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By Argiris Malapanis
December 15, 2022 — The U.S. midterm elections unfolded last month in the not-so-faint shadow of January 6, 2021. That day, a rightist mob of thousands, instigated by then President Donald Trump, stormed the U.S. Congress. It was a bloody but unsuccessful attempt — unprecedented in more than a century — to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.
Despite his defeat at the polls, Trump tried to hold on to power by subverting the long-established capitalist rule of law. That effort never came close to winning majority support within the ruling class or gaining a foothold in the military. But the extent of the “Stop the Steal” campaign two years ago and its ongoing support among millions, including office holders at every level of government, demonstrate the serious danger to civil liberties and the interests of the working class that the “big lie” of the “stolen 2020 election” represents to this day.
Trump and his allies endorsed, financed, and campaigned for hundreds of candidates, including many outspoken ultra-rightists who beat moderate Republicans in the primaries and represented the GOP in the November general election. A majority of these “election deniers” lost their bids for office in competitive races. This was a blow — at least temporarily — to those who promote or condone a form of dictatorial rule in which a “savior” is anointed to “rescue the nation” in perilous times. Such a regime, as World-Outlook has explained, would accurately be described as Bonapartist.
The midterm elections also offered fresh evidence that a majority in the United States support abortion rights. This was significant just months after the enormous setback to women’s rights represented by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — the ruling that, for half a century, established women’s right to choose abortion as federal law.
In addition, the November elections and their aftermath demonstrated once again the extent to which the Democratic Party is a loyal servant to big business. It offers no solutions to working people as the effects of the pandemic, raging inflation, and more are wreaking havoc in our lives. In fact, just days after the elections, President Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress rushed to impose an anti-labor national rail contract — after a majority of workers had voted it down — and banned a freight rail strike.
Setbacks for ‘election deniers’
The setback to “election deniers” was most apparent among the Trump-endorsed candidates for secretary of state, the chief elections officials in the state governments.
“All the Trump-backed candidates in key swing states who denied the 2020 election results, while vying to be their state’s top election official, lost their race — in a telling sign of Donald Trump’s destructive influence,” wrote the New York Post in a November 13th article.
The conservative daily was a strong supporter of Trump in 2016 and again during his 2020 re-election bid.
“Former President Trump zeroed in on some key Secretary of State races, where he believed an ally in the highly regarded position … help him win when he likely runs again in 2024,” the Post continued.
But Trump’s strategy “seemed to backfire,” the Post reported. “Most notably, Republican Jim Marchant, the leader of a conservative group of Trump supporters who claim the 2020 election was stolen, lost his race to be Nevada’s Secretary of State….
“Marchant is president of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, formed to support a slate of right-wing candidates in the 2022 secretary of state elections,” the Post explained. “Marchant promised voters that if he was elected, Trump … would be president in 2024.”
In the end, the America First Secretary of State Coalition and its Trump-backed candidates fizzled.
Other examples include the U.S. Senate races in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where the defeat of Trump-endorsed candidates enabled Democrats to increase their majority to 51 in the 100-member chamber. 
Many conservative politicians and pundits chided Trump for the flop of the “red wave” they had expected in the midterms. But there was no principled criticism of Trump’s policies as president. The quibble was about the former president aiding and abetting losing candidates while hewing to the “stolen election” line.
One former Trump aide, Alyssa Farah Griffin, blamed the GOP failures on the “poor quality” of the candidates Trump championed. “This man is a loser, he lost 2020, he’s losing a seat that is winnable this time,” she said in an interview, referring to the GOP defeat in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, reported the November 9 Business Insider.
On November 15, one week after the midterm elections, Trump announced his campaign for president in 2024. Unlike previously, many of his former backers greeted the news with scorn. A telling example was the New York Post report of the announcement.
“The New York Post relegated Donald Trump’s declaration of his candidacy for president … to page 26 of this morning’s edition of the paper, hinting at the announcement on the front page with the demeaning teaser ‘Florida Man Makes Announcement,’” wrote the conservative magazine National Review in a November 16 article.
Breaking bread with ultra-rightists
Less than two weeks later Trump held a dinner at his Mar-al-Lago resort in Florida. His main guests were the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and the far-rightist Nick Fuentes.
Ye, hosted by Trump in the White House in 2018, has expressed antisemitic views and more recently identified with Nazism. “I see good things about Hitler,” Ye said in a December 1 interview with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Minutes later, the rapper added, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.”
Fuentes is a well-known white supremacist and an avowed Holocaust denier.
The now infamous dinner, and Trump’s subsequent refusal to disavow his guests’ radical rightist views, is in keeping with Trump’s demagogy. That includes the anti-immigrant tirade when he launched his 2016 bid for President. And it is in line with his condoning racist attacks, such as the 2017 white supremacist assault in Charlottesville, Virginia, after he took office.
Many Jewish groups, including former Trump allies like the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which recently called him the most pro-Israel president ever, had harsh words for him. “His dining with Jew-haters helps legitimize and mainstream anti-Semitism and must be condemned by everyone,” the ZOA said in a news release.
Trump’s response? These Jewish leaders “should be ashamed of themselves” for their “lack of loyalty” to him, he wrote on his Truth Social platform.
‘Terminating the Constitution’
Then, on December 3, Trump called for suspending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the 2020 election, repeating his false and discredited conspiracy theories about election fraud. This pronouncement was his latest response to the nation’s courts rejecting virtually all of Trump’s legal claims about a “stolen election” in 2020.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
This radical demand smacks of a certain desperation prompted by the defeat of many of his backers in the midterm elections. Defeats that some tried to use — without much success — to reinvigorate the false claims of election fraud. Another factor may be the emerging reality that his securing another Republican nomination — let alone winning the White House — appears less certain than at any time since Trump left office.
Several in the GOP establishment condemned Trump’s remarks. U.S. Senator and member of the GOP leadership John Cornyn of Texas, for example, called them “irresponsible.” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska dubbed them “an affront,” and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) described the comments as “ridiculous.”
Many others remained silent, fully aware that condemnation of Trump has already cost some politicians their careers. That’s because Trump’s support comes not primarily from the ruling elites but from the Republican Party base among small business owners — especially those in rural areas — and other sections of the middle class, as well as parts of the working class.
Nevertheless, an increasing number of Republican leaders today indicate they’d rather part ways with Trump, underlining the point that most of the ruling class does not favor such a candidate again. And Trump’s dinner with Ye and Fuentes as well as his call for terminating the Constitution may lead others in the GOP to take their distance.
Some are blunt about it. In an opinion column in the December 5 Washington Post, for example, Marc Thiessen described Trump’s call to scrap the Constitution as a “a rant without precedent in the annals of presidential rhetoric.”
Thiessen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and a current Fox News contributor.
“For someone seeking the Republican presidential nomination to call for the Constitution’s termination is nothing short of heresy,” Thiessen said. “If Republicans nominate this man, they will lose — and they will deserve to.”
2024 Republican presidential hopefuls
For the moment, Trump is the only declared Republican presidential candidate for 2024 and has been a front runner in most polls. A large portion of the population and plenty of Republican office holders still favor Trump despite the rulers’ general preference to be done with him. Time will tell how long that lasts.
Other Republican politicians are being groomed as potential replacements for Trump. The most prominent is Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who handily won re-election in November with a 15% margin.
A recent poll featured in the December 14 Wall Street Journal shows DeSantis — who has not yet announced a presidential run — leading Trump 52% to 38% in a hypothetical contest for the GOP’s nomination for president in 2024.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is among the right-wing populists positioning themselves to take a central leadership role in the GOP. These are politicians that demagogically seek to appeal to ordinary people who feel that the established elites disregard their concerns.
Hawley penned an opinion column in the November 18 Washington Post titled, “The GOP is dead. A new GOP must listen to working people.”
“Right now, the Republican Party stands at a crossroads. Its leaders can, of course, attempt to resurrect the dead consensus of offshoring, amnesties and ‘free trade,’” Hawley wrote. “That’s the path to further losses.
“A reborn Republican Party must look very different. It must offer good jobs and good lives, not just higher stock prices for Wall Street. And it must place working Americans at its heart and take them as they are, rather than treating them as resources to be exploited or engineered away.”
Ongoing battle over abortion rights
As World-Outlook wrote in June, the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was “an enormous setback to women’s rights … the biggest step to restrict democratic rights in at least half a century. It marks a sharp shift to the right in bourgeois politics, one that has accelerated in recent years.”
This significantly increased the stakes for the right to access abortion in the November 8 midterm elections.
Referendums in five states — California, Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky, and Montana — tested the waters on this issue. Voters in these states all came down in favor of abortion rights or rejected further restrictions.
Despite these victories for women’s right to control their own bodies, “abortion is unavailable in 14 states now, including 12 states with abortion bans that have virtually no exceptions and two states where there are no clinics providing care,” the Guttmacher Institute reported November 9. “That means 19 million women of reproductive age in the United States cannot access abortion in their state of residence.”
More bans are coming. “The legislature in South Carolina is taking up a near-total ban on abortion and the legislature in Ohio is planning on convening to debate an abortion ban before the end of the year,” Guttmacher reported.
Only a sustained fight for women’s equality — an impossibility without the right to control one’s own body — can reverse this trend.
Democrats’ true colors
The Democratic Party leadership went out of its way to steer supporters of women’s rights away from actions in the streets and toward voting for Democrats in November.
As a May 10 World-Outlook editorial explained, “Democrats have treated a woman’s right to choose as something to be restricted, not defended.” In doing so, the Democratic Party has in fact paved the way for the right-wing assault on women’s rights.
While the Democrats kept control of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans didn’t realize their hopes for an overall “red wave,” the GOP did flip the House of the Representatives, winning a 222-213 majority.
Election results in the “deep blue” state of New York are indicative of what the Democrats may face down the road. The Democratic Party there holds absolute power on the state level, with super-majorities in the State Assembly and Senate and firm control of the governor’s mansion. Yet the GOP flipped four New York U.S. congressional districts, contributing to the party’s takeover of the House. Kathy Hochul won the governorship over her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin but “the race was the closest in a generation,” the Buffalo News reported on November 10.
The reasons New York Democrats saw their control on the reins of power weaken include:
- Blocking popular efforts to institute a single-payer health care system in the state — a form of universal medical care;
- Doing nothing to ease the pain of millions devastated by raging inflation — including an explosion of rents that turned New York City into the nation’s most expensive rental market; and
- Paying lip service to workers’ struggles, like the unsuccessful unionization attempt by Amazon warehouse employees in the Albany area, while bankrolling big business. Hochul’s push to give $600 million from state funds to subsidize a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, which most New Yorkers disapproved of, is a case in point.
Need for a labor party
In “Bankrolling the ‘Big Lie’ of a ‘Stolen Election,’” World-Outlook wrote last July: “The willingness of sections of big capital today to lend financial backing to politicians promoting an overt assault on democratic norms as a legitimate solution to the current social and economic turmoil signals both a shift to the right in bourgeois politics and growing strains on the two-party system.
“In the Republican Party, far-right politicians advocating extralegal violence or espousing white supremacist views have gained a foothold.”
At a December 10 gala of the New York Young Republican Club, U.S. congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia left no doubt about this point. Greene told the crowd that had she and Stephen Bannon, a former adviser to Trump, organized the January 6 attack on the Capitol, she would have made sure the rioters were armed. “If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won,” she told the audience. “Not to mention, it would have been armed.”
Meanwhile, virtually all of the organized “left” is absorbed in the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party. Yet many of these elected “progressives” backed Biden’s support for the rail barons over the reasonable demands of rail workers.
The best both parties have to offer today are Trump and Biden, politicians approaching their 80s or already octogerarians, serving the moneyed men and women while sharpening partisan acrimony.
That choice is not welcomed by many. On December 9, CNBC reported:
“That’s how majorities of the public responded when the CNBC All-America Economic Survey asked if President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump should run again for president.
“The survey found 61% of the public think Trump should not seek the presidency, compared with 30% who believe he should. And 70% say Biden should not run for a second term with just 19% supporting a run.”From December 9, 2022, CNBC news article
This is one more sign that neither Republican nor Democratic administrations — neither Trump nor Biden — have offered solutions to the effects of the almost three-year-old pandemic, runaway inflation, and other economic and social ills devastating the lives of millions.
To face the challenges at hand, it is more urgent than ever that working people form our own party. As the recent experience of rail workers indicates, we need a labor party based on revitalized unions led by the rank and file and independent of the employers and their parties — the Democrats and Republicans.
 For an explanation of what is Bonapartism and how this phenomenon reared its ugly head in U.S. politics recently see “Radicalism, Bonapartism, and the Aftermath of the 2020 U.S. Elections,” and “What did Jan. 6, 2021, Reveal?” (in part I, and part II).
 Currently, the Democrats hold 48 seats in the U.S. Senate; their majority is based on two “independents” — Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine — who caucus with the Democratic Party, and the potentially tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. That majority is tenuous since Arizona U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema announced December 9 she is leaving the Democratic Party to become an “independent”; her office has not said whether she will continue to caucus with the Democrats.
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Categories: US Politics