What to expect from Trump in the next four years?
A vicious assault on the living and working conditions of the most vulnerable, at home and abroad.
We must resist and defeat this assault, and use the fight as a foundation to build a domestic and even global political vehicle capable of coordinating and then unifying into a single concentrated force our various struggles.
Like his electoral campaign, the core of Trump’s agenda is the further fragmentation of working people. Divide et impera. The notion, widespread among liberals, of impoverished white workers outside of yuppie, metropolitan America as “deplorables” needs to be rejected and replaced by a frame that emphasizes the fundamental unity of interest of the 99%.
In the most immediate sense, we have several trenches to protect against Trump’s upcoming charge. Without trying to be exhaustive: we must support immigrants and their families against further abuse and deportation; the Black Lives Matter movement and overall rights of African Americans; the existing bits of public health care and public schooling; the environment as it translates into the most basic necessities of working people in urban and rural settings; the lands and rights of Native peoples threatened by powerful oil, gas, and mining interests, and official abuse; women’s and LGBT rights; etc.
Scattered light won’t even warm up your skin. Concentrated light cuts through steel.
The challenge is not only in coordinating these defensive movements, but in unifying them — making them converge organically, through democratic processes by which people respectfully deliberate and freely bring their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to the fore — into a single, concentrated political force capable of splitting the social and political base of Trumpism, and setting out for more. Because these defensive actions are only the first steps in the move for working people to recover their historical initiative, locally and globally. Now we must resist, but resisting is only viable if we envision a better world beyond the here and now.
Trump is swinging his sledgehammer against working people in several ways:
- By pitting white American workers against immigrant workers. This widens the old, festering wound in the flesh of the American working class caused by its division between workers in the shadows, with virtually no legal rights, and the rest of us. Trump can now refine the monstrous deportation machinery that Obama built to try to crush and intimidate the weak. We need to explain to all American workers that this is not only not going to help them in the long run, but it is going to work exactly against their best interest – as history shows. Our focus here should be on the relentless defense of immigrant workers and their families against deportation, racist attacks, and intimidation. That struggle will build conditions for an immigration reform that recognizes full rights of citizenship to immigrants and, eventually, for open borders.
- Though Trump refused to throw Putin’s Russia under the bus during his campaign, and trained part of his rhetoric in opposition to the trigger-happy imperialist adventurism advocated by Hillary Clinton and the still-active Bush neocons, there should be no doubt that Trump is gearing up to be an active promoter of U.S. imperialism. For one, he is threatening to beef up the military and the domestic repressive apparatus. More on the latter below. An expansion of U.S. military capacity would not only be the largest waste of productive force ever in human history, but it would make the world altogether a more dangerous place. Russia, China, and other countries will follow up in dumping larger chunks of their productive forces into this global black hole of horror. I’m afraid Bernie won’t fully accompany us in this fight. But it is a fight we must wage. Not only should we rebuild the anti-war movement, resist attempts to launch foreign wars, explain what a poisoned pill military Keynesianism is for working people, etc., but we should also actively support the poorer countries of the world that choose to resist U.S. imperialism. This does not mean necessarily that we endorse their internal political setup. But only that we are fully on their side in their fight against imperialist exploitation in any form — from attempts to control their natural resources or their economies, to “trade and financial” abuse, to mistreatment of their migrants, to official meddling in their internal affairs. The further goal is disarmament and a global order based on respectful international cooperation.
- Domestically, Trump is going to build on kin precedents. Giuliani’s nasty tenure in New York City, with forceful dismantling of social protections, school and social-program privatization, militarization of the police, shameless support of cop brutality and repression. Another precedent to emulate is Bush’s (and Obama’s!) expansion of electronic surveillance powers. Regardless of his anti-Wall Street and anti-lobbyist campaign rhetoric, Trump will be absolutely more inclined than the neoliberals ever were (never particularly scrupulous to begin with, but Trump will not have any ideological compunction about it) to promote cronyism in the allocation of public favor, be it in the form of deregulation, “tax incentives,” contracts, and access. We must be vigilant and expose him, because in this area he will be betraying his campaign promises.
The rule of thumb is this: If Trump encounters resistance against his actions by the economic powers that be and by the political establishment, he will prove willing to compromise. He will not exhibit this same attitude in any of the areas of his plan centered on bullying the vulnerable, at home and abroad.
This country has a tremendous potential, not just to participate in, but in leading the construction of a better global society, sharing the planet in peace, equity, cooperation, and greater harmony with the cycles of nature. Let us live up to that potential.