The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Trump and Sanders: the Marxist view


Trump remains well ahead in the Republican primary, playing on the anxiety, fear and anger generated by the smoldering depression conditions workers and middle layers face when he attacks the lies and hypocrisy of the "establishment" candidates.

Trump's insistence that as a strong and wily businessman he can "make America great again," combined with promises not to start any new ground wars, is popular among many workers, including veterans who Trump often points out have been "treated so horribly" by Washington.

Attacks on Trump from his rivals on grounds that he's not a "real conservative" miss the point. The fact is he's a New York liberal, a former Democrat. When Ted Cruz accused him of defending Planned Parenthood, Trump responded that it does "wonderful things" for women's health, though he now says he opposes abortion.

He says while he would have made a better deal, Obama's moves to restore diplomatic relations and open the door to more trade with Cuba are a good thing.

Following his victory in the New Hampshire primary, Trump said the real unemployment figures are many times the official 5 percent, "I even heard recently 42 percent." This comes closer to the truth than what most bourgeois candidates will admit. Less than 60 percent of those over 16 are employed today, a big drop from before the 2008 recession.

"If we had 5 percent unemployment, do you really think we'd have these gatherings?" he asked.

"I was laid off in 2009 for two years, and called back in 2011," Dwayne Johnson, a union member and team leader on the receiving docks, told Kennedy outside the EMD plant in Chicago. "There have been steady layoffs, one after another, in the past few years. The union is weak."


"Sanders says he wants a political revolution," a reporter said to Kennedy while she was campaigning on the street outside Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem Feb. 10, where people had gathered while Sanders was meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton to seek his endorsement.

"He's talking about reforms that won't change anything fundamental," Kennedy said. "We need to overthrow the rule of capital, to change which class rules."

The central theme of Sanders' campaign has been the call for a "political revolution" to "take big money out of politics" that he says is ruining "our democracy." At the top of his agenda is overturning the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United, which lifted restrictions on corporations paying for political advertising.

Sanders' emergence as a serious competitor for the Democratic Party nomination comes from a similar source as support for Trump — the widespread discontent among workers and others fueled by the depression conditions. His answer is the same liberal program he's been advocating for decades. When asked, Sanders says he's a democratic socialist, but his program is not socialist, as the Militant's coverage last week wrongly stated.

Both Sanders and Trump also benefit from an ongoing shift in politics toward the bourgeois left. Trump has shoved the old Tea Party out of the picture. All the political pundits said Sanders had no chance against Clinton, but now they're neck and neck.

The centerpiece of Sanders' Johnny-one-note campaign is the proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and on "Wall Street speculators," to finance social programs, including a national health system and free tuition at public universities, and to provide some jobs. His campaign has generated enthusiasm, especially among a layer of youth, and he continues to draw large crowds rivaled only by those Trump attracts.

With the race tightening, and heading toward primaries in states in the north, south and west, many with large Black populations, Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee Feb. 11. Clinton resonates with Black elected officials and meritocratic minded professors, NGO staffers and like-minded "brights." She and husband William Clinton have done the most to elect Black Democrats, help them become chairs of subcommittees, and "has been on the stump with us" throughout the years, said Rep. Gregory Meeks, chair of the CBC PAC....

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