Thoughts about the U.S. Presidential Election and Its Consequences

Alireza Kia

Summary: On the danger represented by the racist, sexist, anti-immigrant Donald Trump, how economic hardship is driving some white workers toward him, and the need for a total uprooting of the system” — Editors

You cannot envision capitalism without racism. This has been and will be for some time to come. It is even getting worse after we had a Black president. The voter coalitions behind the two major parties have profoundly shifted during Obama’s presidency! Older whites, especially men and those without college degrees, are moving to the Republicans and college graduates and secular voters are shifting to the Democrats.  According to a new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center based on interviews of some 8,000 voters this year, the two parties are split along lines of culture, outlooks and experience, and these are divisions that go much deeper than political ideology for most voters. The nation’s youth, secularists, and the racially and ethnically diverse urban population are supporting the Democrats. An older America composed of voters over 50, who are mostly white, many of them religiously devout Protestants living in nonurban areas, is supporting the Republicans. While Republicans have gained ground among those without college degrees, Democrats have picked up support at the other end of the scale.

A Chicago Tribune column by Clarence Page compared today’s presidential race with the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial race between Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, then a Republican state legislator, and three-term governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat who had been acquitted in two racketeering trials. A bumper sticker from the race read, “Vote for the crook, it’s important.” Now in this election, Trump calls Clinton “crooked Hillary” and Clinton notes that Trump has been “taking hate groups mainstream.” Thus, many voters see the choice as between a crook and a racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian Populist. Trump’s new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, is head of the ultra-right website Breitbart. Clinton said of Bannon: “to give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they have published”:

“Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy
Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?
Hoist it high and proud: the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage”

Trump’s position on immigrants contains not just the idea of cutting legal immigration but in fact it is the full restrictionist position, this after four decades of high levels of immigration. Trump says the country needs to control future immigration to “ensure assimilation.” Assimilation is the process whereby a minority group gradually adapts to the customs and attitude of the prevailing culture and customs.

The model, Trump says, should be what the U.S. did after “previous immigration waves,” a reference to the restrictionist legislation passed under President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s that remained in effect until 1965. Trump is not only anti-Immigrant, but is also trying to change people’s culture. If I am Iranian/ American, I have to change to American/Iranian in order to be acceptable.  There is a similarity here with the Islamist rulers in Iran, who force people to obey via their religious tyranny. Iranians were forced to identify themselves not only as religious but also to be Shia Muslims with an Iranian identity. Today, the ultra-right populist Trump is trying to ensure assimilation by government force, to make sure Immigrants are devoted to the American flag.

Per Robert Reich, the main characteristic of today’s American politics is anti-establishment fury at a neoliberal capitalist system backed by Wall Street, big corporations, and the super-rich. That is why Bernie Sanders took 22 states in the Democratic primaries, including a majority of Democratic primary voters under age 45 and that is a main reason Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. There are no ‘moderates”; there is no “center.” It is authoritarian populism (Trump) against Democratic populism (Bernie’s political view) and then there’s the Republican establishment (worry about Donald Trump), and the Democratic establishment headed by Hillary Clinton. The crisis of Global Capital created economic hardship and the demand for social change. Therefore, the masses are feeling cheated and abandoned and start questioning the political establishment as never before.

A June New York Times/CBS News poll showed that 84% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans want to fundamentally change or completely rebuild the American campaign finance system.   A total of 69% of American voters have concerns about Donald Trump’s comments and language against women, immigrants and Muslims, including more than half who have “major” concerns, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. But with all this said, I am still afraid Trump is going to get lots of votes, making this presidential election close.

Some white workers in the US and large numbers of Southern white working people are going to vote for Trump.

The question is not why Trump’s campaign is so alt-right that a person like Clinton is becoming an unlikely savior for Republicans who worry about the future of their party. The question is why millions of people in the US are voting for Trump. This is rooted in the stagnation of today’s global capitalism and the looming crisis, from Europe to the Middle East, Asia, and now the US.

We need to see that capitalism can very quickly change its mask from neoliberalism to fascism.  Fascism has happened in Germany, Austria, Italy, Argentina, Spain, Greece and Chile. It can also happen in the U.S. if we let it happen.

We need to look at a third type of politics that is against capitalism itself.

There is the deep stagnation of global capitalism, the decline in the rate of profit along with persistent unemployment that is even increasing in some sectors. This creates conditions for radical opposition in the U.S. and one aspect of that is the rise of the ultra-right.

Capitalist globalization is unable to resolve its contradictions through neoliberalism, and rulers are forced to change their mask to one of authoritarianism in order to go against radical leftist movements. Capitalism today needs ultra-right slogans in order to deal with the movement from left. That is why I am saying that in today’s election there is no room for ‘moderates”, or “centrists.” The question is not merely overcoming the neoliberal version of capitalism; we need to focus on the broader system of capitalism.

Since the 2008 crisis, neoliberalism has restructured the process of capital accumulation, but it has not resolved the contradiction of globalization. The face of neoliberalism is changing toward fascism. In this era, race, religion and culture are being put into the service of capital under the banner of ultra-right populism.

That is why I think we need a third alternative that is against capitalism.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 Comment

  1. Robert Phillipoff

    Democratic movements including movements for socialism have a more fertile climate for development under non fascist conditions. Witness Franco Spain and Nazi Germany.

    There is a significant difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump concerning the alignment of neo fascist forces versus the democratic movements.

    This is why a Clinton victory in November is so important, not to mention a landslide victory for Democrats up and down the ticket. While ultimately what is important is the building of movements that can bring about socialism, there is no “Chinese Wall” between electoral and movement building activity. And there is no Chinese Wall between movements for democracy and for socialism. To pose the two as antithetical to each other (“…we need a third alternative that is against capitalism.”) is questionable