Report: January 6 Oakland Candlelight Vigil “For Democracy”

On January 6, 2022, liberal Democratic Party activist groups Moveon and Indivisible held memorial events to protest last year’s attempted Trump “auto coup”/riot in Washington DC. As elsewhere in the country, the one held in Oakland was a candlelight vigil and was attended by maybe 150 people, the great majority of whom were over 50 years old. Typical of the speakers, and encapsulating the event as a whole, was the speech of Janani Ramachandran, former liberal Democratic candidate for the California State Assembly. “Our radical love and power is what will allow us to prevail. Today, together, we lift our lights and take back our country,” she said.

The violent and bigoted far right, which has taken over the Republican Party, will never be defeated by such an approach, not when one third of the US population – a record number of people believe in the use of political violence.

There was a moment of hope in October of last year – “striketober” – that a wave of working class militancy and class struggle could start to dominate US politics. For that to happen, this wave would have had to be carried forward by what was then the beginning of a rank and file rebellion against the conservative, pro-employer, union leadership. (See “John Deere Workers Reject Contract Proposal: Becoming a Trend on the John Deere strike, for example, and Western Washington Carpenters Can Make History” for example.) That trend could still revive, but at this time it seems to be fading.

In the absence of a conscious working class political movement, the far-right Republicans, fascists and all, are widely expected to take over both houses of congress later this year. If they do so, then their takeover of the Whitehouse in 2024 seems almost unstoppable. Even if they cannot win the majority of electoral votes, even with voter suppression and voter suppression, it seems likely that they would throw the election results to the House of Representatives, which would almost certainly install a Republican candidate.

Contrary to the claims of some on the ultra-left, this is not your grandparents’ Republican Party, and the difference between them and the Democrats is no longer like the difference between vanilla and strawberry ice cream. Various serious capitalist journals have written about the very real possibility of what would amount to martial law.

Given this, it is a disgrace that neither the socialist left nor the union leadership (which all too often overlap) left it entirely to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to organize the only protests marking 1/6/2021. Both the liberal and the mainstream wings of the Democratic Party have proven they are incapable of reversing the rise of the far, far right. They will not do so either by enacting the liberal legislative agenda nor by linking up with the likes of Liz Cheney.

A first step can be the building of rank and file caucuses within the unions – caucuses that campaign to make their unions fight the employers in the work place and build a united, working class opposition to the far right in the streets, work places, and working class communities. Such a campaign would have to be completely independent of and, in fact, opposed to the entire Democratic Party. It would have to be the start of building a mass, radical working class party as an alternative.

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