Publishing deadlines refuse to adjust to the speed of vote counting, but some truths were evident even as the presidential race was still in play. In his second national contest Donald Trump has maintained — and among some demographic subsections increased — his hold on a majority of white voters. The 2020 election thus confirms the tentative verdict of 2016: that majorities of whites will vote their race – side with the White Man’s Party — when the electoral contest is waged mainly on racial terms. The Electoral College system, which was baked into the U.S. Constitution to protect the interests of slave states , continues to give white “race” voters an oversized punch in national contests. Trump bet that he could replicate his 2016 Electoral College win over Hillary Clinton even if he still trailed by nearly three million in the popular vote, as he did the first time. Win or lose, Trump’s racial calculation was well-grounded and rational – as proven by the tightness of the 2020 race.
The Democrats, on the other hand, were clearly shocked out of their minds when Trump’s race strategy prevailed in 2016. White corporate elites had convinced themselves that the “deplorables” of their race were a diminishing breed who would be trounced in a toe-to-toe national slugfest. The Democrats welcomed Trump’s flagrant, “red meat” racist challenge to the Republican establishment, whose dog whistles on race suddenly seemed weak to Amerikkaner ears by comparison. As Wikileaks revealed, Hillary Clinton’s operatives encouraged Democrat-friendly media to boost Trump’s candidacy, believing he was a straw man that she could easily knock down. As a result, the White Man’s Champion got an estimated $5 billion in free airtime – and ultimately won the Electoral College, setting off a civil war within the ruling class that has raged for four years, and will likely not end if Trump is evicted from the White House this time around.
The Democrats wanted to run on race as much as Trump did, because only a race-based campaign allows them to avoid any commitment to bread and butter issues – universal free healthcare, job and income security, free public higher education – that threaten the bi-partisan austerity regime (the Race to the Bottom). Bernie Sanders, not Donald Trump, was seen as the near-existential threat to corporate governance. Therefore, the Democrats and their corporate media partners twice ruthlessly eliminated Sanders from the equation so that they could run against Trump on race, and virtually nothing else – even though, the second time around, the Democrats knew that the outcome would be a cliffhanger. If, when the dust clears, the Democrats have won the presidency, they have only “saved” the public from a Frankenstein of their own, meticulous making. And, they will need Trump, or someone like Trump, again if they are to continue defending the austerity policies that are immiserating majorities of the American people. Race-based campaigns serve both corporate parties.
It is remarkable that Trump’s white voter base remained essentially irreducible through four years of relentless assault by most of the ruling class and their media. Trump was actually correct in comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln in the sense that no other president has been so relentlessly vilified by such powerful sectors. Beyond denunciation of his race-bating — which Trump welcomed, because it is the main source of his political potency among the white masses – he was daily accused of acting on behalf of a foreign power, a first for any American president. Yet his “deplorables” did not budge, even as the Covid economy melted around them.
What the Democrats dare not risk, is a contest in which U.S. voters are given the choice of saving their families from destitution and disease or voting their race. The duopoly is designed to preclude such choices. It is a trap, a great two-sided filter that allows the corporate ruling class to shut every political outlet for advocates of people’s programs, environmental sanity, peace and real racial justice.
Trump’s white base is intact and will remain the core of the Republican (White Man’s) Party, with or without Trump at the helm – which is fine for the oligarchs of both parties. Only a race-based duopoly can contain public demands for relief from the Race to the Bottom and endless war.
The election data show that Trump’s supporters now include surprisingly large numbers of non-Cuban Hispanics, an indication that the politically white (supremacist) base has new sources to tap and will not be shrinking any time soon. Given such data, the rulers will feel confident in serving up race-based duopoly electoral showdowns every four years, in hopes of putting off a reckoning on economic justice, saving the planet, and peace, forever. It is already quite clear that, in such situations, Black voters will demand nothing but protection from the white hordes, and will create no problems for their corporate “friends.”
Of course, none of this is written in stone. There is another politics: a people’s politics of the street – the only kind that can defeat corporate power. Black people are good at this kind of politics, once they become disentangled from the Black Misleadership Class – who are right now claiming to have “won” a great victory for the Black masses.
With more substance-less victories like this, Black America is doomed to irrelevance and impotence. A growing cohort of young Black folks understand this and will refuse to go along with the corporate script.
Dump the duopoly. Make a new, people’s politics from the street up.