Counterfire publishes more reactions to the US elections, as world politics is thrown into crisis once again
Judy Cox, teacher, East London
What an obscene spectacle. Around two billion dollars squandered on an election which revolved around one question – who do you want to lose? Who is the lesser evil? Racism and bigotry, crookery and warmongering – it’s all been on display in the US election. Hilary Clinton was the candidate of the discredited establishment. She could not motivate party activists to work for her campaign. She could not motivate the electorate to vote for her. Trump has masqueraded as the outsider who understands the anger of ordinary voters. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’ of corruption in Washington and he used every means at his disposal: racism, sexism, anti-Semitism. Blue collar American will be blamed for Trump’s victory.
Some states key to delivering Trump his victory, such as Michigan and New Hampshire, voted for Bernie Sanders rather than Clinton in the Democratic primaries. If Sanders had been allowed to galvanise the thirst for anti-establishment politics the US could look very different this morning. One commentator said that US workers wanted to elect someone who would ‘punch the establishment in the face’. Trump’s posturing will now be put to the test. He will not deliver better lives for those who have voted for him. Politics has once again been thrown in crisis but we can be sure of two things. The idea of voting for the lesser evil has failed spectacularly and there will be resistance to Trump.
Andrew Murray, Unite the Union (pc)
Donald Trump’s election represents many things – most of them somewhere between unpleasant and alarming – but one is a massive rebuke to the “national-security” and foreign policy establishment in the USA, which near-unanimously backed Clinton. It is not surprising that the team behind four disastrous wars this century should back Clinton. Her positions on Eastern Europe/Nato, Syria and Palestine placed her squarely in the neo-con consensus and to the right of Obama. Trump’s language on the other hand, has been different – against foreign wars and looking to build a better relationship with Russia, alongside a lot of bellicose “America first” rhetoric.
What he will do, in practice is all-but unfathomable, although his more conventionally hard-right vice-president Mike Pence may well play a Cheney-type role in pushing a US imperial agenda. The anti-war movement needs to be warning of these dangers, and demanding that Britain disengage from its uncritical support for the USA at a moment when it is lead by a politician who most people in this country find deeply obnoxious and disturbing – even more than they did George Bush, I would guess. Arguments for a different foreign policy will surely get a renewed hearing. It would also seem that the voting patterns in the Presidential election reinforce the growing estrangement of the working-class internationally from a left politics (using the term very broadly) which can talk of social liberalism but has nothing to say about the realities of class power and its consequences. Surely this coal mine needs no more canaries?
Sean Ledwith, Lecturer, York
Today, 8 November 2016, may go down in history as the day the American Dream became the American Nightmare. US capitalism has just taken a quantum leap into the dark. Trump’s stunning victory is a grisly vindication of the doubts about Hillary Clinton’s suitability as the Democrat candidate. The steady drip-feed of suspicion that has built up over months concerning her unauthorised use of State Department emails, the dodgy activities of the Clinton Foundation, the rigging of the Democrat primaries and other shady activities has delivered a shattering defeat for the political and economic establishment of US politics. Trump’s face will dominate the news today but the real significance of the 2016 election lies in the rise and fall of Bernie Sanders. The blatant manipulation by the Democrat leadership to squeeze him out of the primary race, despite polls showing he could beat Trump, now looks like a catastrophic mistake. Rustbelt states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin which Trump has won with his protectionist message of bringing back jobs, could have swung behind Sanders with his alternative message of blaming the big banks and corporations for the economic slowdown. Clinton also failed to bring home the African American vote on the same scale as Obama in the previous two elections.
The current President must take some responsibility for this as his Presidency has witnessed an endless sequence of police killings of black males. Clinton’s final triumphalist rally in North Carolina with Beyoncé and Jay Z now looks like a horrible re-run of Neil Kinnock’s infamous ‘We’re All right ‘ moment in 1992. Unfortunately for Clinton, many of that population loathe Trump but they also remember how her husband escalated the incarceration of black males as President. The astounding fact that Trump gained almost 30% of the Latino vote despite his nonsensical wall project is a damning indictment of Obama’s hawkish deportation record. Trump’s victory may be a demoralising calamity for the left but it also leaves the American elite with a massive headache.
The institutions of US capitalism face an organic crisis, strikingly similar to the one confronting post Brexit Britain. Trump’s ludicrous plan for a wall on the Mexican border and huge tax cuts for the wealthy are unsustainable for an economy with a $20 trillion debt mountain. His half-hearted support for Nato will send shivers down the spine of the US military and security apparatus. The Sanders surge may have been blocked earlier this year but it may turn out to be precursor for a much-needed re-alignment of the radical movement beyond the stultifying confines of the Democrat Party.