The Day After — America Hung Over?

David Finkel

November 4, 2020

Trumpsters chanting “Stop the vote!” outside the central counting board in Detroit after an election official closed the door on them. Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

[This initial response was authored by David Finkel for the National Committee of Solidarity. We continue to follow events. By late Wednesday afternoon, with the Electoral College result appearing to swing narrowly toward Biden in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada, the Trump campaign is beginning to file stop-the-count lawsuits and a rightwing crowd is trying to break into the counting center at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit.]

As the sun rises on a COVID-ravaged and politically fractured U.S. homeland the day after November 3, the main networks are telling us that the unresolved presidential election comes down to a two-states-out-of-three contest in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The results won’t be known till tonight at the earliest, probably later and not for days in Pennsylvania as late-arriving mail ballots need to be counted.

In short, it’s all over but the counting, recounting and probably litigating. If America isn’t hung over this morning, it probably will be before it’s all done.

We want to hear from members and friends of Solidarity about what’s happening in your communities during and after the election. Let us hear from you at webzine@solidarity-us.org!

Here’s some of what we know:

For the second straight election, U.S. voters have actually repudiated Donald Trump’s repulsive, racist and nativist message — but this time, contrary to expectations, by a smaller percentage than in 2016. At this writing (7 am Wednesday) Biden has 68,867,000 against Trump’s 66,643,000 votes — a margin of two million but way less than pollsters indicated. Of course, none of this matters in a system governed by the anachronistic Electoral College.

As expected, Donald Trump made a “victory” declaration in the middle of the night and proclaimed “we’re going to the Supreme Court” to stop the vote count while he’s ahead. Importantly, it doesn’t look like the Republican leadership as a whole is backing up this widely anticipated Grand Theft Election gambit — at least for the moment. Prospects for a Trump-engineered “electoral coup” appear to have dimmed.

By most indications, the Republican majority in the Senate will remain intact at least narrowly and the Democrats will hold the House of Representatives by a smaller margin yet to be determined.

Third-party campaigns appear to have been pretty much overwhelmed by the polarization of the two main capitalist parties. The Green Party campaign of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker is showing a 0.23% vote, but we’ll need more time to see where Green results may be significant in local or state races.

But whatever the Electoral College sausage machinery ultimately turns out — even if Biden ekes out a narrow win — the Democrats’ expectation of a massive “blue wave” taking back working class and sweeping Latino votes has largely failed. Biden’s centrist, soporific “unify the country” message — with little beyond hollow phrases about what to unify around — failed fairly dramatically, when it’s set in the context of the expectations and the coronavirus and economic calamity that Trump’s presidency has produced.

While the country remains semi-comatose awaiting the presidential results, it must be said that this is no Democratic sweep and certainly no big breakthrough for the party’s “progressive wing,” which has pockets of strength but can expect little or no serious influence on neoliberal party policy. Republican control of the Senate and the conservative Supreme Court is likely to give Biden an excuse to avoid fighting for meaningful reforms. What Trump might perpetrate in the interim before Inauguration Day is another dangerous unknown. Meanwhile, COVID rages on.

The socialist left, essentially a spectator in electoral terms, needs to be with the movements fighting the battles that most matter — around racial justice, police brutality and prison abolition; on the sadistic treatment of asylum seekers, family separations and terror raids in immigrant communities; on the climate catastrophe; on defending reproductive rights and Queer communities from what Trump’s Supreme Court might inflict.

A fundamental discussion is needed about what independent political action means today and how to move it forward. Solidarity hopes to help advance that discussion among activists looking for a way to break out of the crippling two-party political trap.

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