Super Tuesday - now it's about the soul of the Democratic Party and the fight against Trump
by Conrad Schuhler
[This article published on March 4, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.isw-muenchen.de/2020/03/super-tuesday-nun-geht-es-um-die-seele-der-demokratischen-partei-und-den-kampf-gegen-trump/.]
On Super Tuesday this week, primaries were held in 14 U.S. states to determine the delegates who will select the Democratic Party's presidential candidate at the Democratic Convention in mid-July, the opponent Trumps in the November elections. About 40% of the approximately 4000 delegates stood for election on Super-Tuesday. Winners in almost equal numbers were Joe Biden, former vice president of Barack Obama. Closely adjacent to him was Bernie Sanders, the "Democratic Socialist", who had been the "front runner" after the primary elections and was in the lead. The primary was not only about determining the challenger to the incumbent president, it was also about the political orientation of the Democratic Party. Would the current towards "democratic socialism" - the activists of the "working class" and youth movements - determine the profile of the Democratic Party? Or would the establishment around the Clintons and Obamas once again impose the party's right-wing course?
Until Super Tuesday, it looked like the Sanders movement was ahead. Biden seemed to be defeated after the first primaries - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada. In South Carolina, three days before Super Tuesday, the picture turned. Biden won there by a large margin and the Democratic Party leadership then managed to rally the "right" candidates behind Biden. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg withdrew their applications and declared their support for Biden. Similarly, candidates who had already left the party before, such as Beto O'Rourke, who had long been traded as the new Clinton, called for Biden's election. Biden, who had already been declared politically dead, became a comeback kid like Bill Clinton 30 years before, who also experienced his resurrection in South Carolina. Biden himself won in Massachusetts, the home state of Elizabeth Warren, the left-wing leading figure next to Sanders. That was the decisive difference: while the right wing agreed on one figure, the left wing remained divided. Sanders received more votes in Massachusetts than Warren, both together clearly ahead of Biden. But the left wing could not agree on one of their directions, the right wing managed to do so this time.
Last hour voters and the majority of black voters
And this was decisive. 40% of voters, according to CNN in its day-long election broadcast on 3/4 March (America's Choice), had only decided in the last days before the election, with large majorities in favor of Biden. Older voters, better educated members of the working class and especially blacks stood for Biden (as they had already tipped the scales for Hillary Clinton four years earlier). In the individual states, black voters voted for Biden by 60-70%. Sanders received his votes mainly from industrial workers, from Latinos and voters under 35 years of age, here mainly from young women.
Media commentators explain Biden's resurgence as follows: Voters wanted to get rid of Trump, but they were looking for concrete social progress, not revolutionary promises. In fact, the candidates' positions differ not only in the time horizon, but also fundamentally in the practical political issues of our day. In climate policy, Sanders and Warren reject any further investment in nuclear energy because of safety and disposal concerns, and call for the dismantling of fossil fuels and the expansion of renewable energies. They are strictly against fracking and demand its absolute prohibition and a "Green New Deal" for an environmentally friendly society and economy. In all these questions the right-wing representatives, Joe Biden in particular, are on the opposite side.
Warren: Socialist proposals for today
In trade policy, Sanders and Warren share the Trump strategy of protectionist measures to "protect American workers. Biden rejects such actions and advocates a strictly market-based course, as pursued by the Obama administration. Relevant differences between the positions become apparent in education policy. In contrast to Warren, Sanders also advocates that state nursery places and universities should be offered free of charge regardless of income. Both Sanders and Warren want to combat growing economic inequality and call for the introduction of a tax on all private assets, which up to now have been largely tax-free. Joe Biden rejects this. The biggest chasm between the candidates is in the issue of public health care. For years the number of uninsured people has been rising again. Today almost 30 million US citizens are without any health insurance.
Biden pleads for public health insurance to be offered in competition with the existing private insurance companies. Sanders, on the other hand, calls for the complete abolition of the private market for health insurance. Warren shares this as a goal, but wants to achieve it more slowly. Her argument is that 18% of the current US economy is based on health care, which cannot be eliminated simply by law. Sanders argues the other way round, that only a public system can be restructured in the interest of the population. (To the positions of the candidates: Who wants what? The political positions of the candidates in the US Democratic primary elections).
How will it continue? The majority of the delegates at the Democratic Convention are still to be elected. On March 10th the voters in Michigan and Washington will already be voting, followed by Florida and Illinois, among others, and in April New York and Pennsylvania. The Biden camp has no rival on the right to fear, billionaire Bloomberg has fallen on his face after spending over half a billion dollars (500 million) to buy his candidacy. In the first debate in which Bloomberg took part, he turned out to be the "Mini Mike" that Trump mocked him for. The fact that he has a fortune twenty times greater than Trump's .7 billion did not answer the question of what to do with this plutocrat, neither blacks, Latinos nor workers. So Biden remains unchallenged as a representative of the openly capitalist wing of his party. Stronger than ever. Because Bloomberg, after its poor performance, has made its hundreds of millions of Biden available, together with the expert staffs at all levels and in all regions of the USA. Biden is more powerful than ever within the party.
The evil plans of the party leadership
On the left, Warren is urged to give up her candidacy and call for Sanders' election. The next biggest hurdle for the Left is to be overcome at the party conference itself. Even if Sanders had won most of the delegates' votes, he is by no means a candidate. Because the delegates' commitment to their votes only counts in the first round of voting. There the absolute majority of the delegates counts - 3971 : 2 + 1. Sanders cannot reach this number. The candidates have rejected Sanders' proposal, then the candidate with the most votes should be elected. Those who have lost so far will give all votes to Biden, Warren's decision is still uncertain. In addition, from the second ballot on, there will be 771 "super-delegates", who will be appointed by the party establishment throughout and will follow the directives from above. It is also possible that a completely different alternative will be proposed at the party congress. Perhaps Warren, who imagines herself to be "capitalist to the bone", will stand by for that moment. Progressive, but moderate.
The Left Party wants to mobilize for the convention so that Milwaukee, Wisconsin, can have a democratic mass experience. The Democratic Socialists of America, which has multiplied from 20,000 to 50,000 members since Occupy Days 2011, dream of 100,000 people on the streets of Milwaukee demanding a democratic outcome to the convention. (EXCLAIMS)
And the fight against Trump? Sanders said you can't beat Trump with yesterday's recipes and figures. That would be Biden's strategy to evoke the nostalgia of the Obama years. It would work for a lot of black people and some of the "urban" upper class. In fact, however, these forces, then personified in Hillary Clinton, have already lost at the first showdown with Trump. Sanders refers to surveys that see him several percentage points ahead in the direct confrontation with Trump. This will not change the Democratic Party leadership's mind. It is more important to them to maintain neoliberal capitalism than to win over Trump. But they can't say it that way. The slogan will be: Biden has the best chance of driving Trump out of the White House - only stubborn ideologues will put their pure doctrine before the practical opportunity for progress.
1] Joachim Bischoff: Can "Crazy Bernie" beat the autocrat Trump? Sozialismus.de, 3-2020, S. 35
What to do about the right-wing?
Options for action and education
[This article published on 7/15/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Was tun gegen rechts? | Linksnet.]
There are many strategies and experiences in dealing with law. In everyday life, in a club or in campaign work, they can help you to position yourself confidently against right-wing arguments and hatred.
This January over ten thousand people gathered again in Berlin. Under the motto "We've had enough" they protested against industrial agriculture and for more diversity in and around the fields. "We say no to racism and right-wing agitation!" also resounded from the loudspeakers of the demonstration. The organizers not only positioned themselves on questions of agriculture, but also set an example against discrimination. Not only in Germany right-wing ideas come to light. The boundaries of what can be said are continually being shifted to the far right. It is therefore all the more important to oppose right-wing propaganda and to resolutely defend this position. Because political sentiment is not only created in the parliaments, but in all areas of life.
Ethnic, nationalistic and other inhuman positions are often hidden behind more connectable topics. Organic farming, regional marketing chains and protest against free trade agreements are fortunately receiving a lot of support from broad sections of society. Often these topics are perceived as rather left-wing alternatives. But it is not always that clear: For example, the Anastasia Movement Brandenburg propagates a racist and anti-Semitic ideology and at the same time advocates organic farming and self-sufficiency. Other rights are interested in the foundation of vegan solidarity-based agriculture and free schools. It is not always immediately obvious who is involved and with what motivation. Therefore it is all the more important to become aware of such overlaps and not to talk them down.
Handouts, field reports and events on the topic exist and help to raise awareness. Last winter, a comprehensive series of events on right-wing ideologies in rural areas was held at the Faculty of "Organic Agricultural Sciences" of the University of Kassel in Witzenhausen(1) The Fachstelle für Radikalisierung im Natur- und Umweltschutz (FARN) offers materials and seminars. They offer the possibility to obtain and recognize knowledge about historical continuities, approaches and strategies of right-wing groups or persons. The same applies to personal names, codes and signs of the right-wing scene such as runes.
Mrs. Denk vom Hardthof shows how
But what happens after the recognition of right thinking? There must be a positioning! This requires an examination of one's own position in order to be able to appear self-confident and convincing. Fortunately, many people have already thought about how a positioning looks like and how to reduce their own uncertainties.
A courageous example is Mrs. Denk, farmer's wife from Hardthof in the Odenwald with direct marketing from the farm(2) On the occasion of an AfD rally she decorated her tractor with a sheet and the slogan: "No to AfD #We are more! She uploaded a photo of the banner to Facebook. A Shitstorm on the Internet followed and a part of her clientele stayed away. The farm was supported by the district administrator, the German Trade Union Federation and the police. Despite little positive reaction from the immediate surroundings, Ms. Denke said "...and I would do it again!" However, she would like to see more people at her side for the next demo and take a stand.
"Standing up against racism" offers the so-called "Stammtischkämpfer" seminars nationwide. Here, the group practises how to argue against right-wing positions and how to behave. Different strategies are possible: Do I want to get involved in a discussion, ally with bystanders or announce a crisp counter position? There are many ways not to fall silent in direct contact.
Even in committee work, at public events and when dealing with motions, there is no lack of direct contact with right-wing positions. Especially since the right-wing (anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany AfD) is represented in the governments and increasingly appears in local politics. The new brochure of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation can also stimulate and help.
Stiftung: Rät*innen gegen Rechts - Umgang mit Rechte in kommunalen Gremien(3) In addition to strategies and information, the brochure is inspired by brief reports on experiences with extreme right-wing parties such as the NPD.
Inspiration and support
You should distance yourself from attempts to connect people or groups with a right-wing background. An example of this is the reaction of the GeN to the positive reference of the AfD to the argumentation paper on the blood test(4). Preventatively, further possibilities are offered for alliances, localities and businesses. The movement "We're fed up with it!" shows how positioning and distancing on the big stage works (see above). In addition to statements on the demo, the flyer and the website contain the slogan "No to racism and right-wing hate! This is also possible on a smaller scale by hanging posters in the window, a public support of anti-racist groups by displaying material and articles on their own website. When renting rooms, it is important to pay attention to who you are renting to. Suggestions, stickers and support are offered by the association No Use for Nazis. (5)
As an association or club you have another tool: the statutes. Already in 2012 Bioland, an association for organic farming, changed its association statutes and added that "racist, anti-constitutional and xenophobic efforts and other discriminating or inhuman behavior will be decisively opposed"(6) Members can therefore be excluded if they violate this paragraph. How and whether it is recognized that a member has racist or anti-constitutional aspirations and how this would have to be proven remains open, however.
This small insight into forms of action and scope for action should encourage members to use their own voice. Every silence, looking away and hoping that it will pass by itself, encourages those who are right-wing agitators and marginalizers and harms those who are directly affected by racist, sexist or other inhuman violence. It takes little to distance oneself: "I do not agree" or "against misanthropy" is often enough as an expression - spoken or written. This is also essential to show solidarity. For in order to be able to act in solidarity, one must recognize those with whom one wants to be in solidarity. Cohesion and support make it possible to be resistant and courageous. And so Mrs. Denk from the Hardthof and all of us wish that at the next demonstration many people will stand by Mrs. Denk's side to be loud against right-wing ideologies.