For Bob Avakian, founder and leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, this year’s election is actually an easy call: The need to stop President Trump is so overwhelming that he has no qualms about backing Democrat Joseph R. Biden.
The far left usually finds itself at election time grappling with tricky questions about lesser-of-two-evils, and fears of boosting what they see as a corrupt Democratic Party. But that’s not happening this year.
From Maoists to Marxists, leftists say it’s actually an easy choice.
Mr. Avakian says this is not the year for protest votes, and while he still considers Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party “representatives and instruments of this exploitative, oppressive, and literally murderous system of capitalism-imperialism,” Mr. Trump and the Republicans are even worse.
“Biden is not ‘better’ than Trump, in any meaningful way — except that he is not Trump and is not part of the move to consolidate and enforce fascist rule, with everything that means,” he said in an email to supporters Monday.
He continued: “To approach this election from the standpoint of which candidate is ‘better’ means failing to understand the truly profound stakes and potential consequences of what is involved. The fact is that there can be one — and only one — ‘good’ that can come out of this election: delivering a decisive defeat to Trump and the whole fascist regime.”
Compatriots, competitors and fellow travelers from America’s communist movement are coming to the same conclusion.
Angela Davis, who gained fame as a 1970s-era radical and was the Communist Party USA’s vice presidential nominee in the 1980 and 1984 elections, told RT in an interview last month that the left should pick Mr. Biden because he can be “most effectively pressured” into accepting their demands.
Indeed, some on the left say they’ve already seen that in Mr. Biden’s willingness to work with Sen. Bernard Sanders, who bills himself as a democratic socialist and was runner up for Democrats’ presidential nod.
The two men teamed up on a blueprint for the party’s platform, producing a document last month calling for stopping deportations and offering the chance for citizenship rights for 11 million illegal immigrants, opening the door to reparations for slavery, embracing a $15-an-hour national minimum wage and imposing national policing standards.
The collaboration is what helped win over William Ayers, a former leader of the violent Weather Underground. He wrote that to see Mr. Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez working with Mr. Biden is comforting.
“That’s because, in my view, Trump and Trumpism represent the most reactionary political force in the world today and the most immediate and serious threat to peace and human freedom in the post-WWII era,” he wrote in May.
Mr. Biden’s leftward drift was also welcomed by John Bachtell, a former chairman of the Communist Party USA. He said Mr. Biden is not taking the far left for granted.
Rossana Cambron, current co-chair of the CPUSA, is actively working to boost Mr. Biden — or, more precisely, to oust Mr. Trump.
“This is a strategic action to remove Trump,” she told People’s World. “The moment calls upon us to look beyond ourselves and do what’s best for all of us. This is why we need a massive voter turnout in November, a victory margin so undeniable it cannot be contested.”
Joe Sims, her fellow CPUSA co-chair, warned followers against approaching this election worried about “lesser evilism.” He said Karl Marx “worked to lend aid” to Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party over the Confederacy and its president, Jefferson Davis, in order to end slavery.
Mr. Sims said the Democratic Party is “an imperfect vehicle” that at times subverts the labor movement.
“Yet an imperfect vehicle is still a vehicle, and Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others in the African American, Latino, women’s and labor movements have run effective campaigns through it,” he reasoned.
One major movement that has not gone all-in, though, is the Democratic Socialists of America, Mr. Sanders’ core backers.
Last year DSA adopted a policy that if Mr. Sanders wasn’t the nominee, it wouldn’t endorse anyone. An effort this year to reverse that plan and tell DSA members to support Mr. Biden fell short.
DSA didn’t respond to an inquiry from The Washington Times, but some of its members said they’ve chosen to back Mr. Biden, despite their misgivings.
Andre Vasquez, a Chicago alderman, called Mr. Biden “a wet noodle” but said there’s no alternative.
“It’s tough. I know it’s tough because I feel it,” he told Red Star Live, the video channel of Midwest Socialist. “But to me, stopping Trump is something we have to do.”
Plus, he said, if the left begs off and Mr. Biden loses, it’s the socialists who will be blamed, which will set them back in their quest for major political transformation.
It’s not clear whether the willingness of the far left to embrace Mr. Biden is reciprocated, but the Trump team said Mr. Avakian’s support should not be celebrated.
The RCP leader has backed some violent movements including serving as a leading acolyte of the Shining Path, a Maoist movement that waged a violent guerrilla campaign to overthrow Peru’s government in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Avakian’s endorsement further demonstrates that Joe Biden is an empty vessel for the radical left,” the Trump campaign said.
Mr. Biden’s supporters counter by pointing to the likes of David Duke, a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan, backing Mr. Trump.