Photo: Paul Mattsson
Photo: Paul Mattsson

Dave Murray

On 30 May, Donald Trump made history by becoming the first former US president to be convicted of a felony. The 34 guilty verdicts were for false accounting – Trump reimbursed his lawyer for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, an ‘adult’ film performer, to ensure that she never let on that she’d had “consensual but unwanted” sexual intercourse with the then frontman for ‘The Apprentice’ TV show. This pay-off was misrepresented, through 34 separate payments, as a retainer for his lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen appeared in court as the main prosecution witness.

Without feeling too much sorrow for the big orange man-baby, it does seem a bit unfair that the actions of present and past presidents – bombing Cambodia to oblivion, running a school of torture in Panama, enabling a genocidal war on the civilian population of Gaza – matter less than covering up a bit of hush money. That said, the notorious 1930s gangster Al Capone was put away, in the end, for tax fraud.

Predictably, Trump has said that the whole thing was a show trial, orchestrated by the Democratic Party. Doubtless he will do the same when proceedings get under way for more serious offences, such as stealing state secrets and attempting to steal the 2020 presidential election. The tiny grain of truth that Trump is building this martyrdom story on is that the Democratic Party, the creature of the finance and tech wings of American capitalism, cannot muster enough support for its programme to guarantee victory at a presidential election – even against a narcissistic sociopath – and hopes that a section of Trump’s support will peel away now that he is a convicted felon; theoretically barred from voting, owning a gun, serving on a jury or becoming a police officer.

Capitalist crisis

If that succeeds, that is just the beginning of the problem for the American capitalist class. If Trump loses the November election, he has already signalled that he will contest the result, summoning the dark forces that mobilised for the tragicomic invasion of the Capitol in January 2021. If not, then once again, the fate of the ‘American Empire’ will be in the hands of a man whose main trait is to be unpredictable, and who is a self-confessed admirer of US hate-figures such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

That is their problem, though. For the working class the real issue is that they have no one in the political system who is representing their interests. As November comes closer, the Democratic Party will use every trick in its book to persuade the working class to vote for the liberal wing of the American plutocracy, even though it can’t offer universal healthcare, decent education or a way out of poverty for millions of Americans. Like our co-thinkers in the Independent Socialist Group in the USA, we call for opponents of the billionaire class to create and rally round a genuine workers’ party with a socialist programme.