World Perspectives 2017: V. Class Struggle in the US after Trump’s Victory

1.                   In the following chapter we will summarize the main findings of our pamphlet which we published after Trump’s victory at the US presidential election. [1] As we stated, the Trump administration will be the most reactionary government in the history of the US. Its assent marks the beginning of a new political era for both the US and the world.


2.                   The election’s outcome is an example of the undemocratic character of bourgeois democracy in general and of the US electoral system in particular. Trump “won” the election despite the fact that his rival, Hillary Clinton, received more than 2.5 million votes more than he did! In fact, Trump was elected to office by only slightly more than ¼ of the US electorate.


3.                   The main reason Trump won was the collapse of working class support for the Democratic Party. While Trump received an amount of votes similar to that garnered by Republican candidates in the recent previous elections, many millions of workers, blacks and Latinos who, in the past, voted for the Democrats didn’t vote because they were disgusted by the misery and repression which they continue to experience after 8 years of an Obama government; and for them, Clinton openly represented the interests of Wall Street and the super-rich.


4.                   While the majority of the lower and middle strata of the working class, of the blacks and Latinos, who went to the polls, voted for Clinton, the majority of better paid workers, the middle class and the bourgeoisie slightly favored Trump. Worryingly, Trump managed to win the support of sectors of the white working class on the basis of a program of chauvinism.


5.                   The Trump administration being formed and which will assume power on January 20, represents a thoroughly reactionary government. Given its electoral campaign and its initial announcements, it stands for: (a) White chauvinism, Islamophobia (the call to ban Muslims for entering the US, etc.), a policy of anti-immigration (building a wall along the Mexican border, mass deportation of undocumented migrants, etc.); (b) Economic protectionism (a 45% tariff for Chinese imports, rejection of free trade agreements like TPP, NAFTA and TTIP, pulling out of the WTO, etc.); (c) Neoliberal financial liberalization (e.g., reducing corporation taxes from the current 35% to 15%; eliminating Wall Street regulation, including the rescinding of the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform - the anti-bank bailout regulation put into place after the 2008-2009 financial crisis); (d) Immediate cancellation of the Climate Change Accord, based on Trump’s disingenuous charge that climate change “is a myth created by the Chinese to harm American manufacturing”; (e) Deep attacks against social and health care programs (the plan to abolish Obamacare, etc.); (f) Attacks on women’s rights like abortion; (g) Calls to reduce US obligations arising from long-term alliances with other states (e.g., demanding from the EU, Japan and South Korea to raise their defense budgets so that the US can reduce its expenditures defending them; loosening or even abolishing NATO); (h) Calls for more military aggression against “Islamic terrorists.”


6.                   The Trump administration will be basically an unstable coalition of three main groups: (a) the Trump clan itself, which lacks strong political beliefs; (b) the very-right-wing conservative Republicans (including Christian evangelical fundamentalists and Tea-Party populists); and (c) the white supremacist alt-right movement.


7.                   This administration is likely to prove to be an unstable government, as it lacks the support of the majority of all important classes/layers (monopoly bourgeoisie, urban middle class, lower and middle strata of the working class). While the monopoly capitalists certainly are in favor of the proposed radical cuts in corporate taxes, they fear Trump’s declared protectionist measures and the end of stable alliances with the EU. The administration’s racist and social attacks will likely provoke the mass resistance of workers and oppressed. Likewise, it can face important setbacks by engaging in risky foreign military adventures. A governmental crisis is therefore a realistic possibility.


8.                   The spontaneous mass protests which arose, after Trump’s victory. under the slogan “Not My President” and which seem to be culminating in a day of mass protests on 20 January 2017, the day Trump is to be inaugurated are a positive harbinger for the future. This movement includes, in particular, many youth, migrants and blacks, and has emerged in nearly all big metropolises throughout the country. It has already resulted in a number of schools, universities and even entire cities declaring themselves as “sanctuaries” for migrants threatened with deportation. While is remains to be seen how many of these plans will in fact be implemented by the relevant local authorities, they are certainly an encouraging expression of mass solidarity with migrants and against the reactionary Trump administration.


9.                   Another recent encouraging result for the class struggle is the remarkable success of the mass protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP. This $3.8bn project was planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and threatened to contaminate the water supply and to damage sacred tribal lands. The refusal of the army to give a permit for this project is a victory for the joint protest of the Native Americans and climate activists that was conducted for several months. However, there is a clear danger that the new Trump administration will overrule this decision.


10.                Revolutionaries in the US must emphasize the lesson of Trump’s victory. The most important one is that the Democratic Party is not, has never been and will never be a party serving the interest of the workers and oppressed. Hence, revolutionaries must not lend support to left-bourgeois figures like Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren, who serve as a left fig leaf covering the nakedness of the Democratic Party. Therefore, forces like the CPUSA, which called to vote for Hillary Clinton, or SAlt (the CWI section) who campaigned for Sanders, objectively acted as supporters for one of the two main parties of US imperialism. The later support by the ISO (a group in the Cliffite tradition) and SAlt for the Green Party of Jill Stein – a petty-bourgeois party with no connection with the workers and oppressed – was similarly an irreconcilable contradiction with the principle of working class independence.


11.                Instead the strategic task of revolutionaries in the US is to break the trade unions and the mass organizations of the blacks and Latinos away from the Democratic Party and to advance the formation of a Multi-National Workers Party. Socialists should advocate a transitional program – combining immediate economic and democratic demands with the goal of the expropriation of the capitalist class and the creation of a workers’ government – for such a party, without making its adoption a precondition for participation.


[1] See the RCIT’s pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: The Meaning, Consequences and Lessons of Trump‘s Victory. On the Lessons of the US Presidential Election Outcome and the Perspectives for the Domestic and International Class Struggle, 24.November 2016,; Michael Pröbsting: US Presidential Election: The Victory of Donald Trump is a Historical Turning Point, 09.11.2016,