to the Saudi war against Yemen today). These are the people and this is the party you are voting for.

Massive destruction in Yemen from Saudi Arabia airstrikes, 2019.

 

Massive destruction in Yemen—the U.S.-backed Saudi war has killed an estimated 377,000 Yemeni people.    Photo: ICRC/Karrar al-Moayyad

The Democrats do vehemently oppose the fascists’ worldview and their continual busting of “democratic norms” (including the “peaceful transfer of power”). They regard this as being damaging to that domination. But at the same time, they are extremely fearful of resisting the fascists in ways that would call the masses into the streets—with the risk those masses would get “out of control,” and they have done everything they can to prevent mass resistance to these fascists.7

Elections, Fascism and a Rare Time When Revolution Is More Possible

The imposition of fascism would make what is already a horrible system even worse, with further untold horrors. The question is not whether to fight fascism, but with what means and to what end? To defend the system that got us to this point and holds out the prospect of far worse, whichever ruling-class faction rules it? Or to fight to get beyond this madness, including the threat of severe fascist clampdown? The fight to defeat these fascists must be waged as part of the fight for revolution, to overthrow the system as a whole.

With that in mind, we want to close with this crucial passage from the recently released “Organizing For An Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points.”

This rare situation, with the deepening and sharpening conflicts among the ruling powers, and in the society overall, provides a stronger basis and greater openings to break the hold of this system over masses of people. In a situation like this, things that have basically remained the same, for decades, can radically change in a very short period of time. This rare time must not be wasted—it must be seized on to have a real fighting chance to bring about a truly emancipating revolutionary resolution, and not be subjected to a terrible, reactionary, murderously oppressive and destructive resolution.

 

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FOOTNOTES:

1. See “Through Which Mode of Production,” an excerpt from The New Communism: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian. [back]

2. According to a November 4 report in the New York Times, “Nationwide, Democrats spent more money last month on ads that used the word ‘police’ than Republicans did, according to AdImpact, a media-tracking firm. [back]

3. Bob Avakian gets into this in his article “Racial Oppression Can Be Ended—But Not Under This System” [back]

4. See “Biden Threatens China Again: Nuclear Chicken Intensifies on the South China Sea” [back]

5. See key analyses from Bob Avakian on the war in Ukraine, including: “Ukraine: World War 3 Is the Real Danger, Not a Repeat of World War 2”; “World War 3 and Dangerous Idiocy”; “The War in Ukraine and the Interests of Humanity: A Scientific Revolutionary Approach vs. Harmful Confusion and Chauvinist Delusion”; “‘Legit Gangsters’—Gangsters with Nuclear Weapons” [back]

6. See “January 2021: NEW YEAR'S STATEMENT BY BOB AVAKIAN: A New Year, The Urgent Need for a Radically New World--For the Emancipation of All Humanity” and  “Bob Avakian on the Right-Wing Agenda: The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...and Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer.” [back]

7. See “Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of Painless Progress” by Bob Avakian, in which he discusses the "three fears" of Pelosi and the Democrats. [back]

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