In the days since the presidential election, the LRP has been participating in protests against Donald Trump, including distributing this statement in leaflet form. We invite readers to share their thoughts. We will be publishing an expanded analysis of the elections and the struggles ahead in the coming days.
Donald Trump’s shocking election as president is a dire and immediate threat to the rights and lives of millions. The violent assaults taking place on Muslims and immigrants and KKK rallies chanting “Black Lives Don’t Matter” warn of the dangers that all people of color will face, from thugs and especially from racist police who have been emboldened by Trump’s victory. They are eager to reassert their authority after the being challenged by two years of Black Lives Matter protests. These attacks also foretell the impending legislative barrage led by the openly authoritarian Trump, plus the Republicans who kept control of Congress, on the democratic rights of immigrants (e.g. rights to obtain citizenship and avoid deportation), people of color (e.g. voting rights and strengthened police powers), women (e.g. abortion and equal employment rights) and the entire working class (e.g. the rights of workers to organize in unions).
Also in grave danger are the masses of the world’s poor and oppressed countries, especially in the Middle East, whom Trump has declared his willingness to “bomb the shit out of” or support other powers in doing so. He has already expressed his support for Putin’s Russia and its monstrous bombing campaign in Syria that is helping the Assad dictatorship complete its genocidal counterrevolution there. As dictators in the Middle East seek to bury the last sources of resistance emanating from the “Arab Spring” of popular revolutions demanding democracy and social justice, it is no coincidence that the first “world leader” to congratulate Trump on his victory was Egypt’s dictator el-Sisi, while Assad has bragged that Trump’s election has freed him from any pressure to even slightly compromise in his final onslaught.
Mass protests against Trump began across the country as soon as the election results were announced. They have offered some desperately needed solidarity to the most vulnerable targets of Trump’s attacks, and they must continue and grow. But to do so they will have to ignore the Democrats’ appeals for calm. President Obama took the lead in welcoming Trump to the White House, declaring that “we are now all rooting for his success” and promising a “smooth” and “peaceful transition of power.” Hillary Clinton spoke similarly. Even the Democrats’ leading liberal voices, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, promised to “keep an open mind” and “work together” with Trump wherever possible.
The Democratic Party leadership under Obama and Clinton had hoped that Trump’s outrageous racism and sexism would prove so scary that they could win without promising the masses anything. Now they hope that some years of suffering under Trump will teach the masses a lesson and drive them back to the Democrats in the next elections. They will express sympathy with protests, but only as long as the movement doesn’t get out of control and grow strong enough to challenge the profit-making of the capitalists they serve and the law and order they rely on. Freed from the responsibility of governing, Democrats will even start voicing hypocritical support for policies to address the masses’ needs. But working-class and oppressed people here and abroad cannot afford to be fooled again.
Unlike these politicians and the ruling class they are a part of, it is the masses of working-class and poor people and most of all Blacks and Latinos who will suffer the consequences if the dictatorial, violence-inciting racist Trump enjoys a peaceful transition to the most powerful position in this country and the world. Mass protests must grow all the way through Trump’s inauguration and besiege it with millions vowing to meet his attacks with earth-shaking struggle. Whole cities across the country should be shut down in protest.
Clinton’s Democrats hoped that Trump’s outrageous racism and sexism would force voters to ignore their refusal to address the working class’s economic suffering. That allowed Trump to pose as the only candidate taking people’s widespread economic suffering seriously. Mass protests around slogans like Yes to Jobs and Social Services! No to Attacks on Muslims, Immigrants, Blacks and Latinos, Unions and Women’s Rights! can counter the Democrats’ betrayals and Trump’s racism and begin to build a powerful and united working-class struggle.
Such demonstrations of a widespread readiness to struggle can create the momentum for even more powerful actions like workers’ mass strikes that can render the country ungovernable unless Trump and the Republicans back off from their planned attacks. For this to happen, motions should be fought for in every union and community organization, and demands placed on their leaders, to devote all available resources to an all-out mobilization of protest.
And let’s be clear – mass struggle can beat back Trump’s impending onslaught. In an election in which both major candidates were widely reviled and distrusted, barely half of those eligible to cast a vote did so. Trump lost the popular vote, only securing the presidency by winning in the undemocratic Electoral College. With the votes of less than a third of eligible voters, Trump cannot claim a democratic mandate for his agenda. Moreover, the variety of contradictory appeals and promises that Trump used to rally votes will set his supporters against one another. For example, his promise to save Medicare and Social Security, invest massively in infrastructure and create millions of new jobs will face the resistance of Republicans determined to cut taxes on the rich.
Trump’s best hope to govern, in fact, comes from the same people who allowed him to win the election: the Democratic Party and its allies on the ground – the privileged bureaucrats that control the unions and the self-appointed leaders of “community” and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that have long insisted that working-class, poor and oppressed people place their hopes for change in electing Democrats instead of mass struggle. Some will support protests today to try to cover-up the role that they have played, but soon they can be expected to again encourage people to look to elections in two and four years’ time rather than mass struggle today to beat back Trump’s attacks.
Defeating Trump’s impending onslaught through mass struggle will therefore require the rise of an alternative political leadership that learns the lessons of how this catastrophic election result came about. We need to recognize that to defend our interests, working-class and oppressed people can only trust in their own capacity to organize and struggle, and that our struggle to beat back attacks today must grow to challenge the entire system that is driving them: crisis-ridden capitalism that is sliding toward another Great Depression.
The Republicans have long been the preferred party of the U.S.’s ruling capitalist class, relying in particular on thinly-veiled racism to win support for aggressive policies designed to intensify capitalist exploitation here and around the world. But especially in times of trouble, when social struggles have threatened to challenge the capitalist order, the ruling class has turned to the Democrats. Thanks to their image as the friends of labor and minorities, the Democrats use their influence through their allies in the union bureaucracy and “community” leaders to hold back struggle. The safe and responsible alternative to protests and strikes, they say, is electing Democrats and then lobbying them for friendly policies.
For decades now, however, the profit rates of the world capitalist economy have been stagnating, pushing rulers everywhere to cut social spending and demand that workers labor longer hours for lower wages while the cost of living continues to rise. Over the last twenty years, the most pronounced form this intensified exploitation has taken has been “free trade” policies that have seen industry shift to the Third World, especially China, where the capitalists can super-exploit desperately poor workers who live and work under brutal dictatorships. Most of the world’s manufacturing now takes place there, allowing the capitalists in the richest and most powerful countries to slow the downward slide of their profits while leaving behind devastation for the working class. Similarly, while denouncing “illegal” immigration, the capitalists have welcomed the opportunity to super-exploit desperately poor and vulnerable undocumented immigrant workers here while turning stable, full-time jobs into part-time and temporary labor.
Thus the Republicans and Democrats have taken turns for decades in presiding over the steady decline of living standards for the U.S. working class, as well as overseeing the super-exploitation of the world by U.S. corporations. The “American Dream” – that each generation could expect to live better than the last if they worked hard and played by the rules – was thus already long dead, along with most of the dreams of national development held by people in the “Global South,” by the time the financial crisis broke out on Wall Street in 2008. The crisis struck at a time when U.S. power had already been greatly weakened by the Bush administration’s disastrous and criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, and so the ruling class turned to Barack Obama to stabilize its rule.
The election of this country’s first Black president was greeted as a great victory over nightmarish racism. It raised the hopes of millions that an era of greater justice for all was opening. But after bailing out Wall Street at a cost of 12 trillion dollars, Obama left the working class to drown. And confronted by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement of protest against the regular racist murders by police, he offered sympathetic words but did nothing to redress the racist “law and order” policies that fuel them.
Abroad, after promising to end the U.S. occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, he is ending his second term in office by sending more troops there while waging a perpetual drone war in the Middle East that is killing far more civilians than alleged terrorists. Against the democratic revolutions, he backed counterrevolutions in the name of stability, i.e. the continued flow of oil, trade and capitalist profits.
Obama’s betrayals of his supporters’ hopes were driven by his loyalty to capitalism as it spirals toward ever deeper crisis. Super-exploitation here and abroad is the only way the capitalists can hope to delay another financial crisis and Great Depression. Wars abroad are the only way to maintain the imperialist order that the U.S. still dominates and that enables the capitalists of the most powerful countries loot the poor. Controlled by the capitalists that fund it, the Democratic machine chose Clinton as its candidate because they knew she was committed to continuing the imperialist policies they need. And this also explains Hillary Clinton’s campaign and its disastrous loss to Trump.
Controlled by the capitalists that fund it, the Democratic machine chose Clinton as its candidate because they knew she was committed to continuing the policies of global super-exploitation that they need. Together they believed that an extreme right-wing presidential candidate for the Republicans would be enough to scare voters into electing her, allowing her to avoid promising any concrete policies to address the masses’ desperate need for jobs and expanded social services.
Secret documents from the Democratic leadership published by Wikileaks revealed key elements of their strategy. One leaked memo from the Democratic leadership revealed how they worked to promote the candidacies of the most extreme right-wing Republicans and especially Trump, for example by lobbying the media to increase their coverage of them. Another revealed how at the same time, concerned that Clinton’s past support for racist policies during her husband’s presidency like his cuts to welfare programs and “tough on crime laws” would damage her ability to retain the support of Black voters, local Democrats were instructed to follow Clinton’s lead and listen to Black Lives Matter protesters and act as if they care – but absolutely “don’t offer support for concrete policy positions” to address racist police injustice.
Meanwhile, the Democrats did not even offer phony concern for other sections of the working class and poor. Having survived Bernie Sanders’ challenge to be the Democrats’ candidate, they refused to make any concessions to his calls for ending “free trade” policies and investing in infrastructure to create jobs. As he promised from the start, Sanders endorsed Clinton regardless and encouraged his supporters to vote for her with the only one reason offered: stop Trump.
Adding insult to injury, Obama and Clinton ultimately insulted the intelligence of working-class and poor people everywhere: eight years after the crisis on Wall Street, with millions of working-class people still suffering the consequences of losing their jobs and homes and with racist atrocities by the police continuing unchecked by government action, they responded to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” with the slogan “America is Already Great.”
In these ways, the Democratic Party leadership paved the way for Trump’s victory. Demoralized by Clinton’s refusal to offer a single concrete policy to address this country’s enduring racism and worsening poverty, her support fell dramatically compared to recent elections. Millions fewer Blacks and women voted for Clinton and the Democrats despite facing the most openly racist and sexist candidate in memory. This allowed a shift of some votes to Trump by working-class and poor whites in the economically devastated “Rust Belt” states, and delivered the White House to Trump.
In welcoming Trump to the White House after his victory, Obama swept Trump’s 18 months of insults and bullying under the rug and told one and all to give Trump a chance: “Ultimately we’re all on the same team.”
No. We are not all in this together. The working class and oppressed have long been under attack by the capitalists and their politicians. Our interests are opposed to theirs, and so we have to fight our class’s misleaders to establish our independence from the ruling class. The working class’s power comes from our collective labor that makes society run, and our capacity to unite in collective struggle against capitalism’s worsening oppression and exploitation. The working class, poor and oppressed people need a party of their own, growing out of our mass struggles and dedicated to ending capitalist rule.
Only by breaking from capitalist politics completely can the working class assert its own interests. Then we will see that we have billions of allies all over the world, that we can find a common language even with many of Trump’s voters in this country. Then we can make sure the economy works for human needs and not for profit, wipe out the gross inequality that oppresses and outrages us, and unlock the potential of modern science to save the planet and build a socialist society of freedom and abundance for all.
We in the League for the Revolutionary Party hope and plan to further the mass struggle and help give it direction while working to build a revolutionary leadership that fights to replace the rule of the bosses with that of the working class. We encourage our fellow workers and youth to sort through all the different claimants to socialism and find the authentic revolutionary socialism that is worth fighting for. A capitalist future means increased attacks on the masses, major wars, and the destruction of the environment. Trump’s brutality is only a foretaste of what the capitalist system and its politicians will have in store if the working class does not win.