I was sitting here watching the news with my heart pounding. It was partly out of pure anger, partly frustration – anger at what is being prepared for us and frustration that no protests are being organized. Rachel Maddow (whom I rarely watch) was documenting the specific steps taken to repress “fair” elections – even fair by US capitalist standards.
In Georgia, the Republicans have passed a law enabling the Republican-controlled state legislature to take over the county boards of elections. Following that, in Lincoln County, GA, which is 29% black, the state took over that board and closed down six of the seven polling places. (See this article for confirmation.)
Then there is the case of Ruby Freeman, a black woman who worked counting the votes in Georgia. One America News (OAN) together with Trump himself claimed that Freeman was stuffing a ballot box with fake ballots pulled out of a personal suitcase. That was a complete lie, but no matter. They organized a campaign of harassment and intimidation against her, including sending mobs to her suburban home. They sent an associate of Kanye West named Trevian Kutti to set up a meeting with Freeman. Kutti was also linked with the Trump campaign. The meeting was on January 4, two days before the elector votes were to be formally counted in Washington DC. Kutti told Freeman that if she did not “come clean” within 48 hours, she was going to be arrested. Had she been bullied into making a false confession, this would have been used by the Trumplicans on January 6 to delay the counting of the elector votes.
Freeman, by the way, went to the FBI to complain about the threats. Rather than investigate or give her protection, the FBI told her to move. This, of course, is an open invitation to repeat such harassment and intimidation of polling place workers in the future.
A similar invitation to commit election fraud was offered to Republicans in Wisconsin, where the Republican presidential electors forged official-looking papers claiming that they were the official electors and tried to cast the state’s votes for Trump in December of last year. This was a criminal act but no criminal charges have been brought.
The Wisconsin Republicans’ fraud attempt is part of a wider and more systematic move of Republican controlled state legislatures to nullify the vote in the case where their candidate did not win. This is potentially an even greater threat than voter suppression. Oaklandsocialist will have an article discussing this in detail in the future.
Then there is the case of Travis County, Texas, Clerk Dana Debeauvoir. She refused to allow Republican poll watchers to stand unmasked right over the polling workers as those workers counted the votes. (This was at the height of the pandemic.) Since then, Republican state attorney general
Ken Paxton tried to get Debeauvoir indicted for mishandling the election. A grand jury refused to indict Debeauvoir, but the message is clear.
Wider Forces Organizing
These are the kinds of building blocks being placed to organize a Republican-organized election fraud in 2022 and 2024. They are the micro steps. On the macro scale, the forces are also being assembled. In the final years of the Trump rule, as Oaklandsocialist documented the military brass stood up to his demands to overthrow capitalist democracy. We also explained that this was a very shaky reed on which to depend. That has been confirmed:
An article in the Washington Post recently explained that “The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.”
Another article reports on nation-wide a group of county sheriffs calling themselves the “Constitutional Sheriffs”. Connected with the fascist Oathkeepers, the Constitutional Sheriffs support the January 6 riot/coup attempt and claim that Trump is the rightful president. What role will such sheriffs play in 2022 and ‘24?
Aside from a scattering of individuals like the My Pillow Guy, Michael Lindell, and gambling mogul Sheldon Addelson, the overwhelming majority of the US capitalist class opposed Trump’s coup attempt as well as the Trump fanatics in general. The only actual sector of the capitalist class that backs these fanatics is the gun industry as organized by the now
defunct National Rifle Association (NRA). As we increasingly feel the effects of global climate change, this could change; the oil industry, for example, could move to the Trumplican camp as their power and profits are challenged.
Democrats, NGO’s and Union Leadership
Rachel Maddow, Stacey Abrams and similar types are complaining and warning about this extreme danger but it is a long step from talk to action. The federal courts are now stacked with Trump judges and will not stop even the more blatant violations of democratic norms in the future. That they did in 2020 is only due to the facts that the election was not that close plus the fact that the Republicans were not sufficiently organized to overturn an election. They will have had four years to prepare by the time of the next presidential election. This will include installing minority Republican legislatures in a series of states plus a likely Republican majority in both houses of congress in 2022.
Flood the Streets!
Last summer (2020), all of the United States was engulfed in the largest protest movement the US has ever seen. It is estimated that up to 26 million people flooded the streets. These protests were mainly led and controlled by the NGO’s. By January of 2021, these same NGO’s collaborated with the union leadership to do all in their power to ensure that new street protests did not break out against the Republicans’ attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The only hint of a threat was the resolution passed by the Vermont State AFL-CIO to call for a general strike in the event that Trump instituted a coup. However, such a strike cannot be organized overnight, and nothing that we know of was actually done to organize it should it be necessary, and the national AFL-CIO clamped down anyway. Nor have the union leadership and the NGO’s organized any protests of any significance since then.
It will be up to the youth and those workers who see the danger to build something from below. Failing that, we face dangers more serious than anything we have seen in the United States since Civil War days.
A Republican-installed president in 2024, combined with a Republican-controlled congress and federal court system will make the previous Trump years look like child’s play. It will be an even greater inspiration for fascist groups like the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, and others to physically assault protesters. It will further weaken the already-weak unions. It will open the doors to an as yet unheard of assault on the environment.
On the other hand, we have just seen an increase in class struggle through a strike wave that may continue into 2022. This opens the door to linking the mainly youth-led struggle against repression with at least a major sector of the working class. If that is done, then not only can the mainly Republican-organized and led anti-democratic drive be thrown back; the working class can start to establish itself as an independent force in US society and the basis for a mass working class political party can be started. Those are the options open to us.
NOTE: On Sunday, January 9, Oaklandsocialist will be holding a zoom discussion on what January 6, 2021 meant, what’s happened since and building a movement to reverse course. Contact us for details.)