THE US ELECTIONS AND THE INSURMOUNTABLE CONTRADICTIONS OF IMPERIALISM – The victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections reveals a terrible weakness and crisis at the core of North American imperialism. This drives it into a kind of civil war just at the time when it needs all its forces for the war it prepares to try and save world capitalism.

Through the Electors system, Trump won 306 delegates’[1] and Hillary Clinton 232. But by the popular vote, Clinton won 3 million more than Trump[2]! This shows that the result is not fair or acceptable.

And that the population did not vote Trump.

The bourgeois press and media pretended that the “White workers of the ‘rust- belt’[3]” voted for Trump “in a wave of support”. A look at the rust-belt results shows that there was no such ‘wave’ for Trump. If there was a swing towards the Republicans, it came less from Democratic votes than from additional Republican ones. And if there was a ‘swing’ for Trump, it was never by many more votes than those won by the Greens[4]. In short, a simple united front between the Democrats and the Greens might have cancelled all trace of a ‘swing’. Most importantly, the ‘rust-belt’ States vote traditionally ‘Democrat’, and in Feb-May 2016, Bernie Sanders won the Primaries in 3 States there, and received a large vote in all the other States of the ‘belt’.

Many are those who did not want Clinton:

There is profound anger against the Democratic Party. Under Obama, Venezuela was declared ‘an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States’ – a blatant and unacceptable lie. Obama and Clinton waged a deadly economic war against Venezuela; they arranged putsches against Bolivia and Ecuador, to destabilise these countries. They organised coups, as against Honduras and Paraguay. Under Obama, the US led 1,124 drone sorties against various populations in the Middle East. Still under Obama leadership, the US bombed Libya for 166 days, non-stop, leaving behind mountains of dead bodies, total political chaos, and total economic chaos.

Internally, ObamaCare remained incomplete, with rising premiums that went up again recently. Wages and living conditions keep going down in the United States, whilst wealth for a few grows insanely. Thousands of Black people are being arbitrarily jailed, and killed by police. Many are those who have not wanted to vote Clinton. The results show that an extra two million people abstained from voting nationally compared with 2012.

The electoral system is nothing like democratic, but rejection of the Democrats – even if only by abstention – has favoured Trump. For his part, Trump used every demagogic trick to foster the illusion that he was the man to re-industrialise, to create thousands of jobs and to revive the national economy. This had an effect in some sectors, and in the tops of the Trade Unions.

No mass support for Trump either:

Trump won by default due to the failure of the Democrats to attract people, particularly after Sanders was evicted from the race. Indeed Sanders had won substantial support in the working class and impoverished layers of the ‘middle class’. He had achieved this through a programme that proclaimed itself openly socialist. This means that many are those who aspire to radical change in the United States.

All this makes a joke of Trump’s electoral victory. Since Clinton lost ‘only’ 295.000 votes from the 2012 level – almost keeping up the vote for Obama in 2012 – the 2 million extra votes that Trump won above Mitt Romney in 2012 do not come from the Democrats. There was no swing from the Democrats to the Republicans. The extra votes for Trump came from a greater intervention on the part of the Republican public, from the Tea Party and others. These were those who voted Trump, not the masses who normally vote Democrat.

The regions of the Mid-West and North East of the United States like Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc, form what is called the ‘rust-belt’. In the 50’s, these zones were very industrialised with mines, steel works, the manufacture of tyres; today, a profound crisis has taken hold. New industries like IT, biotechnology and aircraft construction do not employ many people any more. Those who have not left to find work elsewhere are struggling against poverty, the loss jobs and social decay[5].

Democratic abstentions and Bernie Sanders’ campaign:

Sanders' vote in Green, and Clinton's vote in Yellow, results of the 2016 Presidential Primaries in the United States
Sanders’ vote in Green, and Clinton’s vote in Yellow:  2016 Presidential Primaries in the United States

What follows here is based on the results in the Primaries of Feb-March 2016 in the Presidential elections of the United States. In the ‘States’ of the rust-belt, Sanders won the Primaries (Feb-March 2016) in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. He won there more votes than Hillary Clinton.

In the Primaries of Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania[6], he came close to Clinton’s scores.

Nationally, the wave of support for him was very substantial, particularly in the big towns. That is how he won around 43% of the vote nationally against only 55% for Clinton. For the final vote in November, he stood down in favour of Hillary Clinton. There is every reason to think that he would have done well there as well, seeing that he won the Primaries in 23 States out of 50, and drew 19 million votes to himself nationally.

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders, born 1941.

The programme of Bernie Sanders focused on building and reconstruction, job creation, renovation of infrastructures and dilapidated roads, as well as on making investments financed by cuts in the military budget.

What we mesure here is not so much his programme as the thirst for change on the part of those who support him.

Many Sanders’ votes did not go to Clinton:

In the US electoral system, there is no proportionality. The Party that comes first wins all the electors of that State. Even then, the results show that – particular in the rust-belt – a simple united front between the Democrats and the Greens would have been enough to defeat Trump in many places. Still in the rust-belt, Trump won only by small majorities, sometimes as low as 1% and never greater than 8%.

In 2012, Obama had won Michigan. It is a State particularly hit by de-industrialisation and working class poverty. In the Michigan Primaries this year, Sanders won 23% of the vote, more than Clinton herself – Trump getting only 27% in his own Republican Primaries. Still in Michigan, Trump defeated Clinton by only 10,704 votes in November – a very thin majority if you consider that the Greens won 51,463 votes. This small victory gave Trump the State! If there was a “white working class” swing’ towards him in Michigan, it was demonstrably small.

A similar process was observable in the other States of the rust-belt. All the talk of a working class swing in favour of Trump in those areas never mentions the huge swing there for Sanders a few months earlier.

Obama and the Democratic Party opposed Sanders vigorously, although he was campaigning against unacceptable privilege and for more justice and equality. Under Obama, the employers were allowed to spread the Right To Work[7] laws throughout the rust-belt. Clinton herself fought hard to repel and marginalise Sanders in the elections. Sensing the anger of people against Clinton and Obama, Trump denounced them, with some success, for being ‘the establishment’. It is not so much Trump who won, as Clinton who failed to attract.

The need for social transformations

The Trump administration is composed of war criminals, creationists, evolution-deniers, climate-change deniers, anti-abortionists and white supremacists. Such a level of power could only fall to such an objectionable band of people because the capitalist order is degenerate at its centre, and prepares for war and repression.

The idea of a wall between the US and Mexico shows the incapacity of capitalism to deal with the economy and the social relations of the future. The idea that the US embassy should move from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem announces more acts of imperialist expropriation and genocide against the Palestinians.

Trump’s slogan of ‘Make America Great Again’ would have us forget the US military debacles at the hand of the ex-colonial world – as in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq. But ‘America’ (the North of it, that is) will only be ‘great again’ when its working class takes it over. And it will only be great again when that working class unites with the working class and masses of the Workers States, like Cuba, and of the Revolutionary States, like those in Latin America and the rest of the  world.

Out of a total of 232 million entitled to vote, 92 million ‘eligible’ voters stayed away in those elections. This is an enormous abstention. If it shows anything for certain, it is that the US people did not speak in these elections. The 90 millions who never vote in any election express in this way the fact that they do not feel consulted. In this particular election, many abstainers must have been Sanders’ supporters who did not want to vote Clinton.

Sanders in Green comes close to Clinton in Yellow in the US Primaries, 2017
Sanders in Green comes close to Clinton in Yellow in the US Primaries, 2017

The fact that Sanders won 19 million votes by speaking openly about Socialism shows that people want Socialism. What we measure through the support for Sanders is not so much the justness of his programme as the large support for socialist change which has appeared in the United States.

The US Communist Party calls for the unity of all the forces of the left, but this must be on an anti-imperialist basis, with the demand for the withdrawal of all US troops from the rest of the world. And seeking solidarity for this particular demand in all the trade unions and anti-war movements of the world.


Some conclusions


Trump was elected President by hardly more than 25%[8] of the population. He does not have the support of the US masses. On the evening of the results, large demonstrations appeared in most of the big US cities, proclaiming “Trump Not my President” and defending the right of immigration. Some of these protests lasted for days, and indeed weeks.

The Trump administration is reactionary, obscurantist and counter-revolutionary. To fool people, he presented himself as the defender of the ‘little people’; but to these, he only had to offer what he would retake from expelled Mexican migrants. As for the wars of Obama and Clinton, he did not condemn them, only that they failed.

Sanders pronounces himself in favour of Socialism and people supported him because of this. His programme is social-democratic, like the one of Corbyn in Britain: he proposes to raise taxes against the rich and control the multinationals. With this money he proposes to build public infrastructures, houses and schools and develop the public services. He wants humane policies towards the immigrants. He proposes more trade union rights and denounces the unlimited power of the oligarchy to buy candidates and presidents. And he stands against war.

The situation in the United States is favourable to building “a united front from the base”, as the US Communist Party proposes. The Sanders movement, the Left Trade Union sectors, the young, the students, the Communist Party and the many anti-war and anti-imperialist organisations, have the opportunity to discuss Socialism in more detail. Particularly amongst those who normally abstain in elections.

The Communists and Socialists of the Sanders movement, along with the Greens and other left groups, are in good conditions to unite. If they present themselves to the rest of the world with a common anti-imperialist programme, they will give a great impulsion to the other peoples of the world.

Many of those who support Sanders belong to anti-war movements and organisations like “Hands Off Syria”. They exist also amongst the war veterans, and in the US anti-Nato movements as well.

A great opportunity presents itself in the United states to make United Fronts based on the rejection of every war of the US  in the world.

Trump is not for peace, of course. His talk of ‘peace’ with Russia is unreliable. And he attacks China particularly aggressively. He has been quick to look for increased military expenditure and support the Monroe doctrine in Latin America. – 15.1.2017


[1] The delegates are chosen (in the Primaries) in each of the 50 States that compose the USA. At national level, these become ‘electors’ in the electoral college. There are 538 electors in the electoral college; the candidate of the Party that wins at least 270 votes becomes President.

[2] Clinton: 65,844,954 (48% of the votes cast): Trump: 62,979,879 (46%). The rest of the votes went to other parties.

[3] The ‘rust belt’ is composed of: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. They are situated in the North-East and ‘Mid-West’ of the country, some close to Canada and the Great Lakes. This belt was a powerhouse of industry and manufacture in the 1950’s, but declined steadily since. Coal mines, steel and car production continue, but in crisis. Agriculture is ultra-modern and requires few workers. The population, mostly White, is descended from old European immigrations. It suffers from scarce amenities, despair, de-industrialization and dying communities.

[4] Unlike Sanders, the Greens stayed in the race after the Primaries.

[5] Drugs are a social problem and the casinos are big business.

[6] Iowa 23-21 (Clinton-Sanders), Illinois 79-77, Ohio 81-66, Pennsylvania 106-83.

[7] The Right-to-Work laws give employees the right to benefit from collective bargaining without paying the Unions’ dues. This weakens the Unions and gives weight to persons who do not fight for the Union.

[8] Roughly 78 million out of 319 million inhabitants.

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