Counterfire publishes more reactions to Trump's election, as world politics is thrown into crisis once again
Dragan Plavšić, Writer
A disaster all round. The US establishment hasn’t got the President it wanted and will try to bring him to heel. Americans haven’t got a President with answers to their problems and will have to turn elsewhere for those. For the rest, US foreign policy will have an added unpredictability that hardly bodes well for Syria or tensions with Russia.
Clinton lost because she ran a stunningly lacklustre campaign that barely scraped any of the burning issues. Her loss also reflects bitter disenchantment with Obama. The deeper reason is the 2008 recession. Its effects have eaten away at the centrist politics of the Clintons and Blair, which are now dead in the water. In the US, the right has capitalised on this. This isn't surprising. Sanders' left was defeated by the Democratic Party machine and by his capitulation to the sclerotic two party system that blocks progress in US politics. This is why Jill Stein received a disappointing vote.
The lesson - the right will win if the left isn’t independent. A Corbyn-led Labour win at the next General Election is now more essential than ever. Victory here will help the US left stand on its own two feet.
Rob Winkel, Activist
One thing is clear: offering a continuation of the status quo with the odd concession here or there doesn’t win the US presidency anymore. If real answers are not offered to the major issues, the right-wing will use division and fear to win power. Capitalism leaves in its wake substantial misery and anger. And this is what happens when you have a political system – as we have all over the developed world – which attempts to harness that anger and direct it towards immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled etc. The US is built on racism and division – and politicians have always exploited it to get elected. Now the world’s most powerful nation has elected a racist demagogue, after a failure to challenge him with a suitable political alternative. Bernie Sanders at least acknowledged that there was anger and correctly tried to direct it towards the US elite, before telling his supporters to support a representative of the US capitalist system.
To follow Sanders into support for Clinton was I’m sure a depressing thought for the overwhelming majority of his supporters. And the politically organised movement behind Sanders is necessary now more than ever to combat what will be the Republican Party at its most extreme.
This will polarise politics sharply. And I think we need to have the debate all over the world about how to challenge this. The ideology of the so-called ‘centre’ has been bankrupt for a long time. Trump’s victory should show us that it is far too late to be compromising to the political right, even when they call themselves the centre. Compromise looks weak, and I suspect that a factor in Trump’s performance has been his refusal to ‘give in’ and compromise. Battling Trump and the ideology behind him means that we all need to get behind progressive movements without compromising or putting our faith in the ‘lesser-evil’. Always has been very important, but now even moreso.
Alex Kenny, NUT
My initial reaction is that this is further proof that the old political certainties are broken and that, to coin a phrase, "the centre cannot hold." People will be looking at this result with a mixture of fear, disbelief and curiosity but if you look at what was on offer it's perhaps not surprising that millions of the poor, angry and dispossessed people in the rust belt voted for populist demagogy as against what they saw as more of the same from the political establishment that has ignored them.
In some ways this appears to be similar to what happened in the EU referendum here - Clinton was offering these people nothing, but Trump will deliver nothing. So it seems that politics will continue to become more polarised and the centre continues to break and that is both a threat and opportunity for the left. "The future is unwritten" said Joe Strummer, now our side has to try and write it. As I say, just initial thoughts and I look forward to more discussion on this in the coming weeks and months.
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