On Sunday, former US President Donald Trump explicitly acknowledged that his political strategy following the 2020 election was to “overturn the election” and “change the results,” actions which would have resulted in the establishment of a presidential dictatorship.
Responding to bipartisan congressional efforts to reform a provision of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 allowing the vice president to preside over the official certification of the electoral college, Trump reasserted his false claim that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to override the popular vote and seat pro-Trump slates of electors from states won by Biden. His written statement reads:
“If the Vice President (Mike Pence) had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the Presidential Election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election? Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”
Trump’s claim that the vice president has the power “to change the presidential election results in the Senate” is the clearest admission of a criminal intent to overturn the election on January 6. It confirms the warnings made by the World Socialist Web Site in the lead-up to the presidential election that Trump would block the transfer of power if he lost.
Trump’s statement not only explodes the claim that January 6 was nothing more than an out-of-control protest, it also reveals the type of regime Trump planned to establish had his plot succeeded. If the executive branch has the power to override the Electoral College and popular vote, then there is absolutely no limit to presidential power. Trump planned to abolish the Constitution and establish a form of fascist dictatorship.
After Pence refused to certify false slates on January 6, Trump and fascist advisers Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro launched a plan called the “Green Bay Sweep” through which Republicans in Congress, aided by a violent mob, attempted to delay the electoral certification. Had the certification been delayed even for one day, the outcome of the presidential election would have been determined by a vote of congressional state delegations, which Trump would have likely won.
Trump’s statement Sunday is grounds enough for arresting the former president on charges of attempting to overthrow the Constitution. Yet even as Trump boasts about his plans in public, the strategy of the Democratic Party remains aimed at hiding the danger from the population and preventing the development of a popular movement against the threat of dictatorship.
Fearful that such a movement would trigger an airing of social grievances in the working class over soaring social inequality, inflation and the bipartisan COVID herd immunity policy, the Democrats seek to chloroform the population with claims that the danger of fascism can be prevented through parliamentary sideshows. This is in line with the Democrats’ efforts to cover up the danger of dictatorship and the involvement of their “Republican colleagues” in the coup attempt.
To this end, the Washington Post published an editorial board statement on Sunday titled, “Democracy remains under threat, here is one thing that Congress still might do.” The Post editorial acknowledges that Trump is planning something even worse than January 6: “Senators cannot let this convergence of interest in reform pass. What they do now could determine whether the United States faces a crisis on the scale of—or worse—than what the country experienced on Jan. 6, 2021.” It concludes that people must place their faith in “hope of congressional action to protect US democracy” through reforming the Electoral Count Act to require that electors vote according to the popular vote.
These efforts to direct social anger into parliamentary reform are precursors of the immense propaganda campaign that will soon be unleashed by the Democrats and corporate media to cajole voters to back right-wing Democratic congressional candidates in this November’s midterm elections.
As Democrats engage in feckless parliamentary stalling, Trump and his principal co-conspirators are preparing for war. Trump laid out his plans for extra-parliamentary action at a rally in Conroe, Texas on Saturday.
Reading carefully prepared remarks from a teleprompter, Trump denounced the prosecution of January 6 conspirators by the Biden Justice Department and suggested he would pardon those charged with participating in a criminal conspiracy that he himself led.
“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he said. “We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly. What that ‘unselect’ committee is doing and what the people are doing that are running those prisons, it’s a disgrace.”
During the same rally in Conroe, Trump announced he is prepared to call further violent demonstrations to protect himself from prosecution. Again reading from a teleprompter, he said, “If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt.”
These statements are an admission that Trump is actively planning another insurrection. Trump referenced New York and Atlanta because prosecutors in each city are investigating criminal activity carried out by Trump. New York prosecutors are investigating business fraud against Trump and the Trump Organization, while Fulton County prosecutors have empaneled a grand jury to investigate his attempt to overturn Biden’s win in the state of Georgia. Though his statements constitute obstruction of justice and criminal threats of violence against officials, the Democratic Party and corporate media have merely said the statements are further proof of the need to reform the Electoral Count Act.
Under these conditions, the notion that fascism can be opposed through parliamentary reform is a recipe for disaster that demobilizes popular opposition to dictatorship and only strengthens the right.
For all the popular anger against Trump in the lead-up to the 2020 general elections, the Biden administration has effectively implemented Trump’s COVID-19 policy of herd immunity, leading the US to surpass the 900,000-death mark as stock values and corporate profits surge to record highs. More immigrants are detained under Biden than were under Trump. Biden is also appealing to the most right-wing, pro-Trump elements of the Senate in an effort to affect unity in the ruling class for its war provocations against Russia.
In a press briefing last week, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland favorably quoted January 6 conspirator Ted Cruz’s call for the US to destroy the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is slated to deliver Russian natural gas to European countries. The Biden administration cannot alert the population to the danger of dictatorship from Trump because doing so would increase resistance to the Democrats’ longstanding efforts to expand the power of the presidency and eviscerate democratic rights, especially in the event of war and wartime emergency powers.
The growing threat of dictatorship is an international phenomenon. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is threatening to overturn the results of this year’s presidential elections by way of explicit references to Trump’s actions in 2020-21. In France, presidential candidate Éric Zemmour threatens to deport a million immigrants if elected president this year. During his rally Saturday, Trump proclaimed his support for a convoy of Canadian far-right activists opposing restrictions on business due to COVID-19. Protesters waving Nazi flags and carrying signs saying “Make Canada Great Again” have descended upon the capital Ottawa and present the danger of an attempt at a putsch in line with the ruling class’ profits-over-lives policy.
The answer, therefore, lies in the mobilization of the international working class on the basis of a socialist program of class struggle. An initial wave of powerful strikes and protests are taking place across the world—in France, Turkey, the United States and elsewhere—against the deadly COVID-19 policies enacted by the governments and enforced by the trade unions. The working class is the social force capable of crushing fascism and dictatorship, but to unlock its power it must conduct a fight independent of the capitalist political parties and take aim at the source of dictatorship: the capitalist system.