By James Petras
Large swaths of the US electorate are voting for rational choices against a system controlled by an economic and political oligarchy.
Rational choice is based on experience with political leaders who pursue policies which lead to a trillion dollar financial crises and bailouts which impoverish millions of mortgage holders and working family tax payers.
Rational rejection of the established leadership of the major parties is based on an understanding of the futility of relying on their campaign promises.
Rational commitments to ending inequality and overseas wars which weaken America, has led to greater emphasis on making America strong and transforming the domestic American economy and security system.
A vast array of electoral analysts have ignored the rational socio-economic and political choices of the American electorate and repeatedly rely on psycho-babble, claiming that contemporary voters are reacting out of ‘anger’ and ‘irrational emotionalism’.
Sanders and Trump: Appeals to the New Rationality?
The woeful blindness of political experts is in large part a product of their own hostility to the rise of two Presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who challenge the established party and economic leadership.
The Sanders campaign proceeded along the lines of a political polarization between big business and the working class; demanding higher taxes for the wealthy and greater social spending for public health and education foe the working class.
Sander’s sought to unify racial and ethnic minorities and majoritarian workers with progressive gender, religious and environmental movements.
The Trump campaign sought to mobilize white American majorities among workers, small businesspeople and professionals, who are downwardly mobile and have been marginalized by globalization.
Sanders emphasized a refurbished class identity. Trump promoted a new nationalist symbolism. Yet in many ways the establishment opposition, the parties, mass media and the economic elite, are far more hostile to Trump’s ‘nationalist politics’ than Sanders’ democratic socialist program and class appeal.
It appears that Sanders willingness to come to terms with the Democratic elite and back Clinton’s candidacy when he lost the nomination, is far more acceptable to the establishment than Trump. According to all known precedents, the Democratic Party allows progressive candidates to post advanced socio-economic campaign platforms to secure working class voters, all the better to tank them in favor of business-warmonger policies once in office.
Trump’s initial nationalist-anti-globalist rhetoric aroused greater animosity from business, liberal and militarist elites than Sanders’ occasional critical comment.
Trump’s nationalism was rooted in popular and reactionary appeals. On the one hand he spoke of relocating multi-nationals from abroad to the US. On the other hand, he demands the expulsion of over ten million Mexicans from the US labor market.
His anti-globalization-business relocation strategy lacked several essential ingredients: he did not specify which multi-nationals would be affected; nor what policies he would apply to implement the trillion-dollar return.
In contrast, Trump was precise in naming the immigrants to be expelled; the police methods to expel the target population; and the border security system to blockade their entry.
Trump’s Electoral Victory and Neoliberal Right Turn
Trump’s successful nomination led to an appeal to big donors for campaign funding and endorsements by Republican neo-liberal Congressional leaders like Paul Ryan. This has led Trump to downgrade his anti- globalization, economic nationalist politics, in favor of his chauvinist ethno-racist appeals.
Trump’s current electoral strategy seeks to unify the hard neo-liberal elite with the ‘patriotic’ white working class.
Trump’s ideological vehicle to the Presidency no longer attacks globalization. Instead he relies on arousing public support by stigmatizing ‘anti-American’ minorities and targeting Clinton’s reactionary and corrupt policies.
Trumps’ “Make America Strong” propaganda follows closely in line with Obama’s headline attack on China’s steel exports to the US markets.
Trump’s “Make America Strong” policy follows Obama’s systematic assault on the World Trade Organization’s for rejecting US agricultural trade subsidies.More recently,in tune with Trumps rhetoric, Obama unilaterally dictated the membership of the WTO’s trade settlement process.
Obama blocked the reappointment of an independent South Korean lawyer who opposed Washington’s violation of WTO rules.Rather then look upon Trump as an anti-establishment “populist” his policy would follow Obama’s promotion of business lobbies against the WTO.
Trump follows Obama’s policy of favoring globalization only insofar as Washington controls the international institutions that run it. Trump follows Washington’s imperial policy of packing global institutions with its vassals.
Trump in the Footstep of Sanders
Trump’s embrace of the neo-liberal business elite follows Sanders submission to the Democratic Party bosses. Trump hopes his mass base can be deluded from his right-turn embrace of the economic elite by increasing slanders and provocations,turning them against working class Mexicans by accusing them of stealing jobs, crimes and drugs.
Trump’s mass meetings of almost exclusively white working and middle class voters in Mexican-American regions of California are designed to provoke violent protests.
Trump gains nation-wide nationalist support by circulating videos of NBC, CNN and ABC reports depicting peaceful white Trump supporters being “terrorized and beaten up by mobs of (Mexican-American) protestors”.
Trump appeals to his “Americans” to denounce and ‘stand strong” against demonstraters waving Mexican flags and burning the Stars and Stripes alongside Trumps’ “Make America Great” hats.
Trump’s turn to the neo-liberal Republican elite means he will heighten his repressive and anti-immigrant policies. Trump will be aided by mindless violent protestors and provocations “overcoming the police” at anti-Trump rallies. Trump effectively engages in the “propaganda of the deed”; linking “disloyal foreign immigrants” waving the Mexican , not the US flag.
The realignment of the Republican Party brings Trump into the arms of the hardline neo-liberal Congressional-Wall Street elite. This shift means Trump’s ideological and mass base needs to be redirected toward greater hostility to domestic enemies – Mexicans, Muslims, women and ecologists.
Trump is especially counting on the incorporation of Sanders’ electoral machine into the Clinton campaign. White workers face to face with Wall Street warmonger Clinton will be less likely to reject Trump’s embrace of the rightwing Congressional business alliance.
Trump will deflect working class opposition from his turn to the neo- liberal Congressional Republicans by targeting Clinton’s big business and covert, illicit government operations. Clinton’ gross violations of federal laws, her felonious communications and liasons with foreign officials could hand the Presidency to Trump.
Trump has gained working class voters in West Virginia, Ohio ,and many other rust-belt states because of Clinton’s free trade and anti-working class history.
Trump’s electoral victory will hinge on his capacity to cover-up his neo-liberal turn and to focus voters’ attention on Clinton’s militarist, Wall Street, conspiratorial and anti-working class politics.