Proposed campaign to disqualify Trump, force Biden to step down while forcing Israel into a cease fire

Congressman Thaddeus Stevens helped draft the 14th Amendment
Congressman Thaddeus Stevens helped draft the 14th Amendment.

By Chris Fry

On December 19 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump was disqualified from that state’s 2024 ballot because he engaged in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, which, according to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, prohibits him from ever again holding any state or federal office.

On December 29, Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows made the same determination, disqualifying Trump from that state’s ballot for engaging in the January 6 insurrection. More than 20 states have legal movements to remove Trump from the ballot for the same reason.

The Fourteenth Amendment was specifically designed to protect the democratic rights of the four million newly freed Black people after the Civil War. The ex-slave owners and their minions had enacted the “Black Codes” in the former Confederate states, forcing Black people into a “new form” of slavery, using written contracts and apprenticeships on the youth.

Public meetings of freedmen and their supporters were attacked in both Memphis and New Orleans, with hundreds of Black people killed.

The authors of this amendment were dedicated abolitionists. Senator Charles Sumner from New York was savagely beaten with a cane on the Senate floor before the Civil War by an enslaver representative enraged at Sumner’s anti-slavery position.

Representative Thaddeus Stevens was the leader of the “Radical Republicans” in the House. He had led the effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. During the war, he owned an iron foundry in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He hired both Black and white workers, unusual for the time. He proposed legislation for an 8-hour workday.

Recent excavations near his home in the nearby town of Lancaster reveal that he set up underground tunnels that housed runaways from slave-state Maryland nearby. His African-American partner, Lydia Hamilton Smith, managed a network of agents that spied on slave catchers in the area so that runaways could be warned.

When the Confederate army entered Gettysburg in 1863, Confederate General Jubal Early burned Stevens’ foundry to the ground. Stevens, who was there helping organize resistance, was hustled to safety. Early said he wished he could have ripped Stevens apart and distributed his bones to each of the Confederate states.

After the war, Stevens proposed legislation to confiscate the slave owners’ land and distribute it to the freedmen and their families. This was too much for the capitalist class, to see their enslaver class partners have their land property taken away from them by the government. So, Stevens’ bill failed to pass.

The Fourteenth Amendment was the structural underpinning of the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted Black Male adults the right to vote. The third section of the fourteenth was written to prevent the majority white population in the South from electing former Confederate officials to rule over and oppress the freedmen, now established voters. And until the betrayal of Reconstruction in 1876, it worked, with hundreds of Black local and state people being elected and even several congressmen and U.S. senators.

Is removing Trump from the ballot anti-democratic?

Some liberal pundits today and Democratic politicians have joined the right-wing in condemning the efforts to have Trump removed from the ballot. They both proclaim that by denying Trump, that this denies voters their right to vote for their preferred candidate.

But in fact, enforcing this amendment stipulation of denying Trump access to the ballot because he engaged in this insurrection, this protects what’s left of democracy for Black and other urban voters.

Testimony for Trump’s indictment in Fulton County Georgia reveals that the core of Trump’s scheme to overturn the election was to use the attack on the Capitol to delay the Electoral College certification, then declare martial law, then send in the U.S. military to seize ballot boxes in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, and other urban centers with large Black populations, and then simply subtract their vote.

Trump’s whole scheme was based on nullifying the Black vote in 2020, just as the Klan used terror to deny the Black voting rights during Jim Crow.

To allow Trump to be on the ballot is what would be undemocratic, particularly for the oppressed communities.

An uphill battle and “Genocide Joe’s” weakness

Both Colorado’s and Maine’s decisions are on hold as they are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There they face an uphill battle before that right-wing court. But the language of this Reconstruction-era amendment is so clear and definitive that a negative decision in itself is likely to be met with a public outcry. A strong united campaign by the people now to have Trump disqualified might turn the tide.

“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running,” President Biden said on December 5, 2023 at a fundraising event for his 2024 campaign outside of Boston. “We cannot let him win.” Biden is saying that he must be reelected to fend off Trump’s “threat to democracy”.

Except he can’t!

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll release on January 2 shows not only has Trump taken the overall lead over Biden, but also that Biden has lost major support among Black, Latinx and young voters. A January 1 article from the British Independent website explains:

His [Biden’s] unequivocal support for Israel after the October 7 massacre by Hamas has infuriated younger voters of color who see Israel’s assault on Gaza as unconscionable. 

Almost daily, thousands of people, mostly youth, often mostly Jewish, are holding large marches and rallies protesting the U.S. supported Israeli war against the people in Gaza, where more than 22,000 people so far have been killed, mostly women and children. This is true not only in the U.S., but around the world.

Biden’s shipping of massive numbers of bombs and weapons to Israel, now without any congressional approval has caused so many civilian deaths in Gaza. It made even the conservative Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine voice his mild opposition:

“Just as Congress has a crucial role to play in all matters of war and peace, Congress should have full visibility over the weapons we transfer to any other nation. Unnecessarily bypassing Congress means keeping the American people in the dark,” Kaine wrote.

“We need a public explanation of the rationale behind this decision – the second such decision this month,” he added.

But if anyone thinks that fascist Trump would end the U.S. supported Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people, it is important to note that he implemented the so-called “Abraham Accords”, bribing several Arab countries to recognize Israel and abandon the Palestinian people. This set the stage for Israel’s “revenge war” against the Palestinian people, with Biden making it another U.S. imperialist proxy war.

1968: NLF and anti-war movement forced out Lyndon Johnson and his backing peace talks with Vietnam

In February of 1968, the National Liberation Front (NLF) staged the massive Tet offensive against U.S. and “South” Vietnamese puppet forces in Vietnam. This not only was a tremendous setback for President Johnson’s genocidal war against the Vietnamese people, but it also drove a deep divide among the ruling class and regenerated the anti-war movement.

The non-politician Senator Eugene McCarthy had been waging a quixotic anti-war presidential campaign against Johnson, which attracted youthful support, but after Tet the much more politically capable and ruling class-backed Robert Kennedy mulled entering the race.

When Johnson did poorly in the New Hampshire primary, he saw the writing on the wall, and announced that he was dropping out of the race and instead called for peace talks with Vietnam and the NLF.

Robert Kennedy then entered the race on an anti-war platform, won the key California primary, and consequently was assassinated in Los Angeles. But both the Vietnamese liberation movement and the U.S. anti-war forces grew stronger from this point on.

Lessons for today

1968 was more than 50 years ago, and the global struggle has vastly changed. But there are certain similarities. The failure of the proxy war in Ukraine, the Zionist and the Biden administration facing worldwide condemnation for the genocidal war in Gaza even as it fails to destroy the Palestinian resistance, the continuing failure of the U.S. to set back the social and economic development of socialist China, as seen in the so-called “chip” wars, all of these have created consternation among the ruling billionaire class bent on global hegemony.

On top of that, the resurgent labor movement with its “summer of strikes” and massive organizing drives are undermining the labor aristocracy and surrender model that undergirds U.S. imperialism’s global rule.

This has propelled a political crisis for both bourgeois parties, as each has tried and failed to present a winning strategy that will maintain durable profit streams for U.S. monopoly capitalism. Such a crisis can create an opportunity for struggle. If the left can mobilize in opposition to both faces of the U.S. war machine and to Trump’s fascist movement, then it’s possible that we can present a cogent left ant-fascist, anti-war, anti-racist, pro-women, pro LGBTQ+ program to intervene in this moment.

The left can legitimately call on Biden to drop out of the race because of his support of the genocidal war in Gaza, whatever the outcome of the disqualification Supreme Court decision, since there is growing antiwar opposition that makes his electoral victory impossible. At the same time, we can push our anti-Trump call as a viable strategy to counter this fascist threat in case he takes power, either by his illegal election or by another coup.

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