The political crisis in the United States of America is deepening in ways we are not used to. Neither the struggles for civil rights in the 1960s, nor for the female vote decades earlier, nor the Vietnam War, nor President Nixon’s impeachment, not the assassination of President Kennedy, the two world wars, McCarthyism or the Great Depression have placed the country at a crossroads like the current one.
The 2020 elections have exposed all the components and forces that are causing the crisis, which seems to worsen with each passing day without legally deciding who was the winner of the elections.
As I see it, Trump is the visible leader of the forces that in that country realized that the U.S.:
- Is the main loser of the “neoliberal globalization,” understood as the free competition and concurrence of capital without limits of borders, moving towards where it can obtain greater dividends.
- It lost millions of jobs to its closest neighbors, China and other countries.
- It lost the national industry in favor of Germany, China and other regions of the world.
- It lost world economic leadership to China.
- It may lose the supremacy of the dollar.
This group of forces is headed by capital, which has suffered from all of the above. But Trump is supported politically by a large part of the industrial working class and part of the so-called lower middle class in the United States, who were left unemployed or in lower-paying jobs.
This working class sees immigrants as enemies: they consider that “their jobs are being stolen,” to which is added the ideological agitation, which portrays them as murderers, criminals, etc.
The working class is made up of people of all colors, but it is mostly white, with antecedents anchored in the slave states. Groups of them see people of African descent and the freedoms they have conquered as part of their ills. They are organized in their localities, in groups of fanatics of the supremacist ideology, heavily armed.
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside the State Farm Arena as votes are being counted inside in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Magan Varner/AFP
Trump’s triumph is based on the political manipulation of all this. It is based on the explained objective economic realities and on the political realities generated by the Obama presidency for eight years, which is the last straw for this sector of the population: “A black president; the union of evil in one person.”
Trump’s presidency has dismantled much of what Obama did; hence the consolidation of the unconditional support of the sector that led him to the presidency.
His proposals have included:
- the wall on the border with Mexico;
- the war against immigration from the south, stopping their entry and expelling millions of those who have managed to enter the country;
- the trade war with China and Western Europe;
- withdrawing from whatever treaty or international agreement has been signed by his predecessor or that does not comply with the slogan of “America first”;
- getting rid of most of the commitments that imply costs for the country, such as NATO;
- withdrawing from as many international organizations as possible, especially those of the United Nations, to get rid of legal ties to their actions outside borders;
- encouraging domestic industrial investment;
- retaking the Monroe Doctrine for investment of U.S. capital;
- relaunching the arms race, the best incentive for the U.S. military industry, the one that President Eisenhower denounced as the true power in that country;
- denying and fighting against the idea of climate change, due to the limitations that this imposes on various sectors of the national industry, at the expense of serious implications for the planet;
- encouraging white supremacist groups, as an essential part of his power base;
- criminalizing as much as possible the actions of both Latino immigrants and the black population, especially on the issue of drugs, to increase the repression of “domestic crime,” as part of the crusade against the black and Latino movements that support essential demands for their human improvement.
All this, in addition, with the aim of increasing the prison population, whose rate is the highest in the world. It becomes a source of cheap labor, a kind of secret slavery for the national industry and as a way to counteract and silence the emancipation struggles of these sectors.
- Carry out, from the highest position of political power in that country, the indoctrination of the popular support base, even at the cost of having to use impudent lying as the main weapon of political rhetoric. Thus, he dangerously undermined the rules of the “political game” established in the United States for more than 200 years, by destroying the essential minimum ethical component that has sustained them up to now.
The above results in:
- the country’s deepest political polarization, in two groups represented in the main political parties vying for power;
- the real danger of civil war, which does not suit either side of the capital that commands the two factions;
- the need of the real power, big capital and the other members of the bourgeoisie in power to stop the process of division that would lead to civil war or a negative pre-war state for the normal functioning of capitalism in the country, which is unacceptable.
For the first time in U.S. history, as far as I can see, the possibility has been created for a fascist government to seize power, be it through legal or bloody means. As many analysts have shown, Trump has a heavily armed political base, which could support him in that purpose. For them, it would imply being congruent with the goal of achieving “a great America” again.
Trump’s “real power” gamble four years ago was truly risky, as life proved. He is a failed tycoon, a trained charismatic manipulator, who could have brought the American economy out of the morass it is in, for the benefit of the country’s businesses and capital, prioritizing national industry and investments and demonizing the main foreign competitors, China first. Obviously, it didn’t work. It seems that he is going to leave the situation worse than how he found it.
It is a mistake to resort to a capitalist when what has always worked is a member of what some euphemistically call “political class.” Read: a career politician, whose job, as a good employee of capital, is to manage the country in a way that works as well as possible to guarantee better benefits to it.
The forces of the left
Left-wing forces are missing in the US political picture I have presented. Many wonder if they exist, since they consider that McCarthyism “cleaned the house” of the entire left. For the right, they do exist, because they have to fight against them permanently.
Accusing Obama and Biden of being socialists and even communists doesn’t imply an objective lack of vision of that right, since it is necessary to differentiate between political rhetoric and political convictions. But they are aware that, within the Democratic Party (DP), a genuinely left movement has been developing, which has roots in the first half of the last century, but which continues being rounded in the present. It has had a kind of visible leader in Senator Bernie Sanders, an “independent” politician, but effectively within the DP, which is why he has twice competed for the presidential nomination.
We must study to what extent the DP has been able to capitalize on the rest of the left-wing social movements that have emerged in the country: some spontaneous, such as “Occupy Wall Street,” others historical, such as the movement for the rights of Afro-descendants , and immigrants, especially Latinos, who are exploited for their condition of pseudo or total illegality, poor command of the language or simply for being considered the cause of unemployment among whites.
The word socialism can no longer be taken as an anti-communist scarecrow to attract political followers, although it still works in many places. The current crisis has resulted in half of the American youth agreeing with the concept of socialism, although with various meanings, as is to be expected.
The DP took concrete steps to prevent Sanders’ from being nominated as a candidate for president, as they did with Wallace in 1944, as a possible vice president for Roosevelt. If that had been the case, one might wonder if humanity would have been spared the massacres in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The “electoral” reason that is argued is to prevent his status as a leftist from inhibiting a large part of the electorate from voting for the DP. In reality, it is about not allowing someone who can be assumed to be on the left to run for president of the United States, with the possibility of being elected.
The evolution of politics around the world allows the left to advance towards true democracy, that of the people, that of the workers, without real control by capital. The U.S. has entered that trend and life will tell whether it is consistent or a “bump.”
I believe that there are objective conditions to consolidate a stronger position on the left’s agenda in that country. The need for the political establishment to use Trump is evidence of this.
The American left has a Herculean task: to understand and assume the sectors of the working class captured and manipulated by the most reactionary currents in that country, an evident reality in Trump’s electoral base. Adding them to the democratic struggle is possible, if the left transparently assumes its class interests, gets rid of the commitment to the most reactionary capital, in which it is involved today, and allies with the national capital most committed to the objective conditions of well-being of the American people.
The whole country has another task: to improve the Constitution and the laws that regulate politics, elections and the judicial system. This is more difficult than any other, as it implies changing the rules of the game of the political system, in favor of a more social democratic capitalism, to use a concept that many understand, and even more, the way of thinking of those who have the power to do it, as well as the majority of the people and their cultural and political elite.