On Monday, January 15, the Republican Party began its 2024 primary race with the traditional first caucuses in Iowa. The result was a landslide victory for Donald Trump, indicating his likely nomination as the Republican candidate in the US presidential election this fall. Now, the country freezes over as Americans everywhere prepare themselves for a gruesome political campaigning season, currently set to repeat the contested Trump-Biden matchup of 2020.
Even outside Iowa, Trump leads by a mile, with a margin of 50% or more over his peers. The former president’s popularity is coalescing once more, despite, or perhaps because of, his reactionary rhetoric. We can find this rhetoric in his recent statement that illegal immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” an almost literal Nazi “blood and soil” comment, yet one that 81% of Republican primary voters and 47% of all voters seem to agree with. The Republicans, at a crossroads, seek to either remake themselves as the party of Donald Trump or maintain its status as the same party of milquetoast conservatism. The preceding facts, alongside the withdrawal of the two more “moderate” leading candidates—Mike Pence in October and Chris Christie on January 10—signal the former as the most likely outcome.
Trump’s formidable lead against his remaining opponents—Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy—seems impossible to overcome. His decision to not even appear in primary debates, instead holding interviews and town halls with only himself in attendance, has led many to consider the remaining candidates as mere vice presidential nominees. However, this year’s primary season kicks off as Trump faces four criminal legal challenges in connection to the January 6 insurrection and allegations of financial fraud. Moreover, his recent removal from the primary ballots in Colorado and Maine sets up a further challenge in the Supreme Court that could determine the fate both of Trump in the primaries and of the Republican Party in the general election.
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, hopes to maintain its modest gains from the 2022 midterm elections, when the expected Republican “Red Wave” failed to materialize. However, Biden hasn’t done much to win over voters, opting instead to prove himself as a pliable tool for capital. Despite their nominal “pro-worker” stance, the Biden administration’s support for yellow unionism over the past few years, their continued support for Israel’s ongoing genocide in Palestine, and the recent strikes against Yemen’s Houthi rebels all serve to remind Americans that the business of the US has only ever been the business of capital—wage slavery, war, and genocide. Yet anyone who merely points out this discrepancy is accused of supporting the “greater evil” in the guise of Trump.
At the same time, as dissatisfaction with the “two-party” system grows, political opportunists have begun making their case for political power. Within this milieu, presidential hopefuls Robert F Kennedy Jr and Cornell West have latched on to the growing dissatisfaction, hoping to find their niche. On the one hand, RFK enjoys some support due to his namesake and opposition to vaccines, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine. He initially ran under the Democratic ticket before leaving to be an independent, having successfully drawn voters from sections of both Democratic and Republican blocs. RFK currently polls at minimal but not insignificant levels, setting up a possible repeat of Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign. On the other hand, Cornell West, the self-styled “non-Marxian socialist,” appeals to a more “left” audience, having previously attempted to run under Green Party and People’s Party tickets before deciding to run independently. Unfortunately, a few “communist” organizations have, and continue to, support West’s campaign, whose Christian outlook and disdain for genuine, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism is apparent to anyone able to see through the lies of opportunistic hucksters.
We thus have, on the one hand, a Republican Party in which reaction is on the rise and, on the other hand, a Democratic Party that favors imperialism and warmongers over the workers in every dispute. Yet neither of these parties offer a meaningful alternative to capitalism or even reaction, nor do any “independent” candidates, for all of them have proven to be ultimately subservient to bourgeois interests. This situation is not unique to the US, however, but rather a repeat of a phenomenon that has been occurring in bourgeois parties throughout the world for at least a decade now. Whether it’s Donald Trump in America, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, or Javier Milei in Argentina, reactionary and populist forces have been on the rise in tandem with a degeneration of the traditional social-democratic or otherwise class-collaborationist parties. What is the source of all this?
As Marxist-Leninists, we understand that political changes always reflect economic changes. In the imperialist stage of capitalism, the falling rate of profit forces capitalists into increasingly desperate measures to maintain their capital. But they can’t justify these measures—the dismantling of workers’ benefits and the fomentation of war with foreign states—through the lens of class-collaborationist liberalism or “leftism.” Only a reactionary lens can trick workers into supporting an open class war on themselves. Thus, in the present era of economic collapse, reactionary politicians are uplifted, while the old social democracy is left to manage society in the interim.
For communists, this political campaign season thus presents an opportunity to agitate and organize. Workers across the US are slowly but surely recognizing that no Democrat or Republican will be riding in on a white horse to save them from their suffering. They are beginning to understand that it is their class above all that unites them and that the major political parties of today, even the self-styled independents and “leftists,” offer nothing but continued wage slavery and economic exploitation.
While the bourgeois parties squabble amongst themselves, the fact remains that our deplorable political and economic situation can only be solved by a Marxist-Leninist party, one that the Communist Workers’ Platform strives to create. Now is the time for the American communist movement to separate more of the bourgeois chaff from the wheat of genuine revolutionaries. Only a party of, by, and for the working class can liberate the workers of the world.