No. 29August 8, 2020

On the Unfolding Events in the United States

Trump, Elections and a Dysfunctional Political Process

• Coast to Coast Demonstrations Demand Safe Schools, Defunding of Police and Investing in Communities

• Nurses Deliver Half a Million Signatures to Congress, Calling on Congress to Protect Nurses During COVID-19 Pandemic

- National Nurses United -

• Photo Review -- August 1 to 7

On the Unfolding Events in the United States

Trump, Elections and a Dysfunctional
Political Process

Washington, DC, August 1, 2020

Senator Warren's letter against federal deployments of police forces and
responses to Trump's tweet on delaying elections

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a senior democratic senator from Massachusetts, on July 28 sent a letter to the heads of the Departments of Defence, Justice, Homeland Security and the Interior calling on them not to deploy the military and various federal forces under their control against demonstrators protesting racist police murders and demanding equality, justice and peace. She not only expressed the concerns of many among the ruling elite about Trump's deployment of federal forces to Portland, Oregon and other cities but also specifically raised concerns about the 2020 presidential election and Trump's ongoing refusal "to reassure the country that he would abide by the voters' will" and peacefully leave office if he is voted out. It will result in "an unprecedented test of American democracy," Warren said. She cited a Washington Post article with the title: "Trump's assault on election integrity forces question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?"

The matter is now being widely speculated on in the press, among professors and think tanks, along with concern that a violent civil war will break out.

Warren's letter as a whole and the fact she included the military in her call shows the hopelessness and helplessness in which the U.S. ruling class is mired and its utter humiliation. It is tantamount to calling on the military to refuse to follow orders from the Commander-in-Chief should it be called out during the election. The prospect is already a matter of grave concern given the open split among military forces during the previous election, with some speaking out publicly for Clinton and some for Trump, despite the fact that the military is supposed to remain neutral and serve all presidents no matter what party they claim to represent.

Following Warren's letter, Trump reinforced concern about his possible actions in the face of either an election campaign or election results which he deems to not favour him. He tweeted: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

Trump's demand to delay the election met a swift response from elected officials, constitutional lawyers and others, all saying Trump could not legally delay federal elections. It would be unconstitutional as only Congress has that power, not the president.[1]

In this regard, Trump's proposal -- or threat -- to delay the election can be seen as a deliberate provocation to gauge the response. Testing the waters is one way of working out how internal and external limitations on those who wield power can be transcended.

Even Constitutional law professor Steven Calabresi of the conservative Federalist Society, considered a close ally of Trump, wrote an editorial in the New York Times which said elections could not be delayed. Representing the views of many Calabresi wrote: "President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history." Calabresi added, "Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again." He called for Trump's impeachment and removal from office, something he previously opposed.

While most are saying Trump cannot delay elections because it would be "illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent," the more relevant questions are: If he does, who will stop him? And with what armed forces? What armed forces might Trump manage to align behind a deployment to either delay the election or oppose announced election results? How are conditions being put in place to trigger such a deployment? What will be the pretext?

Despite Trump calling himself a law-and-order president, his presidency has repeatedly made clear that the current government is not one of rule of law, at home or abroad. Trump's government operates solely on the basis of the police powers commanded by the presidency, which are running rampant due to the impotency of Congress and the courts to keep the presidential powers under control. Using the military against the American people is how tyranny is defined, not "law and order." Tyranny is what the U.S. Constitution and the ensemble of its institutions are supposed to make sure never takes hold. The people from coast to coast are valiantly opposing this tyranny, day after day after day after day. They deserve an explanation for what is taking place.

The explanation for what is taking place lies in the fact that where decision-making takes place is no longer in accord with what the Constitution enshrines. The decision-making power in the United States, at every level, has been usurped by narrow private interests which have directly taken over the reins of power. They are simultaneously engaged in vicious fights amongst themselves to control all resources at home and abroad and put down the rebellion of the people demanding change. Their desperation to make sure the U.S. economic crisis is dealt with in a manner that favours them also seeks to make sure they do not lose "indispensable nation" status abroad. 

But so long as control is sought through the deployment of police powers, their every move cannot but deepen the anarchy and violence and destruction of the productive forces. The dangers to the peoples within the United States and abroad require their full attention, vigilance and response based on the people themselves identifying their own interests.

A state of anarchy prevails whereby none of these powerful narrow private interests accept any decision-making above their own. They have formed oligopolies which function as coalitions and cartels. These narrow private interests have taken over the Office of the President and demand that the president be able to act with impunity. To serve their interests, they want the power to act without regard for the law and existing constitutional arrangements. Trump was chosen as president as someone who was not part of the established arrangements and vowed to break the bonds of the old arrangements with impunity. The narrow private interests accept no limitations on their power to act expediently, claiming this is good for the economy and such things.

Trump's actions at the southern border, including separation of families and detention of children, those concerning Muslim bans and asylum, the clearing of Lafayette Square on June 1, the current deployments of federal forces to suppress resistance, are all considered by many to be unconstitutional and against the law. Senator Warren herself asks to know the legal basis for the deployments of federal forces taking place.

However, while it is the case that such actions are unconstitutional and against the law, what the situation shows is that the Constitution itself is not capable of containing the private interests which have usurped power at this time. These narrow private interests do not negotiate, they are not interested in settlements which curb their powers. They make a killing by striking while the iron is hot within the anarchy and chaos they create. This is how and why the fortunes of the richest of the rich have increased manifold during the pandemic.

Warren's Letter on Federal Deployments

Federal forces in Portland, Oregon, July 28, 2020.

Referring to the exercise of police powers in Trump's deployment of federal forces to various cities, Warren expresses the concern among sections of the rulers that Trump's actions are not suppressing the resistance of the people but are further dividing, rather than uniting, the military bureaucracy and policing agencies. Given the president has the specific job of preserving the union while keeping the people suppressed and out of power, these failures are a serious problem for the rulers.

Warren, in appealing to cabinet heads and by including the military, is attempting to unite these forces to refuse federal deployments and, by inference, to reject Trump's "law and order" and use of force as a way out of the crisis.

"You are each responsible for the command of military or civilian troops and domestic law enforcement personnel in your agencies. I urge you not to allow these personnel under your command or supervision to be used in any future domestic actions against people exercising their right to protest," she states.

The inherent danger is that any such refusal by cabinet heads of the massive policing agencies and/or the military openly refusing orders of the Commander-in-Chief could also potentially spark open and violent civil war. This is precisely the outcome the ruling class as a whole wants to avoid.

It shows that the danger of civil war remains despite the appeals to uphold the Constitution and not use the military at home, which constitutes tyranny, and not deploy federal forces into non-federal jurisdictions without permission from state and local authorities. It also shows that the current democratic process and institutions are exhausted. They are supposed to provide the means through which contradictions within the ranks of private interests can be sorted out while they unite to impose their rule on the people. 

A modern constitution and democratic process are needed. This can only be achieved by the people united in action for their own empowerment. Such a constitution will enshrine rights as defined by the people, not the rich. It will codify the democratic decision-making processes which stand them in good stead in their fight for justice, rights and peace. This will end the current arrangements which protect private property, wage slavery, indentured labour, prison labour and outright enslavement of peoples everywhere and define rights on that basis.

Warren's letter focusses on the additional conflicts with state and local forces, saying the federal deployment is being done despite "clear opposition from governors, mayors, and citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights." She speaks to the violation of rights as a result of the use of tear gas, targeting journalists, etc. and then raises the elections:

"These attacks -- in which the President appears to be using Department of Homeland Security (DHS) forces as his 'goon squad,' in the words of a former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- come approximately 100 days before the election...."

"The partisan use of paramilitary domestic federal law enforcement forces... raises alarms about the President's respect for law and precedent, and whether he will take additional, more dangerous and outrageous actions to pit federal forces against their own people in the months and days leading up to and after the 2020 presidential election. 

"The potential for President Trump to activate domestic forces as his 'personal militia' (as former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge put it) is even more disturbing given his ongoing refusal 'to reassure the country that he would abide by the voters' will' and peacefully leave office... I therefore write to seek your assurances that you will not allow the military or civilian forces under your control to be used by the President to suppress dissent and democracy."

She writes, "The deployment of federal paramilitary forces against civilians is a historic embarrassment for our nation, and harms the United States' standing in the world."

Her conclusion is, nonetheless, not rational given the existing reality of a government of police powers which by definition does not follow rules of engagement of any kind[2] and that crucial institutions such as Congress, the courts and elections are dysfunctional as far as sorting out any problems facing the ruling class.

Warren asks the cabinet heads to "identify the specific statutory and regulatory legal authorities that authorize that agency or unit" to make arrests, use force, conduct crowd control, etc. She then again asks, "Will you commit to refuse to deploy the military or federal law enforcement forces under your control domestically against peaceful protesters or otherwise against Americans in advance of the November elections, and refuse to deploy in a manner intended to intimidate voters on November 3? In the event President Trump loses the election and will not peacefully leave office, will you refuse to deploy the military or federal law enforcement forces under your control in support of his defiance of the voters' will?" She closes, "This is an urgent matter for American democracy and for the safety of Americans peacefully protesting in their communities, and I therefore ask that you provide me with written commitments no later than August 3."

It remains to be seen whether she has or will receive any responses. As a Senator she has no enforcing powers for the requests and little ability to convoke a Congressional hearing. At present both Attorney General William Barr who heads the Department of Justice and Chad Wolf who heads the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are said to be prepared to implement Trump's actions against the people. Barr especially favours further increasing the powers of the President. But the FBI, U.S. Marshals and heads of the numerous agencies within DHS, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, may not be so ready in the context of a disputed election and deepening all-sided crisis. Already, many DHS employees have opposed the current deployment against protesters in many cities, calling it "blatantly unconstitutional," a "descent into lawlessness," and saying it serves to deepen the public distrust of DHS.

The same can be said of many of the National Guards called out by governors to suppress demonstrators. A number refused outright, while others voiced their opposition. Indeed active duty Major Adam DeMarco, responsible for the National Guard at Lafayette Square on June 1, testified before Congress saying, "From my observation, those demonstrators -- our fellow American citizens -- were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force," something he said he found very disturbing.

It should be kept in mind that Trump's deployments of federal forces, including various policing agencies, is in part an exercise in training the various forces to carry out brutal, illegal use of force against people standing up for rights. Significant dissent among them is cause for concern for the rulers and a positive factor for the resistance. Head of the DHS Chad Wolf has said they anticipate "unrest" through November.

Potential for Civil War

After Trump threatened to use the military, in addition to the military police and National Guard present in Washington, DC, including at Lafayette Square, Defense Secretary Mark Esper in early June also had 1,600 soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne on standby at nearby bases. At the very same time, on June 3, he expressed his concerns about use of the military for domestic purposes. When Trump threatened to use the Insurrection Act to justify such action, Esper publicly said:

"The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations.

"We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."

Are we to suppose a delay of the elections, or disputing the outcome, constitute such a "dire situation?" Or will Esper join people like former Defense Secretary General James Mattis in opposing Trump?

Meanwhile, Trump is not alone in indicating possible use of the military. Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, is also suggesting that military force might be used. In June Biden said that if Trump loses and refuses to leave office he is "absolutely convinced" the military "will escort him from the White House with great dispatch." "My single greatest concern," Biden also said, is that "this president is going to try to steal this election. This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent."

It is evident then that everything about the current electoral process is a matter of disputes which are paving the way for disputed results. Far from an election being a process which sorts out who will rule over the next presidential term, the process itself is in crisis. Former president Obama went so far as to use a portion of his eulogy to departed Senator John Lewis to demand all kinds of changes to how elections, three months away, are conducted.[3]

Senator Warren's open call for defiance by cabinet heads and the military, the many public conflicts between and within the presidency, military, Congress and state and local forces and repeated comments about an "unprecedented test of" U.S. democracy are indications that a violent civil war and/or other foreign invasion could accompany the election campaign or election result.

As the resistance of the people in the United States strengthens and broadens, the consciousness taking hold among the people, is that the U.S. institutions of democracy and the Constitution do not serve them -- something that has been well known for a very long time -- and that furthermore they are useless to them. They cannot be relied on to sort out the contradictions within the ranks of the rulers or between the rulers and the people who are demanding modern arrangements consistent with the times and their needs.

The people's refusal to be diverted by the rulers and the fact that they are sticking to their aims of achieving justice, equality, security and peace on the basis of their own efforts inspires confidence and continues to show the way forward.


1. Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

Furthermore, the Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president's term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed by the passage of normal legislation.

2. Rules of engagement are: a directive issued by a military authority specifying the circumstances and limitations under which forces will engage in combat with the enemy.

3. Transcript of President Barack Obama's Eulogy for John Lewis, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, July 30, 2020.

(Photos: VOR, California Nurses Assn., portland Independent Documentarians, A. Azikiwe, P. Becker)

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Coast to Coast Demonstrations Demand Safe Schools, Defunding of Police and
Investing in Communities

March for safe schools, New York City, August 3, 2020.

Actions across the U.S. over the past week continue to express the profound concerns of the people from coast to coast and north to south with the state of affairs in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic is out of control, schools are reopening despite unsafe conditions and the U.S. has become an outright tyranny with the unrestrained use of police agencies at all levels against the demonstrators. Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer and the plight of the poor worsens as unemployment soars and all problems facing the people increase.  

Calls for the defunding of police departments and for this funding to go to the social programs required by the communities are front and centre. Many of the actions focussed on safe schools -- meaning both that police must be removed from the schools and that measures must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Teachers and education workers are forcefully demanding that schools must be reopened "Only When It's Safe," and that the required funding be made available to do so. They point out that without additional space, staff, equipment and proper ventilation, reopening the schools will result in the deaths of students, teachers and others to whom they will spread the virus. The call has gone out: the only acceptable number of deaths is zero.

Actions were organized by education workers, parents and others, in more than 35 locations across the country on August 3 while the National Nurses United held a U.S.-wide day of action on August 5 to demand protection against the coronavirus. Meanwhile ongoing mass protests against police brutality and impunity continued to valiantly resist further police violence and repression.  

As schools across the U.S. begin to reopen, the President of the American Federation of Teachers in a July 28 speech reiterated the federation's proposals for the reopening of schools that put the safety of students, teachers and education workers at the forefront of considerations. She decried the lack of funding for some school boards, where schools are overcrowded, lack proper ventilation or lack soap in the bathrooms. She noted that much needed funding for schools during the pandemic has been stalled in the Senate.

"These funds should have been distributed to communities months ago. How dare McConnell stonewall and stall this aid? And how dare Trump tweet, in all caps, 'SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!' With no plan. No funding. And no idea what he is talking about.

"What hypocrisy, to cancel the GOP convention in Jacksonville, Fla., because of the risks to GOP delegates gathering in that coronavirus hot spot, yet in the same breath demand that children and teachers gather in schools in that same hot spot.

"Why would anyone trust Trump with reopening schools, when he has mishandled everything else about the coronavirus? Why would anyone trust [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos, who has zero credibility about how public schools actually work? Why would anyone try to reopen schools through force and threats, without a plan and without resources? Unless all they wanted was to create chaos so it would fail.

"Before the virus' resurgence, and before Trump and DeVos' reckless 'open or else' threats, 76 per cent of American Federation of Teachers members polled in June said they were comfortable returning to school buildings if the proper safeguards were in place. Now they're afraid and angry. Many are quitting, retiring or writing their wills. Parents are afraid and angry, too. A recent AP poll shows that the majority of Americans think that school buildings should only reopen with major adjustments or revert to remote instruction.

"Let's be clear: Just as we have done with our health care workers, we will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators. But if authorities don't protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table -- not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes.

"It is the 11th hour. We need the resources now.[...]"

In a similar vein, National Nurses United held a U.S.-wide day of action on August 5, with more than 200 actions at hospital facilities in at least 16 states and Washington, DC "to demand that our elected leaders, government, and hospital employers take immediate action to save lives."

"Nurses know that this country's rampant social, economic, and racial injustice has been killing our patients all along. COVID-19 is just forcing us as a society to face these problems," said Bonnie Castillo, RN and National Nurses United Executive Director. "These recent COVID surges and uncontrolled infections and deaths, the failure of employers to protect our nurses and other workers, the outrageously high rates of unemployment and hunger, the totalitarian crackdown on protesters -- every crisis we are seeing now can be traced back to our failure to value human lives over profit."

The National Nurses United writes that registered nurses "are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, a pending bill they are backing that would not only protect health care and other essential workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act and by mandating that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration establish an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases, but also provide desperately needed economic help in the form of cash payments, extended unemployment benefits, and daycare subsidies through the end of 2020 to families on the brink."

"Nurses are still at risk," said Mary C. Turner, an intensive care unit RN and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, whose members are participating in the actions. "We still reuse PPE that was meant to be discarded. We still care for COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients at the same time. And we still struggle to protect ourselves so we can protect our patients."

"COVID has exposed everything that has been wrong with our system," said Zenei Cortez, RN and a President of NNU. "The old way was a huge failure. Now is the time to reenvision a world based on nurses' values of caring, compassion, and community."

(Photos: R.B. Harris, Teachers Take Charge Utah, National Nurses United)

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Nurses Deliver Half A Million Signatures to Congress, Calling on Congress to Protect Nurses During COVID-19 Pandemic

Nurses push for HEROES Act outside the U.S. Senate, August 7, 2020.

Registered nurses today delivered a petition to Congress signed by more than half-a-million people demanding Congress pass legislation that would protect nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, delivered the petition virtually to every member of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

Signed by 526,291 people, the petition calls on Congress to prioritize workplace protections for nurses in the negotiations on a fourth stimulus package. The petition was sponsored by National Nurses United, Be A Hero, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Justice Democrats, People's Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Social Security Works, and Women's March.

"For more than six months, nurses across this country have been caring for patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic without the protections that would prevent exposure to the virus," said Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of National Nurses United. "Nurses and other frontline workers have been calling out for Congress, the White House, and our employers to get us the personal protective equipment that we need, and those cries have fallen on deaf ears. We demand that Congress ensure that the fourth stimulus package they are currently negotiating includes legislation that will ensure that nurses get the PPE we desperately need."

National Nurses United and petition signatories called on Congress to mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure that employers protect frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also called on Congress to pass legislation that would ensure that the Defense Production Act is invoked to increase production of PPE, and ensure efficient and transparent delivery of critical medical supplies.

"More than 164 registered nurses have died during the COVID-19 pandemic so far," said Cortez. "Our country could have saved many of their lives if we got them the PPE that they needed. It is far past time for Congress to prioritize the health and safety of frontline workers."

(August 7, 2020. Photo: National Nurses United)

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Photo Review -- August 1 to 7

Melrose, Massachusetts

Trenton, New Jersey

New York City

August 5, 2020, Nurses' Day of Action

August 3, 2020 action demands schools re-open "only when its safe."

Washington, DC

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chicago, Illinois

August 2, 2020

Nurses' Day of Action, August 5, 2020

August 3, 2020

August 1, 2020


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Asheville, North Carolina

Nashville, Tennessee

Orlando, Florida

Miami, Florida

Kansas/Missouri State Line March

New Orleans, Louisiana

El Paso, Texas

Denver, Colorado

Phoenix, Arizona


Henderson, Nevada

Los Angeles, California

August 3, 2020

August 5, 2020

Anaheim, California

Culver City, California

Glendale, California
Bakersfield, California
Oakland, California

Freemont, California

Richmond, California

Roseville, California

San Pedro, California

Sacramento, California

August 1, 2020

Nurses' Day of Action, August 5, 2020

Eureka, California

Portland, Oregon

(Photos: MEA Melrose, Snooprulez, Left Voice, R.B. Harris, Kuzy Be Cackling, PSA, U of C Labor Council, Sarah4Justice, Profe Ervin, Chicago Teachers' Union, Grassroots Collaborative, A. Meyer, Vaschon photo, wearedissenters, Minnesota Nurses, MTEA Union, National Nurses United, J. Jones, R. Louise, Darrin21, S. Hammer, S. Tyberius, S. Potileer, C. Nero, Grave Morgan, A. Gray,  A. Matlock)

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