Nov 9, 2020
In cities all over the country, celebrations broke out when the vote in Pennsylvania brought the networks to call the election for Biden. People danced, hugged each other, made up songs—or just sat on the ground, trying to take it all in. Cars drove by, horns honking, people hanging out of windows. In places like New York, people leaned out of tall buildings, pounding out a rhythm on the pots they held.
Celebrations jumped out in cities where the day before, or even hours before, Republican operatives—accompanied by weapons-toting “militia” members—had acted like they were about to crash vote-counting centers. But when laughing crowds spilled into the streets of Detroit, and Philadelphia and Atlanta and Las Vegas, these contrived Republican demonstrations evaporated.
Trump might be continuing—on Twitter—to announce he won the presidency. But a woman celebrating in Washington, D.C. responded right back with a sign directed at the White House: “Get Out of OUR House, LOSER.”
Republican lawyers like Giuliani might claim “the election isn’t over,” as they rush to file hundreds more lawsuits. But crowds of people in cities like Louisville and Minneapolis went on celebrating Trump’s defeat. All through these long months of pandemic, as people tried to maintain the protest against police violence, they had confronted the racism and calls for more violence coming out of Trump’s mouth. They were filled with joy yesterday.
The bully whose tweets dripped with venom had apparently been deprived of the presidency.
But this is not the end of the story. The crises in which the country is mired are still with us.
Biden announced a “Covid-19 Task Force”—to do what? Study the problem? In a country where medical care is organized according to the profit motive, many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people more are going to die while the virus is studied.
Biden set up a group of “financial experts” to advise him on the economy. These are the same “experts” who made sure the economic recovery after 2008 fed directly into the pockets of the big banks and finance companies, missing the working class completely. In the first flush of his new presidency, Biden may even shepherd another one-time “stimulus” check through Congress, but this doesn’t touch the basic problem, which is that this capitalist system, intent on maximizing profit, is permanently unable to provide jobs for everyone who needs work.
Trump may be gone, but the man taking his place has been part of the political apparatus organizing the country for almost 50 years—50 years when the situation of the working class has gone from bad to worse, and then worse again.
It’s not at all clear, even, that Trump will disappear from the political scene after he leaves the White House. But whether it’s Trump or someone else playing on the racism built into this system from its beginnings in slavery, this is a problem the working class will have to confront.
And not the only one. We should remember that even if Trump lost the election, he gained seven million more votes than in 2016. Many of those supporters flocked to Trump because they were pleased to see a politician openly spout racist garbage. But there are all the others who look to Trump because for so many years the Democrats carried out policies harmful for the semi-rural population. Poverty is endemic and hospitals almost non-existent.
Maybe they just don’t concern themselves with the fact he is racist—and that’s a problem. Maybe they don’t even like it, but try to ignore it because no one else speaks to them. And that’s still a problem. But the question is, who other than Trump has recognized them?
The question we are left with is this: when will the working class organize to fight for itself, to take on this system—with all its filthy racism, poverty, joblessness and rotten health care? When it does, it could offer a different perspective to the rural areas than the one that Trump gives. There will always be demagogues like Trump—and in the future, worse than Trump. People in the rural areas, just like workers who are centered today in the cities, need someone who represents their interests as people who work for a living.
In fighting for itself, the working class will hold out a beacon for all those misled by a venal con man like Donald Trump.