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Vol. 81/No. 2      January 9, 2017

(front page)

Trump support grows while Democrats face
divisions, fights

Since his election, Donald Trump has broadened his support based on appeals to the working class as he continues to assemble a Republican administration. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is splintered, facing a fight for leadership and perspectives. As Trump prepares to take power, millions of workers are engaged in a broad discussion of how to go forward as the bosses and their government place the burden of the continuing capitalist crisis on their backs.

Trump’s approval rating has risen to over 50 percent as he has agreed to union contracts at some of his hotels, publicly engaged in arm-twisting to force aerospace giants Lockheed and Boeing to slash their bills to the government for F-35 warplanes and a new Air Force One, and announced plans to dissolve his charitable foundation and put family holdings in trusts.

Trump backed down his supposed buddy Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Dec. 22 he was thinking of building up Moscow’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump replied publicly. The next day Putin backed off.

U.S. “consumer confidence” hit its highest point in more than 15 years, even though long-term participation in the workforce is the lowest in modern history. “The gain in confidence was entirely due to rising expectations” following Trump’s election, Reuters said Dec. 27.

This puts wind in Trump’s sails as he looks to confirm his cabinet nominees and enact legislation after the inauguration Jan. 20.

He will face a fight. After the post-election hysteria around vote recounts and an Electoral-College-coup attempt flopped, heterogeneous elements in the Democratic Party are now planning to try and block his administration at every turn. In response, he’s looking to divide Democrats and draw some of them toward him.

For example, he intervened in the sharp debate on U.S. policy around the recent U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. As the Barack Obama administration abstained, allowing passage of the vote Dec. 23, Trump denounced the move. “At the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” he tweeted.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, his party’s incoming Senate leader, also denounced the administration vote, called it “extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding.” Democratic senators from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon and Delaware also opposed Obama’s decision.

Foreign policy moves like this offer Trump opportunities to push forward.

With the Democratic Party in disarray after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, leaders of different currents within it, with their eyes on the 2018 Congressional elections, are scrambling to learn from the lessons of her loss and take over.

In an op-ed piece in the Dec. 26 New York Times, David Paul Kuhn disputed those who say Trump won because he galvanized support from racist white workers.

The fact that the civil rights movement overthrew Jim Crow segregation and changed social attitudes in the country forever was reflected in the election of Obama. “Barack Obama won more support among white men in 2008, including the working class, than any Democrat since 1980,” Kuhn said.

“By 2016, Mr. Trump personified the vote against the status quo, one still not working out for them,” he said.

“[M]uch of the white working class decided that Mr. Trump could be a jerk,” Kuhn said, pointing to concern over his demeaning views on women. “Absent any other champion, they supported the jerk they thought was more on their side.”

Sanders ‘revolution’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had the Democratic nomination stolen from him by the rigged Democratic super-delegate setup, is one of the leading contenders to seize the leadership in the party. Asked by talk-show host Conan O’Brien Nov. 29 if he would have beaten Trump, Sanders said, “I wish to God that I had had that opportunity.”

“The goal now is to mobilize millions of people around a progressive agenda,” Sanders said in a Democracy Now! interview released Dec. 26. “It would be a tragic mistake to believe that everybody who voted for Donald Trump is a ‘deplorable.’ They’re not,” Sanders said.

During her campaign, Clinton called workers who backed Trump “deplorables,” as well as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”

The soon-to-be commander-in-chief of U.S. imperialism will face the same intractable crisis of the capitalist system as his predecessors. On a world scale, capitalism is in a long contraction of production, trade and employment that no policies, including Trump’s plans for tax cuts, eased regulations and infrastructure spending, can change.

No solution to capitalist crisis

“Nobody knows, nor can know, how this financial crisis will unfold,” Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes wrote in 2008, as the “Great Recession” unfolded. “But it’s not the result of ‘mistaken policies.’ It is a product of the workings of the laws of capitalism itself. It’s a consequence, not a cause, of finance capital’s development.” Barnes’ article is included in The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People.

Since the 2008-09 crash, “there is a growing openness among working people to talk and debate with each other about the broadest social and political questions facing our class, our unions, and our allies,” writes SWP leader Steve Clark in the book’s introduction. “Workers everywhere are looking for an explanation of capitalism’s grinding and destructive decline, and, even more importantly, how to chart a way forward to combat its consequences.”  
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