The rising resistance against the US president represents a huge opportunity for those on the left to make the case for a different kind of world
Donald Trump‘s rise to power has struck a nerve. Perhaps it’s something to do with the man himself, an outrageous narcissist, sexist, racist and bully, Trump is certainly one of the most vile individuals imaginable.
Even underneath all that bronzer, his face betrays the nauseating smugness and petulant rage of a man born into immense wealth and power. He’s easy to hate. Understandably, his openly aggressive misogyny, the so-called “locker room talk” which is not acceptable in any space — locker room or oval office — and his outrageous position on abortion and women generally has triggered a large part of the revulsion and resistance to the man.
The Women’s Marches against Trump were global and they were huge. Certainly the largest single moment of protest since the anti-war demonstrations across the world in 2003. And rightly so.
Donald Trump is also a racist. Let’s make no bones about that.
The whole narrative around the wall he has been threatening to build along the Mexican border, the proposed Muslim register and many more examples signaled to us in the run up to the election that the anti-racist movement was going to have its work cut out with him should he come to power. Now he has done so and immediately brought in one of the most controversial executive orders in living memory with his racist Muslim travel ban.
What has also connected with people in such a powerful way and brought so many of them onto the streets is his blatant corruption of the democratic process. Trump is the personification of capitalist greed and he has clearly bought his way to the presidency; in his crass and openly manipulative way, he has successfully become the most powerful and dangerous man on the planet. He does not hide his disdain for US democracy and its institutions, nor indeed does he hide his disdain for the US electorate.
His victory, therefore, is a Damascene moment for lots of people; their treasured institutions are exposed a fraud. The emperor is not wearing any clothes. This is nothing short of an existential crisis.
Is Western democracy really so cheap, just theatre? For all these reasons and more, a huge protest movement, which is bringing in lots of first-timers and young people, is springing up all over the world.
For the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, we too stand in opposition to Trump for all these reasons. We have always stood for the rights of women, always stood against scapegoating of migrants and any form of racism.
But we also have a very real responsibility to mobilise on the issues that make us what we are. Trump is also a president for the super-rich. He is rolling through yet more corporation tax breaks and the Financial Times has warned that corporate tax rate will fall from 35 per cent to 20 per cent. While US workers are facing the highest levels of poverty in a generation, these new measures show how little Trump intends on being the president “for the people.”
Unsurprisingly Trump’s administration will also be mounting more attacks on trade unions. The Republicans’ so-called “right to work” laws, which in another staggering example of newspeak, claim to protect workers’ rights, while in reality limit the rights of workers to organise to such a degree that they will all but destroy the trade unions in the United States.
On health, Trump’s policies are just as disastrous. His own website declares:
“On day one of the Trump administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare. However it is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free-market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”
This is devastating news for not only for the 50 million US citizens Oxfam estimates to be living in poverty but to the entire US working class.
All these things are precisely the sorts of policies we oppose in this country and we must stand in solidarity with those standing against Trump in the US.
But this is not just a matter of principle. Should the most powerful nation on earth be allowed to set the tone for such vicious neoliberalism, it will only serve to embolden those at home to do more of the same. And this is already a very real threat. Theresa May has begun opening the door for the greater involvement of US businesses in the NHS as part of a trade deal with Trump’s administration. This should ring alarm bells of very real dangers on the horizon. We must say loud and clear why this is utterly unacceptable and has to be resisted at all costs.
This is why we’re playing a key role in building the anti-Trump protests and why we’ve been mobilising to make the movements as diverse and as big as they can be.
It is also why we’re playing a key role in building the movement to save our NHS. It has been under threat from cuts and closures and sneaking privatisation for years. But with the era of Trump upon us, this process could accelerate. While the NHS is already in the grips of its now annual “winter crisis” which is — as the Red Cross has stated — nothing short of a “humanitarian crisis,” this is a critical moment for our greatest achievement.
That is why we are also urging everyone to come on the #OurNHS National Demonstration on Saturday March 4 in London, to make sure these are not the last days of a publicly owned and publicly run NHS.
The rising resistance against Trump, represents a huge opportunity for those on the left to make the case for a different kind of world.
Let’s make sure we’re on the streets in our hundreds of thousands saying: “No to Trump,” “Shame on May” and “Save Our NHS.” See you there.
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