A letter from Professor Richard D. Wolff after election day, 2020.
The truth is the United States lost.
What won was a constricted politics defined by the range between the GOP and Democrats, Trump and Biden. Voters chose between two similar fantasies differentiated by two names: a return to “greatness” vs a return to “normal.” How ironic that Trump’s greatness and Biden’s normal both name the recent history that drove the US to its current scary conditions. In the ever more hyped blame game that this election was, US politics truly became “the evil of two lessers.”
Fundamental questions actually confront the US now. Is US capitalism in terminal decline amid China’s ascendance? How do we do better than capitalism as our economic system given its inequalities, instabilities, and gross failures to safeguard public health? How can we best undo capitalism’s environmental damage? What can really overcome the centuries of damage done to African-Americans and other indigenous and people of color via white supremacy? On such basic questions, this election’s major parties and candidates offered no engagement, let alone answers.
The 2020 presidential election teaches, yet again, a basic lesson. Any real political choice requires competition (real dialogue and debate) among multiple parties with genuinely different positions on US capitalism and its relation to the fundamental questions. Only then can such questions and the parties’ alternative answers to them become inescapable centerpieces of US politics and subject to democratic decisions.
Neither the establishments controlling the GOP and Democrats, nor the Trumps and Bidens among them, want real political party competition. They seek to retain their 2-party monopoly and keep sharing power 100% between them.
They are all integral parts of a declining system, one we must move beyond.
Richard D. Wolff
[email protected] Board of Directors Member