Democrats cover for Trump’s coup d’état

3 June 2020

Following Trump’s announcement that he would deploy the military to crush protests against police violence throughout the country, the Democrats are working to cover up and downplay Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional coup d’état.

Trump has operationalized his efforts to establish a presidential dictatorship, based on the military and the police, through a massive military deployment in Washington, D.C., which is under his direct control. He is also escalating pressure on states to crack down on demonstrations after his threat on Monday to send in the military if they do not respond aggressively enough.

Late Tuesday night, Trump singled out New York City, writing on Twitter that “New York’s Finest are not being allowed to perform their MAGIC but regardless, and with the momentum that the Radical Left and others have been allowed to build, they will need additional help”—that is, the deployment of the military, under the president’s control.

President Donald Trump flanked by riot police in Lafayette Park after it was cleared using tear gas for the president's Monday press event outside St. John's Church across from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In innumerable public statements, Democratic members of Congress, governors and mayors commenting on Trump’s actions ignored the fascistic and authoritarian character of Trump’s actions, focusing instead on declarations that Trump is not being “helpful” in controlling the demonstrations.

“Let’s not overreact,” said Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, calling Trump’s statements “bluster.” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was asked if she would request military intervention, replied that this would only be necessary “because they’ve [the Trump administration] thrown a lot more gas on a fire that was burning.”

In contrast to the heroism of the demonstrators, who showed up by the tens of thousands in defiance of Trump’s threats, the Democrats have responded with their typical display of fecklessness, cowardice and complicity.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a 30-minute address on Tuesday full of mournful moralizing. He declared his wish that Trump had read the Bible, as he “could have learned something” and criticized Trump for fomenting “fear and division.”

Biden effectively equated the actions of protestors with the actions of the fascistic president and the police rampage he has incited. “There is no place for violence,” Biden said. “No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses. … Nor is it acceptable for our police, sworn to protect and serve all people, to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.”

Biden avoided the central political issue—that the president is engaging in illegal actions and seeking to overthrow the Constitution of the United States.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer issued a perfunctory four-paragraph statement on Trump’s Rose Garden speech which did not include the word “military.”

“At a time when our country cries out for unification, this President is ripping it apart,” they said. “We call upon the President, law enforcement and all entrusted with responsibility to respect the dignity and rights of all Americans.”

Mirroring Trump’s own photo-op in Washington following his speech, Pelosi clutched a Bible before cameras while giving a two-minute address Tuesday morning. “We would hope that the President of the United States would follow the lead of so many presidents before him to be a healer-in-chief and not a fanner of the flame,” Pelosi concluded.

Only six months ago, the impeachment campaign of the Democrats concluded in the House of Representatives, which was presided over by Pelosi. The House approved articles of impeachment against Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors” that centered on a phone call with the president of Ukraine and allegations that Trump withheld military aid to the country in its war against Russia. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

While the Democrats considered the Ukraine call a basis for removing the President, they pass over in silence the attempt to deploy the military on US soil against domestic protests. Neither Pelosi nor any other Democrat has called for a reconvening of the House and the introduction of a new motion for Trump’s removal from office.

Trump’s demands that opposition to his government be “put down” by deployment of active duty military personnel is blatantly illegal. As Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman commented last year:

From the founding onward, the American constitutional tradition has profoundly opposed the President’s use of the military to enforce domestic law. A key provision, rooted in an 1878 statute and added to the law in 1956, declares that whoever “willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force” to execute a law domestically “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years”—except when “expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”

As the WSWS has noted repeatedly, the aim of the Democrats in their opposition to Trump over the past three-and-a-half years was to carry out a palace coup. From the beginning of his administration, the Democrats worked to suppress and derail broad-based mass opposition to Trump’s fascistic policies, channeling it behind their own reactionary, anti-Russia campaign.

Now when there is a mass popular movement against Trump, the Democrats devote themselves to the futile effort at calming the situation. When they criticize Trump for “fanning the flames,” they are expressing their fear of a massive social eruption in the working class.

For the past three-and-a-half years, the Democrats have worked with Trump on the essential elements of the domestic policy of the financial oligarchy. Amidst the expanding coronavirus pandemic, they unanimously endorsed the multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and are helping to enforce the back-to-work campaign spearheaded by the Trump administration.

Absolutely nothing good will come from the Democratic Party. It is a party of Wall Street and the military-intelligence agencies. It is thoroughly hostile to the sentiments that are animating the massive and expanding protests against police violence and the broader social anger among workers that is behind them.

The struggle against the Trump regime can be taken forward only through the independent political mobilization of the working class, in opposition to the Democrats, Republicans and the entire political apparatus of the corporate and financial elite. The fight against police violence and Trump’s moves to presidential dictatorship must be fused with the struggle against inequality, exploitation and the capitalist system.

Andre Damon