By Aldous Reno and Florence Oppen
“You’re fired!” The Political Crisis of the Trump Government
During the drama of the first 100 days, Trump sailed on the campaign promises of making America great again through his xenophobic immigration ban, “America First” economic punches, and the mightily prophesied attempt to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In spite of this, Trump’s approval ratings started at the lowest of any incumbent in US history. It’s been six months, and the great political ambition of both Trump and the Republican Party, the ACA repeal, is drowning in a mire of animosity and chaos. Trump has fired his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and his Communications Director Scaramucci over ridiculous chest thumping in the West Wing, and his press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned. Not to mention the rapidly escalating “Russia investigation”, which Trump illegally suppressed by firing FBI Director James Comey. In the last six months 12 key members of the administration have left (either resigned or been fired), creating a situation of great instability that increasingly concerns corporate America.
Up to now, many of us in the Left refused to play into the desperate Democratic Party campaign of delegitimation of Trump, as it was carried by CNN and other mainstream media outlets. The goal of such a campaign, focusing on the “collusion with Russia” of the Trump presidential campaign is to delegitimize the electoral victory of the GOP, as they argue that Trump “cheated” and thus Clinton should have won. The fundamental political basis of its, it is quite reactionary, it appeals to basic U.S. nationalism, replaying the old Cold War antagonisms with Russia, and it emphasizes the idea that Tump, because he is not a “professional politician”, with a Ph.D. and years under his belt playing the game in this corrupt system, cannot run this country. It is quite ironical than the U.S. ruling class of all social sectors, is complaining about “foreign interference” in their own elections. It is even more ironical that Trump is constantly attacked from not being an “inside” man, for it is the established corruption and incompetence of the professional bourgeois politicians of the Democratic and Republican Parties that has thrown this country in disarray. The problem with the DP strategy against Trump is that it is a purely opportunist one: their are not less corrupt or incompetent, they just will say and do anything to get back in power and are strongly aiming at 2018. But where do working people’s needs and interests fit in this petty fight at the top? So far, since the election neither party has really addressed they key issues that affect us: rising cost of living, immigrant rights, police brutality, labor rights, free healthcare and education etc. Of course we need to fight against the Trump administration, but it cannot be to replace it by another one of the kind, led by the Democratic Party. This game needs to stop and we need to start building an alternative now.
This Corrupt and Reactionary Government Needs to Go
Furthermore, the investigation has now revealed that Trump’s two sons met with Russian ambassadors about leaking the data that scandalized and led to the electoral defeat of Hillary Clinton. The media are constantly uncovering the ties between the Trump Corporation and family businesses and their negotiations with Russia, China and many other economic partners. There is no doubt now that Trump is using the presidency to make money. Before the election it was reported that “Trump had numerous business dealings with Russian companies. About one-third of the units on the most expensive floors of Trump Tower in Manhattan were sold to people or companies connected to Russia and neighboring states by 2004.” And later his lawyers detailed a “few exceptions” of business deals “including the Miss Universe pageant he held in Moscow and the Florida mansion he sold to a Russian oligarch in 2008. Trump earned more than $100 million from those deals, according to his lawyers.”
Throughout July, the Department of Justice investigation has unveiled two of the close associates of Trump during the campaign are utterly corrupt: Paul Manafort, Trump’s senior adviser and campaign chairman for three months, who received $13 million off the books from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, is suspected to be involved in bribes and links with the mafia, and maintained close relations with Russian intelligence agencies; and Jared Kushner who disclosed having met with Russians during the campaign regarding the Clinton campaign email hack. Therefore, on August 3rd, Justice Department Special Counsel Mueller initiated a Grand Jury investigation on this matter.
Yet the collusion and corruption of these politicians, who turn out to be as corrupt as the “establishment” they used to denounce, did not stop at the campaign. It is an ongoing scandal. One of the latest scandals is the back-channel deal made in the latest trip to China: “The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, also known as the “golden visa,” was part of the controversial sales pitch made by Kushner’s family over the weekend to Chinese business people, who were asked to invest $500,000 in the Kushner real estate empire in exchange for preferential immigration treatment.” To simply speak of “conflict of interests” here would be an understatement.
These factors, the increasing instability of the White House; its corruption to the eyes of the public, the lack of trust between Trump and the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, have also contributed to the greatest political defeat of the administration so far: its failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s no wonder then that since Trump’s presidency began in February, his approval ratings have steadily fallen to 38%. This is what a state in political crisis looks like. Trump’s response? Increase the bullying and deepen the bonapartist character of his government, as the appointment of a retired marine general (John Kelly) to be the new chief of staff shows.
Imperialist Aggression and the Knifing of Civil Rights
An unbeatable majority by the US Congress has passed (and Trump has now signed) a rigorous sanctions bill against Russia, resulting in an escalation of tensions with the country, which has called the move an “all-out trade war” and removed 779 US diplomats. European Union officials have suggested the sanctions will damage US/EU trade as well. Meanwhile, Trump’s attempt to exert power over North Korea by pressuring China and other world leaders has failed, exacerbated by 19 of the G20 summit countries expressing complete disapproval of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords. The isolationist policies are an attempt to blackmail the EU and other countries into acting for US interests against those of Russia and China, but the foreign powers of the world are increasingly immune to this blackmail. This is what a government in political crisis looks like. Trump has taken sanctions against Maduro’s government in Venezuela, freezing the assets of the President and barring all U.S. citizens to make economic deals with him and now is threatening to do more. It is a farce to have a government like the United States, that has and still is financing dictatorships, sponsoring coups, and waging imperialist wars to give lessons of democracy.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the corporate, corrupt government is getting weaker, this will be determined in the struggle and the relation of class forces. What is clear is that Trump is trying to overcome the political crisis by attempting a very much promised Bonapartist turn, that will combine more power at his hands, a severe attack to civil liberties and democratic freedoms, and imperialist aggression.
In the last months Trump is making good on his most authoritarian campaign promise of all: attacks on immigrants, minorities, women, and queer people. First Trump got the partial reinstatement of the Muslim Ban, which might be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after its effect. Simultaneously came the crackdown on immigrants through the revitalization of the 287(g) programs which allows the cooperation of local authorities with ICE, which he implemented with an executive order in January. Currently, ICE has 287(g) agreements with 60 law enforcement agencies in 18 states, and it has “trained” more than 1,822 state and local officers to capture and deport undocumented workers. 27 of those agreements have been signed since Trump made this push (the others were already effective under Obama) and 18 have been signed in Texas alone which is leading the charge in this inhuman manhunt.
Now throughout July, as the political crisis deepened, and through the “news-speak” mouth of his tweets, Trump declared a ban on transgender people from participating in the military (without consulting with the Secretary of Defense), on the grounds that trans people “overburden” the medical system. In reality, the military spends literally 10x more money on male erection medication (aka Viagra) than it spends on trans healthcare. Earlier this week a memo internal to the Dept. of Justice suggested the DoJ will directly attack universities with affirmative action programs, on the grounds that they discriminate against white people. In reality, affirmative action programs have demonstrated a positive impact on campuses by increasing racial diversity, and have no racial-quotas; only allowing universities to see the race of the applicants. A regular controversy occurred when Trump encouraged police brutality after asking for funding to hire 10,000 new ICE agents to root out ‘thugs in drug cartels.’ This follows the introduction of a law by MA Governor Baker to force cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and ICE.
All of these attacks to civil rights are a way to translate the crisis of the government and its unpopularity unto the working class. Now that many of the white workers who voted for Trump are regretting it, the government wants to be sure to instill again the racial and gender war among the ranks of the working class. In response to these baseless actions, we must fight all of these attacks of the government by uniting workers in our workplaces, unions and neighborhoods and directing their anger towards this government which needs to fall.