We have lived through Trump’s first weeks as president. What happened during these weeks can be qualified as many things, but certainly “calm” is not one of them.
By Alejandro Iturbe.
On one side, Trump enacted a list of executive orders on several matters trying to show that he wanted to hit fast and that his campaign proposals were to be complied. On the other side, the division between the U.S. (and the world) bourgeois groups grew, and we saw a non-precedent fact of U.S. history: a president that had just taken office faced huge nationwide demonstrations against his government and some of his measures. The U.S. seems to have entered one of those periods in which history accelerates and concentrates, generating new, unexpected situations.
A Hypothesis that Begins to Be Confirmed
In several previous articles and in the International Courier N°16 we discussed that Trump’s election was the expression of growing elements of crisis of the political regime of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie and its parties (the RP and the DP). We said that the objective base of this process was the permanent decline of workers’ and U.S. masses’ life conditions, and the end of the “American dream” (constant economic progress) for the masses, which gave base to this regime. We stated that this phenomena was expressed through an each time higher mistrust to the bipartisan political system seen by growing masses segments as “the 1% system” (as expressed by the Occupy movement).
In the election, this was expressed, first, through the negative opinion or rejection of many potential voters to both candidates, and secondly, in the important percentage of voters’ discontent with all options presented.
These are elements of crisis of the regime affecting both parties, although unevenly. Since the defeat of Bush’s project, these elements were deeper in the Republican Party, divided into three almost completely autonomous factions: the old Republican guard (around figures like Bush and McCain); the Tea Party; and a pro-Trump sector. The Democrats seemed more cohesive, but the frustration with Obama and his promises and the nonexistent charisma of Hillary Clinton had its expression in the electoral erosion and the rupture of a minor but important part of its electorate. Before, it was expressed through a process of independent demonstrations like the ones of Black community and youth (traditionally part of the Democrats’ base) against police violence and murders.
Trump’s emergence and his electoral victory can be explained as an expression of this wearing process he knew how to take advantage of through a populist demagogy, and win the election with a real electoral support of 25%.
We said that, even if one the possibilities was for Trump to defeat the mass movement and, because of it, be able to open a period of reactionary stability, we though the most probable hypothesis was for his government to aggravate the general situation of crisis.
To back up this second hypothesis, we stated that we considered Trump’s proposals to go against the policies that were being implemented by central segments of the U.S. and global imperialist bourgeoisie (like the democratic reaction), on one side; and that if he moved forward implementing these proposals he would cause a crack with these bourgeois sectors.
On the other side, we considered that by turning these proposals into concrete measures, a response of the mass movement was to be expected, as seen when the results of the elections were first known. Although it has not been much time since he’s in the government and it would be early to close definitions in this regard, it seems that what happened during these weeks is confirming our hypothesis.
Trump’s government was born weak. First, because he got less popular votes than Hillary Clinton, and he relies on barely 25% of the electorate. Second, because the surveys show 40% approval at the time of his inauguration: the lowest percentage of a new government since this is a measured factor. Completing the picture, even before his inauguration he was already facing demonstrations against him.
Once he took office, Trump implemented a chain of executive orders to show he was serious with his campaign proposals and he would act quickly. We introduce a new element that, not being the essential one for historical processes, becomes very important now that Trump leads the government of the main imperialist state of the world: the role of individuals and their personality.
Trump is an outsider, regarding politics. He is a great businessman, used to handle things arbitrarily in his companies, and used to the stiff competence of business and market. A psychological profile that was evidenced in his TV show, The Apprentice (in which several candidates competed for a junior executive spot in his companies), eliminating participants with the phrase “You are fired”.
Even during his pre-nomination as candidate for president by the RP, his relation with the imperialist bourgeois policies was to finance candidates and buy (or guarantee) measures to favor his businesses. He is a man of a low general culture level, who does not understand the structural and super-structural complex processes combined in national and international politics, nor he knows from the inside the mechanisms of permanent negotiation of the bourgeois democracy. He understands even less the processes of mass consciousness, specially the ones generated by class struggle.
In contradiction, while he confronted both the Republican and Democratic apparatuses Trump took advantage of these parties’ crisis and was elected president. But when it comes to rule, his self-sufficiency and the policy that comes out of it face the limits of reality, and it is already making him pay the costs of it. He seems to be acting like “an elephant in a grocery store” [out of place, inadequate, dangerous in a specific place or circumstance].
Thus, even if it is early to close any definition, it seems that the hypothesis of the aggravation of both processes (elements of crisis of the regime and inter-bourgeois friction) is confirming, together with a possible upsurge of workers and masses. As we said, this is a non-precedent situation in the United States. Along a series of articles, we will try to further develop the different aspects of this situation.
The next article will be “Trump and the U.S. bourgeoisie”.