Biden no antidote to Trump’s racism and the far right

Millions across the world are horrified at the chance that Donald Trump could win again in the US presidential election on 3 November.

His rival, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, enjoys a huge lead in the polls.

Trump’s own hospitalisation after he was infected with COVID-19 has only reinforced his disastrous and incompetent handling of the pandemic. Over 200,000 have died across the US, with infections still on the increase in a swathe of states across the northern mid-west.

But after Trump’s shock win in 2016, few will write him off. If the result is close, there could be weeks of court challenges to dispute the outcome.

Trump could even call on his supporters to mobilise in an effort to pressure the courts. He has put encouraging far right violence at the centre of his re-election campaign, attempting to beat up a law and order scare over the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, labelling the slogan a “symbol of hate”.

During his first debate with Joe Biden, he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, calling on the armed far right group “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by” and declared “somebody has got to do something about antifa and the left”.

This was immediately used by the far right to rally their supporters.

In August, Trump defended 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, after he shot dead two protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in Kenosha.

Trump has consistently encouraged white supremacists and the far right during his time in office.

Trump himself is not a fascist. He did not come to power through the kind of violent street movements that genuinely fascist leaders have used to crush strikes and trade unions.

But he is providing circumstances in which fascist groups and the far right can grow.

Academic Alexander Reid Ross has documented, “64 cases of simple assault, 38 incidents of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times shots were fired at protesters” since the Black Lives Matter protests began on 27 May.

Trump is feeding the polarisation in US society, but he is not its sole creator.


Three decades of neo-liberal policies have crushed working class living standards and seen inequality rocket. Before the pandemic, income inequality was at its highest for 50 years.

As Kim Moody explained in his 2017 book On New Terrain, “So stagnant has been the income of the working-class majority that 30 per cent of the workforce… now relies on public assistance to get by.”

Millions of Americans loathe the political elite who have presided over this.

In 2014, Trump tried to channel that anger by promising to bring back jobs and attacking a “rigged economy” run by “powerful corporations, media elites and political dynasties”.

But under Trump, the COVID-19 crisis has made the situation far worse, pushing up unemployment and already alarming rates of poverty.

Joe Biden and the Democrats have no answer to these problems. He is another candidate of the corporate elite, taking at least $70 million from finance and investment firms alone, according to non-profit Open Secrets.

He argues that he can end the chaos of the Trump administration and bring back business as usual. But it’s precisely that approach which paved the way for Trump to take office.

Even if Trump loses, the danger from the far right will not disappear. He is more likely to become a regular guest on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, continuing to stir up racism and hate, than to disappear from the political stage.

His bluster about a rigged election and an establishment lined up against him will help fuel ongoing right-wing mobilisation.

And the base of the Republican Party is now firmly behind Trump, with Republican politicians adapting to this to secure their own careers.

Biden has no answer to this. But the far right can be driven back through mobilisation on the streets. In 2017 neo-Nazis and white supremacists from across the US gathered in Charlottesville.

Anti-racist activist Heather Heyer was murdered when one of them drove a car into a counter-demonstration.

In the aftermath far right protests across the US became impossible, after tens of thousands mobilised for counter-demonstrations against them whenever they tried to meet.

Another source of hope is the Black Lives Matter movement, the largest protest movement in US history according to the New York Times, which estimates 26 million people have taken part.

But Biden has already distanced himself from the movement’s demands, and is not going to address structural racism and inequality. The real struggle for change in the US is going to have to happen outside the White House, through mass movements in the workplaces and on the streets.

By James Supple


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