The world in shock

Photo: matt aj

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.

9 Comments

  1. I don’t disagree with the claim that this is a victory for misogyny and racism – worldwide, as well as in the USA – but early indications are that Trump had more support amongst better paid sections of the white working class and Clinton more amongst the less well paid. Also, his support amongst white women and people of Latino origin was higher than might be expected given the nature of his campaign.

    This catastrophe should finish off any idea that the Democratic party represents any kind of “progressive” option. An independent left movement needs to be built – and quickly.

    And don’t forget that about 70 million US voters are not even registered. A discussion of the reasons for this might be productive.

  2. So why didn’t we see an article on (eg) the SR site arguing in favour of a critical vote for Clinton? What’s the difference (please tell me) between Trump vs Clinton 2016 and Le Pen vs Chirac in 2002, when the LCR rightly advocated a hold-your-nose vote for Chirac? A vote for Clinton in likely swing states need not have been counterposed to bullding a Green Party presence in other elections going on at the same time, or voting for Jill Stein in securely red or blue states. The approach/tone of this article and of the US Socialist Worker coverage strongly indicates that a vote for Clinton was a (necessary) lesser evil, but the conclusion is ducked. I’d like to read comrades’ views on this.

    • The French Presidential elections are contested in two rounds and a run off between two candidates after everyone has had a chance to vote for their favoured party. USA presidential elections are actually 50 smaller state elections with multiple candidates in each state/constituency. Le Pen was also far more explicitly closer to fascism which he had embraced since the 1950s; Trump ran a racist bigoted campaign but he’s actually a former registered Democrat, which tells us more about the Democrats than it does about Trump.

    • There were only two states (Wisconsin and Michigan) where Trump won by less than the combined votes of Clinton and Stein, and even if Clinton has won those, Trump would still have won the presidency. In both states, Clinton lost the Democrat primary to Bernie Sanders, indicating her unpopularity. Indeed, the three states in which Stein got the highest vote (above 2%) were all ones where the Democrat primary was won by Sanders. Sanders tried to win the Democrat nomination, but that was an undemocratic election he could never win (due to the ‘superdelegates’ being pledged to Clinton). Once the party machine showed the Democrats would do anything to stop Sanders, it became clear that Stein needed to stand as widely as possible to start to build an alternative to the Democrats. Her 1.2 million votes is not great, but when you take it alongside the 13 million who voted for Sanders in the primary, it shows that there is a basis for a new party of the left to emerge as an alternative to the wreckage of Clinton’s campaign. Certainly it needs to be built from the bottom up, but in a society where for 18 months all political eyes were on the Presidency it was entirely correct for Stein to stand against Clinton everywhere. Articles from Solidarity (US Fourth International supporters) were published on the International Viewpoint website, to which the SR site is linked, arguing this case.

      • Your thoughtful replies are appreciated, Mike. True, the French presidential elections are more democratic. I agree also concerning le pen’s Petainist affiliations compared with Trump’s liberal past. But Mussolini was previously a socialist. In the end, what matters is what these figures represent Now. I wonder if the Greens lost sympathy among women/people of colour who feared the consequences for their physical safety in the event of a Trump win.

  3. One of the most worrying aspects of Trump’s victory was seeing some white male workers supporting him because he was a business man, not a politician. Also worrying was young white male students wearing ‘I ? Capitalism’ badges. In fact these 2 things are linked: economic problems are the fault of governments not of the economic system.
    Of course some problems may result from choices made by governments but to concentrate solely on government policies while ignoring the nature of capitalism is to fail to understand the real.issues.
    This is an issue for us in Britain. The Tories are undoubtedly responsible for attacks on working class living standards, as well as on human rights. But unless Labour develops policies which go further than ‘anti-Tory’ they will reinforce the illusion that economic problems are the result of government rather than an inherent part of the capitalist system.
    Unless we develop an anti-capitalist consciousness then there will always be a risk that sections of the working class will follow demagogues like Trump and Farage.

  4. The detailed figures show that, while Trump gained one million votes fewer than Romney did in 2012, Clinton (who actually won the popular vote) gained 6.5 million fewer than Obama. These votes clearly did not all go to Stein; the truth is that Clinton lost because she was even less popular than Trump, and failed to motivate 10% of those who voted Democrat last time to vote for her this year.

  5. I agree with the other Andy. Many of us voted against Brexit, not because we didn’t have extensive criticisms of the European Union, but because we thought (correctly, as it turned out) that a UKIP driven referendum on the subject would have a very reactionary impact on British politics.

    It’s much the same with Clinton. She was a corrupt bourgeois politician but if she had won the left would be in a more favourable position. We are now facing a US government that will accelerate the rate of climate change, do everything it can to make abortion unobtainable and embolden every reactionary nationalist organisation on the planet.

    Avoiding that was worth a tactical compromise.

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