Trump's Socialist Nightmare
By building strong campaigns on issues that really matter to working-class people, Bernie, DSA, and progressive organizations can build a mass movement to drive Trump out.
Ramy Khalil was the Campaign Manager for Kshama Sawant in 2013 when she was elected as the first independent socialist to a city council in the US in decades.
“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” declared Donald Trump on February 6, 2019 in his State of the Union Address. Since then we heard Mike Pence and many other Republicans echo the same Neo-McCarthyism.
The more Trump bashes socialism, the more popular it becomes. This billionaire-in-chief, right-wing populist president is one of the best recruiters for the largest upsurge in the socialist movement in the US in 70 years.
The ascension to prominence of both Sanders’ political revolution against the billionaire class and Trump’s MAGA campaign is no coincidence. It is rooted in tectonic shifts in society.
Capitalism, in particular its neoliberal phase of the last four decades, has led humanity into an economic and ecological disaster. Under neoliberalism, industries have been privatized and deregulated, and corporations have enjoyed fewer taxes and greater profits. This was accomplished through constant waves of attacks on workers’ rights, wages, social services, and unions. This has plunged workers ever deeper into economic insecurity.
To make matters worse, climate change is threatening humanity. Capitalism offers no solutions—only more alienation, oppression, and poverty.
It is no wonder millions of Americans have had enough. CNBC reported on August 13, 2018 that 57% of Democratic voters now say they support socialism.
Many demands that socialists have been fighting for over decades—workers’ rights, free healthcare and education—are arguably now more popular than at any previous time in US history. Millions of ordinary people have rallied to support Medicare for All, climate action, and ending oppression based on race, gender, religion, and nationality.
Hundreds of thousands have actively engaged in resisting Trump. The same cannot be said, however, about the Democratic Party leadership.
It’s Mueller Time?
For three years now the Democratic Party establishment has focused on Trump’s collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. The Democratic Party turned its back on social movements that arose with such might and hope, like the Green New Deal and climate justice protests, immigrant rights actions like the airport occupations against the Muslim travel ban, and battles like at Standing Rock.
Despite the 2017 Women’s March being the largest single-day protest in US history, the Democratic Party has failed to organize people against the Republicans’ assault on women’s reproductive rights. In fact, Nancy Pelosi has continually said that Democratic candidates should not be required to be pro-choice. Meanwhile at least seven states have since passed draconian heartbeat bills aiming to challenge Roe vs. Wade in a Supreme Court now stacked in favor of conservatives.
We have no doubt that Trump obstructed justice to hide murky financial connections, including hush money he paid to cover up illicit activity in violation of campaign finance laws.
To drive Trump out, however, a strategy is needed not just to investigate Trump but to galvanize working-class people from different backgrounds to unite and fight to fundamentally transform our country. This means putting Trump on trial for his crimes against women, immigrants, the environment, the LGBTQ community, and all working people.
But what does the Democratic establishment do? They focus on “Russian interference into the 2016 elections.” This convenient narrative allowed them to do several things at once:
- Reframe the 2016 election away from a revolt against the corporate political establishment and instead toward manipulations by a foreign government;
- Delegitimize the leaks from the Democratic National Committee, which first and foremost showed damning evidence that the Democratic Party leadership rigged the primary elections against the Sanders campaign;
- Demobilize the mass movements opposing Trump with a message of having faith in the Congressional process and wait for the surely damning Mueller report; and
- Hide how much the Democratic Party agrees with many of Trump’s proposals like deportations, mass incarceration, and tax cuts for the super-wealthy.
What their strategy does not help achieve, however, is getting Trump out of the White House.
How to Drive Trump Out
Trump needs to be driven out, the sooner the better. To make sure Trump does not get reelected and to drive forward his impeachment, socialists and union and community activists need to build a movement beyond the limitations set down by the corporate Democrats.
Since January, the Democratic Party majority in the House could have been used to impeach Trump. Rashida Tlaib is leading the charge in Congress with her impeachment resolution, but there is opposition and hesitancy from the Democratic leadership.
The public pressure on Democrats and Republicans would need to be very strong to get them to finally act. To pressure the House to impeach Trump and two thirds of the Senate to confirm the impeachment, we would need an uprising of working-class people. Just like how abortion rights were won in the 1970s, and how educator strikes are winning in states across the South, Republican-controlled bodies can be successfully forced to act against their will if confronted with a determined mass movement.
Such intense public pressure will not come from technocratic investigations in Washington DC about either Russian collusion or obstruction of justice. But we can build a mass movement powerful enough to oust the Predator-in-Chief by linking his impeachment to policies that actually address the real needs of working-class communities, such as Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and ending mass incarceration and deportations.
Instead, the Democratic Party establishment is merely offering a return to the “glory days” of neoliberalism before Trump was elected. For example, in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, she argued, “America is already great.” But it was these very conditions—unaffordable healthcare and housing, competition over decent jobs, skyrocketing inequality, perpetual war, etc.—that laid the basis for this right-wing populist billionaire to make it into the White House in the first place. Far from a vision inspiring a mass revolt to kick out Trump, business-as-usual politics, epitomized right now in Joe Biden’s candidacy, are a recipe for four more years of Trump, and a far-deeper slide into the abyss.
Now is the time to think big. A new generation is looking for socialist ideas and engaging in a political revolution against the billionaire class and everything it stands for. It’s time to give Trump the boot and confront the whole billionaire class with their nightmare and the strongest tool we have—a vision for a democratic socialist society.