Trump’s Victory Will Lead to a Big Shift to the Left in America – Part 2

20 Nov

Fortsättning på analysen av presidentvalet i USA och de kommande åren i amerikansk politik.

Clean Sweep for the Republicans
Clinton’s disastrous performance also had an equally bad effect on Congress elections where the Democrats had been hoping to make important gains. Although there was a small swing to the Democrats with them gaining six more seats, the Republicans still hold a commanding majority of 239 to 193. In the Senate the result was even more disappointing. To win back the Senate the Democrats only needed to win five seats and they were fortunate in standing against junior Republican Senators, Tea Party freshmen rather than safely installed incumbents. In the end, the Democrats only won two seats leaving the Republicans in charge with a majority of 52 out of 100.

In what is probably the worst result of Trump’s victory, the Republicans now control all three branches of government: the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency. Something they have not had since the late 1940s. But these are not the Republicans of old. Rather they are a much more right-wing ideological bunch who are committed to privatizing everything they can lay their hands on, reducing taxes yet further on the rich, and cutting public spending to the bone. Unlike the earlier Republicans, the new right wants to drastically roll back the role of the state at home by deregulating and downsizing Federal agencies, while aggressively pursuing foreign enemies abroad.

This Republican dominance is similarly reflected at state level. The State Governor elections were a serious defeat for the Democrats with them losing three states to the Republicans so that the Republicans now 34 governorships. They also hold 68 out of 99 state legislative chambers including both chambers in 33 states. In 25 states the Republicans now control all branches of government – a mirror image of the Federal position.

Supreme Court
To make matters even worse, Trump is fortunate enough to be entering the presidency at a time when there is an immediate vacancy on the Supreme Court. He has promised to appoint a right-wing member which will shift the balance of the court to the right.

Trump may even be able to shift the Court further to the right. On the nine member Supreme Court the two senior liberal members are 83 and 78. And the centrist judge is 80. So Trump may well have the opportunity to replace more judges locking in a conservative majority for decades.

Thus we are likely to see a series of reactionary laws enacted backed up by a conservative judiciary.

trump-white-house

Hur kommer Trumps tid i Vita Huset bli?

Trump in the White House
One of the many problems that Trump will face is the fact that as a business tycoon that he is used to giving orders and seeing them implemented. But American politics doesn’t work that way. Congress is the key factor on legislation and finance, not the Presidency. Even among the Republicans controlling Congress there are many conflicting interests and disagreements over policy. Washington is all about deals and fixes between the various factions and branches of power. Trump boasts that he is the ultimate dealmaker but among the many pledges he has made he will soon find that he can’t fulfil many of them even if he wanted to. For example, Trump has now announced his wish to retain significant aspects of Obama’s healthcare legislation but Republicans in Congress want to gut Obamacare and are likely to have their way.

On trade policy many Republicans are fierce free traders, and Trump is likely to find a lot of opposition from his own side in his aim to abolish the trade agreements and introduce protectionism. It will only take a few Republican Senators to side with the Democrats to slow down and even prevent the changes Trump wants to make.

In his campaign Trump promised to spend $1 trillion on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. But closer analysis shows that this is less a proposal to increase federal spending and more an opportunity for private moneymaking. As Michael Roberts has pointed out “The funds would come from private sources which would get incentives to provide money: the big construction companies and developers (like Trump Inc itself) will be offered tax breaks and also the right to own the bridges, roads, etc built with toll charges to the users of these.  Direct public spending and construction will be limited.

One policy that there is general agreement about on the Republican side is a desire to cutting taxes on the rich. This will inevitably result in a yet another rise in inequality, something that will prove unpopular even with many Trump voters.

Similarly, the Republicans can be expected to lift some of the restrictions on banks introduced after the 2008 crash. With the even higher levels of debt that we now see, everything is being prepared for another bank crash in the relatively near future.

Looming ahead is the next trough in the business cycle which is well overdue. If there is a major economic downtown on Trump’s watch his Presidency will quickly end up in the toilet. The expectations of white workers that Trump has raised are set to be quickly and dramatically dashed.

Foreign policy
Trump is known to have a short fuse and aggressive instincts. In polling 66% of respondents think that he does not have the temperament to be President. How much this will be reflected in US reactions to foreign crises is unknowable.

Trump’s campaign was slanted towards isolationism, indicating a wish to end America’s role as the global policeman and pull back from the hawkish and interventionist line pursued by Clinton. Trump criticised NATO and called for a lessening of sanctions against Russia. Whether he will put this new orientation into practice is anybody’s guess. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Labros cautioned Russians to wait to see Trump’s actions not his rhetoric.

That said, an indicator of Trump’s likely future behaviour can be seen in the extremely right-wing appointments he is now making for his Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Certainly, we cannot expect any change in US support for Israel with Trump being a big friend of Netanyahu.

The Environment
A major change of policy that is very likely will be on the environment. Trump is a climate change denier and his choice for the person to lead the Environmental Protect Agency, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is a climate change denier of old. Ebell recently said that “Congress should prohibit any funding for the Paris Climate Treaty, the Green Climate Fund, and the underlying UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

There is this a strong possibility that Trump will not carry out US commitments under the United Nations Paris Treaty (which was in any case toothless) including not making payments into the Green Climate Fund. As the world’s biggest polluter, if America reneges on its climate change commitments it would encourage many other countries towards inaction on the necessary steps and financial contributions.

On aspects of the environment in the USA we are likely to see a major rolling back of environment protection including a neutering of Obama’s Clean Power Plan and many other pro-business measures.

Social Security
Trump promised not to cut Medicare or social security . But his appointment of Michael Korbey to his transitional team to head Social Security indicates otherwise. The Associated Press reports that “as a senior adviser to the Social Security Administration, Korbey was an advocate for the George W Bush administration’s failed attempt to privatise Social Security.”

Corruption in the White House
Trump has promised to drain the swamp of corruption in the US political system but as we have seen by his appointment of lobbyists on his Transition Team he is bringing the swamp directly into the White House. Indeed, there is a growing suspicion that the main purpose of Trump’s successful bid for the White House has been to corruptly use the Presidency in order to greatly enrich himself and his family. Unlike the rules governing Congress and state government, the US President does not need to declare any conflict of interest. Nor does he have to publish details of his wealth and business dealings.

Trump has already shown by refusing to disclose his tax returns in the election campaign, that he is not willing to be transparent on his income. We can only expect the same in the White House. Similarly, he has refused to abide by the voluntary convention and put his holdings in a blind trust so that there can be no question of him using his office to take decisions that favour his wealth. Instead, he has placed his holdings in the hands of his children. But his children are some of his closest advisers and he has directly involved them in his transition team. Thus, there will be a direct connection between what Trump decides as President and his business interests.

Thus, if Trump wants to take personal advantage of his infrastructure plan and award key construction contracts to his own organization not only will there be nothing to stop him but the public will not even know that it is happening.
“Every policy move Trump makes can be used to enrich himself and his family personally with no legal obligation for anyone outside the family to know about it. The current setup in which Trump owns a series of opaque holding companies operationally controlled by heirs who are also close political advisers is a looming corruption disaster. It allows Trump and his family to use their influence over the policy process to enrich themselves to an essentially unlimited degree with no public disclosure whatsoever.”

In this way, everything is being set up for Trump to plunder the Presidency. And perhaps that was his whole purpose in running for President in the first place.

Targeting Ethnic Minorities
Much has been made of the wall that Trump has pledged to build between the United States and Mexico. However, even a cursory glance at the map shows how incredibly long the border is between the two countries and indicates that this will be yet another empty promise that was never intended to be put into practice.

More serious is Trump’s plan to deport illegal migrants. He is talking about expelling millions of Latinos in the near future. Even on an administrative level, this will require a massive expansion of immigration and police forces and end up terrorising the hispanic community.

At the same time, Trump dismisses the concerns of African Americans over policing which is causing the shooting of innocent black men by police on a weekly if not daily basis. With the election of Trump as President, the police will feel emboldened. No wonder that Trump’s victory was greeted by open demonstrations of the Klu Klux Klan.

Last but not least, Trump’s campaign against muslims can only succeed in making America more unpopular in the Islamic world and more of a target for the Islamic fundamentalists. In such an environment, we are likely to see more recruits to the fundamentalist groups and more attacks on Americans with all the reactionary consequences for US society.

strike-CST-042513-07.JPG

Kampen för 15 dollar i minimilön är en av de massrörelser som skakat USA de senaste åren.

Trump Faces the Prospect of a Perfect Storm
In the immediate aftermath of the presidential election, Trump is being given the benefit of the doubt by the mainstream media who are saying that we have to give Trump a chance. To give him “a fresh start”. Likewise, outgoing President Obama is trying to calm down people’s fears of a Trump White House.

But everything is being prepared for the most almighty bust up. A perfect storm of opposition is approaching in the not too distant future.

As Trump quickly sheds his campaign promises and demonstrates his true nature as a deceitful and corrupt operator, it will call forth a massive backlash from those sections of white workers who in desperation have put their faith in him. With nothing to hold them back, the right-wing Republican Congress will quickly begin to enact reactionary legislation designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Add to this the economic hardship that will come from the downturn in the economy that is likely to come in Trump’s term of office.

With control of all branches of government, Trump and the Republicans will have no excuses for their failures. Already, Trump is facing an unprecedented level of ridicule and criticism. Inevitably, the forces of the right will be exposed for the venal force that they are.

Then there is always the possibility of foreign policy adventures and debacles. Trump’s rash unpredictability could lead to all kinds of unforeseeable explosions with blowback into US society.

A toxic cocktail of opposition is being prepared by Trump and the Republicans. A host of groups have already been alienated by them: Blacks, Latinos and muslims, women and environmentalists, union members and workers generally. An overwhelming basis of protest is being laid down. Such protests will call forth repression from a Trump-led government and expose the authoritarian streak that exists in his nature and politics.

The next two years may be hard and dark. The President has a big influence over the nature of the national debate with the right to directly address the public on television and radio. Key sections of the media will echo his reactionary outbursts and aid his attempts to mobilise the forces of reaction.

In certain circumstances, such an environment can lead to apathy and despair. Especially if there is no alternative. But the Bernie Sanders campaign, if nothing else, has already put down an important marker. It has established a credible alternative coalition to the Democratic establishment which has been gravely discredited by Clinton’s humiliating failure to defeat Trump. As Sanders has put it: “It’s not just this election where it is still hard to believe that Trump won. But Republicans control the Senate. They control the House. They have done phenomenally well over the past eight years in state legislatures around the country, in governor races. And people are asking: How does it happen that a political party which wants to give tax breaks to billionaires, which nobody supports; which wants to cut programs for working people; wants to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; many of whose members do not even believe in the reality of climate change – how in God’s name do these guys win elections? Well, the Democratic leadership of today hasn’t figured this out. It is time for profound change.”

We are likely to see a major swing to the left in the Democratic Party as part of a shift to the left in society as a whole. This may well be reflected in a change in the balance of power in Congress in the mid-term elections in two years time. There is nothing so angry as an electorate who can clearly see that it has been shamelessly lied to. In such a climate it is possible that the Democrats will take back the Senate. Perhaps even the House of Representatives.

In such circumstances it is also likely that the Democrats will choose a more left wing candidate to stand against Trump in four years time, a candidate that has a big chance of defeating him. Such developments will test the contradictions within the Democratic Party to the limit – liberal capitalist parties are not known for being transformed into the kind of democratic socialist movement which America will need in the stormy years ahead.

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  1. Trump’s Victory Will Lead to a Big Shift to the Left in America – Part 1 | Socialistiska Nätverket - 20 november, 2016

    […] Fortsätt till Del 2 […]

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