Made in America
What lies behind Trump’s Victory and how can he be stopped?
On November 8, DONALD TRUMP rode a wave of anti-establishment anger to become the 45th president of the United States. Trump's secret was old fashioned demagogy, using distortions and outright lies to convince voters that only he was telling the truth, describing the terrible conditions faced by many ordinary Americans. Telling the truth, too, about a lying, privileged establishment in Washington and Wall Street that has done very well, whilst millions lost their homes and well-paid jobs for, at best, ill-paid and insecure ones.
This gained him a hearing and a mobilizing power beyond, and to an important degree against, the official Republican Party. He also had the ideal opponent in Hillary Clinton, the very embodiment of the Washington elite that, for twenty-five years, has been carelessly downsizing industry, jobs and wages, and steadily alienating its own base.
Trump's islamophobia, anti-Mexican racism and shameless misogyny, electrified the rightwing social media while the Breitbart news platform, a self proclaimed organ of the sinister “alt right’, turned into a Trump campaign outlet. His so-called outbursts at rallies and on twitter won him free coverage from a largely hostile corporate media that couldn’t resist a good story. In previous times this would have doomed his candidacy but his anti-pc "outsider” status and contempt for the “biased liberal media” became a plus in the eyes of many. They hoped it signalled a president with the backbone to push through radical change and “Make America Great Again”.
Clinton’s counter-slogan, “America IS Great” went down like a lead balloon and showed how out of touch the Democrats were with the desperation and anger that has built up from below. Millions, disgusted with both candidates, just stayed home, the root cause of her defeat.
Trump’s campaign and his victory unleashed a wave of thousands of hate crimes and physical attacks on minorities, immigrants and LGBT people. These are also the people, amongst the most socially and politically oppressed, who will fare worst in Trump’s America. So, too, will the poor who face further cuts to federal programmes; the Black communities facing Trump’s pledge to empower police, murdering the youth of their communities; millions of “illegal” immigrants will fear the knock on the door leading to imprisonment and deportation; women could soon face a “pro-Life” Supreme Court that could reverse Roe vs Wade, reviving the world of back street abortions and LGBTQ people will face a likely erosion of recently won rights.
Globally, Trump’s triumph signals a turning point for environmental progress under capitalism, threatening to reverse what meagre advances have been made. His ideological denial of climate change lies behind plans to let fossil fuel production rip; oil, fracking, “clean coal” and to withdraw from the Paris Accords.
The Liberal media and celebrities who supported Hillary Clinton, are trying to blame the (white) working class and even the black and Latino communities for failing to rally to her. Indeed, they blame anyone but the Democrat Party and its candidate. But Trump did not win by a landslide - indeed he did not win at all, in terms of the popular vote, and the shock of Trump’s election victory has unleashed a wave of progressive anger that Clinton's campaign never could have.
The resistance has already started. Students from the public schools immediately took to the streets. Thousands of people, night after night, protested in streets, squares and campuses, across the country, with the chant “not our President”. Plans are afoot for demonstrations on Inauguration Day, including a women’s march on Washington.
The key question is how to unite the various sectors who hate Trump and all he stands for and build resistance that can carry on well beyond the Inauguration. We need local mobilizing committees to launch a sustained movement and bring to the forefront the working class and poor sections of the oppressed. Bernie Sanders has spoken at mass meetings calling for resistance but he is also continuing his profoundly wrong strategy of trying to reform the Democratic Party.
This would inevitably mean a perspective subordinated to winning elections and ensure continued dependence on congressional Democrats. What is needed is a real challenge to Trump, immediately. For that challenge to remain independent of the Democrats and not be demobilized every two years at election time, it must take up the struggle for a new party of the US working class amongst all those who have seen through the Democrats; Socialists, Bernie-or-Busters, Black Lives Matter activists, and others.
Hail to the Thief!
After Clinton’s concession and Trump's victory speech, it became clear that he didn’t actually win. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by at least 2.5 million, a higher margin than presidents Kennedy in 1960 or Nixon in 1968. The undemocratic indirect electoral system, which systematically over-represents smaller rural conservative states at the expense of the larger more urbanised ones, gave Trump an Electoral College landslide; 306 votes to Clinton’s 232. By a magnificent irony, back in November 2012 he tweeted “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy”.
Americans have been here before. In 2000, George W Bush “won” in the college because a Republican dominated Supreme Court blocked a recount in Florida where the election rigging had been brazen. Democrat Al Gore still received 500,000 more votes than Bush nationally, who won by a mere five votes in the Electoral College. But Trump’s 2.5 million “discrepancy” is the biggest ever of the four times it has happened and is startling testimony to how undemocratic the US constitution is. The incredibly powerful president, Commander in Chief of the armed forces and at the head of the gigantic federal bureaucracy, is not elected by equal and direct suffrage. Whatever voters think they are doing, in almost all states they are in fact voting for a slate of electors on a winner-takes-all basis rather than in proportion to the votes for each candidate.
In addition, the Republican proportion of the vote is always boosted by election laws that block poor Americans, particularly African-Americans criminalized by the police and courts, from voting. Each state has its own election laws and in many the heritage of Jim Crow is still very strong. Felony convictions, some as trivial as shoplifting, will have debarred 6.1 million citizens, obviously amongst the poorest. The number of voting stations has been reduced and the hours they are open cut. In three states alone, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, more than 20 per cent of African Americans are disenfranchised. No wonder nearly half of all Americans were discouraged or prevented from voting. This is what capitalist democracy looks like.
But the real story in 2016 is the collapse in the Democratic vote in key areas where it was once strong. Many failed to vote and a minority turned to Trump. Even so, he squeaked through in the Electoral College by carrying crucial swing states often by two percentage points or less. He won Wisconsin and Michigan by a mere 22,177 and 10,704 votes respectively.
Nonetheless, 2016 has seen the Republicans gain a stranglehold on government at federal and state level, keeping control of both houses of Congress with Trump able to appoint up to four Supreme Court Justices, creating a conservative court lasting decades. The Republicans also advanced at state level, with 34 governors, two-thirds of state legislatures and a monopoly on both in 24 states, giving them a virtual blank check to attack rights and push cuts.
Trump, class and race
Commentators generally leave out the class question, preferring a racist “whitelash” against a “changing country”. But when they do dial in class, they focus on white working class racism. The beloved middle class is suddenly forgotten. They point to the Great Lakes region “rustbelt” where five states; Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, flipped from voting Obama in 2012 to voting Trump in 2016, winning him the election. Trump advisor Stephen Moore actually boasted that “Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party”, a laughable proposition. In fact, exit polls showed that 52 percent of voters earning less than $50,000 a year (36 percent of the electorate) voted for Clinton, compared to 41 percent for Trump, while those earning above that narrowly backed Trump. Still, 66 percent of non-college-educated whites, generally an indicator of lower income, did vote for Trump while 76 percent of non-whites without a degree backed Clinton.
Some on the left have countered that the turn to Trump was fundamentally about class not race, citing the fact that Obama had won a majority of white voters in these states in 2012. A study looking in detail at the five rustbelt states that flipped to the Republicans, showed a drop of nearly 1.17 million lower income voters who had voted Democrat in 2012 nearly half of whom stayed home and 335,000 (28.5%, mostly whites) voted for Trump. Some of the poorest and many non-white voters were likely hit by the new discriminatory voter ID laws but many others simply stayed home rejecting Clinton and Trump, since “both of them were terrible. They never do anything for us anyway” in the words of one Black voter. Some industrial counties in these states with a big white majority voted Obama last time, some didn’t. Trade unionists voted for Clinton by 51 to Trump’s 42 percent – not a massive majority, and substantially narrower than in 2012.
What has to be remembered is that, in the old capitalist democracies, a large minority of the working class always votes for right wing parties. Why? Because they are not class conscious. If class consciousness, let alone anticapitalist ideas, were simply a natural, automatic result of class position, then capitalism would have been in the trash can of history a hundred years ago or more. When there is no progressive party that identifies with the labor movement or, like the Democrats under the Clinton’s, it has distanced itself from the trade unions and championed Wall Street and the bankers, this situation is even more marked than, say, in Europe.
Liberal arguments blaming white working class people for Trump’s election rely in part on equating whites without a college education with the working class when some own small businesses or are self-employed (remember Joe the Plumber?). Nevertheless, crude analyses that deny the existence of racism and other reactionary ideas in the working class, or that these are growing, won’t work either. Class interests do drive workers’ choices and behaviour, including at elections, but some can fall for racist or nationalist solutions.
Of course, in 2016, Clinton was the worst candidate the Democrats could have chosen but Bernie Sanders' surrender to the Democratic National Committee, despite its ferocious behind the scenes manoeuvres against him, unwittingly helped Trump. It allowed him to steal the anti-establishment torch and even large parts of Sanders’ narrative; the rigged economy, Wall Street greed, etc. Both candidates had a majority who either voted for them having reservations or because they disliked the other candidate more; it was not only the nastiest election in memory, but also the one where few felt they had positive options.
Trump’s electorate was overwhelmingly white, with working class voters a relatively small section of this, most of whom had voted for Republicans for years. Possibly the major key to Trump’s victory was his alliance with evangelical leaders, promising to repeal Roe Vs Wade to win the votes (80 percent) of religious conservatives, and this may help explain why some workers and minorities voted for him.
A new, younger component of his vote was those influenced by the “alt-right” online movement with white nationalism, antifeminism, ultra-nationalist and fascistic views. Steve Bannon, former chief executive of Breitbart News and now Trump’s chief strategist, described this as the platform of the movement. Adding the ingredient of social media to rightwing talk radio and religious broadcasting helped inflate the reactionary, irrationalist bubble on the right of US politics to new toxic heights, and Trump with it.
Far from Trump's demagogy of “draining the swamp” or “sending the special interests packing”, his cabinet is well-packed with Wall Street billionaires and career Republicans, generals from the ultra-hawkish fringe of the Pentagon establishment and rightwing and evangelical culture warriors. Some pundits have tried to present a more moderate, compromising Trump since the election, as he dropped the “lock her up” rhetoric and praised Obama after their White House meeting, but his cabinet, and plans for his first 100 days, show he intends to carry out his programme in full or blame a Republican congress for blocking it.
Perched at the top is Bannon himself, showing Trump’s commitment to the populist-right drive of his administration. Bannon sees Islam and secularism as the main evils. At a conference in the Vatican he said “secularism has sapped the strength of the Judaeo-Christian West to defend its ideals” and he has hailed a “global populist revolution”, led by figures like France’s Marine Le Pen, or India’s Narendra Modi, that is fundamentally Islamophobic but also violently anti-gay and anti-abortion. He is now “chief strategist and senior counsellor” to the President of the most powerful country in the world!
Trump has nominated the hardline Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for Attorney General, giving him supervision over the FBI and the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. He is noted for his total opposition to legal as well as illegal immigration, he even wants to repeal the right of automatic citizenship for all those born in the US. Three decades ago, he was rejected as a federal judge by a Republican-dominated congress for racist statements, including positive references to the Ku Klux Klan. He will carry out Trump’s law and order platform with a vengeance. Trump has said he will immediately order the deportation or incarceration of 2-3 million “illegal criminal immigrants”, and withold federal funds from sanctuary cities such as Seattle and Chicago to force them to reverse local policies that restrict police from turning immigrants over to federal immigration agents.
Then there is retired General Michael Flynn, appointed national security adviser. Flynn is another obsessive about Islam, believes sharia law is spreading across America and sees the War on Terror as war against Islam. He is in favour of torture and waterboarding. In an article in the New York Post he talked of the US "facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang to Havana and Caracas" and includes “radical Muslim countries and organizations”. He upholds “the superiority of the West”. No wonder he is seen as fringe by even Pentagon top brass, General Colin Powell called him “a fucking lunatic”. Flynn will be Trump’s “critical gatekeeper” for military issues.
Trump’s aim is not to focus on problems at home and abandon foreign wars. His proposals would mean the biggest military build-up since Reagan, with a massive naval expansion from the current 272 to a 350-ship navy, possibly doubling military spending to $1 trillion. Liberal imperialism’s hypocritical discourse of human rights, empowering women and extending democracy, will become even more tattered and cynical as the US wages war and supports dictatorship abroad.
Trump’s threat to use tactical nukes against Isis, his monopoly of control over America’s nuclear arsenal, may sound like a rehash of the unfulfilled fears of Reagan, but they take on a more dangerous colouration now that the US faces a rising China and more assertive Russia, not the failing Soviet Union of the 1980s. Those who thought the new President would pursue an isolationist or even a détente policy with Putin are in for a nasty shock. Trump, Session, Bannon, Flynn; more like the four horsemen of the apocalypse than preachers of the gospel of peace.
Moreover, Trump has put in place a team straight out of the Wall Street swamp he promised to drain. Steven Mnuchin, like Bannon a rich ex-Goldman Sachs banker, is appointed to the lynch-pin economic position as Treasury Secretary. Wilbur Ross, a vulture capitalist who downsizes ailing industries, is Secretary of Commerce and on-message on trade: “The president has a huge amount of fire in terms of abrogating treaties, and he can do a lot without reference to Congress”. He says he expects big changes on trade and regulation through executive action.
Tom Price, Republican congressman and opponent of “Obamacare” will be in charge of Health and Human Services. Billionaire Republican Betty DeVos, as head of Education, will push “school choice” vouchers and charter schools to increase the influence of religious schools and attack teachers. Candidates for the Interior Secretary, in charge of public lands with a big impact on oil, gas and coal development, include rightwing heroine Sarah Palin and a string of energy sector CEO’s and conservative politicians, one a Democrat whose motto is “drill baby drill”!
Those in the frame for the post of Secretary of State, overseeing foreign policy, range from the neocon John Bolton to Mitt Romney, billionaire financier and 2012 Republican candidate for president. Meanwhile, Trump has stuffed his “landing teams”, which prepare for the handover of particular agencies and departments, with consultants, corporate lawyers, businessmen and ex-lobbyists. Cabinets don’t get much more Wall Street than this.
Trumponomics and trillion-dollar holes
In the days after the election, the stock markets saw a $1 trillion “Trump Bump” in share values, with synchronized all-time highs on the four major benchmark indexes for the first time since 1999. Brian Jacobsen from Wells Fargo Funds Management LLC pointed to Trump’s promised “tax cuts and regulatory relief that could propel earnings is 2017”.
A key attraction of Trump’s campaign was radical policies to get the economy moving again and infrastructure spending to create millions of jobs. Linked to this was a turn to protectionism, centred on hiking tariffs. Financial and environmental deregulation, particularly aimed at energy, and the repeal of Obama’s Dodd-Frank banking regulations (weak as these are) will easily pass a Republican Congress.
Trump also promises to cut the top rate of individual tax to 33 per cent, corporate tax to 15 per cent and eliminate estate tax. Companies repatriating profits from abroad will get a 10 percent rate! 47 percent of the tax cuts go to the top one percent and only 10 percent to the bottom 60 percent. Federal revenues would fall by trillions, leaving a $7.2 trillion black hole in the federal budget over a decade.25 Of course, he claims that US GDP will soar to 4 per cent per annum and fill the gap but also is “not afraid” of inflation. Environmental regulations will be slashed to open the way for a massive blitz of energy investment in oil production, fracking and “clean coal”, worth $5 trillion according to Trump.
America’s infrastructure is indeed tottering from decades of neglect, with over 66,000 structurally deficient bridges, $78 billion needed in public transport repairs, and unsafe water systems like that which tragically poisoned Flint, Michigan. Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure policy is weak on detail but relies overwhelmingly on private investment, incentivized by tax credits and consumers paying through tolls and other charges.
There is a big fly in this ointment: Trumponomics doesn’t add up. A trillion in tax breaks for infrastructure, trillions in tax cuts, and a trillion-dollar defense budget, too. Something will have to be cut, and drastically. Trump pledged again and again that he would not cut Social Security and Medicare, which Republicans have longed to slash since Reagan but would have meant electoral suicide. Now, Michael Korbey, a former lobbyist for those campaigning to cut and privatise it, heads Trump’s transition team for Social Security!
The US national debt is currently approaching $20 trillion; how will Trump pay for his programme? It means either a ballooning federal debt, which the Republican Congress is dead against, or historic cuts in spending. Congress will for sure demand Trump breaks his pledge on Social Security. Promises over social security and infrastructure could especially come back to haunt him with his working class supporters.
Widening cracks in US capitalism
Since his election, Trump has said little about his threats to hit companies offshoring jobs with a 35 per cent tariff but the rest of his promises are in his 100 days plan; kill TPP, start renegotiating NAFTA, label China a currency manipulator. His promise to “bring back the jobs” and eliminate the trade deficit is, however, a chimera.
Protectionism would likely ensure an even greater overall fall in manufacturing jobs despite, or rather because of, higher tariffs, and produce a recession. His publicity stunt at the Carrier plant in Indiana in early December, claiming to save 800 jobs, out of 2100, was actually the result of $7 million in tax breaks and the company's fear of losing out on the nearly $7 billion in federal contracts.
Congress is unlikely to let Trump pull out of NAFTA without its say so, though most experts agree he has enough powers to seriously damage it, for instance using the executive’s control over enforcement mechanisms of cross-border trade to hassle companies, and possibly could unilaterally raise tariffs.
Both protectionism and free trade enable the capitalists to rob the working class, either as producers or consumers. Protectionism will hit them in their wage packets since most workers have depended on cheap imported goods without which the impact of the fall in real wages would have been even more severe. Rising productivity and the shift to the anti-union, low-wage Southern states in the US have been main drivers of the collapse of employment in the rustbelt at least second to offshoring. The main enemies of American workers are at the top of their own country, not across border walls or oceans.
In reality, Trump's policy is not isolationism and an autarkic protected US economy. He wants to force trade agreements onto his terms in order to address serious weaknesses in American capitalism that the elite has ignored; taming an unsustainable trade deficit and trying to recapture some of America’s industrial muscle, rather than continue to yield it to China. This may be one reason Trump admires Putin, who rose to power by using the state to discipline and even expropriate those oligarchs of the 1990s who pursued their own individual interests at the expense of economically weakening Russia.
Many think tanks and economists have pointed to the disorganization of the US economy that would come from cutting trade ties to Mexico. Mexico is the US’ third largest trading partner and the site of over £100 billion in American investment. That would be dwarfed by a similar disengagement from China. The economic damage and political, even revolutionary, crises that this could create in Mexico, let alone China, and indeed in the US itself, mean that most US capitalists would oppose such a policy. Whatever he might tweet, they think Trump will have to retreat on this.
Trump’s election, however, does represent something of a turning point, where the weakening of US hegemony could cause a serious rift over strategy within the ruling class. Add to this the disappointment if he rows back on major promises; either to working and middle classes expecting a return to well-paid jobs or the bigotry and racism of the religious right, and you have a basis for clashes, constitutional crises, and even street mobilisations like the Tea Party, whipped up directly by the “tweeter-in-chief,” to pressure Congress or hammer anti-Trump protesters. This could create a situation unprecedented in US politics for many decades.
To sum up, a Trump administration will be turbulent and conflict-ridden but, at this point, presents a series of “unknown unknowns” in Donald Rumsfeld’s famous formula. Will more scandals emerge from his past; tax evasion, business fraud, prosecution for sexual assault? Will there be conflicts of interests with his business empire, passed on barely at arms-length to his children to run? His commander-in-tweet approach means policy made up on the run, and potential gaffes and crises.
Not the least of his problems would be a collision with the increasing struggles of the poorest sections of workers and oppressed that rose under Obama, plus an historically leftwing younger generation that grew up under Dubya and since the 2008 crash. Trump's victory is often compared to that of Reagan but, in 1980, he confronted movements from the 1960s and 1970s that had subsided, been defeated or been coopted into the Democrats.
Trump’s promises of “jobs, jobs, jobs” are supposed to come from corporations profiting from pork-barrel infrastructure deals and protectionism, but any “trickle down” will only go to a minority of workers. While top union leaders may be courted with jobs and contracts, cuts in taxes and regulations will dictate big spending cuts that will mean a major attack on public sector workers, one of the few remaining bastions of trade unions in America. What is certain is that his administration will be hard on protestors and civil liberties, those struggling from below for unions and the $15 minimum wage, which he pointedly refused to support in his campaign.
Trump’s presidency and world disorder
Trump’s victory has caused dismay and confusion in the capitals of many US allies, especially in Europe. On the other hand, it has led to warm expressions of satisfaction in Moscow, Ankara, Cairo and Budapest. Various populist movements, like UKIP in Britain or the Front National in France, see in Trump a hopeful sign of their own successes to come. Trump has joined Putin as a poster boy for these reactionary forces.
Whatever comes of his pre-election threats and his propensity to make policy via twitter “putting America first”, means putting other countries on reduced rations. Of course, the globalization and neoliberal policies and trade deals such as TTP, TTIP and NAFTA were never the foolish acts of generosity Trump and others claim. Far from being giveaways to Mexico and China, they opened those countries up to the competition of US multi-nationals.
The US return to energy self-sufficiency via shale oil, has encouraged a section of the US ruling class to try to extricate itself from free trade deals in which the US lost the competitive battle and to renegotiate bi-lateral ones to their advantage and, therefore, the disadvantage of their trade partners. China and Mexico are clearly first in Trump’s line of fire. In the real world, however, trying to reduce the US trade deficit with China, which rose to $42.6 billion in October, by slapping on a 45 percent tariff would lead to disastrous consequences in both countries.
And what of America’s allies? Trump has been merciless in his criticisms of the Europeans, the Japanese and South Koreans for freeloading on the US for their own defence and threatened that he would not defend them if they came under attack. He has called into question the value to the US of its regional military alliances. For example, he has said that NATO is “obsolete”, “costing us a fortune” and that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of it. This has led to European states discussing major increases in their arms budgets and cooperation with one another independent of the US.
Of course election speeches and tweets do not a global strategy make. Nor is it possible to turn such a gigantic ship of state around sharply. But his repeated attacks on Obama as a “weak” president who failed to defend US interests and led to a decline of US power, will make it difficult for Trump to back down from many of his statements, certainly if he makes demands that are simply impossible to concede.
A wake-up call for workers and the left
People woke up the day after the election to the clear and present danger that Trump represents. Most immediately this threatens immigrants, women’s hard won rights to an abortion, and black youth facing the racist cops who Trump praises as heroes. In fact, his victory threatens US workers from all ‘races’ and communities. Against the conciliatory words of Clinton and Obama, the working class and progressive movements must prepare to collide with Trump’s presidency.
The parties of the centre-right and centre-left stand condemned by this election. They have lost their capacity to convince and hold their electoral majorities. Clintonism, with its triangulation between its traditional supporters and the ‘new’ middle class, has failed. The spin and promises of Democrats can no longer cover the fact that they are also a big business party and offer only more of the same.
Obama's limited progressive measures; advances in healthcare provision, gay marriage and green energy are almost certain to be largely reversed. The diminishing returns of supporting the lesser evil have led to a terrible dead-end, unless a movement of resistance and a new working class party alongside it can rise from its ashes. A major lesson from 2016 must not be forgotten; the Sanders experiment showed that the ruling Democratic establishment will never allow even a mildly reformist candidate to get near the seat of power, loyal as it is to US capitalism.
Sanders has now been rewarded with a “promotion” to the Senate leadership in an “outreach” capacity, where he can mobilise his supporters behind the corporate Democrats. Those resisting Trump must oppose this. Millions refused to vote Democrat or voted for the Greens. The ‘experiment’ is over and it would never have worked anyway. It is time for a new party, of the working class, including its most oppressed black and immigrant sections. Without a working class party, the middle class, disintegrating with bankruptcies, foreclosures and falling incomes, can always be set in motion by bourgeois demagogues like Trump and choose reactionary solutions in the main, whatever the liberal minority that turns to the Greens.
Trump’s right wing populism is fed by the deepening contradictions of US capitalism with its grotesque levels of inequality, poverty and insecurity. But the other major cause of his triumph was the absence of a left-wing party able to show to workers that it is the US ruling class that is responsible for the offshoring and the rundown of states that were once hives of industry, not Mexican immigrants. Workers in the rustbelt states who lost well paid, secure jobs in return for insecure and poorly paid ones, or self-employment, had no progressive banner to rally around. Bernie Sanders’ failure to break from the Democrats temporarily deepened this political vacuum.
The forces radicalised by Occupy and BLM, plus the Fight for 15 union campaigners and the Sanders activists, all still exist but an amorphous non-political movement, or coalitions and networks, are just not up to the task of stopping Trump in his tracks. We need a coalition of the coalitions and a network of the networks. In short, we need to present a united front to Trump and the Republicans, at town and city, at state and national level. Those planning demos against Trump in their localities need to set about the formation of mobilizing committees which will not disband on the day after of Trump’s Inauguration.
Socialists should fight to make these as inclusive as possible, bringing in the unions, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein supporters, Black Lives Matter activists, Native Americans like the Standing Rock “protectors,” etc. After January 20, they should support all sectors under attack from Trump in his first hundred days. A vital task is to get the trade unions involved at local level. Within them we should argue (not as a precondition for involvement of course ) that what all those under attack and fighting back need is a class party of workers and the racially/nationally oppressed, of women, LGBT people etc. with an anti-capitalist programme. We should argue the need to break from the Democrats and the Greens to form such a party; a Labor and a socialist party and to avoid the trap of electoralism, which will yield the least results.
Socialists need to draft and campaign in the resistance movements for an action programme starting from the main prongs of Trump’s attacks and how to defeat them. But it will also have to address the free-trade/protection false alternatives and their fictional narratives that have figured in the Trump and Clinton campaigns. We need a class war against corporate power and a union-controlled programme of public works and environmentally sustainable energy sources, not a Trump-led campaign deporting immigrants and promises of corporate welfare in the form of infrastructure building. In the resistance against Trump, there also needs to be a revolutionary democratic aspect to the programme, when half of the potential electorate does not or cannot vote, African Americans and Latinos especially.
Whatever happens in the US in the next four years will have material and political consequences in the rest of the world and the resistance movement and the left in the USA will have to pay far more attention to international affairs. They will have to revive the antiwar movement to the level of the 1960s and early 2000s. The links to domestic policy will be clear enough when Trump is registering the country’s 3.3 million muslims, or terrifying the 11.4 million unregistered migrants. The deportation or incarceration of 3 million is meant to be only the first tranche.
Therefore the US Labor movement needs to add to its domestic areas of struggle, opposition to Trump’s threats and actions abroad, opposition to massive spending on warships and missile systems and solidarity with genuinely democratic and revolutionary forces in the Middle East and Latin America.
Every crisis contains not only great dangers but also great opportunities. This is a dangerous conjuncture for the working class and oppressed but, with millions rejecting the Democrats while recognizing the need to oppose Trump, it is also an opportunity to break with the failed strategies of the past. It is time to organise a new alternative, one based on a class struggle orientation and with the goal of socialism and revolution, as the only possible response to the disaster of Trump, to Democrat bankruptcy and the deepening crisis of US capitalism.