Many things have happened since the last issue of Socialist Forum was published. Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in November’s presidential election, but the transfer of power from one administration to the next was anything but orderly. Trump and his supporters railed against a supposedly “stolen” election for weeks, and filed suit after suit in a vain attempt at overturning the results in the courts. When the legal strategies failed, Trump’s most hardcore supporters rallied in Washington on January 6th and stormed the Capitol while Congress was in the process of certifying the election in Biden’s favor. Predictably, they failed. But the spectacle underscored the fact that Trump’s brand of politics is not going away any time soon. Millions of Americans and much of the Republican Party are deeply committed to an aggressively nationalistic politics, one that views democratic processes and institutions as valuable only if they serve their most immediate partisan self-interest.
With Biden in the White House, a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and an effective Democratic majority in the Senate, Democrats enjoy unified control of the federal government for the first time since Barack Obama’s first term. Have they learned anything from the Obama administration’s failures to adequately address the crises it faced in its own time? So far, the record is mixed. Biden and many of his early appointees have spoken openly of the need to “go big” to fight the intertwined public health and economic crises. Biden’s long record as a conciliator and triangulator, the near-certainty of Republican obstructionism, and the outsized power that conservative Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema will wield in a 50-50 Senate, however, point in the opposite direction. It seems like Democrats have learned some important lessons from the Obama administration. What’s more, there is now, for the first time in many years, a meaningful Left in this country that will continue to push for the biggest and boldest policies possible to combat the pandemic, social inequality, racial injustice, and climate change. Whether this new Left, both inside and outside government, will be able to meaningfully shape the political agenda in the coming months remains an open question.
Beginning with this issue we are moving away from our traditional practice of themed issues. Instead, we have published a set of articles addressing a wide array of political questions, from analyses of the current situation in US politics, to Hindu authoritarianism in India, to the state of the lobster industry in Maine. We are excited to share these articles with DSA members across the country and our readers all around the world. We invite readers to submit responses to any of these articles to our inbox: socialistforum [at] dsausa.org.