From the January-February 2018 issue of News & Letters
In December Black voters in Alabama, led by Black women, overcame blatant voter suppression—including discriminatory voter ID laws—to flood the polls and block Roy Moore from the Senate seat he expected that God would anoint him to. Black people in Alabama saw clearly the threat of Moore long before women came forward to expose him as a pedophile, and before his campaign speech that championed the supposed superior family values under slavery. They voted instead, as did many whites, for the candidate who distinguished himself from Moore by supporting women’s right to choose and is known for jailing the man who in 1963 murdered four little girls by bombing a Birmingham church.
HISTORY OF PROGRESSIVE BLACK VOTES
Blacks have historically used the ballot to defend themselves against blatant repression. In 1961 Black people in
Detroit, although just 25% of the electorate (about the same as the Black vote in Alabama today) defeated powerful Mayor Louis Miriani, who had instituted a lawless police reign of terror throughout the Black community. In Chicago, State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan was denied reelection after he authorized the armed attack on the Black Panther Party in 1969 during which Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated by a hail of nearly 100 bullets.
Moore’s defeat by Blacks he so despised provides a road map for confronting the ambitions of Donald Trump for unfettered power. Some people, despairing of mustering opposition to Trump, have rested their hopes on questionable scenarios, whether counting on the few Republican Senators who have criticized Trump to vote down his wish list of reactionary bills, relying on the courts to contain him, or awaiting Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a white knight to save us all, when we already have ample evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia and his role as a stooge of Vladimir Putin.
REPUBLICANS MIRED IN RACISM
Trump proved his control of the Republican Party when no Republican Senator dared vote against the deeply unpopular upward redistribution of wealth that he called a tax cut bill. Even had Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not blocked Doug Jones from taking his seat, they had every Republican vote to guarantee passage.
Senators’ collusion with Trump was underlined when they lied away his well-documented racist “shithole countries” outburst. Trump has undercut any restraints on the courts supporting his agenda by pushing Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court and packing the lower courts with over 100 appointments into vacancies created by Republican obstruction during Barack Obama’s presidency.
The most dangerous blind alley for Trump’s self-described opponents to get caught in is accepting his ground and blaming Hillary Clinton or the Democrats or socialists or whoever the target is for not appealing enough to the white working class. These opportunists are ignoring easily unearthed facts about the 2016 election, not merely voter suppression but the correlation of higher income with a higher vote margin for Trump and the strong rejection of Trump by union members, despite the inroads he made among workers who had voted previously for Obama.
‘BLACK MASSES AS VANGUARD’
But there is no chance of envisioning workers’ solidarity if we swallow the fiction that the white working class is reactionary. As American Civilization on Trial: Black Masses as Vanguard demonstrates, despite periods when capitalists are able to stay entrenched by pitting white workers against Blacks or against more recent immigrants, workers’ gains and the hope for revolution come at critical moments when white workers identify their own struggles with the ongoing struggles of oppressed minorities.
The right wing has done its best to tar Black Lives Matter, founded by Black women, as a terrorist group because it fears the movement against police killing of young Blacks that it inspired. The mass movement of Blacks that the Alabama election hints at, that is equally inspired by Black women, indicates the path needed to extricate us from this stench of Trumpism that eats away even at those attempting to oppose Trump.