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United States: Left responses to Trump's election victory
Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing a series of statements releases by left parties and organisations in the United States in the wake of Donald Trump's election as president. This includes statements by the US Green Party's presidential candidate Jill Stein and VP running mate Ajamu S. Baraka, the national steering committee of Solidarity, and the International Socialist Organization, as well as an article by Dan La Botz.
Stein/Baraka campaign calls for immediate resistance to Trump and the failed two-party system
November 9, 2016 — Jill Stein 2016 — The Stein/Baraka campaign calls for sustained and organized resistance to president-elect Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States. They expressed their solidarity and empathy with those who are traumatized by the election results, and called for an honest and sober reckoning of the collusion between the political establishment and corporate media that led to Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
"A New York Times poll reveals that 82% of Americans are literally ‘disgusted’ by this election," said Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate. “This election is a reaction to what voters see as a toxic and corrupt political establishment and represents a wholesale rejection of it. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) sabotaged Bernie Sanders, who by all accounts would have easily trounced Donald Trump. Because of Wikileaks, we also know that the DNC actively colluded with corporate media to elevate Donald Trump as a ‘Pied Piper Candidate’ to encourage the most extreme elements of the Republican party,” she said.
She continued, “The DNC’s cynical political calculations, as well as the public’s mistrust and rejection of Clinton’s policies of endless wars for oil, disastrous trade deals, and support for Wall Street deregulation that crashed the economy and devastated the lives of millions -- all this together has resulted in horrific blowback that puts us all in danger.”
“We stand in solidarity with the communities that have suffered from harassment, voter suppression, and now the trauma of a Donald Trump victory and what it represents,” said Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice-presidential candidate. “We must build alternative power. We need principled and strong social movements that express and agitate for the needs of the American people, and a political party to represent that movement at the ballot box. Over one million people voted for the Green Party ticket. We are the electoral arm of that social movement.”
Green Party activists are hitting the ground running the day after the election. The Green Party calls for direct actions against the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the lame duck session, and is co-organizing for “Occupy Inauguration” demonstrations on January 20 and 21 (also the anniversary of Citizens United).
The party also commends several state-level victories for institutional reform in this election, including the passage of ranked-choice voting in Maine. Ranked Choice Voting would end the role of fear-voting in elections by allowing voters to rank their choices for president (or other single winner offices) - knowing that if one’s first choice loses, their vote is automatically reassigned to their second choice. In addition, the Stein/Baraka campaign praised resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate constitutional rights and the concept of money as speech in Washington and California.
“Don’t mourn, organize,” said David Cobb, Stein/Baraka campaign manager. “This government is premised upon the concept of ‘consent of the governed.’ We do not consent to Donald Trump and right wing rule. We do not consent to the establishment of corporate rule. We do not consent to Empire. We call for a peaceful, non-violent revolution by the ordinary people who were shut out of this terrible election by the leadership of both corporate political parties. The Green Party is prepared to be an instrument for popular power, and a new politics of integrity that must rise up and replace this rotten two-party system,” he said.
Solidarity (US): Build the left to defeat the right
November 9, 2016 — Solidarity — Like millions of people here and around the world, we woke up this morning dismayed and frightened that Donald Trump has been elected President. Whatever we each thought of the Democratic Party and of Hillary Clinton, none of us wanted to believe that a plurality of voters could bring themselves to vote for Trump. His victory is part of a global pattern of an ascendant, populist right, following in the wake of the similarly unexpected vote in favor of Brexit in the UK, and, like Brexit, it is being celebrated by right wing nationalist leaders in Europe like Marine Le Pen.
The outcome of the election is, no doubt, in part an expression of white supremacy. But it’s more than that: many commenters have already pointed out that the rustbelt battleground states that arguably cost Clinton the election were areas where Obama performed significantly better among white voters in 2008 and 2012 than Clinton did in 2016, complicating any suggestion that the results are simply about the racism of white voters. The fact is that the neoliberal politics of the ruling class have been devastating the lives and communities of working people all over the country and the world for decades, and Hillary Clinton is justifiably seen by many as the embodiment of that ruling class establishment. For many white people, the resentment this generates takes the form of racist and xenophobic anger, but its root causes are broader, and to overcome the racist backlash the left has to legitimately address those root causes.
Tragically, as the Republican establishment have lost control of their party to Donald Trump’s right-wing populism, the Democrats have doubled down on the neoliberal center. The DNC used every tool they had to ensure that Bernie Sanders--a populist candidate who in almost every match up poll performed much better against Trump than did Clinton, and who addressed many of the same economic insecurities that Trump has fed on--was unable to gain the nomination. Having undemocratically paved the way for a candidate that almost nobody actually felt good about, the Democratic Party proceeded to campaign to their right, taking the votes of the left and of people of color for granted and instead seeking to win over conservative voters. There’s some evidence that the DNC even encouraged a Trump primary victory on the assumption it would make for an easier general election victory by allowing the Democrats to capture less racially motivated conservative votes.
Meanwhile, the Green Party--the most visible alternative to the left of the Democrats--seems to have won less than 1% of the vote in the Presidential race; a result both disappointing to those seeking to build the Greens as a party of the left, many of whom named 5% of the vote as a goal, and totally insignificant compared to the numbers of Democrats and independents who either stayed home or, worse, jumped ship to vote for Trump.
Simply put: there is a vacuum on the left of US politics. No serious analysis could conclude that the presidential wing of the Democratic Party represents anything more than, at best, a calculated neoliberalism with a human face. It is precisely these politics which have generated the mass popular discontent we see among all demographics and all parts of the political spectrum. To promote “more of the same” and diminished expectations as a solution is to provide no solution at all, and the absence of any left alternative has ensured that discontent has instead been channeled to the right, at least in electoral terms.
We have to defeat the far right agenda of white supremacy and nationalism that Trump represents. Our lives literally depend on it. But the only way to defeat the right is by building the left. We can’t win this fight by building greater unity behind the ruling class’s chosen candidates and their neoliberal agenda; even if the fear of something worse had mobilized enough people to deliver a victory to Clinton in this election, or even if it does so for someone like her in 2020, that would merely kick the can down the road while the right continues to grow stronger. It would not build the power we need to win and to build a better world.
To do that, we need to organize. We need to build truly independent political power that can give the left a means to meaningfully intervene in electoral politics, beginning at the local level; the Richmond Progressive Alliance--which yesterday won three local races to gain a supermajority in the city government of Richmond, CA--is one example of what this grassroots electoral power might look like. (One way to get involved in this work is to attend the Left Elect conference in Chicago, March 3-5, 2017.) The defeat by a teacher union led coalition of a massively funded ballot initiative seeking to expand charter schools in Massachusetts is also an encouraging example of what we can do when we organize against the neoliberal privatization agenda.
We need to support and build the Movement for Black Lives, the efforts fighting in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline, immigrant rights groups, and other organizations that can build the power of the people most vulnerable to Trump’s agenda and to violence from his far right supporters. It's also vital that we build renewed working class organization, such as rank and file led social justice unionism but also including new and innovative forms of organization, that can unite workers through class solidarity and break the influence of racist right wing narratives on the white working class.
Finally, we need to build revolutionary organization. The ultimate solution to the terrifying array of forces we face in the world today can be nothing less than the overthrow of capitalism and the systems of white supremacy and heteropatriarchy that prop it up and shape its impacts. We won’t win a socialist world without socialist organization. We strongly encourage everyone committed to fighting for a just world to find, join, and help build a revolutionary organization, whether that’s Solidarity or another group.
Today, we are all afraid of what comes next, and we all need to check in with our friends, family, and comrades to ensure our emotional and physical wellbeing. But we can’t afford to wait until tomorrow to rebuild a vibrant, anti-capitalist left capable of fighting and winning. We wholeheartedly agree with the words on so many lips today: don’t mourn, organize.
US ISO: How could this monster win?
No one expected Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee, and his election victory is a bigger shock--but the first step is to understand why and face it squarely.
November 9, 2016 — Socialist Worker — AN ENDLESS, miserable presidential campaign is over--with the most miserable result imaginable.
Several readers of Socialist Worker with young children commented late last night on social media that they put their kids to bed with assurances that the monster wouldn't win--and they dreaded explaining how "It" could happen. We all know how they feel.
Donald Trump's victory exposes how decrepit the U.S. political system has become after decades of two-party oligarchical rule. This is a man with ties to the racist far right, a pathological narcissist who entered the race intending to boost his media brand, and who horrifies and disgusts not just millions of working people, but a majority of the American ruling class.
And still he won the election for president of the United States. What a testimonial for the "world's greatest democracy."
It will take days and weeks to process the full implications of Donald Trump being elected the next president of the United States. No one expected Trump to win the Republican nomination, and the same is true about the presidency. For sure, his victory will upend politics in the U.S. and internationally in ways we can't predict.
There will be a lot of talk in the next weeks about how the election proves the U.S. is irretrievably right wing and backward. Trump's victory is certainly due in part to his appeals to nationalism, immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia. The far right has been emboldened by Trump's campaign, and the left will have to figure out how to confront it.
But if we're going to succeed in that challenge and build a stronger left, we have to have some clarity about what led to this terrible result. Socialist Worker will try to take up these questions with all the depth they require in the coming days--but some initial conclusions are clear.
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HAVING ABANDONED even rhetorical appeals to give confidence to the Democratic Party's more liberal base so she could chase the votes of moderates and even dyed-in-the-wool, conservatives, Clinton left the field open to Trump to claim that his reactionary program would benefit the majority of people who have seen their living standards stagnate and decline, even in the period of "recovery" from the Great Recession.
The liberal base of the Democratic Party came through for Clinton. According to exit poll data, she won 88 percent of the Black vote and 65 percent from Latinos. It was the swing voters who Clinton courted that stuck with Trump.
Trump may well end up losing the popular vote--his victory was assured by the undemocratic Electoral College, enshrined in the Constitution by slave owners, that gives outsized influence to traditionally conservative rural states.
Still, with everything we know about him after this campaign, how could so many people vote for Trump?
His promises to stand up for the "little guy" are blatant lies to camouflage an agenda that will help the 1 Percent with gigantic tax giveaways and the like. But Clinton's promise of continuing an intolerable status quo didn't sound like a real alternative to people at the end of their rope.
Bernie Sanders' left-wing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination nearly upset Clinton by making an appeal to workers to challenge what he called the "billionaire class." Clinton, who has spent her political career ingratiating herself to that class, managed to bury Sanders' message--and rather than continue his "political revolution," Sanders abandoned his opposition to whip up support for Clinton.
Clinton and Sanders and much of the rest of the political establishment, some Republicans included, criticized Trump's ugly outrages. But because they never acknowledged the real economic grievances that he built his campaign around, they left the way clear for Trump to channel legitimate bitterness into scapegoating and scaremongering.
Even when Clinton did counter Trump's racism, woman-hating, immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia, it rang hollow. As a personification of the insider Washington political establishment, Clinton bears responsibility--often directly--for policies that led to the mass incarceration of African American men, the sweeping deportation of immigrants and endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have fueled anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.
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RACISM HAS been central to the Trump campaign since his speech announcing his candidacy, when he referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists. But while the open bigots of the so-called alt-right have been a notable element of Trump's supporters, racism alone can't explain why states and counties that voted for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 turned away from the Democrats this time.
Some of those voters were in states that Hillary Clinton was expected to win, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Trump scored points with his argument that U.S. workers lost jobs due to free trade deals and rising immigration. It was another grotesque lie. But the truth--that growing economic hardship is due to rising inequality that benefits the 1 Percent--wasn't something that Hillary Clinton wanted to talk about.
The stomach-turning irony of this outcome is that Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic establishment figured Trump would be their ideal opponent. He's a buffoon and too extreme to be elected, they told themselves. All Clinton would have to do to beat Trump is "appear presidential" and tout her "preparedness" and "experience."
But the Democratic Party brain trust didn't understand what happened during the eight years of the Obama presidency, when they responded to the Great Recession by bailing out the banksters while doubling down on their commitment to neoliberalism and austerity cutbacks that balanced budgets on workers' backs.
The living conditions of many millions of everyday people in the U.S. have deteriorated or stagnated. So when Trump decried the loss of decent-paying jobs and accused Clinton and the Democratic Party of throwing people to the wolves, some segment of the population believed--wrongly in fact, but with a feeling of urgency--that someone understood their pain.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's response to Trump's pledge to make America great again was: "But wait, America is already great."
When it came time to cast their ballots, enough people in the right states begged to differ. They decided to punish the establishment politician in favor of the outsider.
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THE CONVENTIONAL media wisdom was stunned by this outcome, and so there will be a scramble for simple answers to explain away Election 2016: a fundamentally conservative population; the irretrievable racism of all white workers; even the impact of the Green Party's Jill Stein, whose "crime" was to rightly insist that the greater evil can't be stopped by championing the lesser evil.
We should refuse to accept those simple answers. One of the first challenges for the left will be to explain what happened in all its complexity. But there are many more challenges to come.
As the radical left warned, in defiance of calls for moderation from liberals, the right wing has been emboldened by Trumpism and needs to be confronted. But we can't let the people most responsible for this mess point the finger at the most reactionary bigots. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party need to answer for why they had nothing to offer as an alternative to Trump's scapegoating.
We have a lot of work to do, starting today, to build a real left alternative that recognizes the misery and suffering so many people endure; that confronts these conditions politically and practically; and that builds organization capable of turning the tide.
Large numbers of people are already horrified by Trump and will be determined to take action to show their opposition. More will be spurred to act by the inevitable outrages of an arrogant right wing that oversteps--that's a lesson from all of the right's victories in recent elections. In the end, at least some of those who voted for Trump will come to understand that they abhor what he stands for.
But for now, we need to start building that resistance from the ground up. The first step is to understand the lessons and implications of this election and face them squarely--and then we move on from there.
US Presidential Election – Trump victory brings far right government and uncertain future
November 9, 2016 — Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières — Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections not only brings to power the most rightwing president in our nation’s modern history, but because he is an idiosyncratic political outsider, it also points to a very uncertain future. Still we can be sure that his victory will lead to attacks on the working class, on the black and Latino communities, on women, and on LGBT folk.
The Democrats choice of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders doomed the party to defeat, while the failure of the labor movement and left to build a political alternative left voters with few choices, most of them bad.
Today, while half of the American people rejoice at Trump’s triumph, the other half reels, feeling shocked, angry, afraid, and saddened by the defeat.
The Trump victory is a crushing defeat for the Democratic Party and has made irrelevant the tiny, leftist Green Party with 1 percent of the vote. Gary Johnson of the rightwing Libertarian Party, however, won just over 3 percent of the vote.
Not only did Trump win the presidency, but the Republicans also kept control of the Senate and expanded their domination of the House. Trump will now be in a position to appoint the unfilled vacancy in the Supreme Court and other vacancies as they appear. In addition, Republican governors today head 31 state governments, while in 27 states the Republicans also control the state legislature.
While Trump may appear to be a juggernaut, the Republican Party has been deeply divided by his candidacy, and the Democrats still have the filibuster in the Senate. Governing will not be easy. How will Trump with his conservative pro-business agenda satisfy the demands of his party’s expanded working class base? How, for example, will they deal with Obamacare, the health insurance program on which many depend?
And very likely President Trump will face an economic downturn and foreign policy issues—Iraq and Syria, Russia, China—will be challenging to say the least. We head into uncharted waters and perhaps a stormy sea.
How did Trump win?
Trump, who ran on a nationalist economic platform and employed a racist, anti-immigrant and misogynist rhetoric, won the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 by mobilizing tens of millions of white middle class and working class voters who were disgusted with and angry at the Washington and New York Establishments.
The irony, for those of us on the Left, is that the working class secured Trump’s victory. Suburban white wealthy and middle class voters have been the base of the Tea Party movement and of Trump, but the key to Trump’s victory in this was the white working class vote in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, where a majority of both men and women voted for him. His support was strong among those without a college degree. Trump also among voters in small towns and rural areas throughout the country.
The white working class, failed by the Democratic Party over the last 40 years, has been gradually moving into the Republican camp, and this year many migrated en masse. Trump motivated these white workers by speaking to them about the need for rebuilding industry, creating employment, protecting their jobs from undocumented workers, securing the country against foreign competition. Trump, while promising to defend the country against terrorism, also spoke out against U.S. involvement in foreign wars and pursuit of regime change.
To the surprise of many, Trump also won a larger number of votes from racial minorities, receiving 29 percent of the Hispanic vote and 29 percent of the Asian vote. Clinton failed to mobilize the African American community as Obama had done in 2012 when he won 93 percent of the black vote. This year Clinton received only 88 percent of the black vote, while Trump won 8 percent and Libertarian Johnson 2 percent.
Despite the fact that polls suggested that Bernie Sanders would have done better than Clinton against Trump, the Democrats chose the Establishment candidate, not their own populist, “democratic socialist” with his New Deal program. The Democratic Party’s choice of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders appears to have insured Trump’s success.
Some working class voters who were attracted by Sanders’ message, turned toward Trump. While most millennial voters cast ballots for Clinton, some of those who worked for and voted for Sanders could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary. A few Sanderistas may have voted for Trump, and some for Johnson or Stein, others just sat out the election, angry at their candidates rejection and disappointed at the options the were presented.
The victory of Trump, who called for banning future immigration of Muslims and demanded the construction of a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, has struck fear in the hearts of not only of Latin American and Muslim immigrants, but also frightens black Americans who know the story of Trump’s racist career.
Throughout the United States there have been anti-Trump demonstrations, mostly by young people chanting, “Not my president!” We can be sure that the movement against Trump will continue and will grow, and it will grow too among those who voted for Trump, but will find themselves sorely disappointed.
Confronting Trump will depend on the ability of the anti-capitalists of our society and of the millions more who voted for Bernie Sanders’ to propose a new vision of solidarity to our entire society.