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Vol. 80/No. 44      November 21, 2016

(front page)

Election reflects effects on workers of capitalist crisis

After confidently predicting that Democrat Hillary Clinton would take the presidency Nov. 8 and heaping scorn on workers who turned out to hear her challenger Republican Donald Trump, big sections of the propertied rulers and their media outlets, pollsters and pundits were stunned by Trump’s victory.

The outcome came as no surprise, however, to millions of workers tarred as “deplorables” by Clinton. “‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America,” read a Wall Street Journal headline hours after the election.

Millions of workers have grown frustrated and angry by the impact of years of smoldering depression conditions on their lives and refusal of any party in Washington to do anything about it. They don’t buy President Barack Obama’s assurances, echoed by Clinton, that “America’s economy is not just better than it was eight years ago — it is the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”

Most workers face a sharply different reality — high unemployment and underemployment, speedup and unsafe working conditions, and an epidemic of opiate addiction and other social disasters arising from the moral and political crisis of capitalism.

“Far from representing a sweeping victory for the right, Trump’s election shows the impact of years of capitalist crisis on working people,” Alyson Kennedy, who ran as presidential candidate for the Socialist Workers Party, told the Militant Nov. 9.

“There is a hunger among workers for a way forward. Before the election and after, the SWP is focused on talking with workers on their doorsteps,” she said. “Many respond to our call for uniting workers to organize unions, oppose Washington’s wars, support a woman’s right to choose abortion, defend immigrants from attacks and oppose attacks on Muslims and mosques. They are open to what we say about ending the capitalist dictatorship and establishing a workers and farmers government.”

Vote doesn’t reflect workers shifting to right

Trump won despite his demagogic attacks on immigrants, Muslims, women and others, not because of them. He tapped into working-class discontent, running as an “outsider.” He defeated 16 opponents for the Republican nomination, attracting crowds of workers in the hard-hit industrial states by talking about the working class and the grinding crisis they face.

“If we had 5 percent unemployment do you really think we’d have these gatherings?” he asked.

He won the election in part by being seen as the lesser evil by millions of workers in the Midwest and elsewhere who are Caucasian and who voted for Obama’s promise of “change” and didn’t get it.

In his victory speech Trump demagogically pledged to “fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure” and “put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

It’s possible the rulers may take steps to try and achieve some economic stability, but they won’t touch the underlying crisis and it will not last.

The Clinton camp and the majority of the ruling-class media, oblivious to what most workers face, said the interest in Trump was the reaction of racists and rightists. But Trump’s election doesn’t reflect a shift to the right in the working class. Above all it reflects workers’ search for change from years of depression conditions and wars, seen through the distorted lens of the bourgeois elections.

Trump appealed to African-Americans, saying, “I will be your greatest champion.” He won 8 percent of the African-American vote compared to Mitt Romney’s 6 percent four years ago, while Clinton won 88 percent, down from 93 percent Obama won in 2012.

Clinton’s backers placed great hopes in a big turnout by Blacks frightened about Trump. But many remember the Bill Clinton administration championing laws that increased incarceration rates and “ended welfare as we know it,” disproportionately affecting workers who are Black.

Workers distrusted both candidates

Both candidates were viewed with distrust by the majority of workers. Exit polls showed 71 percent who voted believe those without papers working in the U.S. should be offered legal status, 68 percent are bothered by Trump’s treatment of women, and 73 percent are angry with the federal government — all wings of it.

Many didn’t like Clinton’s attraction to the use of U.S. military might abroad — from Libya to her call for the Pentagon to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, risking a conflict with Moscow.

Both capitalist parties have been and remain divided and in crisis. Many Republican officials and candidates refused to back or vote for Trump.

The Occupy Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be emboldened by the election returns. Campaigning for Clinton at Iowa State University Nov. 5, Sanders had no comment when Kaleb Vanfosson, president of the Students for Bernie club, was forcibly removed from the stage after saying that there was no point in voting for Clinton.

As has happened four other times in U.S. history, it looks like Clinton actually won the majority of votes. But the U.S. electoral college system means that Trump carried enough states that a Clinton challenge in any one of them wouldn’t make a difference. The Republican Party, with all its divisions, will control the presidency and both houses of the bosses’ Congress on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.
Related articles:
Socialist Workers take party to working class
SWP deepens door-to-door discussions with workers
‘NY Times’ asks SWP supporters to vote for Clinton
SWP campaign fund over the top!
Build the SWP, the party workers need
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