"Don't let them take democracy away from you"
The US Democratic National Convention
by editors of Sozialismus journal
[This article published on Aug 22, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.sozialismus.de/kommentare_analysen/detail/artikel/lasst-nicht-zu-dass-sie-euch-die-demokratie-wegnehmen/,]
Joe Biden and Kamela Harris are the team with which the Democrats want to prevent Donald Trump and his vice pence from continuing their policy of splitting American society and destroying democratic institutions in a second term. Biden promises to be a president of all Americans, not just those who elect him.
"United we can and will overcome the time of darkness in America," he said. After four years of Trump's presidency, the Biden-Harris team wants to reunite the country, overcome the Corona crisis and boost the economy with millions of new jobs. In addition, the challengers want to provide an answer to "racial injustice" and take decisive action against the climate crisis .
President Trump reacts to this criticism as usual: he sees America as doomed to perish if the Democrats win the election. Joe Biden is the worst nightmare. For "half a century" the long-time senator and former vice president has been involved in the "sellout of our country" and helped other states "steal our jobs". If "you want a glimpse of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smoking ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy in Portland, the blood-stained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the chaos that is coming to your city.
In Minneapolis and Portland, protests, some of them violent, were held after the death of African-American George Floyd during a brutal police operation. Chicago recently experienced a rise in crime. For weeks Trump has accused Biden of having a weak attitude on the subject of internal security and has tried to stir up fears.
The Democrats are "completely insane," Trump claims. He also repeated his warning that the Democrats would drastically increase taxes and that the country was facing economic hardship. "This election is about the survival of the nation," the president warned, and also repeated his claim that the Democrats could only win the election through electoral fraud. The Corona pandemic is "hopefully in its final stages". He did not, however, give any facts. But the facts are clear: In the USA, between 40,000 and 50,000 new infections per day have been reported recently. More than 170,000 people have died since March following an infection.
In his speech at the virtual Democratic Party Congress, former US President Barack Obama warned that a re-election of Trump would be a threat to democracy and appealed to the Americans* to vote for Joe Biden and his vice candidate Kamala Harris. In unusually sharp words he criticized his successor and clarified the alternative, so he is quoted in detail at this point.
"We should expect a president to be the guardian of this democracy. We should expect the president, regardless of ego, ambition or political beliefs, to preserve, protect and defend the freedoms and ideals for which so many Americans have demonstrated and been imprisoned, fought and died for. ... I never expected that my successor would appropriate my vision or continue my politics. I had hoped - in the interest of our country - that Donald Trump would show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he would feel the weight of this office and discover some reverence for the democracy entrusted to him. But he never did. In nearly four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in work. No interest in finding common ground. No interest in using the enormous power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends. No interest in seeing the Presidency as more than just another reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.
Donald Trump has not grown into the job because he can't. And the consequences of this failure are grave. 170,000 Americans are dead. Millions of jobs are gone, while those up there are taking more than ever. Our worst impulses are unleashed, our proud reputation around the world is badly tarnished - and our democratic institutions are threatened as never before. ... What I know about Joe and Kamala above all is that they care about every American. And that this democracy is deeply important to them. They believe that in a democracy the right to vote is sacred. And that we should make it easier for people to vote - not harder. Today I ask you to believe in the ability of Joe and Kamala to lead this country out of these dark times and rebuild it better.
You understand that in this democracy, the commander-in-chief does not use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as a political prop against peaceful demonstrators on our own soil. They understand that political opponents are not 'un-American' just because they have a different opinion; that a free press is not the 'enemy' but the way we hold our officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve major problems such as a pandemic depends on fidelity to facts and science and logic-not just making things up. They believe that no one - including the president - is above the law and that no official - including the president - should use his office to enrich himself or his supporters.
None of this should be controversial. It should not be republican principles or democratic principles. These are American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who empower him have shown that they do not believe in these things.
Today I ask you to believe in the ability of Joe and Kamala to lead this country out of these dark times and rebuild it better. But the thing is, no single American can fix this country alone. Not even a president. Democracy was never meant to be a transaction - you give me your vote, I'll make everything better. It needs active and informed citizens. So I ask you to also believe in your own ability - and accept your responsibility as citizens - to ensure that the principles of democracy continue. Because that is exactly what is at stake now. Our democracy ... Do not let them take your democracy away from you. Make a plan right now for how you will engage and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell family and friends how they can vote.
Joe Biden also focused on this message in his nomination speech: Help end the nightmare. A turn for the better, even in the most difficult times, is possible if you don't lose hope and take the right measures. He also criticizes the incumbent as a matter of principle: "The president assumes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, ingratiates himself with dictators and fuels the flames of hatred and division.
And in view of the increasing polarization of society, he added: "We are so much better than that." Biden promises to unite the country and, if elected, to work for those who would not have elected him. "That is the task of a president," he said, but there was no time for pure party politics. The USA, he said, was confronted with one of the most difficult moments in its history: four crises at once, "a perfect storm". By this he meant "the worst pandemic in more than 100 years", the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression", as well as the debate on racism and climate change. "Are we prepared for this? I think so. We must be."
To illustrate the dimension of the challenges, the Democrat recalls former President Franklin Roosevelt, who promised the "New Deal" in his 1932 election campaign: the package of economic and social reforms with which the United States responded to the Great Depression between 1933 and 1938. Biden wants to present a plan to contain the pandemic "on the first day" of his term of office. This includes a nationwide mask requirement to stop the spread of the virus. If this does not succeed, the economy will not be able to recover either. This is something "this president" still did not understand.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promise a different approach to the Corona pandemic, not least because of this the upcoming election is one of the most important ever. It is about character, compassion, decency, science and democracy. According to Biden, it is about "what nation we want to be", about what America stands for.
The alternatives are clear, he said, and the Americans should judge "this president" simply on the facts: Five million Americans infected with the virus and more than 170,000 who have already died from the consequences, more than 50 million people who have already registered as unemployed this year and more than ten million who will lose their health insurance by the end of the year because of it, as well as almost six million small companies that have gone bankrupt.
Trump's wait for a miracle is in vain. "Our current president has failed in his most important duty to the nation. He has not protected us. He has not protected America. This is unforgivable."
However, the Democratic nominee only briefly outlines his own government program: He said he would revive the economy and create millions of new jobs in the process. In addition, America under him would face the "existential threat" of climate change. Necessary investments could be financed by reversing Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy. Biden also wants to strengthen the health sector and the social security system. He promises to get rid of "structural racism" in the USA once and for all.
Why a second term in office of the current president would be a social and political disaster in their view - the Democrats made this clear at their party conference, while their own ideas are only beginning to become visible. Biden's metaphor of "darkness versus light" illustrates that we can certainly expect one of the most violent election battles America has ever seen.
1] See also in more detail Joachim Bischoff, Where does America drive - On the election campaign in the USA, in: Sozialismus.de, issue 9/2020.
2] See also the recently published pamphlet by Steffen Lehndorff, New Deal means the courage for conflict. What we can learn from Roosevelt's reform policies of the 1930s today, Hamburg 2020.