Categorized | Carousel, Opinion/Editorial

The Trump Presidency and the Tragedy of Bernie Sanders

Evan Minniti staff writer

To many, the victory of Donald Trump seems like a defeat for human progress. Many feel demoralized, angry and confused about how such a right-wing demagogue could be voted into power by the increasingly progressive American people. However, we must realize that Trump’s victory could have been prevented by an independent left-wing alternative to Clinton, something that Bernie Sanders could have easily made. The task facing America now is to create such a movement and to understand why Trump won.

Americans are not usually known for taking an interest in their electoral process. They correctly view the political establishment as being bought and paid for by the billionaires. The two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, are both parties for the capitalists and bankers. As Gore Vidal said, “There is only one party in America, the Business Party. And it has two right-wings.”

However, 2016 has been very different. There has been a massive explosion in social polarization to the left and the right.

Despite Obama’s supposed success in stabilizing the American economy using Keynesian policies, the American economy stagnates and the IMF has had to lower its expectations of economic growth in the American economy. Consequently, tens of millions of workers and youth rallied around Bernie Sanders and his call for a revolution against the billionaire class. He became the most widely popular candidate among the general public in this election. 

On the other side, after years of being told to vote for the “lesser-evil” Democrats, who gave them nothing in return, layers of white, rural lower-middle class and working class voters decided to stab the Establishment in the back by voting for Trump. This is simply proof that voting for the “lesser evil” always ends in the victory of the greater one. Every time progressives and left-wingers fail to organize outside of the “lesser evil” Democrats, the majority of the working class falls into indifference and the more conservative layers of society in the lower middle-class go over to the Right. This is a ready-made strategy to strengthen the “greater-evil”. For example, “lesser-evil” Bill Clinton was replaced by “greater-evil” Bush, and now Trump will replace “lesser-evil” Obama.

After Sanders’ defeat (which happened because of electoral fraud), Hillary Clinton, the preferred candidate of Fortune 100 CEOs, advertised herself as a progressive. Clinton’s image, however, is a shameful mirage. Despite voicing support for Sanders-lite proposals, this woman was a cheerleader of the neoliberal and imperialist policies of the Bill Clinton and Obama administrations. She even has her own history of homophobia, imperialist adventures that have killed thousands, and support for police brutality against African-Americans and working class youth.

Trump, despite his disgusting reactionary right-wing populist message, isn’t a fascist. Fascism has a very exact definition, which is a reactionary mass movement of the lower-middle class used by the capitalist class to crush the increasingly radical working class. In the 1930s, the Italian, German and Spanish capitalists supported fascism as a battering ram against the mass workers movements in their respective countries. America, on the other hand, has no mass workers movement. It has an undeniably weakened trade union movement of some 12 to 15 million workers, but they don’t have an independent party. Trump certainly isn’t organizing paramilitaries to attack trade unionists. While it is true that fascist organizations are in orbit around Trump, he himself isn’t a fascist and the vast majority of his supporters aren’t fascist.

What motivates Trump’s supporters, despite Hillary’s condescending comments, isn’t actually xenophobia or racism. They support him because they are afraid of the capitalist establishment that Clinton so obviously represents. In fact, what motivated Clinton’s supporters, also, isn’t so much support for Clinton so much as it is fear of Trump.

Regardless of what they say about each other, Clinton would have had a similar presidency to Trump. In the face of economic downturn there will be a dramatic increase in austerity, something Obama has quietly started to do. If anything, Obama is already pursuing Trump-like anti-immigrant policies and there is little reason why Clinton would reverse them. Trump and Clinton would both want to support imperialist adventures abroad, especially in Syria.

For tens of millions of Americans, Sanders is the biggest tragedy of this election. Sanders was the light at the end of the tunnel, an honest say-it-like-it-is left-winger who commanded respect and admiration from across the spectrum. What is needed in this country, and what Sanders could have easily created in July during the DNC debacle, is a mass-left party of workers and youth that is independent from the Democrats.

It must be acknowledged that Bernie made many mistakes. A revolution against the billionaire class cannot only mean larger taxes on corporations (which they won’t pay because of tax loopholes). Sanders should have run on a socialist program calling for the nationalization without compensation of the Fortune 1000 and placing nationalized industries under the democratic control of the working class. That is the only way to overthrow the billionaires.

The Democratic Party has always been for the rich and against the poor. They would never allow someone like Sanders to become their presidential candidate. As such, the Democratic establishment rigged the election against him. Sanders even admitted that he had to run up against the Democratic establishment. However, even after blatant electoral fraud, Sanders made the horrible mistake of endorsing Clinton.

 

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