Notes on US presidential election: Show of a politics [Part II]

biden trump debate

Politics of the ruling classes in all lands is fundamentally always violent, full with coercion. It varies in appearance – covert or overt.

The variation depends on, to say in a simple way, circumstance, which is, in real sense, state of [1] class struggle/class contradiction, [2] ruling classes, [3] machines for rule. These are evident in power of classes, antagonistic and non-antagonistic, in a society; and the power is evident in many areas, from ideology and economy to organizations, institutions and mobilization.

The ruling classes use its powers to impose, threat/intimidate, coerce, bribe, co-opt, lie/shroud/camouflage/hoodwink, manipulate, gain acceptability and credibility. Its power shrinks and erodes in certain conditions that include state/level/intensity of class struggle. Its power, also, breeds and spreads violence and appearance of violence in broader society influencing/pulling other classes under its wing/subduing those classes. Today’s presidential election in the US is not free from this part of ruling class-power-scene.

A look at incidents, as news-reports from the mainstream media (MSM) said, related to the election show the existing reality. [The reports have been widely quoted without distortion and abridgement, but a few sentences and paragraphs.]

Volunteers for de-escalation

An Aurora, Colorado, October 26, 2020 datelined USA Today (UST) report said:

Voting-rights advocates have stepped up their efforts to make sure voters can safely cast their ballots. The NAACP has trained thousands of volunteers in de-escalation tactics, hoping to reduce violence before it even starts. That is the approach also being taken by the Rev. Carl Day, a Philadelphia pastor who has encouraged groups of young Black men to stand at the polls to deter violence, whether that’s local gang members looking for trouble or white domestic terrorists focused on this important swing state.

“When the president of the United States seems like he’s inciting a demographic of people to be on standby and he’s saying he might not leave office, it brings legitimate fears to people”, Day says. “It’s in a lot of conversations in a lot of rooms I’m in.”

Black voters have long faced election violence even before they cast a ballot. To stave off potential attacks this year, the NAACP is working with local law enforcement to improve relationships.

Stephanie Owens, the NAACP’s national grassroots election protection project manager, says the challenges of COVID-19 and the racial protests following Floyd’s death have heightened the organization’s normal concerns about violence. In some cases, the NAACP has been talking to voters about removing their yard signs and bumper stickers to avoid post-election violence.

“The symbolism of who you’re supporting is a very large component of our election tradition. But there is almost nothing traditional about this election”, says Owens. “People are already being targeted based on the candidates they are supporting.”

People scared

The report said:

Things have long moved past political rivalries and now many Americans see this election as a battle for the heart and soul of the country, says Jose De Bastos, a security analyst with WorldAware, a risk management company. De Bastos predicts any violence that materializes will likely be centered around government institutions, like city halls and courthouses, because people often attack symbols of power. He says early reports of violence or averted violence, like the Michigan governor’s apparent near-abduction by right-wing terrorists, are rightfully scaring people.

All summer, Americans have been bombarded with images of armored, anonymous riot police clashing with protesters, piling out of armored vehicles with batons and tear gar launchers, and dragging detainees into custody.

“There’s an increasing feeling that the other side is my enemy, not my rival”, De Bastos said. “People see those images and worry that will happen in their neighborhood.”

Others are fleeing

It said:

While many people are making plans to hunker down in their homes, others are fleeing. Many super-wealthy people from New York, Chicago and Miami have snapped up property in remote areas like Montana, Wyoming or Aspen, Colorado, long known as a private haven for the rich. While many of those moves by the wealthy who can work remotely were planned before the election, the potential for violence has sharpened concerns.

“This is an escapist place, for sure. It’s a place where, if you can afford to be here, it gives you an ability to check out of the world,” says Aspen-based real estate agent Josh Landis.

Sales in the Aspen area have already topped $2 billion for the year. Landis says New York City has lost a lot of its luster for the wealthy, who no longer can eat out or go to Broadway shows, and, with the population density, some are deciding it would be both better and safer to put it all behind them, at least temporarily.

Other escapists have a more grim view of the potential problems following the election, which could include massive coronavirus outbreaks as fall deepens. While few predict a widespread breakdown of society, a small number of survivalists have joined a collective of “hardened” lodges scattered around the country known as Fortitude Ranch.

Members are allowed to come in advance, says CEO Drew Miller, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who predicts as many as 25% of his approximately 400 members will be staying at the three sites on Election Day. Miller expects scattered violence around the country — “emotional, irrational violence and opportunistic looting by bad people” — rather than any sort of organized violence.

“Hopefully, it will be limited and controlled, but it could, unfortunately, devolve into long term, widespread clashes, some even fear civil war”, he says.

Little optimism

Converse, the mother who lives in suburban Denver, [also cited in part I of this article] says the fear of election violence adds to her overall concern about the state of the country. She says she’s seen little hope for optimism given the political divides, and vividly remembers the panic that set in at the beginning of the pandemic as Americans discovered they couldn’t buy toilet paper.

“I do want to remind people: ‘Hey, in March, we didn’t know we’d be out of toilet paper’”, she says. “There’s a general fear that there’s something happening or could be happening that we might not be prepared for. And I want to be prepared.”

Videotaping voters

A HuffPost report – “Trump campaign caught videotaping voters at Philadelphia ballot drop boxes” – by Ryan Grenoble on October 23, 2020 said:

The Trump campaign has been videotaping voters as they deposit ballots in drop boxes in Philadelphia ― a practice that the campaign claims is to document ballot fraud but that the Pennsylvania attorney general warns could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

Linda A. Kerns, a lawyer representing the Trump campaign, complained to city election officials last week after she said campaign representatives took video showing voters dropping more than one ballot into the boxes. Kerns said such behavior is a “blatant violation” of election law. A copy of Kerns’ letter was reviewed by The New York Times.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters are only allowed to deposit their own mail-in or absentee ballot in a drop box, though exceptions exist for voters with disabilities.

Philadelphia city attorney Benjamin Field emphasized that exemption in a response to Kerns Monday.

“Third party delivery is permitted in certain circumstances,” Field wrote. “The Board cannot agree with your conclusion on the basis of the information you provided. Nor can the Board, in exercising its duties, assume that an individual is violating the Election Code when that person can act as an agent for a voter who required assistance.”

Pennsylvania expanded mail-in voting in October, allowing all voters the choice to vote by mail. City and county election authorities have opened drop boxes in recent days, allowing voters to deposit their mail-in ballots without relying on the Postal Service.

A petition that would have allowed third parties to deliver mail-in ballots to drop boxes was denied late last month, potentially causing some confusion.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, told HuffPost in an email that this is actually the second time the Trump campaign has claimed voters are depositing multiple ballots. The campaign’s earlier lawsuit seeking to ban drop boxes cited similar photos, Shapiro said, and was dismissed.

The bigger issue may be the Trump campaign’s surveillance of drop box locations, which Shapiro said may very well be illegal.

“Pennsylvania law permits poll watchers to carry out very discrete and specific duties — videotaping voters at drop boxes is not one of them,” Shapiro said.

“Our entire system of voting is built on your ballot being private and your choice to vote being a personal one. Depending on the circumstance, the act of photographing or recording a voter casting a ballot could be voter intimidation — which is illegal.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told The Associated Press that his office is committed to investigating “any and all” allegations of voter intimidation and harassment.

So far this election cycle, 294 pandemic-related lawsuits have been filed in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.


A report (“Ocasio-Cortez Is Raising Big Money for a Contest She’s Almost Sure to Win”, October 24, 2020) in The New York Times said:

[…] Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has raised $17.3 million […]

Her Republican challenger, John Cummings, a 60-year-old former schoolteacher at St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx and a former officer for the New York Police Department, has collected $9.6 million in his first bid for office.

His campaign war chest exceeds all but a dozen or so House incumbents. He has a donor list any fundraiser would envy. And over the last three-month reporting period, Cummings actually took in more money than Ocasio-Cortez, raising $5.5 million to her roughly $4 million.

The report by Jeffery C. Mays said:

The contest is such a magnet for money that even Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who lost to Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary but will be on the ballot representing the Serve America Movement, has raised $2.4 million and lent her campaign another $1 million.

The torrent of donations is the latest example of how Ocasio-Cortez, 31, has become a draw for Republican candidates to seek donors based off resentment of her.

“I guarantee you 75% of his contributors don’t know anything about him,” Tom Doherty, a Republican strategist, said of Cummings. “I don’t know anything about him except that he’s running against AOC. The people that are interested in that race financially are giving because it’s AOC.”

It said:

The big-money contest is also a reflection of how a spotlight race can fuel millions of dollars to favored political strategists and causes, sometimes far removed from the actual candidates.

Cummings has made heavy digital and cable advertising buys, blanketing his district, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx, and even some areas outside it. He has hired consultants like Lincoln Strategy Group, an Arizona-based firm whose founder, Nathan Sproul, a longtime Republican operative, has faced fraud accusations over the years.

Cummings has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers, hiring Big Dog Strategies, whose clients include the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to helping Republicans win a majority in the House, and America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC.

He has also hired Smart Media Group, a Virginia firm that works closely with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to handle multiple six-figure media ad buys and placements.

The campaign spent $560,000 on Facebook ads over the last three months, according to Facebook’s ad library, a public database of all ads on its platform. An overwhelming majority of the campaign’s contributors are from outside of New York.

“Long term, this race doesn’t help you build the party that I think we need,” Doherty said. “That’s not a race that we’re going to win, but that’s where we are at in American politics today.”

The report said about Ocasio-Cortez:

Ocasio-Cortez has also spent heavily on Facebook ads, buying $1.6 million worth in the last 90 days. Part of the ad buy is geared toward building her own small-donor network to avoid having to rely on Facebook, which Ocasio-Cortez has criticized for not fact-checking political advertisements, according to her campaign.

She has also spent campaign funds to support an effort to get New Yorkers to fill out the census and to distribute meals to New Yorkers struggling financially because of the pandemic. One digital advertisement Ocasio-Cortez ran about census participation in September had 2.1 million views.

“We ensure that our fundraising yields real investments into the community beyond transactional politicking,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez.

On spending, the NYT report said:

Just in the last two weeks, Cummings’ campaign has spent more than $2.4 million, while Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign spent $614,000.

Cummings has used his ads to introduce himself to voters as someone who has lived and worked in the Bronx for decades, suggesting that Ocasio-Cortez was an outsider who attended schools in Westchester County. He criticized her for opposing Amazon locating a second headquarters in Queens.

“She [Ocasio-Cortez] has done an unbelievable job of creating a national persona for herself but has neglected the district,” Cummings said in an interview.


Therefore, any reader of these news-reports will find violence and money. The money in the case of two candidates is negligible in amount if compared to the money in use in the entire countrywide election-arena or the presidential election campaigns. Many political scientists, academia, and organizations watching the electoral process have discussed the issue of money in US mainstream politics, especially in electoral politics many times. A long time ago, Lenin identified the case: “[F]inance capital, in its drive to expand, can ‘freely’ buy or bribe the freest democratic or republican government and the elective officials of any, even an ‘independent country.’” (“The socialist revolution and the right of nations to self-determination”, Collected Works, vol. 22, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1964) The role of money in bourgeois democracy is so powerful that Franklin D Roosevelt in his first Inaugural Address said: “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion.” Today, the situation has deteriorated.

The point that should be noticed is the use of money, which is essentially a type of violence – money-violence. It’s a type of coercion – coercion by money-power. It overpowers the person and classes without money – the people, the poor, the working classes, and the average middle class, unless organized. It’s a tool to subdue electorate-brain. It’s a marketing tool, an advertisement tool. This violence, coercion, tool don’t allow electorates to freely think, reflect, review the questions, the issues involved. This violence, coercion, tool obstructs free-flow of information and ideas to and among electorates. Money-power brushes out analyses, debates, etc. in bourgeois set up if not resisted by opposing classes. Money-power decides ideas, issues, analyses, arguments in bourgeois political structure if not opposed by contending classes. The money-power hides something and presents something else in front of electorates’ eyes.

This presence of violence or fear of violence in physical term in the area of choice of politics/candidate needs no explanation. The point that comes is its spread and wide use in front of the unorganized.

Violence, coercion, fear never cohabit with politics that claims to be free. Nevertheless, this is the face of bourgeois politics in one of the most advanced bourgeois democracies. However, hordes of bourgeois scholars hide this fact of bourgeois democracy, and a group of “progressives” begins their discussion on democracy based on this model of bourgeois democracy! This group of “progressives” banks the bourgeois democracy to change people’s life “radically”, to “dignify” life of the exploited! Has not been any lesson learned from the school of politics?

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.



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