The 2022 midterm elections resulted in the Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, and the likelihood that the Republicans will control the House once all results are finalized.
The outcome defied the prediction from many commentators that a conservative “red wave” would sweep the Republicans into power in both chambers of congress. This prediction was based on the historical trend that the party holding the presidency performs poorly in the midterms and the assumption that voters would blame the Democrats for inflation, which is at a 40-year high. Mass outrage at the reversal of Roe v. Wade helped to counterbalance these factors.
Polarization and the decline of monopoly capitalism
The mainstream, corporate centrist Democratic interpretation of all this is that the 2022 midterms have closed the door on the dark days of Trump’s influence, that the reactionary tide has crested, and the country’s political life will return to the moderate status quo.
However, we hold a different view. Elections are only one arena of struggle, and we should not base our analysis on election results.
U.S. imperialism is in decline, and because of this, we will continue to see sharpening polarization of society. However, as this election shows, things do not always proceed in a linear fashion.
We are still in a period of large-scale political radicalization. The George Floyd uprising of 2020 brought 26 million people into the streets for Black liberation, while less than a year later reactionaries stormed the U.S. capitol on January 6, 2021. With the coup attempt, denial of the 2020 presidential election results, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the right wing may have overplayed its hand, leading voters to turn away from them in the 2022 midterms.
We are increasingly seeing the establishment of two separate legal frameworks in one country, where basic democratic rights such as reproductive freedom are radically different depending on what state you are in. Voter suppression measures, most notably in the U.S. South but also in more conservative states in the Midwest and mountain regions, aim to limit the democratic rights of nationally oppressed people, such as African Americans and Chicanos. There are also economic differences emerging due to many politically conservative states not expanding Medicaid, leading to large numbers of uninsured people. These are not indicators of long-term political stability.
Trump and a dangerous Democratic Party strategy
Donald Trump endorsed around 300 candidates in the 2022 midterms, many of whom hold the view that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate. The results were mixed. In competitive races, Trump’s candidates performed poorly. In races where voter support for the Republican candidate was strong, they performed better. This, along with the fact that so many of his preferred candidates won their primaries, indicates that Trump’s influence over the Republican party and its core base remains strong, while his appeal to independent voters has diminished.
Democratic groups spent around $19 million in Republican primaries donating to the most far-right candidates, who they saw as easier to defeat in the general elections. This cynical gambit shows that the Democrats are willing to risk the most reactionary politicians being once step closer to holding real power, in exchange for the potential for a predicted election boost. Many democrats hold this view about Trump himself, that he would be the most defeatable Republican in the 2024 presidential election. This is an incredibly dangerous strategy.
On November 15, Trump announced that he would run for president in 2024. Reactionary Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is another possible Republican candidate. We must oppose the extreme right, regardless of whether it is Trump or someone like him.
While the DNC dumped money into Trumpist Republicans, they continued their efforts to sideline progressive, Bernie Sanders-oriented Democratic candidates in favor of corporate centrists.
The Biden administration failed to deliver on policies that benefit working people even when the Democrats held both the House and Senate. On vital issues of foreign policy, such as how to interact with the People’s Republic of China, the two parties have similar views. Now that Congress is split between the two capitalist parties, it is even more unlikely that much will happen. We believe that real change comes from mass movements of working and oppressed people, and that is where we will be putting our energy.
The Supreme Court will continue to be a leading edge of reaction in 2023. The Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of affirmative action that will affect college admissions and company hiring. The court may also consider the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA which allows people who were brought to the United States as children without proper authorization to stay, work, and go to school. The state of Texas is also challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act which would weaken Native sovereignty and hurt Native families.
Conditions for building the people’s movements are favorable. More and more people are terrified of living under reactionary Republican rule and dissatisfied with the Wall Street centrism of the Democrats. We will continue to fight to build the trade union movement and the struggle for national liberation of Black people, Chicanos and all nationally oppressed people. We will continue to fight for women’s and reproductive rights and to organize against the attacks on LGBTQ people that are mounting across the country.
Most importantly, Freedom Road Socialist Organization will continue to build a revolutionary organization capable of uniting all who can be united to wage a decisive struggle against monopoly capitalism, and to build socialism.