Opinion: The Democratic National Convention Spectacle

By Nélida Tello

The 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) was hosted virtually over the past four days in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Democrats championed the call to “save democracy” from Trump’s attacks, emphasizing the upcoming election was the most important election of our lifetime, and shamelessly threatening the people to ‘vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.’ As the imperialist crisis deepens, factions of the bourgeoisie fall back on the elections to maintain social order by deceiving and lying to the masses by promising change and better living conditions. But elections must be understood for what they are: counterrevolutionary instruments that do not bring about social transformation or end people’s oppression. An overproduced and awkward red, white and blue zoom call can not hide this fact.

Bourgeois political party conventions are usually a key opportunity for imperialist politicians to raise millions of dollars from donors. However, with the in-person DNC canceled, large donors have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds due to the lack of in-person schmoozing. The city of Milwaukee was estimated to bring in $200 million dollars alone for hosting the convention, yet after the in-person convention was cancelled, this number is estimated to be closer to $3 million. Wasting no time, Democrats have transitioned to selling private zoom meetings that donors can buy to meet with politicians, illustrating how the convention prioritizes catering to donors.

In response to the mass uprisings, Democrats have opportunistically scrambled to come up with new plans and actions to “turn the protests into progress,”  (by which they mean quell and repress them). Joe Biden joined Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo in a discussion to address systemic racism. Lightfoot is the same mayor who has targeted Black people in the South and West sides of Chicago during the first wave of the pandemic, threatened to tear gas protesters, and even banned protesters from demonstrating on her block. Acevedo is equally repulsive – a video of him went viral during the May Uprisings, in which he attempted to pacify the anger of the masses, attributed militant protesting in his city to outside agitators from Austin, and urged people to snitch.

In a desperate attempt to receive airtime during the convention, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seconded the nomination of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in a meaningless gesture. In his own speech, Bernie called on his supporters to vote for Biden and preserve bourgeois democracy, all too quick to abandon his so-called revolutionary rhetoric.

Kamala Harris spoke during day three of the DNC and urged people to cast their ballots despite the obstacles they may face. Stating that people’s voting rights were being attacked because “when we vote, things change,” she ignores that when people rise up and rebel, the world and its imperialist rulers tremble.

Democrats dedicated the third day of the convention to women’s rights, championing Biden’s 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Harris’s identity as a Black woman. Little mention was given to Biden’s 1994 crime bill in which the VAWA passed. The crime bill is known for initiating mass incarceration in the US. When the VAWA first passed, a mere 38% of funds were allocated to social services and by 2013 that number had dwindled down to 15%. The remainder goes towards police departments and other criminal justice departments.

The Democrats have leaned in to identity politics by banking on the promise of Harris being the first Black woman to be Vice President in the US. In her VP candidate acceptance speech, Harris reiterated her dedicated fight for women and children, in contrast to her practice as a prosecutor where she targeted Black working class mothers with her anti-truancy act and refused to prosecute abusive police officers.

Biden’s acceptance speech was full of religious references, determined to overcome darkness and “save America’s soul.” Scapegoating the economic crisis with the pandemic, Biden promised to tackle the virus if he won the election come November, guaranteeing job creation and a stronger economy. He also promised to “wipe the stain of racism in the US” but still asserts that protesters should be arrested and tried as they fight for Black lives.

The Democratic party is attempting to divert the mass rebellions into votes for Biden, an architect of mass incarceration and Harris, the self-described “top cop”. But to truly take up the fight for Black lives, women, and workers is to fight against US imperialism, not find more token representatives to star in your zoom call. Democrats fearmonger by saying things will get worse if we do not vote for Biden, and literally use the deaths of Black people to hustle for votes. At any other time, their deceptions are heinous, but the absurdity is only more punctuated as it comes after the fiery May Uprisings that demonstrated the revolutionary potential of the people. That potential can only be squandered by casting ballots for the imperialists of the Democratic party, which is why the people must take up the call of the election boycott and fight for revolution .


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