President Donald Trump is refusing to accept his electoral loss and is actively engaged in a coup to nullify the results of the 2020 elections and establish a personalist dictatorship.
The situation could not be clearer: Trump is now doing what he announced he would do prior to the elections. He is denying the legitimacy of an election that Biden won decisively, seeking to create a lying narrative that the election was “stolen,” and conspiring to throw out the votes of millions of people.
This conspiracy has been joined by the Republican Party, which is acquiring more and more the character of a fascistic and criminal syndicate. Republican leaders at the federal and state level have backed Trump’s lies and refused to recognize Biden’s victory. In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that Trump was “100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”
In Georgia, Republican senators have called for the secretary of state, a Republican, to resign over the “failures” in the vote-counting process in that state. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has urged Trump not to concede, declaring that if Republicans do not challenge the outcome of the election, “there will never be a Republican president elected again.”
The administration’s position was summed up succinctly Tuesday by its thuggish secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who openly declared that Trump will remain in office for another term. Asked at a State Department press conference whether he could assure a “smooth transition” to a Biden administration, Pompeo responded that there would indeed be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
The Trump administration has also instructed senior agency officials not to cooperate with the Biden transition team. On Monday, the Trump-appointed chief of the General Services Administration (GSA), which handles logistics and infrastructure for the federal government, said she would not move forward with the legally required assistance to assure a transition of power.
That same day, Attorney General William Barr sent a circular to all US attorneys authorizing them to initiate investigations into vote fraud if it “could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election,” effectively lining up the Justice Department behind Trump’s bogus claims that the election has been stolen from him.
Trump and his Republican allies in Congress and statehouses are working out a definite strategy for overturning the election. They are seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the election with lying claims of vote-rigging, which would then be used as a pretext for Republican-controlled state legislatures in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to repudiate the popular vote and select pro-Trump electors.
In an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning, Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center of Politics, made clear that this danger is very real, noting, “Legislatures do what they want.”
This is to be accompanied by legal challenges to the outcome of the vote in Pennsylvania and other states. Such a brazen suppression of the vote would no doubt end up in the Supreme Court, fully one third of which has been appointed by the incumbent president. The Trump conspirators will rely on the 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, in which Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the Constitution does not grant the American people the right to choose the president or even presidential electors.
Trump’s pseudo-legal maneuvers are backed by the incitement of violence by far-right and fascistic forces, supported by sections of the police and state apparatus. Demonstrations are planned this weekend in Washington, DC to mobilize Trump supporters under the banner of “Stop the Steal.”
On Monday, Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had earlier criticized Trump’s plans to deploy troops against peaceful protesters. The new “acting” Pentagon chief will be Christopher Miller, a 30-year Special Forces operative and retired colonel. Trump has sought to cultivate support within the 70,000-strong Special Forces, including through war crimes pardons, with the aim of transforming this quasi-independent force into his own personal army. Miller’s main qualification is his support for the president and his desire to deploy the military against domestic protesters.
In contrast to the ruthlessness with which Trump is proceeding, the Democratic Party is acting with its usual combination of fecklessness and unseriousness. On Tuesday, Biden dismissed Trump’s actions as an “embarrassment.” Biden added, “The fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not of much consequence in our planning.”
In other words, for Biden and the Democrats, the fact that Trump and the Republicans are actively engaged in a conspiracy to repudiate the results of the election is of no significance. He added that he hoped to speak with McConnell soon, including to discuss cabinet appointments to a future Biden administration.
Biden’s press conference followed his victory speech Saturday evening, in which he appealed for “unity” with Republicans and made no mention of the fact that Trump has refused to accept the results of the election.
The Democrats are treating Trump’s actions as if they were a personal temper tantrum and not a deadly serious threat to overturn what remains of democratic rule in the United States. Far from alerting the public, warning Trump of the consequences of his continued defiance of the election result, or mobilizing the population to place it on the alert, the Democrats persist in declaring that nothing serious is taking place.
The Socialist Equality Party’s opposition to Trump’s actions do not imply any support for the policies of an incoming Biden administration, if it comes to power. However, the working class cannot be indifferent to the efforts to overthrow an elected government by a right-wing and neo-fascist conspiracy. We oppose Trump’s coup-plotting for the same reason we opposed the fascistic conspiracies to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Indeed, the SEP takes these plots far more seriously than the Democratic Party itself, which has covered them up.
The defense of democratic rights cannot be entrusted to the Democratic Party, which in the final analysis defends the interests of the same oligarchy. More than anything else, the Democrats, a party of Wall Street and the military, fear an explosion of popular protest and resistance from below. In the aftermath of the election, the Democrats are directing their fire not against Trump and the far right, but rather against the left, waging a crusade to extirpate any reference to “socialism” from the party.
Trump’s conspiracies are the outcome of a protracted process, the deadly implications of which became clear on June 1 when Trump sent heavily armed federal forces to attack peaceful protesters outside the White House, while vowing to invoke the Insurrection Act and send armed troops into the streets across the country.
At the time, the World Socialist Web Site stated:
A turning point in American history has been reached. Trump’s efforts to establish a personal dictatorship on the basis of military rule is the product of a protracted crisis of American democracy, under the impact of extreme social inequality and endless war.
The defeat of Trump’s attempted coup d’état depends on the intervention of the working class, which must take the lead in the defense of democratic rights.
The democratic structures in the United States are breaking down under the weight of the insoluble economic and political crisis of American and world capitalism, characterized above all by staggering levels of social inequality, exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the homicidal “herd immunity” policy of the ruling classes.
The situation is fraught with danger. Trump and his supporters have 69 days until Inauguration Day to stage provocations, launch acts of military aggression and manufacture the pretext for a declaration of martial law and the suspension of constitutional and democratic rights.
Subordinating the fight against this threat to Biden and the Democrats, let alone the justices on the Supreme Court, can result only in catastrophe.
If Trump succeeds in overturning the election, it will provoke a massive outpouring in every city in the country under conditions in which the state and its forces of repression will lack any semblance of legitimacy. Not only did Biden defeat Trump in terms of the popular vote and the electoral vote, the states and areas that he won are the most powerful economic and industrial regions of the United States, with a massively powerful working class.
The only viable response to the conspiracy being hatched in the White House is the demand for the immediate removal of Trump, Pence and their co-conspirators.
This demand can be realized only through the independent intervention of the working class and the struggle to organize a nationwide political strike. This movement cannot stop short of breaking the grip of the financial-corporate oligarchy and restructuring economic life on a socialist basis. The struggle of workers in the US against the threat of dictatorship will meet with massive and indispensable support from workers all over the world.