Note: These remarks were delivered by Abayomi Azikiwe at the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) Virtual Forum held on November 12, 2020. The event was entitled: “What Now? A Post-Election Town Hall Meeting.” The program featured Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire and former Chairperson of the MCHR Board of Directors, now a board member-at-large, as moderator. In addition, there were presentations by Prof. Charles Simmons, retired educator at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and currently the Co-Director of the Hush House in Detroit; Merissa Kovach, Political Strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, and Kim Redigan, Vice Chairperson of the MCHR Board of Directors and a member of the Meta Peace Team of Michigan.
At the time of this meeting we are nine days past one of the most confrontational and contested presidential and congressional elections in United States history.
Although the results illustrate a clear victory for the Democratic presidential ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, the current administration of President Donald J. Trump is refusing to concede defeat and is challenging the outcome through a conspiratorial propaganda campaign and spurious legal challenges to electoral commissions and state canvassing boards in several key states including Michigan.
Trump has been saying for months that if the results of the presidential election did not favor him and the Republican Party members holding seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, it would be due to massive voter fraud. The president has cast doubt and aspersions on the process of mail-in and early voting saying these methods would leave the electoral system open to irregularities.
In all of the lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, there has been no concrete proof of a nationwide attempt to deny the president another term of office. There are ample reasons why Trump lost the popular vote and is poised to be defeated in the electoral college.
However, the Trump campaign is seeking a favorable federal court ruling which would be the basis for nullifying the outcome of one of the state elections in order take this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. The campaign is still raising funds to continue the legal efforts to, in essence, disenfranchise millions of voters across the U.S.
Cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, among others, were crucial in turning the tides against a second Trump administration. Hopefully, people within MCHR and other fraternal organizations noticed the explicit and vicious attacks on Detroit during the president’s address on November 5. He accused the electoral process in the city as “lacking integrity” and that Republican sympathizers were denied access to the areas within the TCF Center located downtown, where ballots were being tabulated.
Detroit and State of Michigan election officials have vigorously denied these allegations of deliberate fraud. It is important to mention that these municipalities which played a critical role in the presidential and congressional elections have majorities and near-majorities of Black, Brown and other communities of color. Such statements from the administration further exposes its racism and lack of respect for the democratic rights of the oppressed peoples in the U.S.
Since the defeat of the Trump-Pence ticket at the polls, demonstrations have taken place demanding the counting of all votes particularly in highly contested areas as well as after November 7, there were numerous celebratory rallies and marches which viewed the Biden-Harris victory as a repudiation of not only Trump as a political figure, these actions represented the rejection of the policies which blatantly favor the rich and further impoverish the working class. The much-championed low jobless rate in the U.S. is directly connected with the proliferation of minimum wage (and near that level) employment largely in the service and hospitality sectors. However, even within manufacturing there has been the phenomenon of production outsourcing and multiple-tiered wage structures which have systematically undermined collective bargaining.
One other factor which can never be overlooked, is the 71 million people in the U.S. who voted for the Trump-Pence ticket thinking that the current administration was accomplishing economic improvements for workers, the middle and upper classes. This was the narrative articulated by the Trump campaign going as far as to say that everything was going smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in February and March. Since the administration has accepted no responsibility for the mismanagement of the medical and public health responses to the pandemic, they have laid complete culpability on the People’s Republic of China along with the Geneva-based and United Nations affiliated World Health Organization (WHO).
Implications of the Current Crises on a Domestic Level
The public health status of the U.S. at present is firmly linked to the burgeoning economic crisis. Tens of millions of people have lost jobs and income since March. The government was able to agree on a relief package which provided some assistance to the working families and retirees around the country. Nonetheless, the bulk of the multi-trillion dollars package known as the CARES Act was given to the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the U.S. Since April there has been essentially no relief to the millions of working families, people living with disabilities, children and small businesses leaving many imperiled by the lack of healthcare coverage, the threat of foreclosure and eviction and the difficulties within the educational system. For more than six months the Congress and the administration has failed to agree on additional relief. The Heroes Act and CARES II remain stalled in the Senate where right-wing Republicans dominate.
Several companies voluntarily returned the funds from Congress because they were not suffering from the impact of the pandemic. Some firms have enhanced their profitability since the advent of the virus. Consequently, the widening gap between the upper class and the workers is growing rapidly. The Trump administration has favored the capitalist class through massive tax breaks and the deregulation of corporate conduct related to environmental and social justice concerns. Police agencies formerly under consent decrees in relationship to a history of misconduct were absolved of oversight through an executive order from the administration. The demand for the defunding of police and the redirecting of resources to alleviate social problems was ridiculed by the Trump campaign. Even moderate elements within the Democratic Party chided the utilization of these demands which have grown out of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations since late May after the police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The mass response to the police killing of Floyd of course was pivotal in the mobilization of the electorate which voted against Trump.
Foreign Policy Implications in the Struggle for World Peace
Many world leaders are communicating congratulatory messages to Biden and conveying their pleasure with the change of administration. These heads-of-state include presidents and prime ministers from numerous nations in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on November 10, saying they were committed to a second Trump administration, has created bewilderment and alarm internationally.
Trump has often spread the myth that his administration has kept the U.S. out of major conflicts around the globe. This could be no further away from the actual truth. Military budgets under the current administration are rising where the Pentagon and intelligence agencies combined are costing the U.S. taxpayers well over a trillion dollars annually. The administration has not withdrawn U.S. forces from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Korea, among other geo-political regions. Routine bombing operations are continuing in Somalia and other regions of Africa where the AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) units are administering drone stations, conducting military maneuvers with compliant governments as well as engaging in targeted intelligence gathering operations and assassinations.
The military budget and foreign policy orientation of the U.S. which transcends successive Republican and Democratic administrations must be changed fundamentally. Whether there is a Biden or a Trump administration, the antiwar and peace movements are compelled to continue the work of ending wars of occupation and exploitation.
Our Commitment to Halting the Attempted Coup
As MCHR and other organizations, we must work tirelessly to prevent the consolidation of the attempted coup by the Trump forces which are dedicated to overturning the outcome of the elections. There are many avenues of struggle in this regard. Nevertheless, it is clear in regard to what the stakes are in the immediate crisis.
For it is not just Trump and his administration as personalities which constitute the major threat to working people and the oppressed in the U.S. and worldwide. The consequences of the triumph of a Trump coup would undoubtedly result in even more reversals of the gains made in the fields of Civil Rights and Labor Relations. Environmental degradation would accelerate along with the attacks on healthcare workers and scientific inquiry.
Consequently, under these troubled circumstances we have no other alternative than to escalate our campaigns connected with the objectives of achieving full human rights, while concurrently, seeking solidarity with all progressive forces in U.S. We are fighting not just for ourselves. Our efforts will play an instrumental role in the genuine liberation of billions around the world who have the same interests as the majority of those living in the U.S.