A Maoist Analysis of the 2020 Election

Many people were disappointed by the results of Tuesday’s Democratic Primary contests in the United States. For our foreign comrades, essentially, the United States Presidential Election system works like this: held every four years, the two major Parties (Democrats and Republicans) hold preliminary elections, called either primaries or caucuses before the general contest in November to determine who will be their Party’s nominee. This nominee is chosen by individuals called delegates, who vote at a Party convention. The delegates are chosen through the primaries and are pledged to a specific candidate. There are also unpledged delegates, called superdelegates, who are party leaders and elected officials free to vote however they please – despite reform measures taken after the Clinton-Sanders debacle in 2016, there are still concerns about the backroom wheeling and dealing that the superdelegate presence lends itself to. It’s certainly undemocratic, to say the very least. An article from The Intercept explains:

The Intercept has reviewed lobbying records and identified at least eight superdelegates who are currently working with health care clients lobbying against Medicare for All. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase each have lobbyists who double as superdelegates.

And a growing number of superdelegates are currently employed by presidential candidates, an arrangement that means some will enter the convention with less than neutral standing.

Last month, the Bernie Sanders campaign hired Susie Shannon, an anti-poverty activist, and superdelegate, as its California state political director. DNC member and superdelegate Laphonza Butler is a senior consultant working with Kamala Harris’s campaign. Joe Biden’s staff includes two superdelegates, Simone Sanders and Cristobal Alex. Cory Booker, meanwhile, hired Clay Middleton, a superdelegate from South Carolina. And the Beto O’Rourke campaign retained the services of superdelegate Jeff Berman to help his campaign court other superdelegates. The campaigns either did not respond to inquiries or declined to comment for this story.

“Super Tuesday” is important because it is the date on which the largest number of elected delegates are “up for grabs”, so to speak. 1,338, to be exact. 14 states voted yesterday. The major and widely discussed candidates immediately before Tuesday were Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota, Joe Biden, former Senator from Delaware and Vice President of the United States, and Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts. Klobuchar and Buttigieg dropped out shortly before Super Tuesday. Klobuchar was bedeviled by her habit of sending Black people to prison during her time as a prosecutor in Hennipin County (home to Minneapolis), with protestors forcing her campaign to shut down its pre-Tuesday rally in her own home state. Buttigieg suspended his campaign after failing to pick up steam despite his credentials as a sterling neoliberal rising star backed by the who’s who of the US military-industrial complex and espionage/regime change NGO industry.

Last Tuesday saw a blowout for Biden. These victories are directly attributable to the Democratic Party establishment coalescing behind him. Starting in South Carolina, he has swept the South, taking Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Virginia. Biden also won Minnesota, Massachusetts (Warren’s home state), and Maine. Sanders won California, Utah, Vermont, and Colorado. As it stands, Joe Biden leads the delegate count with 565 pledged, Bernie Sanders follows with 498 pledged. No other candidate even approaches. So, this is a race between Biden and Sanders for which line will lead the left-wing of US Imperialism. Sanders, representing the populism and social fascism that was en vogue during the 1930s, or Joe Biden, the darling of old school 1970s and ’80s neoliberalism. The Democratic Party elite is lining up behind Biden. All of the major contenders who have terminated their campaigns have endorsed Biden, from Beto O’Rourke to Amy Klobuchar to Mike Bloomberg (dead in the water despite his money) to Pete Buttigieg. The only dropout to endorse Bernie Sanders was Bill De Blasio, current Mayor of New York City. Warren will undoubtedly drop out in the near future as well after being embarrassed by Biden in her own state. She is dogged by the fact that she falsely claimed to be an Indigenous person and also was a Republican during the era of Ronald Reagan. Her policies are a cynical blend of pandering and phony progressivism and she is renowned as the Democrat most favored by certain elements on Wall Street. To quote:

“You know what I like about Warren? Warren doesn’t want my money, actually,” said one mid-level hedge fund executive who has already maxed out on his donation to the Massachusetts Democrat in the 2020 presidential primary. “My firm is great, but some people in the industry are scumbags.”

The Democratic Party is divided and split. There is a center-social democratic wing and a right-wing. The centrist wing, which can not appropriately be called a “Left”, is represented by Bernie Sanders. His policies and rhetoric are a blend of old New Deal and new DSA social democracy. Joe Biden is an out and out, rabid imperialist and racist whose record in the Senate is scarred with such things as opposition to busing for racial equity and support for de facto segregation. The Democrats, we know, can not be Socialists. To be a Socialist means being a Communist. There are no Communists in the Democratic Party. There are, however, many people that claim to be Communists who, for whatever reason, continue to maintain belief in the electoral system.

We see these politics as petit-bourgeois nihilism, cynicism, alarmism, and rightist pragmatism. While Communists should certainly be pragmatic from the perspective of the revolutionary struggle (taking advantage of splits in the reactionary old state apparatus, etc.), we should not liquidate ourselves into imperialist charades to “stop Trump”. This is tailism, or falling behind the least advanced masses. Our unity comes on the basis of opposition to the existing state of affairs and our practice should be that of uniting the basic masses around anti-electoral and anti-imperialist slogans and practice.

The opportunists, some calling themselves Communists, others calling themselves Anarchists, tell us that since the masses are currently not “advanced enough” or “ready enough” to wage armed struggle, we should give up on building a real Communist Party and instead engage in right liquidationism into the Bernie Sanders campaign and reactionary, imperialist yellow trade unions. They call those who train and build for proletarian revolution with the national struggle being the key link “LARPERS” and “ultras”. Yet the Democrats and unions continue to demonstrate to them, in practice, the errors of this strategy. This was demonstrated when rightist elements of the New Communist Movement liquidated into the Jesse Jackson campaigns in the 1980s. Whether our opportunists will learn these lessons or continue to be defeated by their own stubbornness remains to be seen.

Voter turnout among youth, particularly of oppressed nationalities, was down in this primary season from 2016. This objectively harmed the Bernie Sanders campaign, which sees youth as its bread and butter. Many of Sanders’ most fervent supporters are people between the ages of 18 and 29. Yet the masses of youth, many of whom expressed support for social democratic programs such as “Medicare for All” and free public university, did not turn out, particularly in the South. Young colonized people, in particular, avoided the polls on Super Tuesday. This resulted in older, more middle class and conservative New Afrikan people in the South swinging the contests for Biden, delivering him double-digit margins of victory. Many enraged social democrats attributed this to “low information”, yet we interpret the New Afrikan electoral support for Biden as being cynicism and the well-founded belief that colonizers will continue to back the most pro-imperialist candidates, whether it be Trump or Biden. This  article sums up the sentiment concisely:

So when you ask older black people what the white electorate, Democratic or Republican, are capable of, they remember. They remember that this country has spent the better part of 40 years lauding the racially destructive policies of Ronald Reagan. They remember that actual progressive choices, like Jackson and Edwards, were rejected by white Democrats. They remember that white people failed to turn on George W. Bush, despite his legacy of incompetence and torture, and instead reelected him. They remember that the majority of white people  did not vote  for the first black president, spent eight years attacking his every move, and then replaced him with the most small-minded bigot they could find, rejecting an immensely qualified white woman in the process.

Learning these lessons about what white people will do is part of growing up black in this country. Many young black people start out assuming that white people are better than they’ve shown, that the stories of past white failures are things white people have learned from. I have small children and I certainly want them to believe that they will encounter better, more reliable white people in their life than I have encountered in my own. I want them to believe in coalitions, and in allies. But I’m also aging. The hope I try to impart to my kids sometimes feels fraudulent, like I’m raising them for a world I no longer believe will exist. Eventually, I’ll be old enough and strong enough to do for my children what so many black parents have to do: rip the innocence from them and teach them how things really are.

Our belief is that the Democratic Party will not break from its firm commitment to neoliberalism and wanton imperialism. Joe Biden will most likely be the 2020 Democratic nominee, and will, of course, lose to Donald Trump. Many Sanders social democrats are coming to this conclusion as well, and we believe that they will join the ranks of the revolutionary movement after being deprived of victory despite their energy and fanaticism in 2016 and now 2020. The Democratic Party establishment is hostile to these elements and will undoubtedly seek to purge them after the convention if they do not line up behind Biden. These elements should be introduced to the Maoist critiques and exposures of the electoral farce and developed into cadre. Those who have worked on these campaigns have energy, experience in a variety of useful skills for the revolutionary movement, and experienced first hand the underhanded measures that the ruling class will take to stop the election of even the mildest social democrat. Essentially, they will be angry, and the movement would do well to capitalize on that anger and strengthen itself. They spent inordinate amounts of time building the Democratic Party. Let’s see how they build a Communist Party.