Workers' Voice mailing list
February 12, 2018
RE: A belated comment on Trump’s State of the Union
1. Upbeat about war, bigotry, and inequality
2. The Democratic response
“Over the last year, the world has seen what we conservatives always knew: There is no people on Earth so fearless, or daring, or determined as the rich. If there is a mountain, we level it (for the coal). If there is a frontier, we cross it (to bomb). If there is a change in the climate, we ignore it (in Fox News we trust). If there is an opportunity (to badmouth immigrants and minorities), we seize it.” … paraphrase of Trump being upbeat in addressing Congress on January 30 (1).
Trump’s State of the Union speech of January 30 set the tone for what he intends to accomplish in 2018. While posing as optimistic and upbeat, it included vicious agitation against immigrants, the promotion of a nuclear arms race, a call to purge federal workers, and the celebration of an economy in which inequality and insecurity is reaching new heights. It ignored major crises such as global warming, the millions of people subject to lead poisoning and other environmental disasters, and the massive poverty in America. It was a call for the rich to “eat, drink, and be merry, for who cares if tomorrow millions die”. For this, it was applauded wildly by Republican politicians and conservatives.
Thus Trump’s speech did not mention global warming, neither measures to prevent it nor measures to mitigate the damage already being done by the more frequent and powerful climate disasters that are already upon us. Trump is actively opposed to any such measures.
Trump did not mention Puerto Rico despite the continuing disaster since Hurricane Maria last September. The Puerto Rican economy is devastated; electric power will not be restored to everyone until May this year. Perhaps a quarter of a million people have fled to the US mainland since the hurricane, while the vultures of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism” are seeking to use the crisis for privatization.
Trump made no mention of the wave of intolerance and racist bigotry which inundated the country in the year since his inauguration. Of course not, since he is spurring on that wave.
Trump made no mention of environmental disasters that afflict one community after another, some of which come from the wave of oil and gas production sweeping the country.
He made no mention of the growing insecurity faced by millions upon millions of workers, nor of the increasing inequality. Nor does he mention the increased state of terror in which millions of immigrants live since Trump came to office. Of course not, since his policies encourage these evils.
Trump ignores this and other crises, since he holds that in simply one year of his presidency, “we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.”
Some of the bourgeoisie cheers on Trump’s know-nothing views, while others know that he is a consummate liar, but don’t care that much so long as Trump keeps giving them what they want. They hope that having a few “adults in the room” will help keep Trump in line, while Trump’s racism, bigotry, and brutality are giving them the policies they crave.
Trump gave them a giant tax cut, almost all of which goes to the
rich. He is appointing conservative judges, which will rule against the
workers and minorities. He is deregulating the economy, allowing
capitalists to get away with murder (literally, when it comes to
industrial accident and environmental poisoning). And he has an
aggressive military policy. Mind you, some of the establishment worries
a bit that Trump may be trigger-happy and start a nuclear war, but on
the whole, the bourgeoisie has been relieved by Trump’s aggressiveness.
Better a murderer than a wimp is their standpoint. Unless the economy
crashes, he loses a war, or a city is wiped out by flood or fire, they
can forgive him anything.
Trump’s speech was notable for his bitter attack on immigrants. He attacked immigrants as gang members, and painted the picture that they are the cause of drug addiction and crime in the US. In reality, the immigrant community has a lower crime rate than the overall population, but you wouldn’t know it from Trump’s speech.
Trump presented a picture of dangerous immigrants and heroic police. With regard to the hurricanes, he talked of the “Cajun Navy” doing rescue work, but overlook the sacrifices of immigrant heroes, such as Alonso Guillen, a Dreamer who died in Texas trying to rescue people trapped by Hurricane Harvey. In talking about victims of crime, he left out Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a white supremacist while she was protesting racism at Charlottesville. His speech was dog-whistle politics seeking to justify the state of terror and lawlessness which his immigration policies have imposed on the immigrant community.
Trump also called for what amounts to a nuclear arms race. He wants to “modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal”, which is his way of talking about the plan to develop new types of low-yield nuclear weapons; this would increase the sorts of situations in which the military might contemplate using nuclear weapons even though the enemy hadn’t. Indeed, the Trump administration has already put forward a number of situations in which it would make first use of atom bombs.
Along with his call for more defense spending and nuclear weapons, Trump outlined an aggressive foreign policy. Much of it is a continuation of past imperialist policy, but Trump appears more eager to apply brute force. It’s possible that hr views this as a possible way to unite the country behind his reactionary program, as hours before his State of the Union address he talked about the possibility of uniting the country through “a major event where people pull together”, a major event that would be “not a good thing” (http://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/top-news/trump-hopes-traumatic-major-event-isnt-needed-unite-america/).
Trump also suggested that his appointees should have the right to
purge the federal workforce. He wants them to be servile to whatever
reactionary purpose he comes up with.
Trump also claimed to be pursuing a number of beautiful dreams. His method is to promise the sky to those whom he is throwing into the pits of hell. In the same speech where he seeks to inspire hatred against immigrants, he claims to be in favor of giving 1.8 million undocumented workers a path to citizenship. The same Trump who has made eliminating health care for millions of people a priority for his administration, says that he wants to lower drug prices. The same Trump who is tearing down non-military federal programs right and left and eliminating any standards for construction projects claims he is going to renew the country’s infrastructure. It’s hard cash for the rich, hot air for the people. The policies of a class which lives by exploitation
Trump’s ignorance, bombast, and lies aren’t simply the foibles of unbalanced mind. Instead they represent the true position of much of the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie as a whole wants to see his presidency be successful. Even those of the capitalists who oppose various of Trump’s policies still cling to market fundamentalism. Workers, youth, students, and anyone who wants to protect the world against environmental disaster, we had better take note!
By Joseph Green, Detroit Workers’ Voice
(1) The excerpt below from Trump’s speech is what is parodied at the
start of the article: “Over the last year, the world has seen what we
always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or
determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there
is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If
there is an opportunity, we seize it.”
Right after Trump’s State of the Union speech, Representative Joe Kennedy III delivered the response of the Democratic Party. To be sure, a number of other Democrats also had their say, and some were more spirited than Kennedy, but his was the official response. So his words say something about the stands of the most powerful sections of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party does have some opposition to Trump, and they gave Trump’s State of the Union address a frosty reception. But it’s not the same type of opposition to Trump as outraged people across the country have. Kennedy was worried that there were “fractured fault lines” across the country, while worried protesters and activists are worried that the fault lines aren’t deep enough. For Kennedy, it’s something new that fault lines exist in the country. For those who have gone on strike, or taken part in protest movements, or suffered from years of ICE or police harassment, the fault lines have been part of life for decades.
As a matter of fact, Kennedy didn’t mention strikes or unions in his speech. After all, unions are a physical manifestation of the fault lines in society, and a nuisance to the rich donors courted by the Democratic Party.
Kennedy made a lot of vague promises for good things like a “living wage and paid leave and affordable child care…Pensions that are solvent…bridges that won’t rust away, a good education that you can afford.” But how is one supposed to achieve them? What is a living wage? Does he support the $15/hour minimum wage? Apparently not. What type of health care system does he want? He doesn’t say. And we know the Democratic Party leadership opposes the single-payer system. Is he for free tuition to college, or canceling the unconscionable student debt? He doesn’t say. What about the various regulations hamstringing unions? Well, as mentioned before, he doesn’t mention unions.
So as with Trump, so with the official Democratic response, it’s a lot of hot air.
Kennedy does have differences with Trump, but it is a difference among those looking to represent the bourgeoisie. He even is for “trade pacts that are fair”. Yes, the Democratic Party leadership still longs for things like the infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership, no matter what its membership thinks, no matter what the working people it claims to support think. Who says that the Democrats only support things that are popular and will give them votes? Here we see the Democratic leadership sticking firmly to the views that helped it lose the Presidency, the House, and the Senate. It’s the opinion of the capitalists that matter for politicians like Kennedy.
Kennedy does say that he is upset by “top CEOs making 300 times their average worker”, but at the same time he says he wants to keep “record stock prices”. I guess he doesn’t see any connection between that and the growing inequality in the country.
Trump boasted in the state of the union address about the alleged good times that during the first year of his presidency. If he could laud the present economic situation, in which economic profits have zoomed while desperation grows among the majority, it’s because the Democratic Party had been lauding the same economic situation under Obama. For year after year, while one section of workers after another was under attack, Democratic leaders assured everyone that the situation was fine. Vote for them for more of the same! And today, most Democratic Party ideologues continue their satisfaction over the economy, only claiming that Trump is taking credit for the accomplishments of Obama.
If Trump left out the present crises in his State of the Union, crises that exist even though we are in the “recovery” phase of the business cycle, so did Kennedy. If Trump didn’t mention climate change and environmental poisoning, well, Kennedy didn’t either, except for mentioning in passing the current “all-out war on environmental protection”. That’s hardly an all-out defense of environmental protection or an all-out struggle against global warming. And this was true on one subject after another. The war threat, the devastation of Puerto Rico, the continuing tragedy in Flint and elsewhere, the struggle for a minimum wage, nothing moved Kennedy to even suggest a remedy, perhaps because he knows how unpopular the stands of the Democratic Party leadership, such as their opposition to single-payer health insurance, is with the Democratic rank-and-file.
Kennedy even refused to say the word “Trump” — he only talked about “this administration”. Of course everyone knows he was talking about Trump and that he wants you to vote for the Democrats, but there’s a method to his madness. It’s a way of promoting bipartisanship, cooperation, unity. The Democratic leaders do this even at demonstrations. At the recent Women’s Marches, everyone was angry at Trump, and a the signs made fun of Trump in a multitude of creative ways, but the official statement of various of the organizers, ignored by the rank-and-file, is non-partisanship. This means, vote for us, but don’t get mad at the ruling class, don’t organize an alternative to the sold-out institutions run by and for the rich.
Kennedy’s speech was a plea from start to finish for an end to divisions in the country. At a time when millions of people are seeing the need to do something to protect themselves against Trump, after a year of demonstrations large and small, Kennedy is calling for an end to divisions. On the contrary, we need the class struggle, a struggle against the bankrupt economic and politics of the rich. Unity of all those who work is inseparable from struggle against the rich who exploit us. Let the representatives of the rich squabble: If there was unity between Democrats and Republicans, Medicare and Social Security would be privatized already, as both parties had plans in that direction.
By Joseph Green <>
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Posted on February 21, 2018
Some typos have been corrected.