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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 May 2017

Trump regime faces deepening crisis

Working class political alternative needed to drive him out

Seattle protest against Trump's victory called by Socialist Alternative, photo Socialist Alternative

Seattle protest against Trump's victory called by Socialist Alternative, photo Socialist Alternative   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Crean Socialist Alternative (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party)

President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey has led to a spiralling political crisis in Washington. The sharp divisions in the political establishment and within the state apparatus have become even sharper due to Trump's authoritarian actions.

Tens of millions - who completely oppose Trump's racist, misogynist, anti-working class agenda, which has no democratic mandate - have had enough and simply want him gone.

There is a lot of talk in the liberal media about parallels with Watergate (the scandal which forced President Nixon to resign). And indeed, the accounts of Trump's dinner with Comey, where the president allegedly demanded the FBI head's "loyalty" and Trump's Twitter threat after firing him, where Trump said that Comey better hope there are no "tapes" of their discussion, certainly sound like echoes from the Nixon-era.

Now it appears Comey kept detailed notes about all his discussions with Trump. The Washington Post and the New York Times report that these notes include Trump's demand that Comey stop investigating Michael Flynn, the former general and national security adviser who was forced to resign in February after lying about his contacts with the Russian regime.

Technically, Trump has the authority to fire the head of the FBI but what is becoming clearer is that this was part of a ham-fisted attempt to quash the FBI investigation into Trump's campaign ties with the Russian government. This is otherwise known as an 'obstruction of justice'. If Trump did make tapes, and they corroborate Comey's notes, then he will be severely damaged.

Establishment

As the White House descended even further into crisis, the acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, with wide powers to investigate the Russia links, as well as other matters that "may arise directly from the investigation."

This ensures that the political crisis will last for months but it also means the establishment have placed a check on Trump.

The congressional Republican leadership, who up until now have loudly defended Trump, went suddenly quiet before quickly welcoming the appointment of the special counsel. Some of his Republican critics have become bolder, with Senator John McCain saying that Trump's scandals have reached "Watergate scale."

From the start of this administration we pointed out that, in addition to a thoroughly reactionary agenda, Trump harboured real authoritarian tendencies.

He clearly admires "strongmen" like Putin, Turkish president Erdogan, or Philippines' president Duterte.

He has already targeted the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and even the National Parks Service (which published photos of his inauguration that did not show the "record-breaking" crowds he claimed). Both he and his henchman Stephen Bannon (currently side-lined) called the media the "enemy of the people."

But even though Trump's attacks on his opponents in the state apparatus have been almost as incompetent as the roll-out of the Muslim travel ban or his pursuit of a 1,000 mile wall on the Mexican border, they still must be taken seriously.

Socialists absolutely oppose these attempts to concentrate more power in the already hyper-powerful "imperial presidency." We are for the maximum democratic reforms to limit and control the capitalist state apparatus.

We are against authoritarian government secrecy from both this right-wing administration and the repressive security state. We demand that the government, and the big businesses that control it, open their books for working people to have all the information necessary to draw conclusions about the crimes of the rich and powerful.

This does not mean, however, that we harbour any illusions in the capitalist state apparatus in general, or the FBI in particular, as 'guardians of democracy'.

While Trump's authoritarian streak is no joke, it is frankly a bit laughable to see the Democrats and the New York Times busily defending Comey's honour when they spent most of the past few months absurdly trying to lay the blame for Trump's victory on Comey (and the Russians, of course).

The liberal elite and increasing numbers of Republican leaders are very worried that if Trump is not stopped he will continue to greatly undermine the credibility of US imperialism.

As socialists, we do not care about the credibility of this rotten system but, like millions of others, we want this dangerous regime, which has targeted immigrants, women, poor people, people of colour, and the working class, brought down.

And we should be very clear that democratic rights, including the right to protest and freedom of the press, are on the target list of Trump and his vicious Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

But while we want Trump and his agenda out of office, it will take a mass movement and greater revelations to force impeachment (legal removal of the president) proceedings.

The ruling class will look for every other avenue, including persuading Trump to leave of his own accord, however unlikely that may seem. This is because of the massive political damage to their interests that would be caused by an impeachment trial.

Another important element in the situation, of course, is Trump's electoral base. Up until now Trump's support remained at around 40% - the lowest for a new president in the history of polling, but still enough to keep most House Republicans in line.

A lot of Trump's working class and middle class supporters see the Russia accusations and the furore over Comey as a liberal witch-hunt, although obstruction of justice might be another matter. What is more immediately degrading his support are anti-working class attacks like 'Trumpcare'.

But what would lead to a serious collapse in support is if Trump voters concluded that his promises on jobs were a fraud. Many will be willing to wait a while longer before drawing this conclusion because, tragically, they do not see any other credible political alternative. This is certainly not coming from the corporate-controlled Democrats.

Hated Republican president Donald Trump, photo Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

Hated Republican president Donald Trump, photo Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Russia

Of course, it cannot be excluded possible major revelations or more serious self-inflicted damage leading to an implosion of the Trump regime in the relatively near future. But the White House may limp out of this phase of crisis and resume its 'normal' pattern of lurching from crisis to crisis for an extended period.

During and since the presidential election, the Democrats have focused on Trump as a dupe or agent of Putin.

We are completely opposed to the dictatorial and reactionary Russian regime and we agree people should know the truth about Trump's ties (and his taxes), but we have in no way supported the Democrats' crude attempts to whip up nationalism around this question. The focus of our opposition is Trump's reactionary agenda and his threats to stage an authoritarian power grab.

While sections of the ruling class are, for now, increasingly moving against Trump to try and protect the overall interests of their system, the biggest mistake for working people and the left would be to rely on them to force Trump out.

All evidence points to the timidity and cowardice of the Democratic Party leadership in opposing Trump. Their pro-capitalist agenda has greatly undermined their popular appeal and stops them from mobilising the maximum public opposition by fighting for Medicare for all, taxing the rich, free higher education, public works programmes to create millions of good paying union jobs, etc.

We can defeat Trumpcare by building a powerful mass movement now, including building huge rallies across the country. In turn, this could lay the basis for more widespread workplace action, including strikes starting with healthcare workers, and building for a 'million person march' in Washington, DC ending with a mass occupation. Yet the Democratic Party leaders, and their billionaire backers, are utterly opposed to such an approach.

The most important task is for working people, and all those oppressed by capitalism, to build our own independent organisations and movements based on our own social class interests. This is the most effective guarantee against Trump and the best way to check his attacks.

We need to make this a summer of struggle.

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In The Socialist 24 May 2017:


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