Why did Trump lose? A materialist analysis By Humberto Rodrigues, 11-11-2020Leave a comment
02/12/2020 by socialistfight
The 2020 elections once and for all bury the mistaken notion that the 2016 elections were a historic accident, an American aberration. Donald Trump won almost 73 million votes, the second largest vote in American history (after Joe Biden, who was elected with over 77 million). Nationally, he has over 47% of the vote and appears to have won 24 states, including his favorite Florida and Texas. (BBC, 9 November 2020)
First, it should be noted that Trump won more votes now than four years ago. But the BBC justifies Trump’s defeat by claiming that “people are tired of his aggressive style”, that is, from the political superstructure and superficially that result without being able to explain its concrete causes.
The election was the most polarized and participatory in US history. Almost 80 million votes for the Democratic candidate, 74 million for the Republican as of 24/11/20.
Although the Democratic victory was inflated by the media, and the difference in delegates at the electoral college was more than 76 votes, in the number of voters the election was very disputed. 3% was the number of percentage votes of difference. Pro-Biden polls were instrumental in the Democratic electoral campaign, supported by most financial capital and more than 90% of the world’s media monopolies.
Trump got more votes than four years ago, but lost the election because he lost in states of greater proletarian concentration, where he had won in 2016. Trump was unable to repatriate industrial production to the country, as he had promised.
During the current economic crisis, accentuated by the pandemic, Trump was not able to maintain full employment (supported by precarious work) as he had until 2019. This reflects the political turn in the Midwest and the Rust Belt in favour of Biden. Democrats have recaptured most of the Rust Belt .
Historically Democratic, or at least since the 1930s, the proletarian electorate of these states voted for Trump in 2016 in reaction to the deindustrialization policy promoted in recent decades by Democrats. Four years ago, the proletariat believed in the promises of the then tycoon outsider to bring factories and jobs back to this region. The outsider found space to project itself on the political scene after, in the eyes of the American proletariat, the Democratic and Republican establishment, associated with the financial capital of Wall Street and the “new economy” of Silicon Valley, promoted globalization and financialization.
The Rust Belt Proletariat
Until the mid-1970s, 62% of the US working class was made up of the industrial proletariat. This huge mass of factory workers was concentrated mainly in the regions of the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, were regarded as the industrial heartland of the United States and were therefore called the Manufacturing Belt.
The imperialist bourgeoisie, which had relied on an immense productive force, which propelled the creation of Fordism, had also produced above all its own manufacturing belt gravediggers. For political and economic reasons this region was dismantled. The monopolies feared the dangerous heavy battalions of the American working class, which exerted strong pressure for wage increases.
The monopolies, mainly in automobiles like GM and Ford, wanted to reduce production costs and increase profits. The great imperialist capital chose to strangle the proletariat economically and socially, replacing domestic labor with cheaper foreign labor, promoting two movements: the migration of industrial production to the East and the immigration of Latin workers, legally vulnerable by their precarious condition as poor foreigners and other regions,. They were paid less than those who were there already, and generally worked in non-manufacturing services.
This tragedy is portrayed in the film Roger and Me, the documentaries that launched the career of Democratic filmmaker Michael Moore. In Roger and Me, the filmmaker tries to find Roger Smith, president of General Motors, the largest automaker on the planet, to clarify the mass layoff and the closure of eleven factories in Flint, Michigan. GM’s decision contributed to the city’s downfall in the late 1980s.
“Trump’s base in the rust belt of the ex-working class, was won over by his right-wing populist program to ban US Muslims, attack ‘foreigners’ and oppressed groups that ‘stole jobs’, by protectionism against China to where huge industrial parks were transferred, supposedly to keep the US out of aggressive wars in the Middle East particularly, in part because of the helpless disillusionment with 40 years of neoliberal attacks, retribution to bosses and the prolonged decline in living standards since the days of Ronald Reagan.” (Communist Workers Front, Election in the USA: The threat of the Dictatorship, 2020)
Where did Biden’s 10 million direct votes over Hillary’s vote come from? As soon as the working class saw that Trump’s reindustrialization promises were not fulfilled, in 2018, they went back to vote for Democrats in the mid-term parliamentary elections and for governors, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 Senate seats are decided.
In Michigan, the state with the largest number of industrial workers, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democrats won the race for the Senate and state governments and extended seats in the House, defeating Trump-backed Republicans at all levels. In 2016 and 2020 they voted for the Democrats again, ensuring Trump’s defeat there.
Trump had gained popularity among a working class tired of being cannon fodder in the wars of its bosses when the intensity of the wars opened by its predecessors (Democrats and Republicans) in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya decreased.
But the little he gained by reducing casualties and depletion in imperialism’s external wars, Trump lost with internal casualties, with his criminal pandemic denialism, which made the richest country the one that had the most contaminated population with the most deaths in the world, and practiced true sincerity by posing as a supporter of the barbaric executions of poor black workers by police forces. This, amid the aridity of proletarian organizations, allowed for a mass resurrection of the Democrats, regaining their traditional electoral spaces and aborting Trump’s second term.
And, to answer the question we asked at the beginning, where did Biden’s 10 million more votes on Hillary come from, the reverse of Trump’s social polarization, in reaction to white supremacism, xenophobia, Latino phobia, Islamophobia, machismo, Anti-Semitism, associated with the disillusionment of the part of the autóctone (indigenous) proletariat, mobilized 10 million more votes in these elections. The imperialist Democratic party capitalised on all this, deceiving the masses by promoting all the illusions lodged in the situation.
Trump’s white supremacism and anti-communism
During Trump’s tenure white supremacist and anti-communist sections of the working class and new generations of U.S. social fighters promoted the myth that the U.S. working class had become chronically reactionary. In fact, due to these profound contradictions, it has taken the biggest turn towards socialism in recent years. This has occurred despite the fact that it was the fraction of the world working class that is most ideologically bombarded by its own bourgeoisie, which suffers the most anti-communist brainwashing, which it is ideologically pressurised in offensives such as McCarthyism, the hunt for the Black Panthers, and by governments like Reagan and Trump.
In 2008, Barack Obama won in all states of the Rust Belt and the Midwest. In 2010 the Democrats suffered bad defeats there, losing contests for governor in the three states and also in Ohio. In 2012, Obama recovered and won again in 2016 in those states. As can be seen, the proletariat is experimenting at all times, not hesitating to vote against those who just betrayed it.
In the 2018 elections, the growing voter base comprised primarily of younger people, non-whites and women spoke out strongly across the country. Democrats managed to elect the first two Muslim women to the Congress, Ilhan Omar, in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, in Michigan. They elected the youngest member of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Kamala Harris is part of a push from below originating from a record number of women who have increased their participation in Congress. Moreover, Biden’s deputy, who is in serious danger of becoming president, is the first black woman to become vice president.
Harris as Attorney General was responsible for a racist policy of mass incarceration
She was elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. She has served as senator from California since 2017. Harris became the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the United States Senate in 2016.
As Attorney General she was responsible for a racist policy of mass incarceration of the poor and black population, condemning them to hellish prisons Americans for small crimes, so-called crimes without violence.
Trump’s touted anti-communist mandate was when the biggest wave of sympathy for socialism in the U.S. emerged. This wave adopted as a godfather a senator, Bernie Sanders, who presented himself as a socialist and defender of “Medicare for all” in the USA, but who was nothing more than an imperialist who defended imperialist military invasions against oppressed peoples.
As soon as the wave grew large enough to threaten the oligarchies’ control over the party’s candidacies, Sanders joined the apparatus to sabotage his own candidacy and support Biden.
The elections were also a reflection of the biggest street struggles in the country’s history against racism. Trump represented the racist vote, which backed down with these struggles. And this reflects the direct votes of the population. Trump also failed to live up to the expectations of the ruling classes, Trump failed to regain the lost ground from China in controlling world trade, despite prosecuting a fierce trade war.
It failed because the parasitic imperialist bourgeoisie feared the reindustrialization of the USA. This frustration is reflected in its own way in the different states of the USA. Legally, the USA is the union of 50 imperialist sub-states, some larger than countries like Italy and Spain in concentration of capital.
Faced with this trajectory whose early exhaustion was amplified after its defeat in the primaries, the demand for a Workers Party independent of imperialism and of the bosses becomes the main issue of the day for the revolutionary socialists of the USA. The illusions in any Democratic Party politician are substantially diminished, so now we clearly need a party of mass workers, a Party supported by unions and popular organizations, the party of struggles against racism, xenophobia, racism and homophobia.
The latent potential is very clear. We cannot allow the right to capitalise again on the discontent of the proletariat in the heart of the imperialist monster. It is necessary to provide a revolutionary continuity solution to this pendular condition of the masses, which dispels very powerful struggles like those of 2020.
The Sanders phenomenon highlighted the potential of the US working class. But they desperately need their own leadership and political party. The entire socialist left in the United States must focus on that object.
They all have to demand from all union leaders that they start to form an independent proletarian party in the USA now. With no class alternatives to rely on, the proletarian electorate zigzags by voting for one of the wings of imperialism. For a workers’ party independent of its imperialist bosses, supported by unions, popular and multi-ethnic working class organizations! ▲