By Mike Talavera
Standing in front of the White House Thursday night, Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president, and in a long speech warned listeners what would happen if, instead of voting for him, they voted for Democratic opponent Joe Biden in November.
“No one will be safe in Biden’s America,” Trump said during his speech, echoing a line that had been repeated by many other speakers during the Republican National Convention this week.
Trump asking for votes by threatening people’s safety is not unlike the Democrat’s call last week during their own convention to “vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
This ominous rhetoric from both ruling class candidates is a direct response to the deteriorating objective conditions in the US. Police killings of Black people, widespread persecution of protesters, the trampling of people’s rights, the economic depression, the incoming wave of evictions, the coronavirus: this growing list of hardships faced by working people has awakened a general resentment towards the entire capitalist system that has exploded in revolutionary violence against symbols of US imperialism across the country since the May Uprisings began.
These crises all shed light on a society divided into two hostile camps, but instead of Republicans and Democrats it’s between the proletariat and the ruling class. Class consciousness is against the interests of both bourgeois parties, and so the candidates have done their best to disguise the recent class struggle in bourgeois party terms.
“What we can never have in America — and must never allow — is mob rule!” Trump said. “In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York.”
Trump argues here that it is Democratic policy that is to blame for the uprisings in these cities, rather than the inherently unequal economic system where police brutalize and kill in order to defend private property. “Make no mistake, if you give power to Joe Biden,” Trump said, “the radical left will defund Police Departments all across America. They will pass federal legislation to reduce law enforcement nationwide.”
On the contrary, Joe Biden has pledged to increase police funding by $300 million if elected and has a vision of repressing protesters that rivals Trump’s.
Making the Democrats out to be the harbingers of lawlessness in his speech, Trump also paints them as the elite, with the Republicans presumably being the party of the poor. “These same liberals want to eliminate school choice, while they enroll their children in the finest private schools in the land,” Trump said. “They want to open our borders while living in walled-off compounds and communities. They want to defund the police, while they have armed guards for themselves.”
There are certainly extremely wealthy sections of the US ruling class that are backing Biden in the election, but Trump, a billionaire, obviously has his own affluent donors and supporters. Moreover, the issues which plague education, immigration, and public safety are rooted in the contradictions of capitalism. Both Democratic and Republican policies in these areas are not intended to resolve these problems, only to manage them so that workers stay exploited and profits keep coming in.
Trump tried to obscure his class altogether in the last election by describing himself as an “anti-establishment” figure, and he is reviving that persona for this year’s campaign.
“Together, we have ended the rule of the failed political class, and they are desperate to get their power back by any means necessary. They are angry at me because instead of putting them first, I put America first!” Trump said. “Always Remember: they are coming after me, because I am fighting for you!”
Trump gets close to calling himself a revolutionary here, the over-thrower of the “Democrat” or “Career Politician” class. According to Trump, as long as he is in power, everything will get better. Biden has ran his campaign on the opposite premise: as long as Trump is not in power, everything will be better. Each is as ridiculous as the other.
No matter who wins the election, the ruling class remains in power. US imperialism will continue as the sole hegemonic superpower, terrorizing and exploiting the globe, with either Trump or Biden at the helm.
Their shared campaign tactic of scaring people into voting only reveals their shared allegiance to the same capitalist system and the urgency they feel to protect it, albeit each in his own style.
The relentless mass movement in the streets, the clashes with police, and the attacks on government buildings illustrate how people are beginning to see that they do not need a savior of the American Soul or a protector of the American Dream. This understanding, that the people have the potential to solve their own problems without the ruling class, is a start, but it’s not enough. Abstention from voting must be turned into a politicized, active boycott, so that more can be won over to the side of revolution and organize for the overthrow of the capitalist system that Trump and Biden serve.