Socialist Worker

Donald Trump’s first twelve months in office - a year of horrors and resistance

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2587

US president Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump (Pic: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Cowardly, sexist, racist US president Donald Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis since his inauguration a year ago this Saturday. His attacks have been relentless—but the resistance has been inspiring.

Trump confirmed last week that he won’t be opening the new US embassy in London next month. He was scared of mass protests.

Trump’s White House has pushed racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. It’s promised to start oil drilling under melting polar ice caps. And, in a chilling speech to the United Nations, Trump said the US would “totally destroy North Korea” with nuclear weapons.

During his presidential election campaign Trump slammed Wall Street as “getting away with murder.”

That was all insincere bluster.

Despite the US ruling class’s worries about Trump’s chaotic methods of rule, he has delivered for the rich.

His tax cut bill last month was a trillion dollar handout to corporations and rich individuals.

It slashed corporation tax from 35 to 20 percent and piled higher taxes onto poor people. And it repealed parts of the Affordable Care Act—“Obamacare”—which provided limited health care for the poorest.

But Trump’s racism is sincere, and he has introduced terrifying new powers for immigration officials and border guards. Just last week Trump said the US should not accept migrants from “shithole” countries in Africa and others such as Haiti.

Crime

During the presidential election campaign, Trump said Mexicans were “bringing drugs”. “They bring crime. They’re rapists,” he said.

And now he has asked for over £13 billion from congress to begin building a wall along the US-Mexico border. However, Trump’s advisers remain shaky on the basic foundations of the proposal.

“There are rivers involved, I’m told,” said media spokesperson Kellyanne Conway. “There are mountains involved, there’s terrain that isn’t conducive to building an actual physical structure in some places.”

In Washington DC, a tremendous protest rains on Trump’s parade
In Washington DC, a tremendous protest rains on Trump’s parade
  Read More

Trump has also faced resistance to his sexism. After a recording emerged of Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy”, millions joined Women’s Marches in the US and across the world.

And the #MeToo movement has challenged abusers and harassers in positions of power and given the confidence to millions of women to come forward.

The tensions within the Trump administration came to the fore after the murder of anti-fascist Heather Hayer in Charlottesville last August. Trump said there were “bad guys” on “many sides,” equating anti-fascists with the fascists.

He also said the Nazi demo included “some very fine people”.

A wave of anti-racist vigils and protests followed. Trump’s business advisory committee opportunistically resigned, and Trump was forced to sack white supremacist adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon’s Breitbart News website had defended Nazi Richard Spencer against “claims of racism”.

Violent

Nazis remain a minor force, but they have been emboldened by having a racist in the White House

Many see Trump as the “legitimate” wing of the “suited and booted” fascist strategy.

The direction the resistance to Trump moves in now is important.

The leadership of the Women’s March movement is quite clear where it wants to go—to the ballot box and in favour of the Democrats.

To mark the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration the organisation released a statement which said, “It’s time to turn our movement power into electoral power.

“We’re gearing up not just for our one-year anniversary but for what comes after—a national voter registration and mobilisation tour to bring our power to the polls.”

Although the organisation doesn’t say “vote Democrat”, there are few other conclusions that can be drawn.

Democratic and left wing candidates have won key local elections in the last year.

A march for the dreamers

A march for the 'dreamers' (Pic: Rhododendrites)

Philadelphia’s new district attorney Larry Krasner, who had previously done pro bono work for Black Lives Matter, started work last Monday by firing 31 right wing lawyers.

Movement

It’s a good start—but it will take more than mass sackings to really drain the swamp.

The Trump administration will hang on grimly to office.

And the capitalist state is more than the people that inhabit its offices. Its entire purpose is to block the kind of wide-ranging change that some people hope the likes of Krasner can deliver. The Democratic Party is a dead end. Maintaining an independent movement outside of it is crucial.

What has been largely missing from the resistance is the organised working class. But where there have been exceptions, they have been very important.

Teachers and school transport workers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, effectively staged a strike to support the Women’s Strike in March. And the New York taxi drivers and others who struck against the Muslim Ban were another important example.

Where there have been protests and strikes, politicians and judges have followed in their wake to claim credit and file legal challenges against Trump’s policies.

If the movement gets sucked into focusing on elections it will be its death knell.

Presidents have been forced out of office before—such as Richard Nixon in 1974. But it took an almighty movement against the Vietnam War for that to happen.

That is why the movement must stay on the streets, grow and go deeper into the working class.

It’s not just heartening to see people protesting against Trump, it’s part of how real change is won.


Socialist Worker spoke to people on the protests against Trump in Washington DC last January. A year after Trump’s inauguration, we asked them how they’re keeping up the fight against him.

Carmen

It has been a year of constant battle against Trump.

But I am not sure he will be forced out of office unless they find more serious issues such as obstruction of justice.

The accusations so far haven’t had any valid evidence. “Russiagate” has been spun by the corporate media and is not going anywhere.

The election manipulation by Russia has sunk in the public eye. Voters hated Hillary Clinton and she lost.

Carmen and Mike

Carmen and Mike

The Democrats are trying to use Trump to win a majority in Congress.

But hating Trump is not enough to win voters who are despondent with the way the Democrats are going—benefiting their corporate donors and not the people.

They will succeed only if they become more progressive on urgent issues such as health care, global warming, fighting the oil industry and protecting social services.

Mike

Eugene Debs, the socialist leader of the early 1900s, said that there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Both parties belong to corporate greed—the Democrats say they are for the people but do little to help.

We cannot challenge the 1 percent, they are too strong for us.

The alternative is to build another economy based on cooperatives where people create their own jobs and deal with other cooperatives.

The 99 percent do not need the 1 percent—but the reverse is not true.

Bonnie

Since the Women’s March, I’ve marched for immigrants’ rights in Dallas and went back to Washington DC to attend a March for Civility.

I didn’t think Trump would make the first 100 days, and now it’s been a year.

Our best bet is if Robert Mueller’s special investigation into Russian links confirms wrong-doing.

I have absolutely no hope that the Republicans will do anything to force him from office since he is doing their bidding.

Ken

I have joined a group on the internet of likeminded people from Nebraska and around the world.

We communicate every day on what is happening with Trump.

Republicans are no more pleased with Trump than Democrats.

But Trump is fulfilling their agenda by deregulating anything he can deregulate, pushing a tax cut for the rich, pushing anti?immigration legislation and other items that are on the Republican agenda.

My concern is that this country is adjusting to a “new normal”—a chaos that more and more people are seeing as business as usual.

More and more people—including Independents and some conservative Democrats—agree with some of what Trump is doing and saying.


Socialist Worker also spoke to activists from migrant rights organisations about the battles they’ve faced since Trump’s inauguration.

Roberto Valadez Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) activist

Trump is attacking every group which is marginal, so we all have a common enemy. Dreamer (undocumented child) migrants are Asian, black and from every group.

We may not have exactly the same struggles but we have a shared experience of oppression. We must come together and fight.

Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme in September.

Since then we’ve seen a lot of attacks and a lot of people have lost their legal status—122 people every day nationally.

Roberto

Roberto

I’m part of an migrant-led organisation. We protest, phone bank and organise legislative visits.

Last week we saw the decision of the court of appeal judge to overturn Trump’s attack on Daca. It’s allowed everyone a sigh of relief and we’ve seen that we’re not alone—the judicial system is still in place.

And we’ve seen that when people mobilise, the president and congress have to respond to that.

We have a Republican representative in El Paso who was quiet on the issue, but after weeks of mobilisations he came out in support.

On a national level four Democratic senators said they would not vote on the immigration bill without a clause guaranteeing Daca rights.

After campaigning the number increased from four to 34.

Alan Dicker

Texas Detained Migrants Solidarity Committee

Since Trump has come in border police have started detaining pregnant women.

It had been happening previously but in 2014/15 people were stopped and then released on parole. There have been miscarriages recently in ICE detention.

We’ve seen children separated from their parents.

We’re also seeing more people being detained after signing documents. Security guards and deportation officers are pressuring people to sign papers.

A lot of people in detention agree to be removed to not be detained and to avoid criminal detention. But the police have been charging people with criminal entry.

That means people are being detained in federal prisons.


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