Nov. 7 — When you read this, the most unprecedented, disturbing, raucous and depressing presidential election will finally be over.
This election cycle developed into a contest between the two most unpopular candidates in modern times. One will be inaugurated in Washington on Jan. 20.
This article, written before the election, is about preparing for the next four years, despite who wins. No matter the outcome, capitalism has arrived at a dead end, unable to overcome its deep contradictions, showering wealth on those already billionaires, while grinding down the workers who produce everything. The dire consequences of that fact will only intensify over the next four years.
Building a mass movement to fight this system is the order of the day, no matter the outcome of the election.
It must be said upfront, however, that a Donald Trump victory would be horrifying. Even though it seems unlikely at this point that Trump could win, no one had expected him to get this far.
A Trump victory would give a further green light to the forces of racism and repression, both inside and outside the capitalist state. The movement would have to prepare for more unbridled police terror and mass deportations.
At best, it would mean a government so deadlocked that little gets done and both parties blame the other.
Few could wish any of this on the people of this country. A deadlocked government means the elderly do not get their Social Security checks on time, the impoverished do not get badly needed benefits, government workers of all kinds get furloughed.
No matter which party wins, the movement must be prepared to resist more wars and repression carried out in the name of “national security.”
Two parties, one system
To revolutionaries and socialists who understand the capitalist nature of this country, it is well known that the Democrats and the Republicans differ little, as both historically represent Wall Street and the Pentagon. Although the social base of each party is different, they both adhere to the norms of capitalist rule.
The Republican Party is richer and much, much whiter, and is supported by the most reactionary elements of the ruling class. The Democratic Party depends on support from the unions and people of color, appearing more working class even though it is closely intertwined with Wall Street.
It is the fat cats in the boardrooms and their agents who wield the real power and dictate to the party in the White House.
Only mass upheaval from the workers and the oppressed can push back those fat cats.
Despite the maneuverings of the far right to influence the elections in favor of Trump, the polls are predicting that the first woman ever will be elected president of the U.S.
There would be much to celebrate in breaking this glass ceiling — were it not for Hillary Clinton’s history, political bent and practices during her decades of activity in capitalist politics.
Record of Clinton machine
The Clinton machine has been part of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and took the party further to the right.
Both Hillary Clinton and her political partner Bill Clinton were key to forming the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC, founded by southern Democrats in 1985, reinvented the Democratic Party as one “pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a pro-business, pro-free market outlook.” (Truthout, Dec. 2, 2015) In other words, more like the Republican Party.
One need not go back to the 1980s to see how the Clintons carried this out in practice.
It was under Bill Clinton that the welfare system, which provided a minimum income to people living on the edge, was dismantled in 1996. This most affected poor women with children, who were disproportionately Black because of this country’s racist history.
Hillary Clinton’s entire presidential campaign has been about keeping the party’s left wing in line while turning to the right.
Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement behind him, including the young activists of Occupy Wall Street, forced Clinton to pick up some left rhetoric. Compelled by the strength of the Sanders campaign, she too addressed massive, outrageous student debt, as well as campaign finance reform.
The righteous Black Lives Matter movement, which heroically disrupted some of her events, and the rebellions going on in the streets against police murders, compelled Clinton to invite mothers of victims of police terror to appear with her campaign.
Turning right for running mate
But when it came time to pick a vice presidential candidate, what did she do? Did she analyze the situation in which millennials were clearly turning to the left, and get encouraged by their actions in the streets, calculating that it would be helpful for change in the future?
No. She continued to veer to the right, choosing a conservative Democrat from the South as her running mate.
How different it would have been had she chosen Sanders, as a gesture to the over 12 million who had voted for him and to the tens of thousands who had financed his campaign with $5 and $10 contributions, not like her Super Pac money.
It would have been even more remarkable — and a real signal to the oppressed — had she chosen a person of color as a vice presidential candidate. Mentioned as a possible nominee was Cory Booker, former mayor of Newark, N.J., now a U.S. senator. Selecting an African American would have done more to rectify her “superpredator” comment about Black youth than any “I’m sorry.”
Or, to respect Latinx, who are coming out in record numbers to vote, she could have chosen Democratic politicians like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro or pro-immigrant activist Rep. Luis Gutierrez from Chicago.
But that is not what the Democratic Party is about — not now, not ever. It is about maintaining the status quo and keeping the oppressed in line. It serves as a brake against any real struggle for change.
Clinton, women and Latin America
During the campaign, and especially in the presidential debates, Clinton often sold herself as a fighter for women’s rights and against sexual assault. But she has already earned the anger of a sector of Latinx with her role on Honduras, which belies any real interest in fighting for women.
The 2009 coup against Honduras’ democratically elected president Mel Zelaya ushered in a wave of repression that has especially affected women and LGBTQ people.
Clinton admitted in her autobiography, “Hard Choices,” that she used her power as then U.S. secretary of state to support the coup and bring pro-U.S. “stability” to Central America, even if it meant forgetting about democracy. (TeleSur, Feb. 28)
Not only has Clinton been silent on this, but, during a debate with Sanders, she disgustingly chastised Honduran families for sending their children north to escape terror.
Lucy Pagoada, a Honduras resistance fighter, told WW: “As Hondurans, we hold Hillary Clinton responsible for the repression and killings of hundreds since 2009, including the death of beloved environmentalist leader Berta Cáceras.”
Warhawk on Iraq, Libya and Syria
Clinton endorsed and took part in the destruction of Iraq. She promoted counterrevolution in Libya and has been part of the force that is destabilizing Syria, causing death and destruction to millions.
In 2008, former U.S. Congressmember Jane Harman wrote in the Huffington Post, “Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.” (May 25, 2011)
Ominously, WikiLeaks revealed that Clinton is targeting Social Security for cuts. This would hurt women most of all. Two-thirds of the beneficiaries of Social Security aged 85 and older are women. However, in a debate with Trump, Clinton said she wanted to increase Social Security for women, many of whom, because of how the benefit is presently configured, now live in or near poverty. But, as Alan Nasser points in a Nov. 4 CounterPunch article, Clinton spoke frankly to bankers about supporting their plan to slash the benefits.
The first female U.S. president may be breaking a glass ceiling, but the cuts from its shards may be felt most by working-class women.
Will Trumpites go back into the woodwork?
During the campaign, Clinton was chastised for calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.”
For the most part, those who attend and cheer at Trump rallies are deplorable. They go along with the racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric, challenge freedom of the press, believe that a wall on the Southern border will bring back jobs and stop the “browning of America,” threaten Black people’s right to vote, don’t agree that Trump offends women or people with disabilities, and excuse Trump’s misogyny — all such stands are indeed deplorable.
While the left must not give up on all these people, most have crossed a line. They reflect a danger, whether Clinton wins or not.
Some Trumpites belong to extreme right-wing militias, such as the Georgia Security Force, which are pleased with Trump’s attacks on Syrian refugees and Muslims. They are riled up with the belief that Clinton will take away their right to carry guns.
Interviews with some of these elements reveal that such militias are getting ready to defend their “way of life” — code words for racism, denying women the right to abortion and attacking immigrants.
Such elements are not likely to crawl back into the gutter. They can be expected to continue with their anti-Hillary Clinton diatribe — much of it thoroughly sexist — long after the election. Not only is this misogynist, it is dangerous.
The rise of the alt-right is a danger, and should be fought. Should they decide, for example, to mobilize at a Clinton inauguration, the left and progressives should challenge the right wing — at the same time they organize against Clinton.
Should Clinton win, the movement must be sure to distance itself from the actions and the sexist verbiage of the right. A Clinton administration should be fought on its program and deeds, not on her sex.
But the alt-right is not the only thing to combat in the future. As Workers World Party candidates Monica Moorehead and Lamont Lilly have said throughout this election season, capitalism must be abolished in order to truly resolve the dire issues facing the masses. Until this system of racism, war and exploitation is ended, the people will suffer more of the same.
It was the police, not the alt-right, who in October raided a registration drive in Indiana meant to register Black voters. What does this show for the future? That the movement must fight the system in order to advance. The state apparatus moves forward behind the scenes no matter who wins an election, as the recent FBI debacle over Clinton’s emails showed.
Since 9/11 the budget of the National Security Agency has grown to $10.8 billion. The USA Patriot and National Defense Authorization acts that greatly strengthen government spying will continue to be implemented under a Clinton administration.
The state, no matter who administers it, will not jail killer cops or provide full employment or roll back rents — unless there is a struggle.
A movement whose goal is to organize for revolutionary change is desperately needed so we can move a progressive agenda for the people and not Wall Street. One day that movement will lead to socialism.
On Jan. 20, the first massive response to this deplorable election will take place, no matter who wins the White House, at a major counterinaugural demonstration. All out to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20 to demand a people’s agenda.
Gutierrez was the national campaign manager of the WWP 2016 presidential campaign.