By Abayomi Azikiwe
Stewart Rhodes, the national leader of the far-right Oath Keepers, along with his Florida chapter chief, Kelly Meggs, were both convicted of seditious conspiracy on November 29 in connection with the attempted neo-fascist coup on January 6, 2021 at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Many publications echoed the sentiments of several Democratic Party political officials and pundits who expressed satisfaction that Rhodes and his comrades were convicted for their roles in the planning and incitement of a mob which attacked both chambers of Congress with the explicit intent of preventing the certification of the national presidential election results.
Other members of the organization were convicted as well on lesser charges. In December four more members of the Oath Keepers will stand trial in connection with the January 6 attacks.
However, up until this time no high-level Republican office holders such as the leading contender for the Speaker of the House, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California, who objectively supported the groups such as the Oath Keepers, have been indicted. Even after the violence of January 6, the Congress was able to later convene to vote in favor of accepting the ballot returns that placed President Joe Biden in the White House.
Despite the events of that fateful day, 147 Republicans, 8 in the Senate and 139 members of the House of Representatives, voted against certifying the election results. Yet none of these political officials have been censured or sanctioned by any branch of the United States government. Ironically, McCarthy and other right-wing politicians are in a position to take control of the same House which was violently assaulted less than two years earlier by their political allies.
The January 6 Committee of the U.S. House co-chaired by Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), will be issuing its final report in December. Due to the Republican takeover of the House, the Committee will be disbanded. Cheney failed to regain her seat in Congress as a result of strong opposition to her participation in the investigation against former President Donald Trump. The Democrats have endorsed Hakim Jeffries of New York to be the next Minority Leader of the House.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith will keep some semblance of an investigation going in Washington D.C. Undoubtedly though, the Republican-dominated House, whether under the leadership of McCarthy or some other figure, will not pursue a further exposure of the Trump administration and its role in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 elections.
Thompson and Cheney issued a statement in response to the verdicts against the Oath Keepers saying:
“Individuals involved now face the consequences of taking part in a scheme to undermine American democracy. It’s vital that there be accountability for every vile aspect of January 6th and the events that led to that day’s tragedy.”
Nonetheless, these same political elements are poised to take control of the House of Representatives. The failure of the attempted coup of January 6 does not mean that the threat of a neo-fascist seizure of political power in the U.S. is not achievable. A different set of circumstances involving the economic, security and military status of the country could very well bring about a consolidation of forces among the far right.
Three Gubernatorial Elections in the South Maintain Conservative Control
Races for governor in Florida, Texas and Georgia were instructive in analyzing the strength of the right-wing Republican electoral base. In all three states conservatives won re-election with fairly sizable margins in Florida and Texas.
In Georgia, former State Democratic House Leader Stacey Abrams challenged Brian Kemp for the second consecutive time. During 2018, the results were so close that Abrams was able to hold out for several months before suspending her campaign. Kemp was serving as Secretary of State while running for governor four years ago.
What was surprising was the outcome of the Georgia elections for governor in comparison to the senate race involving Republican Hershel Walker and Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. Kemp defeated Abrams by approximately 8 percentage points while Warnock won against Walker by a narrow margin. Since neither Warnock nor Walker had 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election was scheduled for December 6. Obviously, there was a gap in support from those who decided to vote for Warnock to maintain his Senate seat and not Abrams pursuing the governor’s office.
In 2020, the Georgia former Secretary of State, Governor Kemp, refused to rig the votes to provide Trump with a victory in the state. This was done despite the direct pressure exerted by Trump and his supporters.
In Florida, Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis, a staunch right-wing conservative, won reelection against his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former governor and member of the House of Representatives. DeSantis won by 19 percentage points and is considered a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
DeSantis harbors extreme political views and has encouraged measures imposed by the State Board of Education which in effect outlaw the teaching of African American and Latin American history and social affairs. During June 2022, the Florida Board of Education adopted policies which banned the use of critical race theory in the state’s schools. This action did not take into consideration that critical race theory grew out of university law schools and is not taught in primary and secondary schools in the U.S.
In addition, a bill was signed into law in March banning any reference to gender identity within classrooms throughout the state. DeSantis and his political supporters have declared that any knowledge related to gender identity and sexuality is inappropriate for students.
An article published by National Public Radio (NPR) discussing the bill emphasized:
“Public school teachers in Florida are banned from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity after Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed the controversial ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill. The bill, which some opponents have called ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ was signed by DeSantis on Monday (March 28). It reads, ‘Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.’”
In regard to the situation in Texas, incumbent Governor Greg Abbott won another term of office by a comfortable margin. Former Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke failed to defeat Abbott who has politicized the migrant crisis on the southern border.
Abbott has sought to aggravate the problems related to mass migration of people seeking admission into the U.S. from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. Hundreds of people have been placed on chartered buses and sent to New York City and other northern municipalities as a way of criticizing the Biden administration.
The antics of Abbott have illustrated the contradictions within the domestic and foreign policy of the U.S. in regard to the large influx of migrants. Although Biden and other Democrats criticized the Trump administration for its detention of migrant children and the separation of families, the same situation prevails after two years into the current presidency.
During 2021, the Biden administration deported thousands of Haitian migrants, most of whom had not lived or worked in their home island-nation in over a decade. At present the U.S. is involved in the internal affairs of Haiti while planning to stage another imperialist invasion and occupation of the majority-Black nation.
The results of the gubernatorial races in these three southern states: Florida, Georgia and Texas, portends much for the future of working and oppressed peoples residing in this region of the country. It is within the southern region of the U.S. that the most intense and persistent poverty still exists some six decades after the Civil Rights Movement and increased industrialization.
Only Independent Mass Action Can Defeat the Right
In reviewing the outcomes of the elections from an objective standpoint it is clear that the ultra-right dominant faction within the Republican Party remains solidly in control of many of the key structures and levers of political power in the South and other regions. Congressman McCarthy, who is seeking to become the Speaker of the House, represents the 23rd District in California located around the city of Bakersville.
With the next national elections two years away, there are really no electoral options for progressives and radical left forces to exert political influence. Pressure for the reform of the political system in many instances throughout history have come from outside the arena of electoral politics.
This reality of having to confront the right-wing can only be done effectively when the restrictions embedded in electoral initiatives are cast aside. A youth population among the nationally oppressed which has grown intolerant of institutional racism combined with the restive attitude of labor from the low-wage service sectors to light and heavy industrial production, provides an interesting mix of social elements which can cause serious problems for the maintenance of the economic system in its present state of inflationary pressures involving transportation, food, housing and other consumer products.
The large demonstrations organized by women in response to the Supreme Court repeal of Roe v. Wade prompted the passage of electoral referendums in five states which upheld the rights of women related to reproductive liberation. During 2020 at the highpoint of antiracist protests and rebellions, the events in the streets heavily influenced the overall atmosphere which resulted in the defeat of Trump.
A broad-based united front of labor, farmers, youth and all oppressed peoples guided by a revolutionary political program demanding fundamental change could shift the ideological framework of the struggle towards social emancipation. As the crises of capitalism and imperialism worsens, the people around the world have no alternative choices than to replace the existing order with one which can ensure genuine stability and security internationally.