Finally all apprehensions are over – Donald Trump has been ascended to the President of USA. And, it has created a massive furore. The basic question that how could a large section of the US population vote for Trump even after all of those utterly racist-sexist-war mongering howling of his during the election campaigns has annoyed me a lot, like many others across the globe. So as a student of Social Science, I needed a satisfactory reply of my question: what is happening in USA? This article is my blabbering of this question.
But before proceeding further, let’s be sober & honest. We must recognize that living thousands of miles away from the ground reality, there is every possibility of drawing a sweeping conclusion. An all-encompassing reply cannot be made just on the basis of some internet reports. What we at the most can get to is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is the ‘uneducated, low IQ-ed’ Americans who have voted for Trump
This is the most common & popular perception that is being circulated in social media. How far is it from the truth? I think it has been best replied in the Blog of Robert Reich, the ex-Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, name of whose most recent book is “Saving Capitalism”! I cannot restrain myself to quote a paragraph from his post-Trump victory article in his Blog.
“What happened in America Tuesday should not be seen as a victory for hatefulness over decency. It is more accurately understood as a repudiation of the American power structure.
At the core of that structure are the political leaders of both parties, their political operatives, and fundraisers; the major media, centered in New York and Washington DC; the country’s biggest corporations, their top executives, and Washington lobbyists and trade associations; the biggest Wall Street banks, their top officers, traders, hedge-fund and private-equity managers, and their lackeys in Washington; and the wealthy individuals who invest directly in politics.” (http://robertreich.org/post/15299866634. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
Repudiation of the power structure! That also recognized not by any hardcore communist, but from none other than a savior of capitalism! What is going on in USA?!!
I feel, two incidents happened in USA in this 21st century have shaken the US working class & toiling masses. One – 9/11, and another – post-2008 economic crisis.
But prior to that, let me move further backward. With the end of World War II, USA emerged as a major super power in the globe & the “Great American Dream” was born. Fall of USSR, and with it the perception that USA as the “indispensible nation” in the “Unipolar world” was born. “Great American Dream” was inflated further. The dream was marketed well among the common working masses, marketed by the American power structure. They were made to believe that in the name of neo-liberalism, their lives are well-secured at the cost of the lives of the billions of poor 3rd world working population! 9/11 & post-2008 “Great Economic Crisis” need to be understood from this perspective.
Validation/criticism of 9/11, its impact etc are altogether a separate story & it is not the place to discuss those questions. What I tried to mean here is that since fall of USSR, thru’ the incident of 9/11 the undisputed political hegemony of USA over the world had for the first time been challenged, and that also in its own homeland. The retaliatory military attack on Iraq by the then Bush administration & subsequent loss of face had further acted as the fly in the ointment of longstanding “Great American Dream”. It appeared to the common toiling American people as shattering of their “Great American Dream” & a sense of betrayal had started to percolate in their psyche.
Then came the tempest on USA – the great financial crisis of 2008. And the subsequent biggest financial bailout in US history. It not only brought disaster in the lives of millions of common working masses of USA, but also the unholy & closest tie up between biggest Corporations, Wall Street Bankers & the political leaders of all colours had suddenly been exposed to them in the broad day-light like never before. It made them further alienated & angry, very angry. Alienation with the system, alienation with the power structure, alienation within the power structure. Anger against unemployment-poverty-homelessness. Anger against the unholy alliances which devastated their lives. Anger for shattering of “The Great American Dream”.
But how could this anger would be channelized towards “Repudiate the System” when history of struggle, organization and direction have long been absent in the society! Still the anger was so strong that it was expressed, expressed spontaneously thru’ the slogan of “We’re 99%”, expressed thru’ “OCCUPY WALL STREET”. After a long time, American working masses took to the streets. But without the preparation-organisation & direction, it could not advance. The process of alienation with the system could not advance towards repudiation of the system, rather it was soon replaced with frustration & despair.
Meanwhile, the power structure left no stone unturned to recover themselves from “Great Economic Crisis”. As on 2016, it is no dispute that – ok, post-2008 situation exists no more, but still it is far below from pre-2008. Existing power structure tried hard to make the US working population buy that “all is well”, but actually something seriously was rotting in USA. So we see that,
Barack Obama boasted in last February:
“The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs, the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s, an unemployment rate cut in half. … And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/12/remarks-president-barack-obama-%E2%80%93-prepared-delivery-state-union-address. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
According to Govt figure, unemployment rate is impressive, just around 5%. But while almost at the same time Obama made the above statement, Trump retorted:
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” … “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.” (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/11/donald-trump/donald-trump-repeats-pants-fire-claim-unemployment/. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
Let us now see an observation about both the comments. According to one observer,
“To be clear, Trump’s 42% claim is a lie. But for the millions of Americans working low-wage or temporary jobs or suffering from long-term unemployment, it feels like the truth.” (http://qz.com/666311/why-americas-impressive-5-unemployment-rate-still-feels-like-a-lie/. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
Let us dig a bit deeper into this devastating story.
“Today, the group (National Employment Law Project – author) notes, there are almost 2 million fewer middle-class and higher wage jobs than there were before the Great Recession. … The share of Americans who see themselves as middle class today has never been this low, plunging to 44% from 53% in 2008, according to a Pew Research Survey this year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals many of the sectors that will shed thousands of jobs in the coming decade.” (http://nypost.com/2014/06/07/death-of-the-middle-class-job/. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016).
Above observer of New York Post has summed up the problem in this way: “You are left with the very high-end incomes and the low-end service incomes — and nothing in between”. All these are the basis of the millions of Americans, the campaign of Trump of 42% unemployment “feels like the truth”. And, not only that when Trump retorted that immigrants should be thrown away of USA, it sounded sweet to the ears of white working class Americans & they voted en masse to Trump.
Why immigrants? Because, a large portion of the jobs with low income without any security have been shifted in the hands of the migrant workers. Let’s look into some government statistics,
- “In 2015, there were 26.3 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.7 percent of the total.
- Hispanics accounted for 48.8 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2015 and Asians accounted for 24.1 percent.
- Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations; natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations and sales and office occupations.
- The median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $681 in 2015, compared with $837 for their native-born counterparts.” (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/forbrn.pdf. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
Same is applicable for the problem of homelessness.
We may also look into another apparently unconnected statistics, but which speaks for itself. As on this day,
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.” (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
And, a large section of them are affected by “Social Anxiety Disorder”!
Anyway, let us move back again in 2012, when the preliminary tremors that had been created by OWS had more or less been subsided, but the basic problems of the lives of the common working population had further been aggravated. So what next? There remain only two options. Either, they must advance for complete overhauling the old system, replace it with a new one, or waiting for a messiah to appear, who’ll help them to recreate their broken dreams. There is almost no scope for the first option, at least for the immediate future. Existing power structure survives on the basis of one basic parameter – majority must be dominated with the power of the existing state structure, so that exploitation of the minority can be continued (in case of USA, and not only in US, but also in case of countries like UK-Germany or France etc, this exploitation of the minority can be continued over the global majority) without any hindrance. And, this power structure needs to be confronted & combated globally, on the united strength of the toiling masses. Some sort of partial movement of the amorphous masses like OWS encompassing a comparatively very small section in a small part of the world is nowhere to combat this demon. Under the circumstance, the only option available to them is praying for arrival for some messiah who’ll at least voice their anger-desparation & frustration.
And, Trump appears to a majority of this section of the population as such a messiah. He has been able to convey them that,
“this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!” (http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/. Accessed on Nov 11, 2016)
And, he has succeeded. The trump card for Donald Trump, I believe, is he is an outsider of this existing power structure, as because American working population has lost all faith on those who are directly involved in the power structure. Anyway, it needs to be understood that “uneducated-low IQ Americans voted for Trump” is not just over-simplification, this view is utterly subjective & in that way, racial. Win of Trump is rebellion in a negative form against all those who till date dominated present American political power structure, a rebellion against the plundering of the American economic & political elites made during last 25 years.
But, does that mean Trump will serve the interests of the common people, and not of the US economic & political elites? Finally, Trump is not just an individual, he has represented Republican Party & it was Ronald Regan, a Republican President, who was the main propagator of the policies of NEO-LIBERALISM, who said, “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders”, and not only that, made the famous war-cry, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat”! So much explanation is not needed to establish that Trump is a representative of US economic & political elite & is destined to serve only their interest. How much louder be the shouting of Trump against Ford Motors during Michigan Primary election that if they would go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States, no one is going to believe that he insists scrapping the treaty of NAFTA; or when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, no one, I feel, is going to believe him; the simple reason being that it would go against the present policies of US economic elites. So, none of basic policies serving the US economic & political elites are going to be scrapped, at most some apparent modifications to deceive the masses may happen.
So, we need to be more watchful about the future course of developments to be going on in USA. However, one thing is certain. Whatever be the future course of actions of Trump, it will only alienate & aggravate further US working population. And, that will create further turbulence in American society. How the people handle the situation, whether they would seek the resolution through polarization of society in the racist/communal/sexist line, or they would strive for resolution thru’ the path of united struggle & organisation, will be clear to us in the coming days. And definitely that will not be a very distant future.