Statement by the Party for Socialism and Liberation
Donald Trump is the next President of the United States. It is of utmost urgency that all progressive people take to the streets in defense of immigrants, Muslims and people of color, and to advance an alternative vision of working-class unity and solidarity in the struggle against the ravages of neoliberal capitalism. That is the only way to counter Trump’s demagogy, and expose the fact that he has no real program to improve the living conditions for those who are looking to him to bring change.
How could a racist, sexist xenophobe, a billionaire reality TV star with off-the-charts unfavorable ratings, who lacked the support of the political establishment and the ruling class, win the presidency?
The biggest single cause of Clinton’s defeat was the fact that more than six million fewer Democratic voters went to the polls in 2016 as compared to the election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.
Trump won as a result of the complete and utter failure of the Democratic Party and Wall Street elites to address the biggest issues facing large parts of the working people in the country. That elite took large sections of the electorate for granted, including their own base. Bernie Sanders would have crushed Trump in the general election but the elites vanquished his insurgent campaign and put forward a candidate that epitomized the status quo, while treating working-class communities with extreme arrogance. Trump, the racist and sexist, actually won a greater percentage (29%) of the Latino and (8%) African-American vote than Romney did in 2012.
But 93% of counties nationwide are economically at or below where they were in 2008. Under Obama’s two terms in office, the stock market has tripled in value but wages are stagnant and economic polarization is well documented. This was the sentiment that powered the Bernie Sanders rebellion within the party but the DNC put it down. Then Clinton ran to the right and ever since the entire election cycle has been devoid of any meaningful discussion about the core issues facing working-class and poor people in the United States.
This election result was about turnout. Millions of poor, oppressed and working-class young people, who came out for Obama in large numbers in 2008 and 2012 were not motivated or inspired by a fundamentally untrustworthy person who has been circling in the highest summits of power for a quarter century, and is clearly the preferred candidate of the powers that be.
The shallow politics of symbolism was not sufficient to rally the Democratic base. The country did not magically all turn into Trumpites on Election Day, and there is little evidence of long-time Democrats flocking to Trump. The popular vote, when it’s all counted, may in fact show Clinton pulling even. (Of course, some 31 million people in this country are excluded from the franchise due to being incarcerated or on probation, or due to immigration status.)
But Clinton’s womanhood, and Trump’s blatant sexism, were not enough, for instance, to rally the category of white women without college education. President Obama did well among this group in 2008 but this time 62 percent went for Trump. These voters are dealing with real problems, declining job prospects and an uncertain future. In many suburban and rural white areas, drug addiction has grown rapidly. The impact of foreign trade is a top concern. For such voters, even if they find Trump distasteful, he came with a promise of change.
Like with the Brexit vote across the Atlantic, many of the voters who cast their ballot for Trump were expressing a rejection of the elite, without a clear program of what they are voting for.
Trump is a right-wing nationalist demagogue. He is a fraud. He has no real program. Once in office, he will adopt many of the same policies as the Obama administration, which Clinton would have as well. He will bring in many of the same advisers, Washington insiders, that Clinton would have employed.
It is not the first time an incumbent party has lost the White House to a “change” candidate. In fact, the alternation of winning parties has been the general rule for presidential politics since the 1930s. The only time in the last 84 years that a new president has been elected from the same party as the sitting president was 1988, and in that case George H.W. Bush was already the vice-president.
Clinton was the favored candidate of Wall Street, the Military-Industrial Complex and the right-wing neoconservative foreign policy elites who made up the core of the George W. Bush team. Not one of the CEOs of the Fortune 100 donated to the campaign of the Republican candidate. Almost universally the ruling class did not trust Trump, a small time real estate mogul and reality show TV huckster, to be in possession of the keys to the capitalist castle. Wall Street presumed Trump would only be out for himself which is the real reason they thought he was “unfit” to perform as the CEO for the entire capitalist class. As Karl Marx incisively wrote in the Communist Manifesto: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” (our emphasis)
So it appears to be a shocking development that millions of people voted for Trump, despite his being a militantly racist, misogynist xenophobe who lacked the support of the political establishment and the ruling class that it represents.
Without offering any real solutions, Trump demagogically appealed to sectors of white working-class populations whose jobs and communities have been devastated by the policies and actions of Wall Street, the capitalist corporations and the political elites who serve them in Washington, D.C.
The right wing rants against the “political establishment” but they have no program except racism and bigotry. The right-wing political leaders are a fraud. Their message is hate your fellow workers who are different from you ethnically or religiously. They have no answers for the ravages inflicted by Wall Street except empty, vapid nationalistic slogans like “Make America Great Again.”
What will a Trump Administration mean for working people?
Trump is an erratic and unpredictable leader and the extreme reactionary forces his campaign has emboldened will not be appeased by his taking the White House. The Trump campaign has facilitated the rise of a new right-wing trend in U.S. politics that has as its defining characteristics open racism and misogyny coupled with anti-establishment rhetoric (and oftentimes conspiracy theories).
This has provided fertile ground for the growth of fascism, even though Trump’s victory in and of itself does not herald the arrival of fascism in the United States. Whether this trend continues to operate primarily inside the Republican Party or develops its own organizational form remains to be seen.
The far right presents a serious danger, but we will only make the problem worse if we tail behind the Democrats. By mobilizing immediately and independently against the incoming administration, we can prevent the right wing from gaining any additional traction.
Mass Mobilization on January 20 in Washington, D.C. – Inauguration Day
Right now it is critically important for millions of people to join together in a movement to cancel student debt, dismantle private health insurance organizations and make health care either free or affordable, raise the minimum wage, and organize millions of unorganized workers into unions. Millions of working-class people and youth agreed when Bernie Sanders called out Wall Street as a criminal enterprise. Millions of people oppose any new war in Syria or anywhere else. These issues remain critical regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.
For the Party for Socialism and Liberation, our work begins right away as we, along with people from all over the country, mobilize for the January 20 protest at the Inauguration. As political tensions are heightened in the United States and internationally, the coming period will be a crucial test. The challenge before the left is to lead this struggle. Unless the left provides real leadership, right-wing demagogues and fascists will continue to fill the void. The stakes are high. The time to act is right now.