Sunday Hot Takes, April 11th, 2021

Trump and Amazon.

Trump Can’t Win — Elias Khoury, University of Michigan

On March 25th, Joe Biden announced that he plans to run for reelection. Less than a month earlier, Donald Trump teased a 2024 run during a CPAC speech. Could the two be on a collision course once again?

It’s certainly possible. If Trump runs in 2024, he would likely sail through the Republican primary. At present, no other member of the GOP poses a threat to his stranglehold on the party.

Only thrice since the abolition of slavery have the same two major-party candidates faced off in consecutive presidential elections. Dwight Eisenhower ran against Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956; William McKinley ran against William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and 1900; and Rutherford Hayes ran against Grover Cleveland in 1888 and 1892. In the two most recent cases, the incumbent was re-elected by a margin larger than that of their initial victory. A Biden-Trump rerun would play out in similar fashion.

If we know anything about American politics, it’s that being crummy does not preclude you from being liked. And Biden just so happens to be quite popular. A recent HarrisX poll placed his net favorability at +22. Now compare that to Trump’s. Post-Capitol riot, he was at a dismal -39.

Because of the irrationality of the electoral college, being more popular does not guarantee victory. Indeed, it is possible for the candidate with the most votes to lose the election. Just ask Al Gore or Hillary Clinton. I would tell you to ask Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden, and the aforementioned Grover Cleveland too, but they’re all dead.

That said, the two are highly correlated. 92% of the time, the candidate who wins the popular vote becomes president. And Trump is simply too hated to beat Biden in the popular vote. I predict that Biden would win a 2024 matchup by seven to 10 points, if not more.

There is also the factor of key swing states trending blue. After more than four decades of uninterrupted Republican dominance, Texas is once again in play. So are Georgia and Arizona, both of which Biden narrowly won in 2020. One of the few paths to victory Trump has would be through flipping either, or both, of those states.

But how likely is that after he was unable to flip even a single state while running as an incumbent? Not very. And this is assuming that Biden, now running with the incumbency advantage, would not win any states that he lost in 2020 — even though he flipped five states won by Trump in 2016.

Biden lost some close races in 2020 — namely, North Carolina and Florida. If he wins both in 2024, he could lose every other swing state (defined as a state decided by <5% in 2020) and still win the election.

In short, Trump can’t win. For that reason, I sincerely hope he runs. Bring on the schadenfreude.

Bummer in Bessemer — Griffin Mahon, University of Virginia

The workers who voted on unionization at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama voted against forming a union, 1,798 against to 738 for.

That’s a loss. 

That’s also a lot of people with a lot of courage. There’s not many limits to what that many people in one place can accomplish. They can regroup, plan, and accrete more forces locally and nationally. Ultimately, Amazon workers will triumph over the richest man on Earth. But it may take a while. Amazon workers all across the country are organizing, as evidenced by Amazonians United

You should’ve read Jane McAlevey’s debrief. The most important thing now is reading everything we can about what happened. It’ll all be biased, but some points will be correct and others may push us to rethink things. Socialists are analysts by trade: study up!

McAlevey criticizes that RWDSU told workers they wouldn’t have to pay dues because of right-to-work. People aren’t stupid. If you don’t invest, what will you get out? Check a box and — magically — good things may happen. No way.

Changing laws can make it easier to organize, but it can’t make workers want to organize. If it’s practically impossible to form a union in this country, then the socialist movement has to offer workers something more — that we are willing to risk our livelihoods for. “Dignity” might not be enough unless we communicate that real dignity requires power. 

One worker said she already gets good benefits and health insurance from day one. The most pro-company voices likely get to the press first. Indeed, that same worker did another interview: it turns out she’s a paid labor organizer on the side. It can take years, she notes, to get a contract with raises. Is she wrong? It’s not Amazon propaganda that they pay more than twice the minimum wage, even with inhumane working conditions. 

An employer like Amazon possibly demands a different approach: class struggle and strategy instead of moralistic economism. What’s more disorienting, the unrelenting corporate PR campaign or the Alabama AFL-CIO president writing that last year Jeff Bezos made too much money one moment and then saying he hopes he makes another $10 billion the next?

The Bessemer results felt a bit like watching the 2019 UK elections, when Corbyn’s Labour also lost decisively. That was before Bernie, this is after. In both cases, I just thought, “What the hell, man.” I followed along closely, from a distance. I put some hope and faith in the outcomes. It was obviously possible to do a bit more digging and calibrate my expectations, but it’s still hard not to get emotionally attached to an historic fight.

So what’s the takeaway? If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you want to try and fail and learn and maybe succeed, get involved!

By the way, 1,100 UMWA miners in the same state voted down their tentative agreement with Warrior Met Coal after being out on strike for more than a week.

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