Socialist Worker

Meet the Americans taking on Trump

Donald Trump’s assaults on migrants, women and working class people are relentless. But a movement is growing that has the potential to beat the bigot-in-chief. Activists from across the US spoke to Alistair Farrow

Issue No. 2612

Protesting against Trumps racist migration policies in San Francisco

Protesting against Trump's racist migration policies in San Francisco (Pic: Fabrice Florin/Flickr)


From the Mexican border to the Middle East, Donald Trump is wreaking havoc. His brutal crackdown on undocumented migrants is pushing racism even deeper into US society.

Just last week Trump said the US faced an “infestation of gangs” because of immigration.

And his racist rhetoric has given fascists confidence to mobilise—both in the US and Britain.

He’s planning fresh assaults on a woman’s right to choose (see page 17) and has pushed through laws to undermine workers’ rights.

But the movement against him has been inspirational.

From the Women’s March to teachers’ strikes, ordinary people have opposed his politics of hatred and division.

That spirit of resistance was reflected in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise win in a Democratic Party election to decide its New York candidate for Congress.

The Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) member dealt a blow to the Democratic establishment—and other similar results could be in the pipeline.

The last time a president was forced out of office was in 1974—in the context of a huge anti-war movement and higher levels of working class struggle

But the movement opposing Trump can’t be limited to getting more progressive politicians into office.

Unless there’s an independent movement outside, even the most left wing inside the Democrats will be forced to compromise by the party establishment. Ocasio-Cortez has put class at the centre of her politics. But last week she also said, “You know, I’m not trying to impose an ideology on all several hundred members of Congress.

“It’s not about selling an -ism or an ideology or a label or a colour.

“Democrats are a big tent party.”

The last time a president was forced out of office was in 1974—in the context of a huge anti-war movement and higher levels of working class struggle.

Protest against Trump - when and where
Protest against Trump - when and where
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We are some way from that, but the potential is there.

That makes every mobilisation that pushes that movement forward very important.

Every time workers take action is crucial—such as when taxi drivers struck against Trump’s Muslim ban.

It is clear that millions of people are outraged at the Trump presidency.

Some 49 percent of people in the US believe he is a racist, according to a study by the Quinnipiac University. On top of this 58 percent believe that he has handled immigration badly.

High-profile figures in the Democratic establishment have opposed some of Trump’s immigration policies because they can see it’s a popular issue.

They came out against Ice border guards separating children from their parents and locking them up.

But the strength of the movement has pulled some of them further to the left than they would have liked. Protests have erupted again over the child detention scandal.

A spokesperson for the migrant rights organisation Movimiento Cosecha (Harvest Movement) told Socialist Worker, “Our Cosecha teams locally have been involved in protests.

“We are now calling for a national day of action on 31 July.”

Previous waves of protest against Trump have come and gone or lie dormant—such as the Women’s March or the March for Our Lives over school shootings.

The growing movement at the heart of the most powerful imperialist power is a source of great hope for all those fighting for a better world

Keep Families Together has mobilised hundreds of thousands so far—and the politics are more contested than in other movements. The Abolish Ice protests are directly taking on border control.

Ocasio-Cortez made the demand part of her election campaign.

Now more mainstream Democrats have opportunistically taken up the slogan—but it represents a shift. Now the left can push for more.

The growing movement at the heart of the most powerful imperialist power is a source of great hope for all those fighting for a better world.

In Britain it should invigorate us to build the biggest possible opposition when Trump comes to London this week.

If he is unopposed, the racists and fascists who look to him will get a boost. But if he’s met with mass protests it will boost our side.

The racist president should face protests wherever he goes and be made to feel a captive—like the 2,300 children he has locked up in immigration detention.


Mackenzie

Abolish Ice occupier in Portland, Oregon
Abolish Ice activist Mackenzie

Abolish Ice activist Mackenzie


We are against Trump’s racist anti-immigrant rhetoric.

His entire election campaign was built on the founding thought that some people deserve to be in the US and some people don’t.

It’s not just about everything Trump says and tweets—but in every policy he pushes for.

So living in a cooperative community such as Occupy with genderqueer people, undocumented people, people of colour and white folks is in itself anti-Trump.

We are all here occupying outside the Ice border agency offices to draw national attention to the human rights abuses.

And we are physically trying to stop Ice from functioning by refusing to move. It’s just the cherry on top of the big “fuck you” to Trump.


Z

Black Socialists of America, New York

It’s important to keep showing the world that Trump is trash. It’s an important message to send—but it is symbolism.

Poor and working class people need to start looking locally and seeing how and why their bosses and the shareholders at their companies are trash too.

The workers need to start turning out against corporate dictators and galvanising each other.

People need to understand that electoral politics isn’t even close to half of the battle here. Change is not going to come from the top down.

Most of the work needs to happen in your workplaces.

We need democracy in the workplace—and not as an abstract idea either.


John Bellamy-Foster

Author

A majority of the working class in the US is anti-Trump, and it is likely to become more so.

Trump’s political support is based not in the working class but in the lower middle class, those typically earning $70,000 (£50,000) or more and predominantly white.

He’s not simply attacking people on the basis of race or gender—he’s also attacking people on the basis of class. That needs to be emphasised because it’s a unifying factor which can pull together all these struggles.

He has managed to gain support going beyond the lower middle class and penetrating into some of the more elite, white portions of the working class.

But it is the lower middle class not the working class that is his base. He only got a minority of votes from those below the median level of income even among those who voted.

Just because the working class is against Trump, it doesn’t mean it automatically takes strong actions given the weakness of the organised working class in the US.

The emphasis of resistance at the moment is mainly on race and immigration, but it is too partial and limited.

The mainstream liberals have taken up a defensive position over the Trump question and are backing down, conceding all but the most extreme actions.

It look like they’re resisting, but they’re actually retreating in the face of Trump’s attacks.

When you have families in cages just because they are undocumented and without legal rights, you can tell it like it is—call them concentration camps.

What’s not getting stressed enough is the massive redistribution of income we’re seeing under Trump, and the destruction of social protections.

Official unemployment in the US is at around 4 percent, but the quality of jobs is getting worse. There’s been less economic resistance, with some notable exceptions such as the teachers’ strikes. Wages are increasing at below the rate of inflation and that’s because of this restructuring of jobs.


Anlin Wang

Philadelphia Abolish Ice
Abolish Ice activist Anlin Wang

Abolish Ice activist Anlin Wang


The Occupy Ice protests in Philadelphia have involved hundreds of people. At the biggest point the estimates ranged from 600-800.

Just a few months ago, almost no congressional candidates or representatives were calling to abolish Ice.

Now the most well known congressional candidate in the country, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is calling to abolish Ice as have several sitting congresspeople. Last week, no Senators were calling to abolish Ice, now we have three.

The protests have shifted public opinion and pressured elected officials to join our calls to defund an out of control deportation agency.

This is not the first time that people have protested against Ice.

Immigrant rights advocates have been doing this work for years.

What is new is that left organisations are forming broad coalitions in solidarity for immigrant rights.


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