The speech by Donald Trump posted on his personal Facebook page Wednesday afternoon was a declaration of war on American democracy. It was a scarcely veiled call for a right-wing insurrection to overthrow the election results and maintain in the White House a president who has been repudiated by the American people.
The 46-minute diatribe, which Trump called “the most important speech I’ve ever made,” embraced all the bogus charges of vote fraud, ballot-stuffing and the use of computer software to “switch” votes promoted by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell over the past three weeks. These allegations have been laughed out of court for lack of any shred of evidence, in state after state, by Republican and Democratic judges alike.
Trump declared that the November election was “rigged” and demanded that the US Supreme Court intervene to overturn the results in all the battleground states, declare him the winner, and award him their electoral votes and thus a second term as president.
However, the main purpose of the speech, which brands the Democratic Party and most state election officials as criminals, was to incite Trump’s most fervent followers to stage violent attacks against anyone targeted by the would-be führer in the White House. Denouncing those who “desire to hurt the president of the United States,” Trump demanded that “something should happen.” He added, “These entrenched interests oppose our movement, because we put America first.”
The language of the speech, and its sweeping and anti-democratic line of argument, suggest that it was written by Stephen Miller, the spearhead of Trump’s war on immigrants, perhaps with an assist from Steve Bannon, Trump’s former top political counselor. Miller and Bannon have been the leading advocates for Trump to transform the Republican Party into an openly fascistic movement, with himself as its boss, whether inside or outside the White House.
White House officials indicated that Trump recorded the speech last week, before Attorney General William Barr, one of his most obedient political servants, conceded in an interview Tuesday: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” That admission alone demonstrates that Trump’s speech was devised on the principles of Hitler and Goebbels: the bigger the lie, the better.
The timing of the speech’s release was significant. It came barely 24 hours after a press conference where a top Georgia election administrator, a longtime Republican loyalist, made an extraordinary public denunciation of Trump personally, blaming him for mounting threats of violence. Gabriel Sterling cited the noose left at the home of one election IT worker and thousands of death threats directed at Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Raffensperger’s wife, Sterling himself and many others involved in counting and tabulating votes in the state.
Sterling’s comments blamed Trump explicitly. “Mr. President, you have not condemned this language or these actions,” he said. “This has to stop.” He also denounced Georgia’s two Republican senators, who have both called for Raffensperger’s resignation and backed Trump’s attack on Georgia’s conduct of the Nov. 3 election.
“Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions,” he said. “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.” Sterling said Trump appeared to have lost Georgia’s 16 electoral votes—he trails Biden by about 13,000 votes after two recounts—while the two Republican senators each failed to gain a majority and will face Democratic challengers in a runoff election on Jan. 5.
The Georgia Republican official also condemned comments by Joe diGenova, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, who called for former federal cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs to be “shot at sunrise” because he declared there had been no successful hacking of the vote. “Someone’s going to get hurt,” Sterling concluded. “Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”
In the context of this criticism, which dominated US media coverage of the election aftermath for 24 hours, Trump’s Facebook speech has a clear meaning: he is deliberately encouraging the violence against which Sterling and other officials have warned.
There is a dialogue taking place between the criminal in the White House and his most violent and reactionary followers outside it. On Tuesday, the Washington Times, the ultra-right daily newspaper in the US capital, published a full-page ad purchased by an Ohio-based fascist group, the We The People Convention, calling on Trump to declare martial law and order a new election under the supervision of the US military.
The ad denounced the “threat to our United States by the international and domestic socialist/communist left,” warned of the existence of “well-funded, armed and trained marxists in ANTIFA and BLM strategically positioned in our major cities,” and denounced the election as “corrupt and provably fraudulent.”
Not only did the newspaper agree to publish this demented screed, but two figures closely identified with Trump immediately tweeted their endorsement of its call for martial law: retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor, just pardoned by Trump last week after pleading guilty to perjury charges; and Lin Wood, a lawyer who has led Trump campaign challenges in several states. Wood also represents Kyle Rittenhouse, the pro-Trump vigilante who gunned down two people protesting police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Both Flynn and Wood declared that America was “headed to civil war” and claimed that the Democratic Party was in league with “Communist China” in seeking to overthrow the Trump administration. Wood also claimed that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, was “a traitor & a criminal” who had received kickbacks from China to throw the election to Biden.
The Democratic Party and the pro-Democratic sections of the media have responded with silence to Trump’s open declaration that he won the election and would continue in office. As of this writing, the Biden campaign had issued no statement, nor had leading congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or senators Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. There was little or no reporting on the evening network news broadcasts about the president of the United States declaring that the election in which he was defeated was a fraud. The cable networks dismissed Trump’s speech as a rehash of previous discredited claims, without great significance.
This dovetails with the position taken by Biden and the Democrats after fascist Trump supporters in Michigan were arrested as they prepared to kidnap and murder the Democratic governor of the state. Gretchen Whitmer had been the target of numerous Trump attacks, including a tweet calling on his followers to “liberate Michigan” from the coronavirus lockdown imposed—but long since lifted—by the governor.
The Democrats fear not Trump’s threats of violence and dictatorship, but the mass popular revolt that would be touched off if Trump actually attempts to carry out his long-threatened election coup. The Democrats know very well that America is a social powder keg, deeply divided between the fabulously wealthy financial aristocracy, which both Democrats and Republicans serve, and the vast majority of the population, struggling to survive.
Trump’s latest threats take place as the coronavirus pandemic is spiraling out of control as a result of the homicidal policies of the ruling class. The average number of daily deaths is approaching the previous peak in the spring, and hospitals throughout the country are overflowing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield warned on Wednesday that the next several months will be among “the most difficult in the public health history of this nation.”
Two weeks ago, long after the television networks and other media had “called” the election for Biden, and the Democrat was beginning to assemble his cabinet and White House staff, the Socialist Equality Party warned:
Trump remains president, at the summit of executive power in the United States, for another 65 days, and the political situation can move in different directions. And if he is removed from office, Trump is creating a “stab in the back” narrative that the election was illegitimate and that he remains the rightful president.
This warning has been more than vindicated, not only in Trump’s fascistic Facebook speech, but in his reshuffling the Pentagon leadership to place US military forces under the direction of his own personal loyalists, and his efforts to ignite an international crisis—such as a war with Iran—that could provide a pretext for the declaration of a state of emergency at home and the unleashing of mass repression.
The central question remains: the working class must intervene into this raging crisis of the American ruling class as an independent political force. Workers and young people cannot rely for a minute on the opposition to Trump on the part of a Democratic Party that is a thoroughly reactionary instrument of the financial oligarchy. The working class must oppose the conspiracies of the Trump White House and its fascist thugs through the methods of class struggle and the political fight for socialism.