The 2020 U.S. election victory of the Biden-Harris campaign has been hailed a victory for all peoples. A victory for all those who have felt betrayed by Trump and for those who never liked Trump to begin with. Trump was elected into office with the promise of economic transformation for the poor white masses, from which a significant portion of his support came. The rich white elite, of which he himself is a member, also supported him.
Upon entering the White House, however, the Trump administration was spectacular in paying little to no mind the plights and conditions of the very same poor white masses. His presidency seemed to rely less on traditional electoral topics: economics, healthcare, jobs and drew strength more from xenophobia. Slogans like “Build the Wall”, “Lock Her Up”, and his most notorious, “Make America Great Again” kept Donald Trump and his presidency at the forefront of all major domestic and international news. However, this “unorthodox” presidential formula proved to be successful only in the short term, as his failure to adhere to the economic hardships and concerns of most of his voters was what turned the tide against Trump.
It should be noted that in an “inverted totalitarian” state such as the U.S., politics is a slave to economics. “Inverted totalitarianism” finds its totalitarian expression “in the anonymity of the corporate state.” Though the U.S. does not exhibit traits of traditional totalitarian states that are overt with the strict state control of institutions such as politics, economics, and the media, as a corporate-controlled state, the U.S. “purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while cynically manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions” (Bell).
Political candidates are beholden to the entities that won them the seat; they are “beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington.” Those apparatuses do not represent the masses or grassroots organizations, but rather corporations and institutions that funded their campaigns. Once in office, the candidates owe a debt, which is paid through legislation and advocacy, to these corporations and institutions, not the people.
Every shift in power is preceded by a looming economic crisis. In 2008, it was the Republicans who left the country in economic shambles and the looming threat of a recession that had Obama elected (Bell). In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, was elected president after three consecutive Republican administrations: Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the American economy, most adversely impacting the poor and working-class. Evictions, unemployment, and school closures have plagued the nation. This federal government lacks an adequate safety net to counter a national health emergency, it also did a poor job of “stimulating” the economy and bailing out millions of Americans via stimulus checks.
It is axiomatic to American politics that when the economy is doing poorly, power changes hands the next election year. There is nothing more important to Americans than their economic and financial well-being. It is more important than a xenophobe for a potential president and it is definitely more important than racial progress.
History is a prevailing testament to the lengths Europeans have gone in the name of acquiring capital. In the 16th-19th centuries, amassing egregious amounts of wealth was a value that propelled European excursion and exploitation. In the 20th and 21st centuries, it is this same value that is behind major political events like a presidential election. This European value is ingrained in every facet of American life but especially elections.
This concept is also fueled by the phenomenon Bell called “Interest Convergence.” This is when the interests of the dominant group (white people) aligns with that of the oppressed group (Black people). As mentioned earlier, Obama’s election had a lot to do with the economic state of the country, rather than the racial progress the United States claims to have made. In the case of 2008, the economic interests of the dominant group lined up with that of the racial interests of the oppressed group.
In 2020, Trump has been put out of office because the economic interests of those who voted him in—white people—were not satisfied. In this case, the term “white people” is used to describe those who voted for him because they genuinely believed his economic plans will have them better off (not the ones who always vote red): The poor, rural whites who felt their jobs will be kept safe, and the rich whites who knew Trump’s tax policies will have them pocket much more capital than under a Democratic president.
Trump’s economic failures were more of a motive to vote Biden-Harris into office rather than a motivation to be “revolutionary” or “progressive.” Just like Obama’s blackness was not a reflection of the nation’s racial progress in 2008, Harris’ blackness has nothing to do with the nation’s racial progress in 2020. Harris’ blackness was simply an appeal to identity politics, a concept important to Black people; a concept the Democratic party is all too aware of and will pander to any chance they get.
It is imperative that people, Afrikan/Black people especially, realize that any event that is hailed as progressive, and superficially seems so, is engendered by the convergence of interests: the will of the corporatist state.
The implication of the 2020 election victory of the Biden-Harris ticket for Afrikan/Black people is that America is not progressing towards anything but is rather showing signs of the same-old, corporate-run “democratic” apparatus that is the United States system of electoral politics. It is dangerous for Black people to view this as progress and believe that the Biden-Harris administration will ever attempt to transform the collective conditions of Black people, because this lets the Democratic party know that they have the Black race— via the Black vote—under their control. It is imperative that the masses see this election result for what it truly is, because failing to do so means our doom.