In a post by the Solidarity Green Party Working Group entitled Solidarity and the 2020 presidential election, they write
As reported in Solidarity’s Election Poll, a Solidarity internal poll found that 47% of respondents supported voting for Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker running as Greens in the 2020 presidential election, 27% supported voting for Hawkins and Walker where the Democrats are assured of winning and for Joe Biden in “swing states,” 21% supported voting for Biden everywhere (motivated as “Dump Trump, fight Biden”), and 5% provided comments but selected none of the three options. ...
How did Solidarity, a revolutionary socialist organization founded on the principle of working-class political independence, get to this point? And not just Solidarity. How did the revolutionary socialist movement get to this point? We ask the question not to recriminate but to discern a way forward.
For any Trotskyist--current or former--the problem is self-evident. As a core principle Trotskyists refuse to cross the class line and will not support a "bourgeois" party. The Democrats are the very essence of a bourgeois party, and accordingly no self-respecting Trotskyist of whatever denomination will support them. My former comrades adamantly reject lesser-evilism, i.e., voting for a Democrat just because he seems more progressive than the Republican. The dogma is that Democrats and Republicans are essentially the same--both representing the bourgeoisie.
The principle distinguishes Trotskyism from the Stalinist tradition which has long supported progressive Democrats, this year championing Bernie Sanders, and now Joe Biden. The Bob Avakian Fan Club, self-avowed Stalinists, write "It is crucial that there be a massive vote against Trump—which means voting for Biden."
Aversion to Democrats is often taken to extreme lengths. This year both the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Socialist Action (SA) are running their own candidates. In the SWP's case this extends a long tradition, and at least the completely useless effort is competently executed. SA, meanwhile, has put forth the laughably ridiculous Jeff Mackler as their candidate--they're not serious.
My friends at Solidarity rightly regard these old-fashioned Trotskyist campaigns as farcical, and accordingly they're looking beyond sectarian Trotskyism for solutions. Their current best choice looks to be Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker. There is precedent: in the 2016 cycle they supported Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. Prior to that SWP alum Peter Camejo was the Green Party candidate for Governor of California for three elections, beginning in 2002.
The SWP and SA accuse the Green Party of being middle class, which somehow puts them beyond the pale. The SWP is at least consistent, regarding the entire environmentalist movement as middle class, and therefore not worthy of support. SA supports radical environmentalism, but without supporting the Green Party.
The original leaders of Solidarity are all former members of the SWP, and for them the class line is a solid barrier--thou shalt not cross it! Which is why they're so astonished and disappointed that so many of their new colleagues (never part of the SWP) even countenance voting for Democrats.
The opposite, non-Trotskyist position is held by Bob Avakian, who writes (italics in original)
To approach this election from the standpoint of which candidate is “better” means failing to understand the truly profound stakes and potential consequences of what is involved. The fact is that there can be one—and only one—“good” that can come out of this election: delivering a decisive defeat to Trump and the whole fascist regime. Doing this would create far better conditions for continuing to wage the struggle against everything represented by the Trump/Pence regime and all the oppression and injustices of this system, and would be a great gift to the people of the world.
His claim is that Trump is qualitatively different from Biden because he's a fascist. Therefore, however bad Biden may be, he must be supported.
In contrast, the old majority within Solidarity argue this way:
Left advocates of voting for Biden generally give Trump as the reason. Trump is indeed a menace. His views may be no worse than those of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. But he is self-indulgent, chaotic and demagogic far beyond what they allowed themselves. His appeals to white chauvinism are effective with segments of the population, especially older white men. They bamboozle some white workers, who have real grievances but misdirect their anger.
If the U.S. were on the brink of fascism or military dictatorship and a vote for Biden were the last line of defense, perhaps advocating it could be justified. Although it wouldn’t achieve much. It would be like throwing a handkerchief at a charging bear. But the U.S. isn’t on the brink of fascism or military dictatorship. We’re at a highly polarized moment in the alternating administrations of the two-party system.
An article by John B. Cannon makes the case that one should strategically vote for Biden in states where the election is close, while casting a protest vote elsewhere. He writes
On the flip side, of course, Trump is a relatively weak authoritarian. It seems unlikely that he could consolidate a fascistic or authoritarian regime without vestiges of democratic checks, since neither the military nor most of the bourgeoisie support him. ... However, under Trump’s leadership, part of the Republican Party is blurring the line between fascism and right-wing nationalist, authoritarian aspirations, and Republican elected leaders are increasingly unable to operate independently of Trump’s personalistic command. In sum, the politics of fascism are very much at hand, even if the immediate possibility of a fascist consolidation ... is not.
He asks, "What’s a brink, and how do you know you are on it?" Mr. Cannon suggests we're not yet on the brink of fascism, but nevertheless this is a "crisis," perhaps like Germany in 1929 (not 1933). While Trump himself may not lead the way, a future, more competent fascist could really lead us over the brink. Therefore now is the time to stand up against fascism and vote for Biden where it actually makes some electoral difference, i.e., in swing states. Thus, in extremis, lesser-evilism is justified.
A full-fledged turn into the Democratic Party is advocated by Bill Resnick, a personality from Portland, OR. In an article weirdly entitled Dump Trump, Fight and Force Biden: An Electoral Strategy for the Left, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. That is, to vote for Biden while opposing him every step of the way.
But just to be clear: everything said about Biden by those who argue against voting for him is true. These truths however, in this moment, don’t carry the day, if you believe, as I do, that Trump has to be stopped in his tracks, repudiated, to decisively interrupt the downward spiral toward a white supremacist autocracy. And a strategic vote for Biden makes sense since his administration will be forced to bargain with “progressive” Democrats in the Congress, and it should be possible to win significant programs, call them non-reformist or revolutionary reforms.
He explains what those reforms are:
We don’t have to wait until after the election to fight for a package of “non-reformist” reforms. By non-reformist reforms I mean programs and policies that:
- Demonstrate the virtues of radically democratic organizations and social relations which prove that “Every Cook Can Govern” – for example, worker-owned and controlled co-ops, democratically-run teams to treat chronic diseases, participatory budgeting in local government.
- Honor and reward the skills and contributions of those in non-elite, professional, college diploma- requiring work.
- Significantly shift political power downward and outward and Increase social organization and power at the base of our society.
- Provide a solid social safety net that increases the confidence and fighting power of the working class.
- Challenge all hierarchy including based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and spiritual practice.
This, to my mind, is straight-out utopianism, and is not possible even under perfect communism, much less from Sleepy Joe Biden. These hippie-like reforms are a far cry from a Trotskyist transitional program. In my day we would have called it a popular front, i.e., forming a coalition with the bourgeoisie. It seems the old guard in Solidarity agrees with that assessment.
Trotskyism has always struggled between sectarian purity, on the one hand, and big-tent alliances on the other. The solution (insofar as one exists) is a united front consisting of only working class organizations. The antiwar movement as represented by the Student Mobilization Committee was the obvious (and perhaps only) successful example. Though it's not clear how that success has furthered the American Revolution.
Popular fronts work better. Martin Luther King's demands--all won through Republican and a few Democrat politicians--have resulted in enduring gains for civil rights in America. American democracy is strong enough, and capitalism successful enough, that wealth and privileges can be extended across society.
I disagree with my Trotskyist friends: I do not think Trump is a fascist--quite the contrary. Instead of growing government, he is trying to shrink it. Unlike BLM and Antifa, he does not have gangs of thugs on the streets. He is no threat to our democracy, having never once disobeyed a court order. He's neither racist nor white supremacist--he simply rejects ridiculous political correctness.
So this blog enthusiastically endorses Donald J. Trump for president--and not as a lesser evil, either.