2nd October 2020
Protests continue to grow in the US as the election approaches
There are many ironies to the news this morning that Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. There is the fact that Trump spent months in denial that the virus existed. He moved on to suggest that an injection of bleach may be a suitable cure. Trump has subsequently done all in his power to weaponise the pandemic, as part of his anti-China campaign and his attempt to maintain the global economic and military power balance in favour of the United States.
It is an irony that the greatest perpetrator of fake news, a term regularly used by Trump in order to deflect criticism from the liberal media, has fallen prey to many being prepared to believe that his positive diagnosis is just the latest in a long line of pre-election stunts to bolster his faltering campaign for re-election.
Whatever the reality, for the military industrial complex and the alt-right social conservatives in the US, Trump may be reaching the point of being expendable. In four years Trump has effectively eradicated any hint of liberal social policy, limited though it was, that Barack Obama was able to introduce in his two terms in office.
The ‘Make America Great Again’ mantra was always a tilt at the perceived failings under Obama, even though foreign aggression and wars of intervention were a feature of Obama’s watch. The persistent condemnation of the New York Times and what passes for liberal media in the United States has helped undermine what little trust many Americans had in their government and given succour to the bully boys of white supremacy, from the Ku Klux Klan to the Proud Boys.
For the conservative alt-right a key achievement of the Trump presidency is undoubtedly the shift in power balance on the US Supreme Court. With the likely appointment of dedicated Catholic and anti-abortionist, Amy Coney Barrett, Trump will have succeeded in shifting the balance of the court 6-3 in favour of conservative judges.
Access to abortion in the US relies upon a landmark 1973 ruling, Roe vs Wade, which legalised abortion nationwide. It has long been a target of the alt-right in the US to have the ruling overturned and the shifting power balance in the Supreme Court is seen as a key means to achieving the reversal.
The shift reflects the pattern of white supremacist organisations being allowed to gain ground as a result of the upsurge in the Black Lives Matter movement, following a string of deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers in the US.
Trump has actively encouraged this trend. During Tuesday’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump was asked if he was willing to denounce “white supremacists and militia groups” and tell them to stand down amid violence that has marred anti-racism protests in some US cities.
Trump requested a specific name, and Biden mentioned the Proud Boys, an organisation that describes itself as a club of “Western chauvinists”.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. The comment drew widespread criticism and was viewed by many to be a sign of encouragement for the group. Trump has subsequently back pedalled, claiming that his comments were misinterpreted, but given his history of inflammatory comments on the subject of racism the ‘climb down’ appears to be little more than a PR exercise.
The terms of political debate in the US have shifted so far in the past four years that Trump can routinely characterise Joe Biden as a socialist. In reality Biden, like Obama before him and every US President of modern times, is a representative of the super rich elite which are central to US politics. An American presidency is never won without being bankrolled by the vested interests which are at the heart of the US finance and military industrial complex.
The Obama presidency, with its emphasis upon increased healthcare for the poor and a limited thawing of relations with Cuba, was about as liberal as the US bankers and corporations were prepared to allow. Even that was too much for the neo-cons, who have channelled their agenda through Trump, turning his phoney ‘man of the people’ rhetoric to advantage while deepening poverty, increasing unemployment and killing thousands during the course of the pandemic.
To that extent, whether Trump stays or goes, will not change the shape of US politics in the short term. His departure would be welcome and undoubtedly a symbolic victory. However, it must go alongside a growth of the mass opposition to how the United States is run and the constant election of governments representative of the elite, by the elite, for the elite. The voices of the people must be heard, the struggle must continue. At best the election on 3rd November, if it results in Trump’s defeat, will be one small step.