What you say to anyone wanting to do something in the US?
In a nutshell:
1. Your country may be heading for disaster. A Trump presidency will open up a period of state-sponsored reaction. Racism, attacks on the press and democratic rights to organise and free expression.
2. A Clinton presidency may delay some aspects of that but she will continue the alienation of so many of the poor who are now seen cheering the demagogue Trump.
3. Whoever wins America urgently needs a radical working class party!
4. In your union, in political campaigns, amongst those who mobilised for Sanders, in local radical Facebook groups; call for them to start talking with other similar groups about how you take that forward.
5. Regardless of the result of the presidential election – you will face a government under whom poverty will continue to grow and the running of society will remain in the hands of big corporations – there will be no change there.
6. In a fascinating video interview, the ghostwriter of Trump’s autobiography, reveals him as a man incapable of honesty, shame, consistency or even sustained attention. A man prepared to say virtually anything to increase his influence.
7. What the hell would a man like that do with the extraordinary power of a US President?
I would give an 80% likelihood of Trump’s election bringing about a catastrophic breakdown of the internal cohesion of the Republican Party. Like Brexit, a Trump victory will not be welcomed by business. For them, it is not necessary. It is not profitable. It may wreck the delicate foreign alliances that are of such importance to the big US corporations. It risks provoking the social disorder that always scares capitalism.
There will also be huge disaffection in most US cities with Trump. The pretence that America is a real democracy will be over for those who hate him. Will they still believe that America is a society where the collective will of the majority of the people is best informed, understood and acted upon?
So Trump will likely be a economic disaster for American capitalism. We must make it a political disaster! And a disaster that is met by a vision of a workers America, not a ‘middle class’ America. Who are the ‘middle class’? Where do they begin and where do they end? Ironically Trump talks about the impoverished working class, lyingly and hypocritically – trying to pervert their increasing self-identity to his reactionary ends.
Will Trump start a slide towards fascism in the US?
I have seen some parallels drawn between Trump and Mussolini. Win or lose, there is a real risk that Trump may start the reactionary extra-parliamentary agitation that is the essence of fascism. His talk of refusing to accept his defeat in the election is an indicator of that.
The Trump campaign has been a wonderful opportunity for every neo-Nazi, sexist, racist, militiaman nut-job to connect up with others. But after a victory for him, what then? Would his Presidency continue these opportunities? Or like in Obama’s campaigns will those who made up the vibrant election campaign be generally politically demobilised?
What Mussolini had, that Trump and UKIP don’t have even if they were to have the same ambitions, is a unified, disciplined paramilitary force behind him, the Blackshirts, already 200,000 strong by 1922 when Mussolini was plucked out and thrust into power.
In the UK, UKIP shows us how the far right, despite being often able to successfully exploit elections and referenda, are also afterwards hopelessly divided. Following a Trump victory, like with Brexit, there may be division, acrimony and accusations of betrayal. After all he has empty policies. He won’t deliver jobs. He won’t relieve the pressures on the white poor. He won’t deal with any ‘establishment’.
His rhetoric will feed reaction on the streets – and that is a very real worry. But without an organised force in society, his rhetoric may just create disorder but not consolidate his support.
In or out of the Presidency, creating disorder might be the course he pursues. In power though a President has to satisfy his social base. Trump may be able to whip up racism, he may put curbs on a free press but will be unable to do much to answer the needs of those who voted for him, to make America, i.e. their lives, ‘great again’.
Whilst UKIP and the Tory right were able to run away from the consequences of their Brexit victory, Trump may be stuck with his. Like Brexit, a Trump victory is not welcomed by business. His campaign conduct and lying rhetoric will be seen to have lost Republican seats in the Senate. His arrogance and intolerance is a threat to anyone who opposes him – including different aggressively pro-capitalist ones.
So he will face many powerful capitalist enemies at the highest level in government. If he wins, he will more than likely be forced to accommodate to the Republican Party. They can live with racism and reaction but they will not be dictated to by Trump’s mobs on the streets.
What if Clinton wins? Will the battle against Trump be won?
Not a bit of it. Clinton is absolutely predictable. The coffers of her campaign against Sanders and then against Trump have come from America’s super-rich and big corporations. Undoubtedly in fear of Trump, more democratically minded people have got involved.
But she is solidly pro-austerity, pro-corporate, prepared to carry out any war or foreign policy deal that they require. There is no Democratic Party outside of elections – nothing formally that might hold her accountable even to the very mild political commitments she has made in this election campaigns.
Her wing of the Democrats has taken the working class poor for granted, especially the black and Chicano populations.
If she wins, probably many will breathe a sigh of relief. But there will be little to be relieved about. Trump is likely to continue to exploit the anger at poverty in American society and she is likely to do nothing progressive to relieve that despair.
Hopefully, the force that was shown during Sanders campaign will rebuild recognising that it is Clinton as much as Trump that they have to fight.