As Democrats Fail in Half-Hearted Fight for Voting Rights, Fascists Escalate Drive to Dominate or Steal Future Elections
January 24, 2022
For decades the Republican Party has been on a campaign to suppress the votes of Black, Brown and Native people, as well as other groups that tend to vote Democratic. This campaign has sharply escalated since the GOP’s defeat in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. (For a summary of these laws, see the sidebar.) Early this month, Joe Biden suddenly decided to do something about it. He huffed and puffed, and then he folded. And now the fascists show signs of going on an even more relentless offensive.
Biden Ignores Assault on Voting Rights While Trying to “Reach Across the Aisle”
One of Joe Biden’s big pledges was to take all of this on, but for nearly a year after taking office, Biden and the Democratic Party did little to push through two bills1 that would significantly counter the fascists’ assault on voting.
Biden gave one speech on voting rights—under pressure from the Democratic base—on July 4 in Philadelphia but little else. He had almost no meetings with civil rights leaders, or with activists like Black radio host Joe Madison, now 11 weeks into a hunger strike to demand passage and enactment of the bill. No political arm twisting or deal making to line up needed votes. Certainly no mass mobilizations of protest against the fascists’ white supremacist drive for power.
Instead, Biden initially focused on “reaching across the aisle” and passing bills that could get bipartisan support, like COVID relief and infrastructure projects. Some of this did pass, but as Bob Avakian pointed out in his 2021 New Year’s Statement:
Biden and the Democrats cannot “bring the country together,” as they falsely claim, because there can be no “reconciliation” with these fascists—whose “grievances” are based on fanatical resentment against any limitation on white supremacy, male supremacy, xenophobia (hatred of foreigners), rabid American chauvinism, and the unrestrained plundering of the environment, and are increasingly expressed in literally lunatic terms. There can be no “reconciliation” with this, other than on the terms of these fascists, with all the terrible implications and consequences of that!
So while a handful of Republicans did vote for building highways and bridges, etc., this “bi-partisanship” did not extend to protecting the voting rights of people that these fascists don’t even consider to be Americans.
Biden Jerks Awake and Puts on an Empty Show
After months of stalling, on January 11, Biden gave a widely hyped speech to a consortium of historically Black colleges and universities in Atlanta. There he rhetorically challenged Republican senators to decide if they wanted to be on the side of infamously brutal racist sheriff Bull Connor or that of Martin Luther King. This got a lot of praise from liberals and pissed off Republicans. But in reality, acting like this is an open question is a complete and total joke, just spreading illusions about the deeply embedded white supremacist nature of the fascists—they are the modern-day Bull Connors, Jefferson Davis’s, etc.—and they aren’t going to be “shamed” out of that!
Biden also “modified” his long-time support of the “filibuster,” a Senate rule that functions as a white supremacist veto. But after all the sudden posturing, Biden was either unable or unwilling to use presidential power and prerogatives to pressure even all of his own people to oppose these fascists, and the bills went down to defeat just a week after Biden’s speech.
Q: What Is the “Filibuster”?
A: The White Supremacist Veto Power
Headlines on Thursday, January 20, gave credit to the filibuster for enabling Republicans in the Senate to stop two voting rights bills supported by the Democrats from being passed. Those bills aimed to counter attacks on Black voters' rights by Republican fascists in many states. As a revcom.us article pointed out, these moves against Black voters and other moves to control and subvert elections are “a vital part of consolidating all-out fascist rule.”
Here, I want to briefly note how, for close to a century, the Senate filibuster was used almost exclusively as a weapon of white supremacy—to protect the Jim Crow South's massive inhumanity to Black people from every attempt to challenge it through federal law. Read more.
Biden Continues to Pump Out His Bullshit
The New York Times reported that after the speech: “Mr. Biden was on his way into the Ebenezer Baptist Church when he was asked what he would say to activists who are concerned that his embrace of changing Senate rules may be too little and too late. ‘Keep the faith,’ the president replied, before ducking into the church.”
“Keep the faith”?!? In what? An unreformable white supremacist system now hurtling toward fascism? What all this boils down to is an effort to convince people who have been enslaved, exploited, lynched and betrayed again and again by America that they should not lose faith in this white supremacist monstrosity, nor in the possibility that the Democratic messiahs will lead them to the promised land. This is a big part of the role of the Democratic Party now—keeping the oppressed believing in the “promise of America” even as it is proven to be a lie, again… and again… and again.
“Keep the faith”? Naw. How about using reason and science instead, to figure out the cause of the quickly-worsening problem and the solution? If you did that—and that means going into the work of Bob Avakian—then you’d see that first, you can’t get rid of white supremacy so long as you keep the capitalist system that spawned it and needs it2; second, that a real revolution, aiming to bring forward a society founded on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, could clear the ground and establish the basis to go to work on eliminating white supremacy3; and third, that the chance to make such an actual revolution exists within the very conditions that today are leading to such ever-sharper conflicts and clashes.
But instead, they are telling you to go for the “new” and even more hopeless and absurd Democratic strategy to “out-organize voter suppression," win big in the 2022 congressional elections, and then pass these bills. This is like letting your kidnappers tie your hands and feet and throw you in a river on the theory that once you swim to shore you’ll be able to get the better of them.
The basic conclusion that has to be drawn is this:
The Democrats will never, and can never, fight these fascists in the way they need to be fought, because that requires getting into the real nature of this system, and bringing out the fact that these fascists, as grotesque as they are, are in fact a grotesque expression of the very system that the Democrats themselves are an expression of, and are working to perpetuate. Most fundamentally: The purpose and aim cannot be simply to defeat these fascists, as an end in itself, with the orientation of somehow returning things to the “normal” way this horrific system of capitalism-imperialism has operated for more than a century. (Bob Avakian, from “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating…”)
Instead of being a tail on the Democratic donkey—with its attempt to keep this monstrous system going, and to deal with the growing fascist danger, by relying on the “normal procedures” of this system and doomed efforts to “heal the divisions” that are deepening every day—people need to work for the revolution that is urgently needed, and deal with the fascist danger as part of doing that.
Fascists Go On Renewed Offensive
The Republicans, for their part, are not “shamed” or “chastened” by a few days of public denunciation, nor are they waiting passively for the next election. According to CNN, state legislators are gearing up “to pass a ‘tidal wave’ of voting restrictions ahead of 2022 midterms.” As part of this, Florida governor Rick DeSantis recently asked the legislature for 5.7 million dollars to fund a 52 member “Office of Election Crimes and Security,” including 20 sworn police officers, to "investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation" of election laws.
The elections of 2020 saw no significant violation of election laws in Florida (or elsewhere), as DeSantis himself has bragged. But that does not mean, as many Democratic politicians say, that things like the Office of Election Crimes, and the voter suppression bills are “a solution looking for a problem.” These fascists are not confused, they confront an actual problem of establishing full-out fascist rule while preserving some fig leaf of “democracy”—and the “legal” suppression of some voters is an integral part of their solution… which has been working pretty well for them.
In line with this, what DeSantis is proposing is a voter-intimidation squad, to create an atmosphere where people hesitate to be involved in “get out the vote efforts,” to be neutral election workers, or to vote. As DeSantis himself said, “The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that.”
By January 20, similar proposals were launched in Georgia and Arizona. This is likely the beginning of a new, more aggressive and blatant phase in the fascist drive to rig the elections in their favor. The fact that they are now talking of bringing in forces of the state—pigs, in other words—to do this adds a potential new dimension to this. And this drives home what is also said in the potentially historic new presentation by BA, in “Something Terrible, OR Something Truly Emancipating”:
There are continuing moves, including with the threat or use of violence, to once again prevent Black people and other oppressed people from even exercising what are supposed to be basic rights, such as voting. (With a scientific method and approach, it is both possible, and important, to actively oppose attempts to deny people the right to vote, and at the same time win people to see that their efforts need to go, not into voting for representatives of this system that is oppressing them, but working to build up the basis to overthrow this whole system.)
All these attacks on people and their rights need to be powerfully opposed, and people on the good side of this need to be actively protected and defended, where they are assaulted with threats and even outright physical attacks.
1. The two bills are:
The John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act would require states with a history of voter suppression to get pre-approval from the Justice Department before enacting any new voting bills;
The Freedom to Vote Act includes an array of measures, including making it easier to vote by mail, guaranteeing 15 days of early voting, making Election Day a national holiday, and other steps to make it easier for poor and working people to vote. [back]
2. See "Racial Oppression Can Be Ended—But Not Under This System," by Bob Avakian [back]
3. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2010 (RCP Publications, 2010). [back]