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Dumping Trump – a Doorway not a Destination

Written by: John G. on 10 November 2020


The US Presidential election beat itself into all our heads, as commentators picked over the election entrails emerging at snail’s pace from the disjointed states of America.

Reaching the climax, a rejected Trump stretched out for days, then a week with more coming. 

It tended to overshadow what in the US led into the election, setting the scene for any change. 

‘I can’t breathe’, the words uttered by Eric Garner in 2014 and again by George Floyd on 25 May 2020 as police squashed the life out of them, unleashed the largest wave of protests ever seen in the US.

The Black Lives Matter movement organised over 8,000 protest marches in 2,000 US cities with enormous turnouts in the following 3 months. Other marches over Covid, economic hardships, food shortages, evictions and for rent relief, and just cries for relief from poverty, have marked a huge wave of unrest. The poor, sections of the working class, Black Americans with a wide and deep range of allies have been mobilised and to an extent organised. 

The action on the ground had, by August, forced a dozen cities and 3 states to outlaw choke holds, ban use of tear gas, other chemical irritants, and rubber bullets on protesters among other relief from violence and oppression by authorities. Free food handouts occur daily in cities across the country. Evictions were outlawed in some cities. Free clean water is supplied to communities where polluted supplies threaten health. 

In response to the jingoism of Trump and officials at State and local levels, and the crises over race, the exploding pandemic, waves of unemployment and growing poverty, communities have mobilised and found voice. Leaders have been emerging in the communities and on the streets to see hardships relieved.

The roadmap to that relief went through Donald Trump.

A decrepit old white hack is no real answer to entrenched poverty and racism

As a former Texan Commissioner for Agriculture and commentator on American life, Jim Hightower, called it from under his cowboy hat, ‘Beating Trump is a doorway not a destination’. 

Community leaders were agitating that it would not be enough to throw Trump out, to put in another old white corporate politician and just see things go on with a few minor concessions to the outburst of anger and emerging people’s movement, crumbs scattered from the table of US imperialist superprofits. The call for a new America, reverberated.

A different decrepit old white Democrat in the White House isn’t the answer for those mobilised Americans, even with the first concession of the first ever Black/Asian American women as Vice President elect. 

Mass frustration and dissolution might ordinarily lead to a poor voter turnout when people have experience of how useless elections are in their lives, leading nowhere. But this election had a historically high turnout, a product of the social conflict and people’s determination to be rid of Trump and the swamp of corporate Washington. 

For lower working class and oppressed strata of American society, it’s an expression of the distance between the American dream and their American reality, of grasping their own interests in opposition to those of the corporate elites.

It’s important to be clear eyed about that phenomenon. Hopes and dreams don’t change US society. 

The American Dream for some

The US has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world. The inclination of many Americans, including upper working-class strata, is to protect that wealth in which they share. It affects the thinking and aspirations of others who are only touched in passing and others who don’t partake. It feeds the militarism, jingoism, racism and nationalism that has significant importance to US capital. 

Interests aligned with American finance capital drive reaction within the US. Many realise high incomes, luxury housing, and decadent lifestyles from a cut from US imperialism’s dominance of world capitalism. Others hold onto the aspiration. 

At the start of the 20th century Lenin noted the phenomenon of a labour aristocracy in major imperialist heartlands. 

He cited sections of the English working class, and how stratified it had become with an upper stratum of workers engaged in sporting clubs, cooperatives, trade unions and guilds, and numerous religious sects. Implicit were their incomes, luxuries, and lifestyles. He noted the amount of land in southern England devoted to sporting fields and leisure. He referenced the lower stratum of the English proletariat proper, haunted by unemployment and insecurity, gathered in the barren slums of the major cities.  

In the preface of “Imperialism , the highest stage of capitalism”, Lenin pointed out “capitalism has now singled out a handful ... of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world simply by “clipping coupons” Capital exports yield an income of eight to ten francs per annum, at prewar prices ... out of such superprofits (... obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their “own” country) it is possible to bribe the labour leaders and the upper stratum of the labour aristocracy. ... In the civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie they inevitably, and in no small numbers, take the side of the bourgeoisie ...” 6 July 1920.

The US has its aristocracy of labour, but there is frustration for some as US imperialism’s imperial lordship slides, even partially, and monopolist finance capital faces degradation. Sections sliding out of grace and favour seek paths to salvation. Some gathered round Trump after decades of what they see as government indifference and neglect from the Washington swamp. Talk about fake news.   

The American Dream grates against many people’s American Reality

Millions of the poor found themselves squeezed, abandoned to hardships over decades. Police violence and extraordinary oppressive rates of gaoling among minorities weigh on lower strata communities. They also had decades of growing hardships through wars, financial crises, housing crashes, unemployment and collapse of much healthcare. They have garnered significant support and gained leadership of greater numbers than previously experienced. 

Clinton’s 1996 social welfare “reforms” handed control to states. The new welfare system relied on “personal responsibility”, added work requirements, shrinking the numbers who qualified for benefits, handing out harsh punishments for non-compliance, compounding the impact of the economic crises and familiar to people here. Biden and Hillary were Bill Clinton’s collaborators in that disaster. 

The country tired of the warmongering Bushes, and had hopes dashed in 8 years of Obama’s government inaction. They emerged hating the Washington swamp as Trump branded it giving expression to a lot of people. Trump compounded frustrations, promise after promise unfulfilled while his early years saw some employment relief and the first rise in the minimum wage in many years. 

Celebrity showmanship, a sharp tongue and brash triumphalism attracted attention. Racism and inaction against COVID-19 mobilised sections of the black community, medicos, nurses, sections of working-class whites after delays on delays in programs he promised and the threat to many people’s lives and livelihoods. 

The cry to dump Trump grew. The aristocracy of labour worked to funnel it into the Democratic party’s presidential race. That fell short for many when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were pushed out of the Democratic primary race. Many who were determined to win relief from their difficulties, the racist police killings, the deprivation, the insecurity, the health crisis, couldn’t stomach trying to hold up another corporate politician from the Washington swamp as their saviour. 

Aiming for a different destination through this open door

Taking account of the failing mood, activists from a range of working-class and minority community groups and parties focussed on getting rid of Trump as a first step. 

The Freedom Road Socialist Organisation proposed; ‘The upcoming election (in the US) are in essence a referendum on the past four years, and we hold that it is important that everyone who can vote do so – and that you vote against Trump. The defeat of Trump and his ilk will create a more favorable context for the people’s struggle to advance. ...’  

‘No matter who wins the next election, we need to stay in the streets and fight for an agenda that reflects peoples needs. And we need to keep our eye on the prize. That means advocating for and building organization to achieve revolutionary change. The kind of change that sweeps away the current ruling class from power and puts power into hands of working people.’, a broader alliance, notes: ‘We are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we’re also clear-eyed about where things stand: supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only means we have to defeat Trump. ... If Biden wins, we’ll be at his door on day one, demanding the kinds of structural reforms that advance racial, economic, and environmental justice. But before that, it’s clear what we have to do: This November, we have to #VoteTrumpOut in swing states.’

That approach appears to have rebuilt the drive to action for a better America. It recognised that people, including many of Trump’s supporters, want to get traditional corporate politicians off their backs, and have some level of recognition of the way ‘conventional electoral politics’ is weighed against working people and small business. 

The call for dumping Trump and then continuing struggle to impose a roadmap out of the crisis on the country’s rulers has distilled thinking of masses of Americans. It strives to take the rejection of Trumpism towards a different America, one not on the American nationalist Democrats agenda. It has an element of a call to arms for the times. 

Struggle to impose a roadmap for a people’s agenda against corporate America after the defeat of Trump, could also open a path for numbers of Trump’s alienated working-class followers to continue with their struggle to ‘clean out the swamp of Washington politicians’ in the fight to force Biden to give way to relieving their hardships.  

Challenging corporate rule requires step by step struggles at levels masses of Americans are ready for. There is undoubtedly struggle over leadership of this movement and its roadmap with those completely swamped in electoral politics. Mistakes and faltering are inevitable. Struggle to change America involves adopting new levels of understanding, tested in the vortex of struggle that is emerging in the US, in itself creating new ideas as the movement unfolds. 
Beating Trump has opened a doorway. 

It is yet to be seen if the people’s movement can take it forward towards a completely different destination than the electoral swamp has prepared. 



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