This past week has seen both Trump and Biden angling to gain the support of striking autoworkers. Last Tuesday, Biden joined a picket line in Michigan, with much of the mainstream media a huge deal over Biden being the first sitting President to do so. He has called himself the most pro-union President ever. But supposedly pro-union Biden forced rail workers to accept a terrible contract and blocked their strike in the fall of last year. Biden doesn’t want workers organizing and fighting. He wants there to be peace between workers and bosses. When asked on the picket line if he supported the demands of the striking workers he replied that he thought workers should be able to bargain for a 40% wage increase. Ford, GM, and Steallantis would say just the same. Even on a picket line, Biden is closest to the bosses.
Just one day later Trump held a rally in a Detroit suburb, supposedly to speak to striking autoworkers. In fact, the event was held at a non-union automotive plant and many of the attendees weren’t even autoworkers. And Trump has a long history of serving the capitalist class – being a capitalist himself. Trump’s tax cuts in 2017 gave trillions of dollars to the wealthy and big corporations. And Trump’s NLRB was one of the most anti-worker in history, systematically rolling back worker rights to organize at the workplace and giving more power to bosses on working conditions and bargaining.
Trump and Biden do not care a bit about the autoworkers strike. But it is politically vital for both of them. The 2016 and 2020 elections were decided by slim margins in the midwest – including in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. It is essential to win those states if either wants to win the 2024 election. And Trump sees an opportunity to gain the support of union members, many of whom are rightfully disenchanted with the high inflation rate and minimal wage gains that the economy had under Biden.
Trump offers no solution to the economic crises confronting UAW workers and the rest of the working class in the US. Neither does Biden. Each offers a different version of the same capitalism. Biden wants workers and bosses to all get along, even asking the Big three automakers to “step up” and cooperate. How do you cooperate with corporations that want to drain as much profit as possible from the blood and sweat of workers? Trump wants a world of brutal exploitation and high corporate profits which will somehow trickle down from the rich to the rest of us. But that has never once happened in history.
But real power lies with us, not with Biden and Trump. Real power lies with the work we do to make the capitalist economy run. The autoworkers have shown just a small part of the power of the working class. What if all the autoworkers went out on strike? What if we all organized in our own workplaces and neighborhoods to support them?
We don’t have to decide between Biden and Trump and their false promises and demagoguery. We’re the ones with power in this society. And we’re the ones who can run this society if we organize and fight.