Election Results – US-American progressives in Berlin respond

With the election results still too close to call, we interviewed several US-Americans in Berlin and beyond about their initial reactions


Interviews with John Borland , Nicole Möller Gonzalez, Victor Grossman, Zachary Murphy King, Jeff Lee, Tina Lee, Aimee Male, Thomas McGath, Julie Niederhauser, Virginia Rodino, and Laura Wilt

Count Every Vote rally at Brandenburger Tor, 4 November 2020

What has just happened in the US? Is it all over?

JN: Apparently the fascist fuck has declared himself the winner before the votes are counted. It ain‘t over though.

AM: It’s not over until the final ballots are counted, of course. Right now, as of Wednesday morning, it still could go either way, for Biden or for Trump, as a handful of key swing states are still in play.

VR: At this moment it is likely Biden will win, but not certain. We will probably know this tonight (Thursday), but possibly by Friday.

LW: I don’t think it is all over but it certainly does not bode well for the future of the USA.

JB: Even if there’s been a decision by the time this is published, nothing is over. No matter who wins, the election is just one step (with luck a marginally positive one) in an ongoing struggle.

JL: Not that much really “just happened.” The final election results were available months ago, after the DNC bosses pushed Bernie aside and selected Sleepy Joe. And the winners are: Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, reckless corporations that control our food and water supply, no M4A although 75% of Americans want it, a further loss of rights and liberties under the pretext of safety and security, military expansionist, media suppression and so on and on. In 4 years both parties will be telling us how badly we need to vote.

Who did you vote for, and why?

JN: I voted begrudgingly for Biden, because I believe in civilization and the rule of law.

LW: I voted for Biden/Harris because the two party system is so firmly in place that voting for any party other than Democrat or Republican at the presidential level is purely symbolic and has no chance of affecting any change.

AM: I voted for Biden/Harris. It’s simple. Trump is a racist, proto-fascist and con-man, emboldened by a complicit Republican party. Biden is no perfect candidate; there is no such thing. But you fight fascism with the weapons you have at hand.

TL: I voted for Joe Biden because sitting out election after election when we don’t get the candidate we like doesn’t seem to me the inspiring message that some on the left think it is. I don’t think voting is the only thing that makes a difference, but voter abstinence is not an effective or empowering strategy in a two party system. More than ever this time, progressives are ready to fight back against a democratic victor and hold them to a high standard, something they are far better positioned to do than they are against Trump.

JB: Biden/Harris in the general, Sanders in primary. The US is well along in its collapse into neo-fascism. There’s a climate crisis on. Children are being kept in cages. We all know the list and its increasingly likely consequences. Failing to use every tool available to turn this around – even if it’s not a perfect tool, even if it causes other problems we have to solve – would be a moral and practical failure with a cost counted in vulnerable people’s lives.

VG: I did something I never dreamed I’d do; held my nose and voted for Joe Biden (but on the Working Families Party ticket). The reason: four more years with Donald Trump could mean moving closer and close toward fascism in the USA, maybe even crossing the line. Based on hordes of well-armed racist mobsters with close connections to thousands of cops, sheriffs, judges and legislators, this danger is great and frightening. Especially if Trump wins, these mobs, with their pro-fascist shirts and tattoos and their allies in uniforms or well-tailored business-suits, are pantingly waiting to take over – and not only in the USA!

VR: I voted for the Green Party candidates who were explicitly eco-socialist. Presidential candidate Howie Hawkins is a retired Teamster construction and warehouse worker who has been active in movements for civil rights, peace, unions, and the environment since the 1960s. He was the first U.S. politician to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010, in the first of three consecutive runs for New York governor. New York enacted several policies that only Hawkins had campaigned for after he received 5% of the vote in 2014, including a ban on fracking, a $15 minimum wage, and paid family leave. Vice-presidential candidate Angela Walker is a queer Black truck driver in Florence, South Carolina, a veteran and a union and racial justice activist.

In the United States we have had two corporate-run parties of millionaires governing the United States since its founding. People have always had to pick between which of the millionaire parties we should choose from when neither put the people’s interests first.

Those in the Green Party are often activists in social movements who would rather vote for what we want knowing the electoral process is rigged against us, but use the vote to grow a larger movement that works to dismantle the status quo to win the changes we need. That is not only a better alternative than voting for what we do not want, including pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist candidates, but also recognizes that our responsibility as engaged citizens does not end with a vote every four years. Those who remain shackled election after election to the corporate parties do not have faith in ordinary people, instead relying on corporate politicians to change the conditions that keep 99% of the world’s population down, with most unable to thrive and lacking in their basic needs.

JL: Hell will freeze over before I ever cast a vote for either Trump or Biden.

Before the election, Donald Trump made it clear that he might not accept the result. How likely is this to happen now?

JN: He‘s done it, he is not accepting the unfolding results.

LW: Trump has already declared victory without all votes being counted. The results will be contested and this is going to go on for a while and probably just get uglier.

JB: Very. The worrisome aspect of this is that a lamentably huge portion of the electorate will not view a Biden government as legitimate, even if it wins the popular vote (which it has, by a country mile) and the Electoral College vote.

AM: If Biden is able to pull out an Electoral College victory (it will be slim, probably, if it does happen) there will be lawsuits galore. It will be a lot of noise, but my hope is that unless there is evidence of brazen nonsense, these will all come to naught. I hope.

VR: It is difficult to predict what Donald Trump the individual will do, or try to do. It is impossible to know what his handlers are able to stop ahead of time, or what they encourage him to do. Because the results are so close, no matter who wins, it seems clear Trump will try to use the courts to challenge the results should he lose. He is already asking the courts to stop vote counting in certain states.

We have also heard stories of voter suppression and intimidation. Was this a fair election?

JN: As fair as US elections ever are, I guess? Let‘s see if they count all the votes first. I dunno.

LW: I can’t say that there was more voter suppression or intimidation than in any other election. I am happy that more people actually voted, a higher overall percentage of the population but really appalled by how many have chosen to support racism, sexism, hatred and greed.

ZMK: I haven’t heard anything about any kind of voter suppression in my area and haven’t been following it very closely elsewhere. Both my father and brother voted in person and didn’t report any lines or issues, but this is a small, somewhat rural, well-run town.

JB: Clearly not. Any election decided on the basis of the U.S. Electoral College begins by being unfair. Democrats have to be approximately 3% ahead in the popular vote (also known as “the vote”) just to have a plausible chance of winning the Electoral College. Congressional districts have been gerrymandered for decades. The Supreme Court has thrown out the relevant parts of the Voting Rights Act. There is a long and ongoing history of active disenfranchisement of voters of color. Even the Postal Service has been manipulated to create barriers to mail-in voting. All that is before you get to the first-past-the-post system that makes it all but impossible for third parties to establish a foothold in the electoral system.

VR: Both parties actively participate in gerrymandering which leads to more manipulation by monied interests, districts being drawn around racial lines and lower voter turnout because of the creation of safe seats where the real battle is over the nomination and not the election. Both parties benefit from voter suppression. Campaign financing is paid by billionaires and corporations in support of both major parties so that the super wealthy control our elections. Both parties try to and often succeed in suppressing votes from Blacks, other minorities, or Green voters. There is a long history of purging voter rolls, creating and maintaining huge hurdles for ballot access, restricting polling places in certain communities, and refusing to democratize the electoral process by supporting rank choice voting or easing burdens for other candidates or referenda to gain ballot access.

The GOP’s active suppression of the Black vote and the Electoral College’s anointing candidates who actually lost the popular vote spoils elections. Campaign financing and gerrymandering spoil elections. The election process in this country is a rotted mess that only benefits corporations, the wealthy and the corporate duopoly. Sadly, it’s a spoiled system producing unfair elections no matter what year, no matter who the candidates.

Did Trump’s antics make this a particularly unfair election? Possibly. But it’s essential to know that presidential elections in the United States are never fair.

NMG: There have been several attempts to make this process even more undemocratic. From Robocalls to scare off voters in Michigan to attempts not to count mail-in ballots by Trump. However, we need to understand that elections in the US are already in themselves not democratic, even for a bourgeois democracy. Votes do not count as one voice because of the electoral college. States with higher population get more electors, which are ultimately the ones that decide the winner. So, we are already starting with a system that is very undemocratic and unfair.

AM: No US American election is fair. Voter suppression is built into the system. What is encouraging is just how many voters, in the face of a pandemic, did come out to vote or voted absentee. It is a good sign that many people have finally realized that democracy is not a spectator sport; you have to show up.

JL: It would take pages to explain why US elections are anything but fair and democratic. Suggest reading Greg Palast’s last two books, or watching him interviewed on the Jimmy Dore show, or spending a few minutes on his website.

Many people thought that a good result for Trump would empower his neo-Nazi followers. Is this what has just happened?

JB: Yes. Stay tuned for more fun-filled far-right terrorism.

JN: Sadly half the country seems to be full-on supremacists, yes. They are now chestier than ever. I just talked to a German neighbor who said to me “thank God Trump won; the democrats are pedophiles.” So I mean, is that hopeful? It‘s not just us? I feel like vomiting.

AM: There was a lot of talk about day-of intimidation, which seems not to have materialized. That’s a good sign, either that most of that bluster was just further attempts at suppressing the vote or that perhaps these groups are having second thoughts about jumping when Trump tells them to. Maybe they aren’t actually as loyal as he thinks; rats and sinking ships, etc.

TL: I think there’s an argument to be made for their empowerment either way. Everyone loves a martyr and right-wingers in particular enjoy being aggrieved, so a loss would not make them disappear. What is more concerning is the prospect of re-election where they are not just motivated but actually in position to ruin people’s lives with forecasted policies such as banning birthright citizenship, deporting thousands, and continuing an environmentally catastrophic deregulatory spree (among other horrible things.) In any event, his high percentages demonstrate that is not a fluke, large chunks of the US prefer barbarism and revenge to progress, and we are gonna have to deal with this on the level of neo-nazis as well as conservative businessmen and suburban moms.

VR: The white nationalist movement is a problem whether Trump wins or not, a growing problem for which we are preparing no matter what. A Trump loss would not make the fascists happy, so we are prepared to respond no matter who is declared the victor.

Do you think the election results would have been different if Bernie Sanders were the Democrat candidate?

JN: I don‘t know that. We can‘t know that. If it comes down to Bernie supporters having stayed home, they can fuck me, too. I voted for Bernie twice but I cannot accept the non-voting position or writing in a no-hope candidate so you can stay pure. Sorry, I‘m too invested in the lives of my family and friends over there. It‘s not a theoretical exercise for “expats.” I‘m really sorry Bernie was not the candidate but I do not today lay the bulk of the blame for this at the feet of the party.

LW: I don’t know that Sanders would have done better. I would have preferred voting for him as his views are closer to mine but I don’t know. Did Sanders supporters not vote for Biden or vote for Trump because Sanders wasn’t on the ticket? I hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

AM: Had Sanders actually secured the nomination I sadly think the election would have been called for Trump on Election Day. The “socialist” red scare branding stuck to BIDEN, for chrissakes. It would have been far too easy to campaign against Sanders.

ZMK: As a Bernie supporter, I would like to think that the results would have been different if Bernie had been running, but I don’t want to spend too much thought on imponderable hypotheses like that. The main economic forces that influence policy making in Washington and the media that most influence how Americans learn about or consume political narratives all favor absolute gridlock, although for different reasons, and are the incontestable and primary winners of this election. I really don’t know what can be done about that, and it sounds like just as much of a waste of my time to go on insisting that Bernie could’ve won after losing twice, or that there is a way to assemble a comparable coalition outside or inside the Democratic Party. My own personal preference would be to destroy it completely, but I don’t see how that would happen.

JB: Different, yes, highly unlikely to be better. As much as I personally liked him, he has twice been unable to win a nationwide contest even when the relevant electorate (the primary Democrats) was leaning substantially farther to the left than the full national electorate does.

There’s a case to be made that some portion of the right-populist vote might have shifted from Trump to Sanders, and that this could have put him over. But I’ve never seen any convincing evidence for this, electoral or otherwise, beyond a justifiable wishful thinking. Tuesday’s electoral map certainly doesn’t support this position, and indeed the gains apparently made by Trump in minority communities tend to undermine it (though it’s still early, and the available data is rough to say the least, and this point may simply be wrong).

TL: How can Bernie Sanders become the candidate without winning the primary, which he failed to do twice? I was surprised as anyone that Biden won, but Sanders second loss after so much momentum is a rebuke of people who thought there was a conspiracy against him in 2016. The ‘conspiracy’ is that the Democratic Party is filled with people who are scared of the word “socialist”, and we are seeing that even in the results against Biden in places like Florida and Texas.

I think the only thing that can overcome such pervasive fear-mongering is grassroots organizing for socialist policies that can break through the almost unanimous media propaganda and demonstrate that labels don’t matter, the movements and the policies do. I see politicians like AOC and Katie Porter doing that work effectively, but I think the key is to stop focusing so much on individual candidates and focus more on movements and policies.

VG: It is very likely that Bernie would have done better, since he advanced a genuine progressive programme and spoke clearly and convincingly to working people – like no other. But he could not be permitted to win by the powerful forces controlling both parties. So he was stopped.

JL: Just like in 2016, every reliable poll showed Bernie trouncing Trump. Unfortunately, virtually all of Bernie’s positions represent what the majority of Americans want, so…

At the time of writing, it’s still not clear who has won. What can we expect from the next government?

AM: Way too early to tell, man.

JN: It will be not be recognized as legitimate by half the country.

JB: From Congress: Very little actual legislation. It’s a broken institution. Republicans have torn up the conventions needed even in a system of semi-consensual governance.

If it’s Trump: Further dismantling of government structures, rampant narcissism, unchecked corruption, politically motivated terrorism from the right, international isolation, increasing legal battles between progressively governed states and the government. Probably attempts to criminalize protest, further use of 9/11-era surveillance policies and militarized law enforcement to crack down on Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Decay, collapse, death.

If Biden: Attempts from the top to get along and compromise with the Republican Senate, paired with the occasional genuinely progressive policy proposal. Which the Senate will kill. A return to the Paris Accord, some environmental progress, largely through executive order and cooperation with progressively governed states. Protracted efforts to undo the institutional damage Trump has done. This will take years, and will prompt great and justified frustration when the administration isn’t able to act quickly on issues vital to peoples’ lives, in large part because the government’s inner workings are seriously broken.

VG: I hope Biden wins. But that would be only a very necessary, but only negative success, fending off the worst evil. Over the decades, nice, fatherly Biden has supported far too many reactionary laws and actions, like mass incarceration of young Black males, a form of serfdom hardly better than slavery, the brutal treatment of refugees on southern borders, broken promises on anti-union legislation and more. He has hedged on creating a fair and sensible medical system, on minimum wages, free college tuition, cancelling student debt – promising instead a reversal to the “status quo”.

Worst of all, he – like most Democrats and Republicans – supported and still support a dangerous foreign policy aimed at world hegemony, total rule by the same billionaires and their monstrous octopus companies – in oil, armaments, pharma, fast food, the press, mail order sales, banking and, increasingly, mind control – who control the USA to great extent. Already holding giant power in much of the world, they aim at breaking any resistance by disobedient leaders – whether good, bad or controversial – and to do so by any means, whether bombing civilians and torture by sodomy against Gaddafi, hanging with Saddam Hussein, economic strangling and subversion against Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia or martial manoeuvres and the threat of nuclear war and world destruction against Iran and Russia and China.

Trump’s foreign policy was unpredictable, occasionally seemingly less belligerent, but then, influenced by men like Pompeo and the economic establishment, extremely dangerous. Biden’s policies, like those prevailing in his party were – except toward Iran, perhaps – uniformly menacing.

Despite the Trump presidency, social movements like Black Lives Matter and #metoo have been able to organise high profile and well attended demonstrations? What can we expect from them in the next 4 years?

JL: I hope and pray that BLM and #metoo step up their efforts, never give up, keep building their ranks and fighting for justice for everyone.

JN: They‘re all we have left now. They will not go away. They are now desperate to survive as human individuals and these collectives will ensure our survival as a thinking, feeling species.

VR: It will depend on if the movements can break away from believing that a corporate Democrat in the White House will truly end systemic racism and sexism, climate disaster, our mess of a privatized healthcare system or our heinous foreign policy. The movement for Black Lives has put out statements that it will not rest until we achieve justice, no matter who is in power, and Black Lives Matter did form under Obama, so there is hope.

JB: Continued high-profile and well-attended demonstrations, I hope. Further coalition-building, so that the movement(s) continue to build strength and influence beyond the streets. If Trump wins (and even if he doesn’t), they’ll have to deal with efforts to criminalize and marginalize protest and protestors. It won’t be easy. But people are rightfully angry, and aren’t going to shut up and sit down.

AM: I certainly hope that these grassroots movements translate to more local activists taking up political positions in local government. It has to happen from the bottom up. Cori Bush’s win in Missouri is a wonderful sign that fierce progressives can and should assume power where they are able. It is absolutely crucial that we turn the fight for social justice into effective government on every level that truly represents all people. Coming out and resisting is necessary, as is making a plan to win, everywhere.

TL: I think we will see these movements mature and come together around ideas that will change how our democracy functions. You can’t defund the police without having a say in how budgets are distributed and agreed upon. We can’t get paid family leave without breaking the corporate lobbyist stranglehold on congress. Violence in our communities is connected to the violent military tactics we pursue around the world. We also need to fight for a democratic majority to be able to pass any remotely radical policies, by granting statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. To be radical is to grasp things at the root, and while so many democratic policies just brush the surface, movements like BLM have been putting in the work to get the bottom of what needs to change in America to enable us to face these various challenges. I think there is increasingly realization of the connectedness of struggles against racism, capitalism and sexism and if you don’t think so, get involved and help organize!

Look at how the mass feminist movement in Poland has influenced policy outside electoral politics and used creative tactics and direct action- despite a fascist government and a corrupted judiciary. It shows the possibilities for movements beyond elections and without costing billions of dollars, like elections in the US frequently do.

What will happen now to the millions of people who were excited about Bernie Sanders?

TL: The same thing that will happen to the millions who were excited about all the other losing candidates: they’ll regroup and find new candidates and causes to support. We still have #theSquad. And if Biden wins I think it’s likely to see Sanders in a key position, if he wants it.

JL: Personally I am completely disgusted with Bernie for the way he reacted in 2016 and this year after he was cheated. His followers are mostly progressives (I.e., the opposite of liberals or conservatives). Not sure they are homogeneous enough to say ‘they’ will react this way or that. Ideally they will organize themselves better for progressive candidates.

AM: Sanders, again, did not win the nomination. As much as I respect his work in pushing the Democratic party toward a more progressive agenda – he was my choice in the primaries, like with so many voters abroad — it is long time for the US American left to focus on the new, younger generation of democratic socialists who are doing the good work on the ground and in office. If so many leftists bemoaned the “choice” between two septuagenarian presidential candidates, why would Sanders, a 79-year-old, somehow fall outside this category? Time to look forward.

ZMK: I don’t know what happens to the millions of people excited for Bernie. Within my local DSA, I think post-Bernie demoralization has been high, and after this election (whoever gets to go to Washington, and with the close failure of prop 15, backed heavily by Cali DSA, and huge success of prop 22) there will probably be even more distance as people examine the extent of our power(lessness) to campaign or organize effectively against capitalism, with Covid or without. Those are my not very optimistic post-election reflections.

VR: Hopefully they will join Marx21!

JB: I hope to the goddess that they stay energized and involved, and don’t mistake a person for a movement. Sanders was one individual, not a messiah, as he would be the first to say. There is a new generation of extremely exciting activists and thinkers coming up, some in conventional politics and some on the street. This election was only ever going to be one moment in a long fight, and Sanders is only one (admirable, inspiring) individual in it.

Is the Democratic Party no longer fit for purpose? If not, what’s the alternative?

JL: The DNC is why we’re likely getting Trump again: they would rather see Trump win than a progressive. It’s what their employers demand and why they get paid so well.

JN: I‘ve been thinking about leaving the party for years. I‘m still in it, mainly b/c my state has a closed primary and I like to vote in the primary. It‘s a big tent.

VR: The Democatic Party was never fit for purpose if we are looking for a party that addresses the needs of the working class and not the capitalists. It’s a capitalist party. The alternative is to build movements that strategically use electoral politics as a tool to grow, and not to diffuse itself. We need to vote for candidates who represent and are part of the popular movements so we advance the causes of economic, racial and environmental justice. But what we really need to focus on is continuing to build the movements for black lives, the climate justice movement and the immigrant rights movement in this country.

AM: We’re looking at a crucial demographic shift in the next decade. Both parties have hit a wall, in that boomers have sat, far too long, in government without sufficiently making space for the next generations. Both are clearly increasingly out of touch with social movements and grassroots activism. This isn’t a US-specific thing, it’s global. Yet the US system is so paralyzed within its two-party structure (with third parties usually playing spoiler instead of offering a legitimate “alternative” in major elections) that it’s hard to envision, quickly, a fix on the party level or that the idea of more or different parties is a solution. Instead, really, it’s a system fix that’s needed. The thing is, despite the many problems with outreach and progressive messaging that the Democratic Party may have, it still is, today, a sufficient home for a large proportion of the left-leaning US American electorate. There certainly is room for a more serious leftist, democratic socialist party, too, particularly as Generation Z and their cohorts come of age, and I would welcome this. But what we’re looking at now, today on Nov. 4, 2020, with Trump on the cusp of potentially securing four more miserable years, is that a large percentage of US Americans – far beyond the approximately 20% of the electorate that covers his gun-toting, Proud Boy “base” – is apparently happy with this administration. This is the part that scares me deeply. That despite the blatant human rights violations, despite the corruption, despite the children in cages, this near majority of the US voting populace is on board with Trump’s “leadership.” There’s no amount of earnest leftist propaganda that’s going to flip that blue. So, we have a lot of antifascist work to do, on top of it all.

JB: The “Democrat Party” is not an entity the way European parties are. It is many different things in many different localities – the San Francisco party is not the rural New Mexico party is not the suburban Atlanta party. The “establishment” is made up largely of officeholders with access to money – which means one foot in a safe, preferably rich district, and another in a position of institutional power. But these eternities have a way of changing very rapidly; look at what has happened to the Republican “establishment” in the last four years.

What’s happening in the U.S., as virtually everywhere, is a breakdown in the old comfortable center-right/center-left (or in the U.S., quite-far-right/center-right) coalitions. For many frustrating years, Thatcher’s There Is No Alternative (to neoliberal/neoconservative capitalism) held sway across the mainstream U.S. political spectrum. It was always facile to say there was no difference between the parties – but on many critical economic issues in particular, the practical differences were too small to be relevant to anyone but professional scorekeepers. But hey, there are alternatives now. On both sides, right and left. Some of them are terrifying, as we’ve seen under Trump. But there’s a stronger pull to the left than I’ve seen in my lifetime, and that’s inspiring. Some of that is happening inside the Democrat party, and will change it substantially. That said, the DSA and other groups need to keep the pressure on from the left. This means starting from the bottom and building up.

Also, action outside pure electoral politics obviously remains absolutely vital, and probably more meaningful to most people’s lives. This means unions, street actions, mutual aid. We need allies (or at least malleable people) in decision-making positions to push through policies, but we need continuing pressure from the outside to push them to do the right thing. And we need to help each other when policymakers can’t or won’t.

NMG: The Democratic Party is clearly not appealing to the real interests of Americans, which are very much related to their material stability. Especially younger generations have a very bleak future given the Covid and economic crisis, climate change, etc. We saw so far that most young voters voted for Biden and most Dems that voted for Biden voted for him only because he is not Trump. They are not voting for Biden because he represents any sort of change for the better, but because there is literally no other option if we don’t want 4 more years of Trump. However, because the US has only two parties that can actually compete and third parties have no chance at all, at least in the current configuration, we need another strategy. That’s what DSA has been doing. They are pushing candidates that are openly socialist or members of the organization to contest establishment Democrats and many have won seats (look at NYS legislature, or the two new congress members). This is an indication that people want change and are voting for it. Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, housing rights and in general tackling inequality in this society is something that actually moves people. DSA has grown out of every disaster. When Bernie lost the first time, when he lost the second time, when Covid started, etc. We hope to expect more people join us if Trump wins again. The alternative is to keep organizing on the ground and bring forward candidates that are clever enough to make socialist campaigns mainstream.

So what happens now?

AM: I keep the whisky nearby and hope luck is on our side. It’s 2020, so anything goes.

LW: I really don’t know what comes next. I am exhausted and disheartened. I don’t want to share my County with a bunch of bigots. I don’t want to get along with fascists and neo-Nazis. I expect things to get worse and that either way we will see more civil unrest. For now, at this moment, I am nauseous and fearful.

JL: Not that much really. As my grandfather liked to say after an election, “It’s the same shit in a different bucket.”

JN: The alternative is action, activism. Not giving up, not letting the rightist-centrists have it. Change the party from within until there is a viable third option. Join DSA and stay in the Dems, I guess. WTF do I know. Nothing, obviously. Also, we need to scrap the electoral college. What a cruel joke on democracy.

JB: Keep organizing. Keep pushing. Keep fighting.

Both major U.S. parties are falling apart, and will be remade by the people fighting for or against them. Be a part of that, from the outside or the inside, whichever works for you. Non-party social movements are gaining influence. Help push them in the right direction.

The problems are and will be fierce, no matter who wins. They’re not going to get smaller. Take a breath, and then keep working on them. Make coalitions, make allies, listen to other people, try to understand their lives and experiences. The more isolated we are, the more likely it is that we lose, and that the world loses.

VG: In the years to come, with either Trump or Biden, an increasing wave of opposition must grow – based on organised labour, Black opposition, the ecological and many others – but above all the peace movement. More and more, such an urgently necessary movement must realize, the sooner the better, that in the USA and elsewhere, fundamental change is insurgently necessary – if the world is to be saved.

Interview partners: John Borland (JB), writer/translator/oaccasional coder in Berlin, registered to vote in Washington State (Seattle); Nicole Möller Gonzalez (NMG), DSA member in Syracuse, not eligible to vote; Victor Grossman (VG), author and retired journalist in Berlin, registered to vote in New York City; Zachary Murphy King (ZMK), downwardly mobile dude from Santa Barbara, California; Jeff Lee (JL), freelance English teacher in Stuttgart, registered to vote in Texas; Tina Lee (TL), writer, researcher and project manager in Berlin, registered to vote in Virginia; Aimee Male (AM), resident in Berlin but registered to vote in San Francisco, California; Thomas McGath (TM), housing activist in Berlin, registered to vote in Maryland; Julie Niederhauser (JN), disappointed Democrat in Berlin, registered to vote in Maryland; Virginia Rodino (VR), ,Co-Chair Maryland Green Party, marx21 (US) member, registered to vote in Maryland, Laura Wilt (LW), based in New York State and in Northern California, where she is registered to vote.