Biden's Initial Actions and People's Resistance

January 27, 2021. Action in Washington, DC on the fourth anniversary of the ban by then-President Trump on foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries visiting the U.S.

President Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States at a time of widespread discontent with government. Resistance and demands for justice, equality and accountability persist, including in cities like Seattle, Portland, New York City and Washington, DC.

As President, Biden has a responsibility to preserve the Union, the United States, as a united whole, while also preserving a constitutional order that keeps the people out of power. His Inaugural Address and initial actions are aimed at precisely this. They are addressed to the vying factions among the rulers whose conflicts remain unresolved through the means of the election. Impeachment, Congressional gridlock and talk of having to "fight the enemy within" are indications of the sharp conflicts within and between the ruling factions. For their part, working people continue to speak in their own name with slogans such as "The Vote is Over, the Fight Goes On," banner drops and organized actions in defence of rights which include the demand for a decisive say in setting the direction of the economy and the country.

January 2021. Organizing in Kansas City against evictions.

In his inaugural address, Biden made repeated reference to the Civil War. Such references are also repeatedly made by members of the House of Representatives, such as in their impeachment documents, by Senator Ted Cruz, and many others. Biden spoke to the "resilience of the Constitution" and its "we the people who seek a more perfect union." He appealed to the vying factions to unite: "We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature, for without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury... No nation, only a state of chaos." He repeatedly expressed this demand for unity among the rulers, going so far as to make it sound like a threat: "Yet hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion." 

This "disunion" is not manifested among the people, who across the country have shown their united stand, such as in the actions in city after city, south and north, east and west, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. Disunion is a fear the rulers have that their "more perfect union" will again end up in violent civil war. It is the morbid preoccupation they have with defeat and death -- that U.S.-style democracy will "die on our watch," as Biden put it. And further, that without that unity among the rulers, today's government of police powers, with its well-known violence and lawlessness, will be unable to suppress the determined resistance of the people, over COVID-19 concerns, evictions, unemployment, hunger, education, and more.

When Biden talks of the "common objects" that "define us as Americans," he refers not to the demands of the majority for human rights, equality and peace, but to the old promise of "opportunity, security, liberty..." This is accompanied by another threat, this time against the people who are told it is a "duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans," to "honour our Constitution and protect our nation." 

What then of the striving of the people for governing arrangements that permit them to exercise control over policing and budgets, that empower them to speak in their own name and take the decisions on all the matters that affect their lives? Are their demands to be considered "extremist" and "unAmerican"?

Biden's initial actions using Executive Orders on immigration, COVID-19 and the environment are clearly intended to "lower the temperature" of the resistance and anger which exists from one end of the United States to the other. These Executive Orders, along with a $1.9 trillion bill related to COVID-19 and one on immigration, seek to line up the fighting forces behind him, especially nurses, teachers and immigrant rights organizers, as well as all those fighting to make sure Black Lives Matter. All have been organizing independently and directing their attention to defending rights and rallying the general public. Biden seeks instead to divert and limit resistance to supporting his actions. 

January 26, 2021. Protest by essential workers in New York City.

One month into his presidency, Biden does not appear to be succeeding. While some welcome the Executive Orders and legislation as a possible "start," they also express their lack of confidence that the promises made will materialize. Nurses and other frontline workers have said Biden can do far more by invoking the Defense Production Act to quickly provide all the personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing materials necessary for the health and safety of all. Immigrant rights organizers have persisted with their demands for equal rights and status for all, which Biden's bill does not begin to provide. Similarly, some unions, rights organizations and youth are organizing to strengthen resistance together at the local and state levels.

The general sentiment remains that government cannot be counted on to deliver and that it is the people's forces, that are decisive in bringing about the change required. Biden's reliance on the old ways of promising to deliver "racial justice" and end "growing inequity" by taking a few initial actions will not overcome the broad lack of confidence in government among the people. 

"The Vote is Over, the Fight Goes On."

January 30, 2021. St. Paul, Minnesota. 

(Voice of Revolution. Photos: N. Aristizabal, K.C. Tenants, A. Azikwe, K. Lopez, Davis S.)

This article was published in

Volume 51 Number 2 - February 7, 2021

Article Link:
Biden's Initial Actions and People's Resistance


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