The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 80/No. 6      February 15, 2016

(front page)

Capitalist crisis fuels demand for
change, turn to Sanders, Trump

The growing support for Bernie Sanders as the presidential primary voting begins is an indication of the depth of the social crisis of capitalism and the disarray it is causing within the main parties of U.S. imperialism. Sanders, who campaigns on the platform of the Occupy Wall Street movement, scored a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party caucuses in Iowa Feb. 1.

At the same time Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination is not going away, despite coming in a close second to Ted Cruz, part of the “Tea Party” wing of the Republicans, in Iowa.

What gives wind to Trump and Sanders is the broad discontent and anger among workers and others fueled by years of smoldering depression conditions, in which jobs, wages and conditions of life have stagnated or worsened.

Clinton, once considered a shoo-in for the Democratic Party nomination, is now scrambling to counter Sanders by presenting herself as the practical way to carry out his platform. In her “victory” speech in Iowa, where she beat Sanders by a hair, Clinton declared, “I am a progressive, who gets things done.”

The editors of the New York Times and Washington Post came out in support of Clinton in the days leading up to the Iowa vote. “Bernie Sanders’s Fiction-Filled Campaign,” was the headline on the Post editorial Jan. 27, which accused him of promoting “fantastical claims” while “playing the role of uncorrupted anti-establishment crusader.”

“It’s the establishment view,” responded Jane Sanders, political adviser and wife of Bernie Sanders, in an interview on MSNBC Jan. 29. They say “anything that is bold is not doable. We just disagree.”

Jane Sanders also took issue with a commentator who compared her husband’s campaign to 1972, when George McGovern, riding the crest of anti-Vietnam War sentiment, secured the Democratic Party nomination but lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon. The better analogy is to 1932, she said, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency during the Great Depression. “People were looking for bold leadership and that’s happening now.” Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was a package of reforms to rescue capitalism from collapse and thwart rising labor militancy from growing into independent working-class political action.

Under the impact of depression conditions facing workers, Trump has been gaining support within both the Republican and Democratic parties. A recent study by AFL-CIO affiliate Working America of households in working-class neighborhoods outside Cleveland and Pittsburgh said that while a little over half of voters were undecided, 38 percent who had made up their minds backed Trump. The next highest share was 22 percent for Clinton.

Officials from the 2 million member Service Employees International Union endorsed Clinton in November. But Trump is gaining a hearing among some of its members. “There is deep economic anxiety among our members and the people we’re trying to organize that I believe Donald Trump’s message is tapping into,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told the Times Jan. 29.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering throwing his hat into the ring as a so-called independent. If it looks like Trump or Cruz will win the Republican primary and Sanders is the Democratic nominee, Bloomberg “has told allies he would be likely to run,” reported the New York Times. He has set a deadline for early March to decide after results from some of the primaries are in.

Bloomberg, who served as New York mayor from 2002 to 2013, was in the forefront of leading the bosses’ drive against workers’ rights and living conditions in the city. He ran as a liberal Republican in 2001 and 2005 and four years later as an “independent,” but was on the ballot line of the Republican party. During this time he toyed with the idea of running for president.

If he runs, Bloomberg plans to spend at least $1 billion of his own funds, the Times reported, to get on the ballot in all 50 states. This is entirely different from what working-class parties face when trying to gain access to the ballot under the restrictive laws in many states.
Related articles:
‘Build a party to lead the revolutionary struggle’
Paper showcases UK Communist candidate
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