Thoughts on the U.S. Elections: Threat of the Far Right

Kevin B. Anderson

Summary: English version of interview with the leftwing Greek weekly Epohi. Greek version first appeared here http://www.epohi.gr/article/37389/kevin-anterson-stoys-repoymplikanoys-ehei-epikrathsei-h-akrodexia-politikh

Greek translation

1) How do you judge things in the run-up to the November elections? What is the political scenery like, two weeks before the elections?

Now that Trump has sunk deeply in the polls, after a disastrous infection with COVID-19 and an equally disastrous debate performance, the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed, with less fear that he will win a second term and thus consolidate an authoritarian politics in the U.S. At the same time, people are wary not only of the usual Republican strategy of voter suppression, but also that armed pro-Trump forces will actually come onto the streets in significant numbers. At a deeper level, Trump’s racist agenda and political discourse has been dealt a severe blow by the Black Lives Matter movement in the last several months. It has really changed the framework of political debate at all levels, as Trump is repeatedly being asked to denounce white supremacy, something he either fails to do or does so in such a grudging manner that he further discredits himself.

 

2) Polls made in the run-up to the elections show a great lead by Joe Biden. How do you interpret this? What are the social alliances that secure this advance?  

Biden’s support is wide but thin. He is mainly an anti-Trump, simply a candidate perceived to have the requisite skills to assume the presidency and who is not an authoritarian, an open racist, or an open misogynist.

 

3) What will a Biden victory mean for the social majority? To what extent can he follow a progressive policy?

The Democratic Party has moved slightly to the left this year, as seen not only in the Sanders campaign, but also in hundreds of socialist candidates being elected around the country. Biden himself will oppose strongly most of the progressive agenda, but if the anti-Trump victory is large, there is some possibility of serious reforms on issues like police brutality, a regressive tax structure, healthcare, and the environment. A big factor here is the rift among progressives and leftists over whether economic inequality or the politics of race and gender are the key issues. This is in many ways a false dilemma, as U.S. capitalism has always been a racial capitalism, but those concerned with economic issues don’t always see it that way and are too quick to portray those concerned with race and gender as mere liberals.

 

4) Biden promises return to “normalcy”. But what does “normal” mean in the USΑ, in the midst of pandemic, economic disaster, racial crisis, and police violence?

Exactly. The terrible response to the pandemic is in fact a capitalist (non)response, as I suggested in a long article earlier this year https://imhojournal.org/articles/on-the-battle-of-ideas-responding-to-the-new-world-of-covid-19-economic-crisis-and-anti-racist-uprisings/ Most of the police killings that have galvanized protests take place in cities controlled by Democrats like Biden. The economic crisis was touched off by COVID but that was a precipitating cause for a capitalist crisis that is overdue, what with the bubbles on Wall Street and in housing prices.

 

5) If Trump is defeated in the upcoming elections, how easy do you think it will be for his logic (nationalism, racism, sexism, intolerance, etc.) to be defeated in American society, too?

Even if he is defeated, he has galvanized at least 20-30% of the population around a far-right politics. This politics has, at least for now, taken over a major political party, the Republicans. This force will not disappear, in fact it may radicalize if Trump is defeated. Thus, like France or Italy, the U.S. faces a political situation for the coming years in which a far-right party — or at least political sentiment — will persist as a major force. Moreover, Biden will not be able to solve the problems of job insecurity, low wages, and extreme economic inequality. This will create new openings for the far right, just as Clinton and then Obama neoliberalism did so for Trump.

 

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