I am sick to death hearing about “America” this or “we” that, as in “America wants to control the Middle East” or “we invaded Iraq.” Especially when it comes from other socialists. No, it was the US capitalist class who made these decisions and who seeks to profit from them.
That may seem like a strange starting point for commenting on the “debate” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but it really is the key. That’s because what was missing from the “debate” was any sort of class perspective. In other words, what’s missing is a radical, “class struggle working class political party“.
Trump Tax Returns
Take, for example, the sparring over Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns. Clinton said that maybe they would reveal that he paid no taxes. “That makes me a smart business man,” Trump shot back. Clinton had no answer. Why? Because the only real answer would have been: “No, it makes you part of the capitalist criminal conspiracy that bribes the politicians of both political parties to write a tax code that allows you to get away with murder.”
It was the same on the more substantive issues. Trump attacked Clinton over the various free trade deals, and implicitly attacked free trade in general. He pointed out how manufacturing is migrating to low wage countries like Mexico and China. Clinton responded by claiming the benefits of trade for “all of America” (or some similar words). What can’t be pointed out by either of these capitalist candidates is that free movement of capital is inherent under capitalism. It’s simply the search for the greatest return on investment, meaning thrusting the world working class into ever greater competition for who will work for less and who will allow greater environmental degradation.
Then there was the discussion about government regulation of business, something which Trump denounced. And Clinton talked about less regulation on small businesses. In other words, they both support giving business the greater freedom to loot and plunder to their pocketbook’s content. Nobody said, “Deregulation? Take a look at Flint, Michigan. Take a look at the poisoning of the air, land and water. That’s what you mean when you talk about deregulation. That’s what Corporate America really wants.” They didn’t say it because they can’t; they both represent Corporate America.
Racism & “Law and Order”
Then there was the racist picture Trump painted of the black community as being some sort of war zone with bullets flying this way and that all over the place and thugs roaming the streets uncontrolled. That picture has been painted by both parties for years, and it has an effect. (I know people today who are afraid to come to Oakland because of that. Well, until recently, anyway. Nowadays the yuppies are moving in.) Trump calls for “law and order”, the phrase that was first popularized by the racist segregationist George Wallace and later taken up by both major parties. The answer should have been: “Law and order? What has that meant? It’s meant beating protesters nearly to death, machine gunning striking workers, and now it means allowing the cops to continue to run rampant.” Both candidates agreed that the police forces are composed of “many hard working and honest cops.” Maybe they should take a look at Oakland, where the entire force has been involved in the scandal involving the sexual abuse of “Celeste Guap”, an under age teen ager.
Most important of all is Trump’s claim that being a successful capitalist qualifies him to carry out the interests of working class people. Clinton doesn’t dispute this, because as a representative of the other capitalist party, she too bases her politics on this.
Would Jill Stein have provided a clear working class perspective? Not really, although it would have been a start. Can the Green Party evolve into a working class party? In fact, can a radical working class party even win major elections in the United States? Given how workers – all workers – here have been propagandized, how the very idea of open class conflict has been avoided like the plague, it would be an uphill struggle. But we have to begin somewhere.
A “Brexit” Outcome?
Meanwhile, we are faced with the perspective of one candidate who appeals to the desire for semi-stability and the other who appeals to blind, infantile anger. It’s still hard to imagine that that second candidate can win, but he’s making the same appeal that the supporters of Britain leaving the EU (“Brexit”) made. And few thought they would win either.