By Abayomi Azikiwe
Although the Democratic Party leadership has praised the electorate for maintaining their razor-thin majority in the United States Senate, the administration of President Joe Biden will have an even more difficult period over the next two years.
While the much-feared “red wave” predicted by former President Donald Trump’s dominant tendency within the Republican Party did not materialize to the extent predicted, the right was able to take control of the House of Representatives.
This development along with the failure of Democratic candidates to win several key gubernatorial elections in Texas, Florida and Georgia reveals that the Trump wing of the party still maintains a substantial political base which can be mobilized. In Georgia, a runoff election for the Senate between Raphael Warnock and Hershel Walker also illustrates the deeply fractured electorate in several important southern states.
The presumptive Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has an unapologetic conservative agenda. During the aftermath of the 2020 election when Trump declared the results fraudulent, McCarthy sided with this viewpoint. McCarthy stated on numerous occasions on national news programs that his assessment was that Trump had won the elections although the objective facts said otherwise.
McCarthy was one of the 126 Congresspersons who signed an amicus brief challenging the outcome of the election results in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case along with many other judicial and legislative structures.
Leading up to the January 6 attempted coup at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., McCarthy continued to stoke tensions by refusing to accept the fact that Trump had lost the presidential elections to Joe Biden. Even after the attacks on the House and Senate chambers on January 6, McCarthy would vote to not certify the election results which were in favor of now President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Consequently, the House committee which has been conducting hearings into the January 6 unrest will be dissolved since all of the Congressional chairs will be Republicans. Numerous investigations into the business affairs of the Biden family could very well be undertaken. Attempts to impeach the Biden administration may not be beyond the scope of the legislative agenda of McCarthy and his colleagues.
Nonetheless, as it relates to the January 6 attempted neo-fascist putsch, Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to continue the investigation into Trump and his collaborators. Jack Smith, a former Department of Justice attorney and international lawyer will take the position of special counsel with no definite timetable to conclude his investigation.
McCarthy Threatens African American Congresswoman with Exclusion from Foreign Affairs Committee
Another major issue raised by McCarthy was the threat to refuse a seat within the foreign affairs committee to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Omar is one of two Muslim women in Congress, along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and a member of what is known as “the squad”, a small group of progressive women members of the House.
According to a tweet sent out by McCarthy which included a video of his address before the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas recently, he said:
“Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks. I’m keeping that promise.”
Omar has been elected three times to represent her constituency in Minneapolis, which has been a flashpoint of the struggle against police misconduct and racism. It was within this municipality where the brutal murder of George Floyd was captured on video and sent around the world. Once the blatant disregard for human life was seen by people across the U.S. and the globe, a rebellion erupted which lasted for several months in numerous cities.
Minneapolis has also been a destination for immigrants from the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalians live and work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area adding a new political dimension to the electoral base of the Democratic Party.
Omar fired back at McCarthy in response to his threat. The Congresswoman emphasized:
“From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads. Whether it is Marjorie Taylor Greene holding a gun next to my head in campaign ads or Donald Trump threatening to ‘send me back’ to my country (despite the fact that I have been a proud citizen of the United States for more than 20 years), this constant stream of hate has led to hundreds of death threats and credible plots against me and my family. At the same time, they have openly tolerated antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and racism in their own party. Newly-elected Whip Tom Emmer said prominent Jewish Democrats ‘essentially bought control of Congress.’ And McCarthy himself accused Jewish Democrats of trying to ‘buy elections.’ Instead of doing anything to address the open hostility towards religious minorities in his party, McCarthy is now lifting up people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Emmer and so many others. If he cared about addressing the rise in hate, he would apologize and make sure others in his party apologized.”
These developments provide a strong indication of the political trajectory being pursued by the incoming House leadership. Outgoing House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, had been a stalwart against progressive influence within Congress and the Democratic Party.
As a staunch new cold warrior, Pelosi led Congressional delegations to Poland and Taiwan in efforts aimed at antagonizing the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. Pelosi has maintained a grip on any effort to criticize the Biden administration’s defense policy whether in Eastern Europe, Asia or other geo-political regions.
Although some elements within the Republican leadership have hinted that they may scrutinize more closely the military and material aid being given to Ukraine to extend the war against Moscow, there is no indication that the militarist program of the Biden administration will be challenged. Support for the State of Israel in their settler colonial occupation of Palestine will undoubtedly remain unaltered by the Republican-led House. Both ruling class parties in the U.S. have maintained their unconditional support for Tel Aviv while funding continuing efforts to drive Palestinians from their homeland.
Return to Mass Action
During 2020 in the aftermath of the racist police and vigilante murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, George Floyd in Minneapolis, among many others, hundreds of thousands of people from the African American community and their allies took to the streets expressing a collective outrage with the U.S. system. People remained in their protest mode for many months which influenced the superstructure of U.S. society prompting discussions and concessions from the state and Capitol.
The struggle against state violence perpetrated by the police, federal law-enforcement agents, military personnel and vigilantes became inextricably intertwined with the electoral process taking place simultaneously. It became quite clear during the summer of 2020, the Trump administration would attempt to remain in office by disenfranchising millions of voters, many of whom were African Americans, Latin Americans, and other people of color communities.
There was the sabotaging of the postal service with the disappearance of mailboxes and the disconnecting of sorting machines. The “big lie” which would provide the political guidance leading to the attempted coup on January 6, was perpetuated through right-wing television, radio and social media networks.
Biden’s victory in 2020 and the dominance of both the House and Senate by the Democrats did not result in significant legislative and social reforms. Bills designed to fortify universal suffrage could not pass the Senate. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would not be passed by the Senate and remains a moribund bill.
The rights of women to control their reproductive health was affirmed through mass demonstrations and ballot initiatives in several states including Michigan. However, no bills were passed which could have nullified the Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade during 2022.
With the economic crisis impacting millions in the U.S. and internationally, the legislative and executive branches of the government will be unable to address the burgeoning needs of the working class and nationally oppressed. Therefore, 2023 will be a year of mass struggle since it will provide an outlet to break through the political lethargy and quagmires inherent to the existing system.