Bankruptcy of the Liberal Establishment, and the (Stolen) Election of Donald Trump
U.S. politics took a sharp right turn in the elections of 2016, with ramifications that are still unraveling. The victory of a sexist and racist outsider like Donald Trump, brash and irreverent fraud that he is, was quite a comeuppance to the political establishment, both liberal and conservative. With virtually no support from any ruling-class power centers like Wall Street, the media or Republican bigwigs, and nothing to recommend him besides the appeal of his outrageous off-the-cuff diatribes and slanders, his campaign managed to upset the applecart of both Republican and Democratic Party complacency. Yet everything about this startling upset is based on misinformation and false analyses, as well as significant voter suppression. Such is the state of things in the capitalist/imperialist U.S. in the 21st Century.
“Cholera vs. Gonorrhea”
The choice, as Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said, was like picking between “cholera and gonorrhea.” However, Trump’s victory represented a rejection of the elites of both major bourgeois political parties. He swept away his would-be Republican rivals in the primary like so many flies off his back. His ready contempt for Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and both parties’ connection to devastating trade deals struck a chord with working people who have suffered from job loss and impoverishment since the 1970s. And Clinton and Obama’s arrogant contempt for Trump’s working class supporters as “deplorable,” “irredeemable” and “wedded to their guns and religion,” helped pave his way. In short, Trump correctly identified both party establishments as upper-class clubs in which contempt for the cast-off masses of lower middle-class and working people is rampant.
But it would be a mistake to identify Trump’s racist, sexist and reactionary big mouth as representing the views of most of those people. Given all those who didn’t vote or were prevented from doing so by voter ID laws, voter suppression measures, and other means, Trump was actually only elected by about one quarter of all eligible voters. And while his victory has led to an ominous surge of bigoted activism and racist attacks—KKK honcho David Duke was ecstatic at Trump’s win—this does not represent mass endorsement of Trump’s policies. Racism runs deep in the U.S., but working people are generally not for a crackdown on Blacks or immigrants, nor are they yearning to prevent a minimum wage hike!
Working class motivations
A solid majority is for increasing the minimum wage; and a majority is against building a wall on the border with Mexico, and for allowing immigrants to stay with the right to apply for citizenship, a number which is up from earlier years. On the healthcare question, the details are tricky, since most national polls simply ask: are you for or against Obamacare? Most respond in the negative; and while most of those say they are for fixing it rather than abolishing it, this leaves open how to fix it. But Trump’s privatization idea is a non-starter: support for a national health plan based on the principle of Medicare for all, as well as support for government responsibility to provide the poor with assistance for health insurance, is overwhelming! Requiring employers to provide sick and pregnancy leave also gets high marks. Finally, when asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, positive responses generally outweigh negative ones, even among whites.1
If anything, this election showed that the U.S. has one political party, with two right wings (to paraphrase Gore Vidal.) The Democrats shot themselves in the foot with their arrogance. “America is already great” was their answer to Trump’s chief slogan, and that does not go over with working people who have lost jobs, income and opportunities under the two capitalist parties. It was the Bill Clinton regime that virtually merged the Democratic program with that of the Republicans: neoliberalism, cut-backs to balance the budget, racist mass incarceration, and “abolish welfare as we know it.” The Obama regime’s real “legacy,” despite the fine talk, was one of bailing out the bankers, passing a healthcare law that had no way to curb the outrageous drug price increases of Big Pharma, and presiding over declining conditions for working people, including in Black communities. Little wonder that all racial groups and young voters as well, swung to the Republicans in 2016, proof of the bankruptcy of a Democratic elite that ignored essential class issues.2
Clinton and Sanders
The Hillary candidacy terminated even the slightest nod to the working class, and Wall Street robber barons and super rich flocked to her side even more than for Obama. Clinton’s phony rejection of the TPP trade deal, obviously made to appease Bernie Sanders’ supporters after her lengthy record of supporting such deals, just added to the downfall. And the lies: She couldn’t reveal the paid-for speeches to Wall Street—yes she could; she didn’t request the payments for those speeches—yes she did (through her agent.) And the corruption: the pay-to-play deals benefitting the Clintons revealed in her emails, combined with her reliance on unelected super delegates and sabotage to beat Sanders in the primary.
Sanders himself was no help in this, as he had worked in the Democratic Caucus in the Senate for 20 years, and capitulated humiliatingly to Clinton at the convention, whereupon 700 of his supporters jeered him and walked out, some throwing their credentials over the fence. So much for the Sanders “political revolution.” Bottom line: the Democratic Party cannot be reformed any more than can the Republican, and both must be swept away by a revolutionary working class, yet to form a political party.
Blame-the-Russians run around
Amid plaintive cries from liberals and many on the left that the Democratic Party needed to be reformed in order to fight the incoming Trump nightmare, the DNC establishment honed in on blaming the Russians for hacking Hillary’s emails! Aside from the fact that it was the content of the emails (which were not faked or distorted by the way), not the hacking itself, that defeated Hillary, this Russian-baiting conspiracy theory was “fake news” from the beginning. No such hack took place, so it had to have been an insider leak, according to intelligence veterans, who posted their findings on Consortium News.3
Assange said the Russians were not the source of the leak; and ex-British ambassador and whistle-blower Craig Murray said it was he who received the emails from a DNC operative who was disgusted “at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”4 This information has been virtually ignored by the U.S. media, which is incensed that their candidate lost to the gropenfuhrer, a term originally tagged for Arnold Schwarzenegger for his acknowledged history of breast and booty grabbing, and here, referring to Trump. The blame-the-Russians scenario fit in nicely with hawk Hillary’s plan to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, where Russian warplanes are actively aiding the Assad regime. This might have set up a showdown between Trump and the national security clique. This poses a danger of nuclear war, and would have made Clinton perhaps even more dangerous than Trump had she won.
The fake news “fake news” scare
Along with the blame-the-Russians hoax is the “fake news” scare, kicked off by anonymous “experts” given a bullhorn by the Washington Post (November 24, 2016), which has spread like wildfire through media and social media, with strong McCarthyite implications. The Post reported that a group called PropOrNot had a list of some 200 sites that were dealing in “fake news,” i.e., stories that reflected Russian-planted lies or were otherwise out of line with what mainstream media wants to foist on us.
The mind boggles that, first of all, a supposedly reputable news source would publish such trash from a source who remained anonymous out of fear of...what, incarceration, torture, assassination? No: simply out of fear of being hacked by the Russians! Worse, this unnamed group soon published its list: a tally of web sites it deemed suspicious. These included Truth-out, Truthdig, volairnet.org, Counterpunch, WikiLeaks, antiwar.com, the Drudge Report, nakedcapitalism.com, opednews.com and consortiumnews.com, among many others!5
With this, the Washington Post and its shady PropOrNot character assassins condemn some of the very reporters which have heroically exposed the actual fake news that the very same Washington Post, New York Times and other “reliable” sources have been pedaling for years, such as the “slam-dunk fact” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, justifying Bush’s 2003 “shock and awe” invasion, which devastated Iraqi society, created sectarian civil war and caused millions of casualties and victims. Now these same fake news perps are hammering us that the Russians hacked the election, for which there is no proof!
Investigative journalist Robert Parry, now the editor of Consortium News, points to the fact that it was he who managed to break the Oliver North/Iran Contra conspiracy into the mainstream press when he worked for Newsweek. Other stories he is currently working on include the CIA’s internal doubts over who really committed the sarin gas attack in Syria on August 21, 2013, the covered-up role of neo-Nazis in the Ukraine putsch of February 2014 that overthrew an elected government, and the mysterious shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner MH-17 over Ukraine; all issues in which there was a U.S. interest.6
Voter fraud: going through the looking-glass
What’s behind the made-up saga of Russians having hacked the election—it’s covered up by the official media—is the fact that the election was rigged, just not in the way that the DNC, or Trump alleged. “Voter fraud”—the idea that masses of illegal aliens, or felons, or others are voting “many, many times”—is a fake-news hoax, designed to throw you off the track of how elections are actually stolen. Fraud by voters is a felony, but no one is ever arrested for it because it doesn’t exist.
Starting at the beginning, it should be seen by now that the U.S. is not a democracy, and never has been. At first, it was simple: only property-owning white males could vote. Slaves, poor whites, women, even property-owning Black freedmen (there were a handful) could not vote. Wow, problem solved to keep the elites in power!
But that wasn’t enough: the Congress had to be rigged to give more weight to southern slave-holding states over the more populous northern states. They all had some slaves, but in most southern states, slaves outnumbered whites by big percentages, which would have meant an imbalance in the number of representatives the slavers could get in Congress. This would have been a deal-breaker in a country whose economy was based on slavery. Hence, the three-fifths rule: slaves could be counted as three-fifths of a person when calculating the number of representatives a state was entitled to have in the House (the Senate was of course also designed to equalize smaller and larger states.) And, lest we forget, the “framers” also invented the Electoral College, the sole purpose of which was to shield the elites from the possibly devastating effects of the popular vote—a bit of nonsense, unknown anywhere else, that we’re still dealing with today.
Flashing forward, we note that Blacks still couldn’t vote (except briefly, during Reconstruction) in southern states for about a century after the Civil War, and women couldn’t vote until the 1920s. That’s a lot of history; but even after the Civil Rights laws and universal suffrage was in place, there was rampant vote rigging through all sorts of mechanisms, such as the infamous “graveyard vote,” and the intimidation of Democratic Party machines such as Tammany Hall in New York, and Mayor Daley’s corrupt regime in Chicago, which is what got JFK elected. While some of this is old news now, gerrymandering, or the rigging of elections by a party in power in a state by using sophisticated redistricting to isolate its opponents and ensure its success at the polls, is, after a century at least, still with us big time.
Nixon’s “treason” and the October surprise
Gerrymandering and early 20th Century election rigging were outrageous, but they pale in comparison to the imperialist crimes that have been committed with the intent of influencing domestic U.S. politics. Certainly the Hearst newspaper campaign for war with Spain in the late 1890s set a precedent, but tricky Dick Nixon may have topped the dung heap with his conspiracy to steal the election of 1968. This fully-verified but little-known plot involved Nixon’s back channel sabotage of on-going negotiations to end the war in Vietnam, which were in progress in Paris toward the end of LBJ’s last term. Johnson hoped to seal a peace treaty before the election, which he hoped would aid Democrat Hubert Humphrey in the up-coming vote.
Nixon’s campaign agents went behind Johnson’s back to convince South Vietnam’s U.S. puppet-president Nguyen van Thieu to torpedo the Paris peace talks by not showing up, on the promise that Nixon could get him a “better deal” in the talks when he was in office. Soon Johnson got wind of this plot, and privately referred to it as “treason.” Yet on the advice of aides, he never went public, because, according to Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, such an exposure would be “inimical to our country’s interests!” The plot worked and Nixon took office, only to radically escalate the bombing to no avail. The eventual peace deal was no different than what was on the table in 1968. Later, Nixon created his notorious team of “plumbers” (who were subsequently caught in the Watergate scandal,) to try to retrieve a missing White House file, which exposed his treason. Nixon’s 1968 plot resulted in about one million more Vietnamese deaths over the four years, as well as almost 21,000 additional U.S. casualties.7
The “October Surprise” caper cost no lives, but was just as devious. President Jimmy Carter was trying to get reelected in 1980, while also attempting to free the U.S. embassy hostages in Iran, who were trapped there following the overthrow of the Shah and the ascendance of the mullahs to power. Carter had earlier tried to free the hostages with a military operation that had failed. The reputation of U.S. imperialism was on the line, for both Democrats and Republicans! What to do? Ronald Reagan’s campaign director William Casey, soon to be CIA Director, organized a clandestine effort to prevent the hostages’ release until the U.S. Election Day, which ensured Reagan’s victory, and sent Carter back to his peanut farm. What’s the take-away? U.S. imperialism and its fake “democracy” are both part of the malicious machinations of the same den of thieves.8
“Whites a minority?” Can’t have that
In the wake of the 1960s, Nixon pioneered the Republican “Southern Strategy,” which focused on the take-over of the Southern States from the Dixiecrats, and morphed into a general Republican Party plan to achieve power in state capitols. This in turn has led to tactics by conservatives to deal with the “Browning of America,” i.e., the idea that whites are becoming a minority in what the right wing thinks is their country, damnit! Gerrymandering has now become significant in Republican-controlled states such as Texas and Wisconsin, to name two, and it’s all aimed at suppressing the vote of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and poor people generally.
Gerrymandering is just the oldest of today’s many methods of voter suppression. Republicans managed to engineer a Supreme Court decision in 2013 that effectively eliminated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act: states and counties with a history of racial discrimination no longer needed Department of Justice approval to change local voting rules and practices. This led to a tsunami of restrictive measures, such as burdensome voter ID laws, which discriminate against vast numbers of poor and minorities. And that is just the beginning.
Numerous artifices have been brought into play since 2000 to suppress the minority vote in addition to voter ID laws: purging and “caging” of voter rolls, discounting “spoiled” and provisional ballots, and “flipping” votes using privately-owned electronic voting machines. The evidence for this, developed by investigative reporters such as Jonathan Simon, Victoria Collier and Greg Palast, among many others, is staring the bourgeois media in the face, yet it is still ignored.9
It started in 2000, with the famous “hanging chad” debacle, in which G. Dubya Bush, with the aid of a Republican Supreme Court, stole the election from Gore. Central to this was the purging of the voter rolls of supposed “felons,” most of whom were no such thing. Also involved was the failure to complete the hand recount, which would have shown the intent of the voters whose hanging-chad ballots had been rejected. When the recount was heading toward a Gore victory, Antonin Scalia said it had to be halted because showing that Gore was gaining would “threaten irreparable harm to petitioner Bush, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election!”10 Never mind irreparable harm to the legitimacy of U.S. elections that was already long gone! Gore’s immediate acceptance of this travesty sealed the deal: both parties are in this together.
Tricks of the trade
“Caging” is another sneaky trick used to eliminate Black and Brown voters. A letter is sent to voters, no forwarding allowed, asking them to verify that they are registered to vote. Most know they are registered, and don’t respond, but failure to respond means you get removed from the rolls without warning: you show up, and you can’t vote! Likely you get a provisional ballot, but these are usually not counted. Then there is the “Interstate Crosscheck List,” which is distributed by a Koch Brothers-funded program to states to allegedly eliminate thousands who have voted twice in separate states. Yet the common names of those on the list mostly don’t match exactly, and when they do, they’re still two different people! There is no notice given to those so arbitrarily removed from the rolls. Then there is the “spoiled ballot” factor, in which some inept machine rejects a ballot because of a stray mark or a bubble not filled in. The result of all this is that, for instance, 75,355 ballots were never counted in Michigan. These were mostly from the most populous and mostly Black cities of Flint and Detroit.
In all the elections since 2000, there has been a distinct “red shift” in the final vote count, i.e., a significant percentage of votes allegedly cast for the GOP candidates that were not there in the exit polls. In Obama’s election and reelection, his totals, though declining, were enough to cancel out the red shift. This discrepancy however, which is always to the right, is statistically impossible without tampering. (Exit polls are accurate. The U.S. uses them to judge other countries’ elections, when they’re not rigging those elections themselves, of course.)
A stymied recount
The recount effort initiated by Jill Stein of the Green Party confirmed that these 75,000 were never counted, but in all three states she contested, the recount was subverted by establishment push-back. And in Michigan, this included the Democrats. While Clinton grudgingly joined the recount effort, she refused to pursue it at a critical point: when Stein was denied legal “standing” in the recount, since she could not have won from the result, Clinton, who could have won, and was an alleged ally in the recount effort, was nowhere to be found.
The recount effort was doomed by Clinton’s non-participation, and by official state obstruction in all three states that were targeted (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.) In a strange way, that’s a good thing, because it shows that the system circled its wagons to protect its secrets, which are many. But Stein’s recount effort could never have exposed everything it needed to in the first place, due to the fact that electronic voting machines are privately owned, and can be privately rigged (votes can be “flipped” in off-site locations) with no public oversight possible in most cases. Stein’s attempt at a recount, which she said would probably not change the result, but needed to be done to ensure “confidence” in the system, could easily have resulted in legitimizing the system, had it not been for the massive official obstruction.
If the election had really been free, fair and honest—a utopian dream if there ever was one—Clinton would possibly have won. But that would not have been any sort of “victory,” nor would it have changed the fact that the liberal establishment is bankrupt. Democrats have rigged U.S. elections just as much as Republicans over the years, and both parties in power have rigged, subverted and tampered with elections in neo-colonial countries for more than a century, not to mention overthrowing democratically elected governments everywhere.
What the imperialists do abroad
The recent elections in Haiti were travesties rigged by the U.S. and its agents, the only difference being greater brazenness—and much bigger protests—in Haiti than here. In Cité Soleil, a huge impoverished neighborhood of Port-au-Prince which has long been overwhelmingly supportive of the Fanmi Lavalas movement of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the populist priest who was twice elected president only to be overthrown and banned from running again, hundreds of would-be voters frantically searched for their names on registration lists outside polling stations to no avail. Their names had been “hacked” out of existence Haitian style. Ballots are routinely found dumped in garbage bins in Haiti. In one large Cité Soleil precinct, only 59 votes were recorded, all for the handpicked successor of the current pro-U.S. president! The chief U.S. agent is Guy Phillippe, an ex-military drug-runner who is wanted by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration,) but protected as an asset by the CIA, and so never gets arrested despite openly running for office. He has now “won” a seat in the Senate in this rigged election.11 What the imperialists will do abroad, they will do (and are doing) here.
The 2016 U.S. elections are emblematic of the long, slow and agonizing decline of U.S. imperialism. The liberals and most of the left don’t have a clue as to what is really going on. Most want to reform the Democratic Party, and/or defend U.S. “democracy” by somehow reclaiming its legitimacy. Certainly we should expose election fraud by voter suppression, but we must understand what is the real nature of this imperialist republic. That it is a capitalist and imperialist power is superficially clear to many, but how does it really work? It’s a bourgeois democracy, right? We do have elections and rights, correct?
What is bourgeois democracy?
Yes this is a bourgeois democracy, but the point that is so often missed is that it is a “democracy” only for the ruling class itself. Voting by the masses is controlled by so many mechanisms that even a landslide for a “peoples choice” can produce only an intelligent fraud like Obama. The ruling elite—the bourgeoisie—controls everything; but even in their hallowed halls there is not the kind of “democracy” to which we are accustomed to imagine. There are no fairly-decided democratic decisions among them. And the ruling class is not a united conspiracy of rule; it doesn’t even work like that under fascism (which this is not.) The wielders of power are a constantly boiling, frothing, fuming pot of conflicting factions, cliques and conspiracies, united against the working classes and their imperialist rivals, but desperately struggling for power among themselves. Just as the big corporations constantly compete with each other, always trying to dominate and monopolize, so the ruling class as a whole is just a bunch warring cliques. Think all the world’s mafias, all competing for turf, and all on billionaire-enhanced steroids.
Only with this understanding can we truly know how the 2016 U.S. election really worked. Why did Trump win, when most if not all of the big ruling-class institutions were for Clinton? Of course voter disgust with the corrupt establishment was a factor. But ruling-class actors were playing both sides, and one right-wing faction was playing the racist rig-the-election card: the Koch brothers and their allies in the Republican right, some of whom have gobbled up and privatized the electronic voting machine market, came up with the winning hand this time! Note that the other side quickly fell in line with the winners: the stock market dipped on Trump’s win for two days, and then rebounded big time; and the Republican establishment is now helping Trump construct a reactionary billionaire’s cabinet like no other. There are some left-outs. But mostly, they’re all in the same card game, they all want to grease the palm of the winner, and they all want their hand in for the next round!
Just as there is an inevitable decline in the rate of profit—which will only get worse with the looming trend of robot-driven production—there is a concomitant decline of this whole boiling cesspool of imperialism that is the U.S. It can only get worse, except for one thing: working people fighting for their own liberation from all this endless rot.
Working people had a role to play in this election, as in the class struggle as a whole; but they were missing in action as a class force, as they have been for decades. Many working people and lower middle class elements swung the vote away from the two party establishments to Trump, but did they put forward their own interests? Obviously not. The much talked-about opposition to the incoming Trump regime needs to focus on construction of a revolutionary, working-class party, one which is committed to fighting for the rights of all working people, including immigrants, people of color, women and gays; and to ripping the power out of the hands of the capitalist ruling class. Workers must rule!
1 See pollingreports.com, which reports on and summarizes dozens of national opinion polls.
2 “The Myth of the Reactionary White Working Class,” www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/11/12/pers-mi2.html
3 “U.S. Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims,” December 12, 2016, www.consortiumnews.com. This report makes it clear that the emails had to have been leaked, not hacked.
5 Glenn Greenwald, “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist...” theintercept.com.
6 Robert Parry, “Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt” 27 November 2016, www.consortiumnews.com.
7 see “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason,’” for the complete story, including quotes from taped White House recordings, at consortiumnews.com.
8 See “The Modern History of ‘Rigged’ US Elections,” consortiumnews.com, for a good summary of Nixon’s treason and the “October Surprise.”
9 See Jonathan D. Simon, Code Red, Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century, 2016, www.electiondefensealliance.org; Victoria Collier, “How To Rig an Election,” Harper’s Magazine, November 2012; Victoria Collier, “The ‘Shocking’ Truth About Election Rigging in the United States,” Truth-out, September 5, 2016; and Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, 2016 edition. And see Greg Palast’s movie of the same name. gregpalast.com.