The election shows that anti-elitism has been captured by the right. It’s time for progressives to end the “ceasefire”, and fight the enormous pressure that will be exerted to make the Biden administration “get along” with a Republican controlled Senate. Progressives must fight anti-Trump neocons pushing Democrats further right, says Gerald Horne on theAnalysis.news podcast with Paul Jay.
Hi, I’m Paul Jay, and welcome to theAnalysis.news podcast, and please don’t forget the donate button at the top of the webpage.
As we record this podcast, it looks like once the mail-in vote is all counted, Joe Biden will be president of the United States, and the Senate will remain in Republican control. So what happened to the Biden landslide many thought would take place after Trump’s pandemic denial? Bernie Sanders had been pleading with Biden to pay more attention to his economic message;
Jobs and infrastructure spending. In Pennsylvania, Biden didn’t hammer a just transition and jobs for displaced workers in the fossil fuel industry. He mentioned it, but he didn’t hammer it, didn’t make any commitments. Sanders wanted AOC featured more prominently in the campaign to energize the youth and Latino vote. That didn’t happen either. It looks like, as I said, Biden will be president with a Republican Senate, and that’s just as it’s been reported, Wall Street wanted. Trump is already calling the election stolen, and calling on the Supreme Court to stop the voting where he’s ahead, and continue counting where he’s behind.
The man is batshit crazy, but so is the American political system. A fundamentally undemocratic system, where the majority doesn’t rule, is breaking at the seams. Now, joining us to break this down is Gerald Horne. He’s the historian who holds the John Jay and Rebecca Morris Chair of History and African-American studies at the University of Houston. Thanks for joining us again, Gerald.
Thank you for inviting me.
So what’s your take on this moment we’re in? Just to add one thing, as we’re talking, it’s been announced Trump is going to call for a recount in Wisconsin, but according to the pundits and news analysts and so, that’s unlikely to change the outcome.
So just to add that piece of news.
Well, I think, or I’m tempted to say, that Mr. Trump will need a consistent narrative. I think that it’s wildly inconsistent to ask for the votes to stop in jurisdictions where he’s ahead.
Well, there is a certain consistency for Trump by Trumpist logic.
Well, I guess so. But remember, I said I was tempted to say, but then I started thinking of the 20,000 lies he’s told the 189 lies he told on one day in August 2020. So I guess that really doesn’t matter to his constituency. With regard to the November 3rd election, I think it’s a mixed bag, although I have to confess that I’m generally disappointed with the results, although I must say that I may have been misled by many others, by the pollsters, who I think we really have to start disregarding. They misled us in 2016. I think they misled us again in 2020, and I don’t think they have any more credibility than witchdoctors or shamans. And this is quite disappointing because people make political analysis and political maneuvers based upon polls. Recall that when Jim Comey, in 2016 October, decided to reopen the question of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the FBI, he did it on the basis that he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.
But, of course, he was wrong, or perhaps he misjudged the situation.
I think the fact that the Republicans made headway in the House is quite disappointing. The Senate right now is tied, and depending on the Thom Tillis race in North Carolina, the Susan Collins race in Maine in particular, it’s likely as we speak, as you noted, that the Republicans will maintain control of the Senate. A Barry Diller, the digital mogul, has already said that that’s good news for the investor class because it will probably forestall the ability of the left-wing in Congress to make any maneuvers concerning student loan forgiveness or even raising taxes sharply on the one percent.
So this is the state of play as we speak.
So the only gambit Trump seems to have left, and it’s certainly one he’s hoping for, is the Supreme Court, which is they’ll launch a whack of legal cases, and they’re going to try to challenge votes, and they’re just hoping that the Supreme Court will come down on their side. How likely is it that, you know, these states, or most of these states that Biden is leading in, they actually certify the elections, and that the Supreme Court would undo that? I actually think it’s kind of unlikely that they would. But what do you think?
I would like to think it’s unlikely. But then again, I’m the person who thought it was unlikely that they’d make a decision in Bush versus Gore, which did an end-run around the Constitution, which had particular specific provisions as to how to handle that kind of dispute. Now, supposedly, Bush versus Gore in 2000 was a one-way ticket, only good for that particular ride, that is to say, Mr. Bush versus Mr. Gore. But you could see that the principle of Bush versus Gore, that there should be equal protection in terms of the counting of votes, and that if you can say in Florida, if winning one county recounts the votes this way and another county recounts the votes that way, and that’s a discrepancy, and therefore, there should be equal protection to protect the interests of the Republicans, you could see how they could easily apply that principle once again, even though I think that it would cause a major firestorm, and even though I think that it would further dent the already tattered legitimacy of the high court. I think one of the problems with the Supreme Court is that we already know, unless you’re a naif, that they’re are basically politicos in black robes, that they’re basically partisans.
But the good news is that they’re not necessarily experienced politicos. They don’t necessarily know which way the political winds are blowing. And in any case, I think that they can seriously overreach, which then could give impetus to this already brewing notion in the Democratic Party that either the high court numbers should be expanded from 9 to 11 to 13 or whatever, or that jurisdiction over certain issues should be stripped from the Supreme Court, for example, reproductive rights, or voting rights, perhaps tax legislation, etc.
So I would urge and caution those in the U.S. Supreme Court who listen to the Analysis…
Which I’m sure is most of them.
Right, to tread very carefully because this could really blow up in their face.
Well, I think that’s probably what Roberts is going to have front of mind, and he’s been showing that. His own credibility and the credibility of the Supreme Court seems to really matter to him. I’m not so sure that’s true for the other, I don’t even like using this word, conservatives. It sounds like a more reasonable position. I think what you’re saying that the right-wingers on the court are politicos. The what’s left of the liberals may be a little less so, but still as well.
But Roberts seems like he would not like his court to go down in history as participating in what amounts to, if they did it, a judicial coup. Although Florida in 2000, more or less was that.
But that said, then, what are we looking at here?
If things continue the way they are, and it’s a Biden presidency, Republican Senate, essentially Republican-controlled Supreme Court, what can Biden do in terms of legislation? And it seems to me this is going to bring out the worst of him.
If there was ever a chance of progressives having some influence on that administration, that’s unlikely given that he’s going to do all this reaching across the aisle and negotiating.
Well, I think you have a point, but Mr. Trump has shown, and Mr. Obama before him, that an executive order can be quite potent. Now, we already know that if there is a next administration in 2024, that they can reverse these executive orders, just like Mr. Biden, I’m sure, will reverse a number of the executive orders of Mr. Trump, but still, there is a lot can be done in that realm. Secondly, we already know that today is the day the United States supposedly is to officially withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
I take it that a top and easy priority of Mr. Biden would be to re-enter the Paris climate accord as of January, February 2021.
But I think that the wild card, I’m afraid to say, with regard to a Bidon-Harris administration is the family of Mr. Biden. Not only Hunter Biden, his ethically challenged son, but also his brother, his sister, somehow they think that they should profit from the Biden name, which makes them easy marks for the investor class, not only here but abroad, and also raises the specter of another kind of Neil Bush, the younger brother of George W. Bush, who tried to trade on the family name, or Billy Carter, the younger brother of Jimmy Carter, who tried to trade on the family name. So I would urge and caution the Biden’s to tread very carefully because they’re going to be watched like hawks, and I think that many in the mainstream press who, for whatever reason, decided to downplay the story of the found laptop of Hunter Biden, and his dealings in Ukraine, and elsewhere, and China, and other foreign climes, they might not be so forgiving in 2021-2022. And so Mr. Biden early on could find himself quite weakened, not because of what he has necessarily done, but because of what his family members have done.
How do you explain that the vote is so close, given Trump’s record, given especially the pandemic, and it’s beyond his failure as a deliberate and conscious pandemic denial? How do you explain that this election was even close?
Well, that’s the 64-dollar question, is it not? And I must say that as a historian, my first instinct is to look into the past, to try to figure out what’s going on in the present, and my estimation is, that the United States was founded as a settler-colonial regime where there was class collaboration across class lines, that is to say, between poorer and richer Europeans, and there was a bounty at the end of the rainbow for poorer Europeans if they exercised a little pluck and had a lot of luck, they could claim land of Native Americans, have it stocked by Africans. And if you look throughout U.S. history, you’ll see that class collaboration has been a major theme, except in those unique periods like the Great Depression of the 1930s, when similarly, there was this socialist project that seemed to be rising, and the United States regime felt it had to keep labor unions and the working class in line.
But even then, if you’ll recall, the New Deal basically excluded a number of black workers because of objections from FDR’s own Democratic Party.
And so it seems to me that one way to view this vote in favor of the Republican Party, particularly in favor of Mr. Trump, and I think when the numbers are run, they’ll probably show that Mr. Trump won a majority of the vote that’s defined as white, that he even probably won a majority of the women’s vote that’s defined as white.
And I think part of that stems not only from this idea of class collaboration, but the related idea that there is a declining power of the so-called white majority, that if they do not take extreme action, this is a Flight 93 election. As Michael Anton, the former Trump regime official, wrote in a famous essay, recall, Flight 93 was the plane that was supposed to be part of 9/11, where the passengers heard about the crash in New York, and Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and then rushed the cockpit.
And so the idea is, is that it’s time for the Trump base to rush the cockpit and by any means necessary to try to cling to power. That runs the danger that’s already with us, that the United States may be heading towards an apartheid society, where the minority rules over a majority that’s not defined as white. Already you see signs of that with regard to these Supreme Court appointments, where senators who represent a distinct minority of the US population from states like Wyoming, and Idaho, and the Dakotas, and Montana, basically get to pick justices for the high court who then shape the law, and voting rights, reproductive rights, and all the rest. And so the United States needs to tread very carefully at this moment. And I would say, particularly those who may wind up being the first victims of this new apartheid society need to keep a close and careful eye on these trends.
The polling, as you said, misled people, and I think maybe the people it misled the most in some ways was the Biden campaign, because I don’t know how else to explain how they thought it was enough to essentially let Trump implode, and they thought the polling was showing that, and not put forward a real vision to fight for. I saw a strange report on the morning of November 3rd that Chuck Schumer, the head of the senior senators for the Democrats, actually started saying that he wants Biden, and he’s going to work with Biden on trying to have 100 first days that is like FDR’s, and not just in terms of number of pieces of legislation that get passed, but in terms of a massive infrastructure and work program. And I mean, he started talking FDRish, Chuck Schumer.
And, you know, my thought was, well, why the hell are you saying that on the morning of November 3rd, you know? Where has that campaign been? As I said in the introduction, Sanders was pleading with that. I interviewed Bob Pollin a couple of days ago on climate issues and such, and the fact that at the very end of the last debate, Biden for the first time actually talks about phasing out fossil fuel, but doesn’t hammer this issue that it needs to be a just transition, that the whole society benefited, quote-unquote, from fossil fuel, so the whole society has to pay the price for transitioning. It can’t just be workers in the fossil fuel industry. It’s such an obvious argument to make, but they didn’t make that. And it’s like they just thought they needed to stay in neutral as much as they could and let Trump collapse.
But just once again, it proves how out of touch the corporate Democratic elites are with these large sections of the working class. And I have to say even, sections of the white working-class that voted for Obama in 2008.
And, you know, no doubt the ideology of white supremacy affects everybody who’s white. A lot of white workers did vote for Obama, and those workers, it seems once again, went Trump.
Well, first of all, with regard to Mr. Biden, it’s well known that he doesn’t have the gift of gab, and so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that in the debate he was not able to articulate a concept of a just transition. I mean, one basically holds one’s breath whenever he opens his mouth because you never know what’s going to come out.
Secondly, with regard to the campaign itself, even the mainstream press in a number of articles, if you go back and look, beginning after he clinched the nomination, raised questions about this “campaigning from his basement,” reminded me of what happened about a century ago with Warren Harding campaigning from his front porch in Ohio. At the same time, Mr. Trump threw caution to the winds, and also apparently threw to the winds the health of many of his supporters. It seemed that he was a politician in the strange position of being involved in murdering many of his potential voters by having these mask-less rallies with people sitting shoulder to shoulder.
A Stanford study suggested that hundreds may have either been infected or passed away as a result of going to a Trump rally. And in any case, once again, back to Mr. Biden, there have been grumblings and rumblings from his black staff, they have suggested that his inner circle is not sufficiently integrated racially, which is quite curious because we all know that would help to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. Earlier this year was the South Carolina primary where black voters basically rescued him from what seemed to be certain defeat. And I’m not sure if that was a wise move by these voters, but certainly, that’s the situation, that’s the fact of the matter. So in any case, I think that all of this suggests that we would be remiss if we only executed one half of the task, which was dump Trump, and then failed on the second half, which is Battle Biden.
In fact, I think that it would be quite wise for central labor councils, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to begin a discussion about a possible march on Washington in the spring of 2021, with the major agenda item being labor law reform to make it easier to organize unions, which at the same time would lead to strengthened treasuries of these unions, which in turn would allow them to engage in the kind of labor education that’s so desperately needed.
For example, exit polls in Ohio suggested that union members in Ohio voted in the majority for the Republicans and for Mr. Trump. We already know that non-union members of the working class oftentimes tend to lean Republican. We know that with regard to craft unions, there’s significant Republican Party support. With regard to the building trades, it’s well known that the same holds true there. And indeed, we’re marking the 50th anniversary of the so-called hard hat demonstration in lower Manhattan, when thousands of construction workers attacked violently and physically anti-war demonstrators in an orgy of bloodletting, to the dismay, needless to say, of many of these anti-war protesters. So we have a lot of work to do in this country, and certainly battling Biden, assuming that he’s able to prevail, should be agenda item number one for the union leaders and numbers.
I fully agree. What do you make of reports that Trump had a certain amount of support amongst black men, particularly younger black men? Is there any truth to that?
Well, I’m of two minds about that. Number one, some of it’s anecdotal. I mean, it’s based upon, you know, Kanye West, and Ice Cube, and Lil Wayne, and the rapper 50 Cent, who already said that he thought that Biden’s plans might lead to his being renamed 20 Cent, because he saw those tax plans as being confiscatory.
And there is some preliminary data that suggests that Mr. Trump did make inroads amongst young black men in particular.
However, what we’re talking about is that perhaps 15% of the black community voted GOP, 85% did not.
And if we could say that, say, Latinx men voted against Trump, 85 to 15, or Native American men, or Asian-American men, or heaven forfend Euro-American men, we would be in a different country and a different world.
But at the same time as I make that statement, I have to say, that I don’t think that the patience, and the fortitude, and the perseverance of the black community is infinite. That if many perceive that the country is heading towards the neo-fascism that they may decide to try to cut a deal, to back the winning horse, as Osama bin Laden supporters said before 2001. And it also reminds me of a book I wrote on Lawrence Dennis, who was a light-skinned Negro who passed and became an intellectual leader of US fascism in the 1930s and the 1940s, met with Mussolini and Hitler, and was slated to rule the United States if World War Two had gone in another direction.
So in some ways, this is a message to many of our progressive comrades and friends that we really need to get on the stick because we cannot assume that this 85-90% vote of the black community against the right will proceed and carry on indefinitely, ad infinitum.
Yeah, I think that’s a very important point. When I was living in Baltimore, I went to a black-owned/run barbershop, and in the seat next to me, a young guy came in to get his haircut. And so I asked him, you know, what do you think? This is, you know, back in the last election, and he was talking very favorably about Trump. He must have been about 20-21 young black kid.
And the barber just goes off on him, “how can you be so stupid?” And so I asked him, well, what is it about Trump? And the guy didn’t really know much about the policy differences, wasn’t political, as much of the younger generation is in the entire working class. You know, most people don’t live and breathe politics. Quite the contrary. They go through their whole lives and barely think about it, and most don’t even watch the news, and if they do, many, certainly in the white working class, are watching FOX. He just liked the fact that Trump was disruptive. This kid, he just liked the fact that he was against government. It was all kind of superficial, but it was all based on this basic idea that at least Trump seemed like somebody who was against the status quo, and that was good enough for him.
And I got a feeling that’s not just true for young black kids. It’s true for a lot of the white working-class that voted for Trump. They’re just fed up. And at least Trump seems like a disruptor of some kind. You know, there’s nothing Trump’s done that’s made their lives better over the last four years.
Well, anti-elite sentiment has been, ironically, a cardinal feature of U.S. history. The problem is that once again, the objection, for example, to the neo-liberal policies of the Democratic Party does not necessarily translate into moving to the left. Oftentimes, it winds up in supporting the neo-fascism of the Republican Party or the QAnon, this wild, wacky conspiracy theory that’s going to be represented in Congress in January 2021. And if you look, for example, at the U.S. civil war, as is well known, even though it was a war to maintain slavery, most of the Euro-Americans who were fighting for the Confederacy were not slave owners.
They were, of course, involved in-class collaboration, but also were rebelling against a certain kind of perceived elitism coming out of Washington. And so this is a very troubling trend, and it reflects the fact that for whatever reason, we on the left have not been able to build a fortified model, not to mention a fortified political party, that can attract those kinds of disaffected, alienated voters.
And once again, to the extent that we’re not able to do so, I think that many of us, including myself I’m afraid to say, will pay a very stiff and heavy price.
A lot of the Sanders supporters are going to say, as they had been saying, that Sanders could speak to those sections of the working class, whereas a Biden couldn’t. Do you think that’s true?
I think it’s possible. I think that once again, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I endorse Sanders, and so therefore might be perceived as not being necessarily objective, but I do think that it could have introduced a different dynamic, and that it might have led to a sharpened debate about socialism, which could have helped the Democrats in South Florida, where the banging on about socialist Cuba, and so-called socialist Venezuela obviously, paid dividends in terms of a sector and a segment of the Latino vote.
And, I think to go a step further, that I would urge and encourage our friends in the progressive left of the Democratic Party to end their ceasefire with regard to raising troubling questions about their moderate comrades. Because one of the dangers that I see taking place in the Democratic Party as we speak is that all of these Republicans that they were courting, such as John Kasich, the Republican governor, formerly Republican governor of Ohio, and all these never-Trumpers, George Will, the old-time popinjay who writes for The Washington Post, will flood into the Democratic Party, and then push the party to the right.
And unless the left is ready for that, we’ll be more behind the blackball tomorrow than we are today.
All right, thanks for joining us, Gerald.
And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news podcast. And once again, please, if you haven’t donated, please click the donate button. If you have donated, maybe you want to donate again. Thanks again.