[Pnews] The Context for the Trump Phenomenon by Political Prisoner David Gilbert

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 16 14:09:04 EDT 2017


  The Context for the Trump Phenomenon

by David Gilbert (Written February 19, 2017) Published March 16, 2017

The bizarre and dangerous rise of Donald Trump did not just pop up out 
of the thin air. The very foundation of the U.S. is white supremacy. 
This country is, at its core, imperialist, patriarchal and based in a 
range of ways human beings are delimited and demeaned. Nor are the 
specific and terribly virulent politics of racial scapegoating brand 
new. Always a part of U.S. culture, that approach became more central in 
mainstream politics, with various ups and downs in the rhetoric, since 
the end of the 1960s. A stable imperialism prefers to rule by keeping 
the population passive, with large sectors at home placated by relative 
prosperity. But when the system is in crisis, those running the economy 
often resort to diverting anger by scapegoating the racial “other.” The 
sectors of the population who buy into that get the “satisfaction” of 
stomping on their “inferiors,” which is a lot easier than confronting 
the mega-powerful ruling class.

The eruption of mass protest against Trump has been exciting, and so far 
it’s been sustained. People seem to have a feel for the critical need 
for ongoing education, organizing, and mobilization. The movement also 
has to be prepared, both psychologically and in terms of legal and 
support networks, for greater repression, both state and extralegal.

The Democrats in blaming “those damn Russkies” are deflecting attention 
away from the real reason they lost: they represented the prevailing 
global capitalism and all the associated frustrations stemming from the 
decline of U.S. manufacturing and the erosion of job security. Trump 
spoke to those anxieties – in a totally demagogic and dishonest way. For 
example, during the campaign he railed against Goldman Sachs as the 
prime example of how Wall Street banks screw the working man; then, as 
president he selected seven of his top economic appointments from the 
ranks of Goldman Sachs. The Democrats could not provide a compelling 
alternative to this racist scam artist because they too are fully based 
in the long bipartisan history of white supremacy, capitalism, and wars 
of aggression.

Regardless of these questionable charges, Russia can’t hold a candle to 
the U.S. when it comes to interfering in other countries’ elections, let 
alone more intrusive and violent means of regime change. The big push by 
the Democrats and allied sectors of the security apparatus for 
confronting Russia is not only unjustified but also runs the risk of 
leading to a horribly destructive war. As much as we’re scandalized, and 
rightly so, by Trump’s more blatant racism and misogyny, we need to look 
at the continuities as well as the departures.

President Obama, with his kinder and more inclusive rhetoric, provided 
trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street at the expense of Main 
Street. He presided over seven wars (drone strikes have killed hundreds 
of civilians and are acts of war under international law). His 
administration deported a record number of immigrants. In his last year, 
Obama sought to burnish his legacy around climate change and mass 
incarceration. He issued a record number of clemencies, but earlier took 
legal action to keep far more in prison. After Congress passed a law 
somewhat reducing what had been draconian sentences for crack cocaine, 
the Justice Department went to court to prevent any retroactive 
application, and thus kept some 6,000 people behind bars. Similarly, 
Obama issued a number of executive orders, most of which can be readily 
reversed, to modestly rein in greenhouse gases. But earlier his 
administration played a key role in sabotaging the 2009 Copenhagen 
Conference of Parties, which was the best chance to get a binding 
international treaty with some teeth in it, at a time when Democrats 
held a majority in Congress.

Recalling these dire problems is a reminder of how much the most basic 
issue is the very nature of the system. Nonetheless, there is something 
new and particularly threatening about Trump’s election: the way he has 
enlarged, energized and emboldened an active and aggressive base for 
white supremacy. Immigrants, Muslims, Native American water protectors, 
Black Lives Matter activists, women who’ve faced sexual assault, LGBTQ 
folks, those who can’t afford health insurance, and more all feel under 
the gun. The prospect of an unbridled pouring of more greenhouse gases 
into the atmosphere is terrifying.

We can’t forget that an imperialism in crisis will turn to racist 
mobilizations to supersede obstacles to continued domination and 
expansion. The U.S. hasn’t yet reached that dramatic turning point, but 
it has been teetering in and out of economic and political crises since 
1971. And on top of that, we now are on the brink of environmental 
disasters that can’t be resolved under capitalism.

As of this writing (February 2017) major sectors of the ruling class are 
still wary of Trump as too much of a loose cannon. They are making an 
effort at least to rein him in if not bring him down, although leading 
with the very dangerous push toward greater confrontation with Russia. 
It remains to be seen if Trump’s amalgam of billionaire businessmen and 
ultra-Right white nationalists can provide a coherent program or even 
hold together. Whatever happens with his presidency, we likely are in 
for a burgeoning of white supremacist movements. If Trump’s economic 
policies appear to be successful (possible in the short run of a couple 
of years but, if so, with giant dislocations and problems in the longer 
run), he’s a hero to those embittered sectors of the white working and 
middle classes who voted for him. On the other hand, if his 
administration implodes, millions of his fervent supporters will see it 
as the “elites” bringing down their champion. In either case our job, 
our challenge, is to build a strong movement that can articulate the 
real issues and clearly present humane, international and sustainable 

There’s been an outpouring of Left analysis on who voted for Trump and 
why. Some of it is very helpful about race, class, and the economy. From 
what I’ve seen there’s been very little that puts all that in the global 
context, with the U.S. as the premier imperial power but in decline. Nor 
has there been enough that has rooted Trump’s rise in the developments 
of the past 45 years. This is the challenge for our ongoing project of 
analysis and action.


David Gilbert #83-A-6158
Wende Correctional Facility
3040 Wende Road
Alden, New York 14004-1187

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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