The stock markets are falling and the political elites are reeling as Donald Trump, a racist, misogynist, abuser of women and climate change denier wins the US presidential election. He won a succession of ‘battleground’ states widely expected to go to the Democrats despite an increased turnout by ethnic minorities (particularly Latinos) and by women voters.
It was Brexit mark 2. His victory was a total shock including to his own campaign, which was already making excuses for losing as the polls began to close. It was an anti-establishment backlash and a reminder once against that such backlashes are not necessarily progressive. Unfortunately some on the left are refusing to name the Trump vote for what it is – a reactionary, racist one. This vote was not the action of a confident and self-conscious working class, it is a section of mainly white Americans seeking to assert their dominance over immigrants, non-whites and the rest of the world.
Trump’s threatening and menacing campaign was the most divisive ever seen in the USA, with repeated calls for his opponent to be jailed. The fact that his campaign split the Republican Party, with even George W Bush refused to vote for him, made no difference in the end.
Just as with Brexit, his victory was delivered by white working class voters; men in particular, deeply alienated by the results of globalisation, the fall-out from the 2008 banking crash, deindustrialisation, and an increasingly economically polarised society.
Just like Brexit they were vulnerable to the narrative that immigration was the root cause of all their problems. They were prepared to back an openly racist ticket based on building a wall along America’s southern border, sending 11 million immigrants back, and keeping Muslims out of the country.
And Trump will come into office with both the Senate and the House controlled by Republicans.
Climate change will be a huge casualty. Trump is not only pledged to withdraw from the Paris agreement but to massively increase fossil fuel production of all types
Trump will appoint new judges to the Supreme Court in a situation where women’s’ right to control their bodies is already under massive attack.
In the same way that post-Brexit Britain saw a massive increase in racist attacks on the streets of Britain so both the Latino communities and African Americans can expect the Klu Klux Klan (who endorsed Trump) and others on the far right to go even more on the offensive.
This result is a major challenge to the American left, and indeed to the left internationally.
The biggest positive note in the whole campaign was the remarkable vote cast for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary on an openly socialist ticket. Several states that went for Sanders, went for Trump last night (e.g., West Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin. Last night many Sanders supporters were, rightly, blaming the Democratic establishment for this defeat.
Today the job of the left is to get out and organise together with Black Lives Matter and other movements of people of colour, with movements defending a woman’s rights including a woman’s rights to choose, with the LGBTIQ movements, but also critically with movements to defend and improve standards and life chances for all working class Americans.
London Socialist Resistance meeting
What next after the US elections
Tuesday 15 November, 7:30pm
Community Centre, 62 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AB
(Kings Cross & Russell Square tubes)
Speaker: George Binette, just back from US, Boston Red Sox supporter, & Camden UNISON branch secretary p.c.
Book ticket at Eventbrite here.