The recent political events of state courts in Colorado and Maine barring Donald Trump from running in the 2024 election should be of intense interest to Communists in the USA. While center-left “progressives” and those who tail the Democrats applaud this decision by the state courts, this is not a beneficial development for anti-imperialists or for all Americans who value our civil liberties. In the United States since the period of McCarthyism and the Cold War, the civil liberties of the American people have been on a precipitous decline. From the Smith Act, the construction of an anti-communist deep state through the FBI, the Patriot Act, and other transgressions on the liberty of the American working class, bourgeois democracy is waning in the United States.
Since its revolutionary beginning, our country has always been a limited bourgeois democracy, even though the revolution represented the first of its kind. From American chattel slavery to the limitations on voting, to the Electoral College, the Supreme Court’s power post-Marbury vs Madison, and the existence of a bi-cameral legislative branch, these institutions were intentionally constructed by the land-owning and wealthy in the new Republic to restrict the power of the American yeoman farmer, smallholder, petty bourgeoise, and the nascent American proletariat--in sum, the majoritarian power of the working class. Throughout the 19th century to the present day, the American people have constantly waged a revolutionary struggle to expand upon bourgeois democratic rights and the power of the working class.
From the struggle for universal suffrage without the precondition of property, to the abolitionist movement, the revolutionary uprisings such as Nat Turner's slave rebellion, Harpers Ferry, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War against the reactionary Confederacy, the land reform and revolution of reconstruction, to the labor movement, socialist movement, the anti-fascist war of 1941-1945 and the Civil Rights Movement. The American people have a revolutionary tradition to be proud of which will form the basis for future progressive aspirations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness via a people's government and working-class power. With this context, it is important for Communists in America, to recognize and actively struggle against the regressing political situation in the United States.
It is a basic democratic right that all Americans of a certain age and meeting citizenship requirements may run for elected office. But this basic freedom is presently under attack, as it was in the past. In the 1860 Election, Lincoln was arbitrarily and unconstitutionally barred from the ballot in almost the entire South. This was due to Lincoln’s refusal to countenance the cannibalistic expansion of American slavery, for this, the 1860 election was thoroughly rigged against the progressive Lincoln. Despite, this Lincoln was victorious in 1860 and would manage to lead the United States and a grand anti-slavery coalition in the turbulent years of the American Civil War.
Another example of this utter lack of regard for upholding even the appearance of bourgeois democracy was when southern states barred Communist Party leader William Z. Foster from ballots during his 1932 presidential run. The American Communist Party was the only political party at this time with a thoroughly anti-racist, anti-Jim Crow platform. For this, southern states barred him from the ballot, fearing an outpour of support for William Z. Foster and an open opponent of Jim Crow. William Z. Foster suffered horrific treatment during this campaign, being arrested at every train stop, enduring torture by local police and interrogation, and eventually having a nervous breakdown.
Entering 2024, the attempts of multiple states to obstruct Donald Trump from the ballot is not only wrong but is a dangerous precedent, despite the present glee on the so-called “left.” Firstly, Trump was never charged, let alone convicted, of insurrection, and therefore under the 14th Amendment, as an American citizen he is allowed to run for office. Whatever mainstream liberal media might proclaim, the January 6th riot cannot plausibly be described as a coup or insurrection. These require the support of armed forces the military, bloodshed, and a serious threat to the existing power of the state. None of these were present on January 6th, 2020. The real power in the United States does not lay in Congress, but rather in the Hamptons, the Pentagon, the FBI headquarters in DC, and CIA headquarters in Langley. We Communists understand that the state and its armed forces are the real power, not constitutional bodies.
There was no serious threat to the American government that day, but rather an immense embarrassment which has weakened the American Empire. There is evidence of FBI and Capitol police complicity in the riot, but this was not enough to seize state power or change the underlying power of US politics. Communists must be wary of the hysteria generated by liberals and neocons alike over this event, as this scare has been used to pass new laws, create a new police force, and further weaken the civil liberties of the American people and our access to the supposed “people's house.” Communists do not and should not care whether right-wingers farted in Nancy Pelosi’s chair or mocked the symbol of US imperialism, war, and destruction abroad.
Just as Donald Trump is being banned from state ballots, as demonstrated by history, true progressives and Communists have repeatedly been subjected to the same tactics. For too long in US politics, many ostensive American Communists have simply tailed the Democratic Party. During the Cold War, lending our support may have been the correct position, given the dangers of escalation and the warmongering anti-communism of Republicans. However, the Democratic Party of the 1970s and early 80s is NOT the Democratic Party of today. In recent decades, the Democrats have moved fully to the right on foreign policy and economics. The party has emerged as the more effective evil and purveyor of US imperialism. Communists must therefore hold an political line independent of the two bourgeois parties, maneuvering to attract disaffected, populist, working-class members, and eventual voters. American Communists do not benefit from the removal of any candidate from the ballot, as this maneuver would not end with Trump. If this dangerous precedent is set, the ruling class would have a new weapon with which to remove any and all anti-establishment electoral candidates.
This article was produced by The Revolution Report.