Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a stark picture of the two paths that lie before us: a racial justice democracy or white authoritarianism. On Tuesday, a multi-racial working class bloc took to the ballot box to elect Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate in Georgia. That the movement was led by Black voters, and that long-term organizing in communities of color to build independent political power played a crucial role in the victories, was no coincidence: the struggle for racial justice has always been central to the defense of democratic rights in the U.S. With Democrats now in control of the Presidency and both chambers of Congress, progressives have a significant opening to push the Democratic Party to expand our democracy and deliver material relief for working class people of all races.
But yesterday, we saw an anti-democratic, insurrectionary effort inside and outside the halls of Congress to overturn the results of the election. A dozen Republican Senators and 60 Representatives attempted to block the democratic process using arcane legislative maneuvers inside the Capitol before their violent allies stormed the building in a desperate attempt to achieve the same anti-democratic ends.
It may appear at first that the divisions within the Republican Party represent a turn to sanity. But in fact, even those Republicans opposed to a coup support voter suppression. They too want apartheid, but with a democratic cover. The split within the GOP should be widened if possible, but we cannot be lulled into seeing one wing as an ally. And within the Democratic Party, the fight for all to support racial justice and a fully inclusive democracy is far from won.
It is no accident that those storming the Capitol are carrying Confederate flags. They are launching a new round of the Civil War many have been fighting for decades: a war to return to full and open white supremacy and limited democratic rights.
We will need to remain vigilant in the days leading up to the inauguration and support movement’s calls to deal with white supremacist terrorism and the instigation of violence by Trump and his enablers as the anti-human, criminal acts that they are. The broad front we built in defense of democracy will need to stay together and grow further to create the conditions for us to fight for the future we need.
As Calvin Cheung-Miaw argued in “The Pivot of U.S. Politics: Racial Justice and Democracy,” our path is clear: we must continue to build at the base, fighting for a true inclusive democracy that this country never achieved.