England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

The US Presidential race: An election no one is excited for

By Mandy Gee, Socialist Alternative US

For many Americans, 2024 feels like a reboot of 2020: Covid is wreaking havoc, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are in a faceoff for the US Presidency, there are protests in the streets against state-sanctioned murder, and corporations are rolling in profit at the expense of working people. 

But despite not appearing much different, the US, not to mention the world, is in a radically different era than it was four years ago. In 2020, Biden was on the offensive, promising that he would ‘save the soul of America, fighting Trump’s bigotry and misinformation with ‘science and sensibility’. In the context of Trump’s massive mishandling of the Covid pandemic and his threats to steal the election, the Biden campaign was successfully able to swindle American voters into voting for the ‘lesser evil’.

But in 2024, all voters have to look back on is Biden’s massive failure to improve working people’s lives – in fact, living standards have worsened under his watch. Not only has Biden presided over a huge increase in the cost of living, he’s ended programs like the Child Tax Credit and expanded unemployment. He’s the President under which national abortion rights were slashed, who broke the rail strike, and failed to enact any serious student debt relief or expansions in access to healthcare as he promised on the campaign trail.

More recently, youth have gone into revolt against Joe Biden over his staunch support of Israel, backed up by billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, which has undoubtedly emboldened Netanyahu in his months-long genocidal assault on Gaza. This has been compounded by Biden’s vocal support of the extreme police repression of student protests in May. Yet Trump, despite posing as anti-war when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, is just as staunch a supporter of the Israeli regime, promising a room full of wealthy donors in May that he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror” and boasted of his White House policies toward Israel, like when he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city. He also told this room of donors that he would throw students that protest “out of the country”. 

In poll after poll, Trump is outpacing Biden, and the Democrats’ strategy to beat him is proving more and more delusional. Axios reports that the Biden campaign is hoping to rely on voter concerns about Donald Trump’s character, democracy, and the January 6 assault on the US Capitol in 2021, where pro-Trump supporters rioted and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. While polls have indicated voters are “deeply concerned about democracy”, voters are overwhelmingly more focused on inflation and the economy, not to mention Biden’s blatant support for the Israeli regime’s genocidal war and the $175 billion he’s sent to Ukraine – an amount that could have funded the development of over 750,000 affordable housing units instead of tanks and bomber jets.

We need a new party for working people, not the capitalists’ cronies

Many progressive working people cast their votes for Biden in 2020 because, compared to Trump, he was the lesser of two evils. But with the price of everyday necessities rising, along with the death toll in Gaza, Joe Biden and his cronies have laid bare the truth of the Democratic Party: like the Republicans, they are just another party of war and capital. Unlike the Republicans, they try to pretend otherwise by co-opting workers’ movements, Tweeting their support for things they’ll never pass into law, and rubbing elbows with some of the top union officials in America. 

Voters have already begun registering their disapproval of Biden’s warmongering, with over half a million voters casting Democratic primary votes for “Uncommitted,” “Uninstructed,” and “No Preference” ballot options. There is also a developing movement to march on the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where members of the US section of Socialist Alternative will be joining working class people from across the country in the streets not only to protest Biden and the rest of the warmongering Democrats, but also to show the working people in struggle that, as a collective mass, we have power – and that power can and should be used to break once and for all from the Democrats.

But Trump and the Republicans are not the answer, either. Instead of pointing to the capitalist system as the cause of Americans’ woes, they point towards immigrants and trans people as scapegoats. Trump’s promises on the campaign trail have included attacks on transgender rights, environmental regulations, and workers’ rights. His platform on immigrants is draconian, promising mass deportations, the end of birthright citizenship, barring all refugees, and more. A second Trump presidency would be a disaster for working-class people, and in many respects more immediately destructive than Biden – but due to the lack of a viable left-wing alternative like an independent workers’ party, Trump feels like the only option against Biden for many voters. 

There are independent left anti-war candidates in the presidential race, like the Green Party’s Jill Stein and independent candidate Cornel West – but neither campaign has managed to capture the attention of the broader working masses, and at the moment neither the Green Party nor West’s Justice for All Party are seen by the majority of the American working class as viable electoral vehicles to fight for and win the things that working people need. While anger and disillusionment at the two parties is greater than any other time in recent history, the reality is that many American voters, especially young people, simply won’t turn up to vote in November because they don’t see the point. 

It’s not that elections can’t be exciting and galvanising — just look back at the millions brought into action by Bernie Sanders’ electric Democratic Socialist campaigns for president in 2016 and 2020. But the key component of Sanders’ campaign was his clear working class program: he put workers’ demands front and center by calling for Medicare for All and stating plainly that billionaires should not exist. Working class candidates fighting for working class demands, with a mass movement to back them up, are candidates that voters would run to the ballot box for. But in an election year with two corporate candidates — who are the oldest people to ever run for President — and independent challengers that have struggled to gain widespread support, especially while wrestling the weight of the Democratic establishment, not many people are excited, or compelled, to cast a ballot this November. 

This is why workers, young people, trade unions, and other mass movements of the working class must urgently band together and begin laying the groundwork for a new electoral party, independent of the Democrats, Republicans, and big business. This new workers party would depend on its ability to mobilise working people for its political power, not alliances with the bosses. Such a new party would also include democratic structures to ensure concerns from working class people took the fore and that elected officials were held accountable to the expectations placed on them. Elected representatives would be required to fight for an explicitly pro-worker platform, and elected political and union officials would be mandated to only take home the average worker’s wage (with the rest donated to the workers’ movement) so as to not lose touch with the struggle of their fellow workers. 

In order to lay the groundwork for this party, though, workers across the country need to see that there is a shared hunger for one. This is why Socialist Alternative in the US is calling for every registered voter who voted “Uncommitted” or simply sat out in the primaries to cast a protest vote against Joe Biden and Donald Trump by voting for the strongest anti-war candidate on their state’s ballot – though this by nature precludes states where no left candidate appears on the ballot. We must recognise that while this won’t get a left candidate elected to President this year, the numbers of that protest vote will show working and young people that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans just like them who are sick of the status quo and ready to build a workers’ alternative. 

Working people having their own electoral arm and elected representatives is the only way we can stop the never ending cycle of “lesser-evil” matchups like Trump vs. Biden, and it will bring us one step closer to the working class growing their power in the US and recognising that we as workers can build a viable alternative. Because we don’t just need an alternative to the toxic two-party system – we need an alternative, a socialist alternative, to the capitalist system itself.

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