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Voltaire, international edition
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Voltaire Network >>
The Meaning Of Trump’s Victory
People Before Profit Press Release -9th Nov 2016
The shock victory of Donald Trump in defiance of both the polls and most of the US establishment is testimony to the deep anger felt by many millions of working class Americans at their abandonment by the system.
The defeat of Bernie Sanders by the Democratic Party elite made it possible for a billionaire racist and sexist to present himself as the voice of that anger. There is much evidence that if Sanders had been the candidate he would have beaten Trump comfortably.
Trump’s victory, which was very narrow in terms of the overall popular vote – less than 1% – was based on combining the traditional conservative right wing vote from the South and the rural mid-West with a significant ‘blue-collar’ working class vote from places such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, states that had previously voted for Obama. This came as a complete surprise to the pollsters and commentators and tipped the balance in his favour.
These are areas which have been economically devastated by neo-liberal capitalism, by unemployment, the destruction of industry, the holding down of wages and the massive growth of poverty while Wall St and the super-rich got ever richer.
Since the 1970’s real wages for working Americans have basically stagnated. On top of this the vast bulk of the economic rewards are flowing to the top 1%.
Such is the rage against ‘the establishment’ in these areas that many millions of voters turned either a blind eye to features of Trump’s disgusting campaign that would ‘normally’ have ruled him out – his open incitement of racial hatred, his misogyny, sexism and sheer vulgarity – or worse, actually bought into it.
But the reality is that Trump’s working class supporters are destined to be bitterly disappointed and utterly betrayed by this completely fraudulent champion. Trump is a ruthless, self-serving billionaire property developer. Never in history has such an individual ruled in the interests of the so-called ‘common man’.
And much of what he has promised – to cut taxes for the super-rich including reducing corporation tax from 35% to 15%; to reduce social spending by up to 20%; to tear up Obama Care depriving millions of Americans of their only route to any healthcare – will make life much worse for ordinary Americans.
Nor could he reverse the decline in living standards, even if he tried. Capitalism doesn’t work like that – it works, systematically, in the interests of the rich – and the one thing Trump is not going to do is challenge capitalism.
Trump has said he will double the rate of growth of the US economy and ‘fix the inner cities’. He has no chance of being able to do this, anymore than Obama could stop the US police from repeatedly murdering black people.
With global capitalism in dire straits, on the edge of another recession, Trump will instead turn on the people who have elected him and try to make them pay the price in the same way that Hillary Clinton would have done had she won.
This is why the left in America – all those who campaigned for Bernie Sanders, who support Black Lives Matter, who stand in solidarity with Standing Rock, who rallied to the Occupy movement – have to prepare to resist the attacks that will come from a Trump presidency.
This resistance needs to focus not on the Democratic Party which is part of the problem not the solution, but on mobilization from below on the streets, in the communities and the workplaces. It must work to unite black and white and Hispanic and women and men, straight and LGBT+ and all other groups in common struggle.
There is a strong foundation for such resistance. Trump won approximately half the popular vote and the turnout was less than 56%, so he was elected by only just over a quarter of the American people. At the same time surveys suggest that a substantial majority of people (over 60%) actively dislike him.
[They didn’t like Clinton either]. But this means that there is a real basis for a mass popular fight back.
The Trump victory also has important implications for us in Ireland in three ways. First his plan to cut US corporation tax to 15% will, if implemented and this is a big if, wreck the Irish ruling class’s strategy of making Ireland a tax haven for corporate capital. Second his claim to move America back towards protectionism means that the Irish export strategy could be negatively affected.
Finally, it places a heavy responsibility on the Irish left. So far vigorous campaigning by the left, especially AAA-PBP and especially with great water charges movement, has meant that resistance to austerity and poverty has taken a left wing and progressive form. The victory of Trump means we must redouble our efforts in this regard. Failure to do so opens the door, as we have seen elsewhere in Europe, to the far right. The movement for change in Ireland can act as a beacon of hope to inspire others.
Trump’s victory is also evidence in a perverse way that if we do seize the moment anything is possible.