Whatever happened to the Biden honeymoon?
This article first appeared in Socialist Alternative’s monthly paper on 1 December
Millions of Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Trump finally left the White House earlier this year. Many hoped the presidency of Joe Biden could tackle the multiple crises facing working people and leave behind the horrors of the Trump era.
Now, less than a year into Biden’s presidency, problems are mounting. It’s clear that the roots of the economic, social and political turmoil that plagues the US go much deeper than Trump but spring from a decaying capitalist system – a system that Biden himself loyally defends.
New Cold War
Biden made big promises to overcome divisions in a deeply unstable world. However, in attempting to reassert US dominance against the growing power and influence of Chinese imperialism, Biden’s foreign policy differs more in style than substance from that of Trump.
Tensions continue to rise between the two great powers on a number of fronts. Despite Biden’s ostensible commitment to diplomacy, multilateralism and human rights, the world has only become more volatile since he took office. His recent comments that the US would commit to militarily defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack represent a decisive heating up of the conflict that shows no signs of dissipating.
Likewise, any hopes of lasting stability at home have been dashed. Despite some economic recovery, many workers have not felt the benefits. Inflation that eats away at wages and brutal working conditions have triggered a wave of labour militancy deemed ‘Striketober.’ Tens of thousands of workers across the US have been involved in industrial action: From nurses in Massachusetts to miners in Alabama, food processing workers at Kelloggs to heavy machinery manufacturers at John Deere.
Clearly there is a renewed confidence to struggle amongst key sections of the working class. Unfortunately, with Bernie Sanders, AOC and ‘the Squad’ toeing the line of the Biden administration, workers lack genuine political representation. Discontent with the status quo risks being squandered, or worse, harvested by the right-wing populists.
Threat of the far right
Trump himself may be banned from social media, but the Republican Party is now wholly dominated by his followers, while it continues to move rightwards, whipping up racism, sexism and conspiracy theories. The danger posed by the right can be seen here and now with the draconian Texas abortion ban. As long as the same conditions that gave rise to Trump remain intact, the forces of reaction are poised to grow.
However, this is not a foregone conclusion. The radicalisation of millions of workers and young people expressed in the abortion ban protests, Striketober and the growth of the socialist movement shows the potential that exists to organize a fightback.
Of course, this will never come from Biden nor the pro-capitalist Democratic Party. A new left party must be built, free from the grip of Wall Street and capable of uniting the various struggles of the working class and the poor with a programme that properly fights for their interests.
While we should of course not underestimate the polarization that exists in US society, as socialists we know that through joint struggle, in workplaces and communities, poor and working people have enormous power to overcome these divisions and transform society.
Image credit: DonkeyHotey, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons