Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24345
Build the movement to defeat Trump
- Take the wealth off the 1%
- Fight for socialist change
"We saw the real power of the 99% last night at many airports around the nation. We can build a movement to defeat Trump. Let's turn 1 May into a national day of protest against Trump. We need to shut down the highways, the airports, the workplaces, peacefully but defiantly".
These were the words of Kshama Sawant, a council member in Seattle for Socialist Alternative (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party), when speaking to a massive demonstration at Sea-Tac airport.
Trump's vile racist ban on the rights of millions of people from seven Muslim-majority countries to travel to the US has been met with a mighty movement of US workers and young people. Demonstrations at the airports have been combined with strike action by taxi drivers.
The New York Taxi alliance organised a one-hour strike, declaring: "Our 19,000-member-strong union stands firmly opposed to Donald Trump's Muslim ban. As an organisation whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that is almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defence of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban."
There is no 'honeymoon' for this president of the 1%. His appointment of a billionaires' cabinet has already exposed the cynical claims he made to anti-establishment credentials. This is despite the obvious discomfort felt by sections of the American elite about his 'maverick' character.
Already he is trying to push through a series of reactionary, pro-big business attacks. Among the most prominent are plans to deport millions of people, cancel funding for Planned Parenthood, and end state funded healthcare coverage for low-income families. Also in the pipeline are new limitations to workers' and trade union rights, escalating attacks on the environment and a bonanza of tax-cuts for corporate America.
Biggest protests ever
But if Trump thought he would have plain sailing he is already discovering otherwise. The demonstrations in the US on the day after his inauguration were the biggest in US history. Now we have the protests against the travel ban. These are the gathering forces that have the potential to stop Trump in his tracks.
And it is not just in the US that ordinary people are out on the streets. Worldwide we are taking to the streets. His presidency not only poses a threat to working class and oppressed communities in the States, but to people all over the world. That is why resistance to Trump must not be confined to America. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Socialists in the US were among the first to call action to oppose Trump's presidency. Within 24 hours of his election win, Socialist Alternative made a call which brought over 40,000 people onto the streets. It is in the tradition of the socialist movement that working class people stand together across borders. The US election showed that we cannot rely on capitalist politicians to hold back the rise of reactionary and bigoted figures and parties.
Even before his election, polls showed Trump to be the most hated presidential candidate in the whole of US electoral history. Only 26% of the eligible voting population endorsed him at the ballot box. It was not enthusiasm for Trump, but profound disillusionment with the political establishment, that allowed him to pull off this unlikely victory. Hillary Clinton - the candidate of Wall Street - decisively failed to offer voters a break from the rotten status quo.
Socialist alternative needed
The huge enthusiasm generated by Bernie Sanders - a self-proclaimed 'democratic socialist' - showed the enormous thirst that exists in the US for an alternative to big business politicians. That's why Socialist Alternative called for Bernie to continue his run for president when he failed to win the Democratic nomination.
Seattle councillor Kshama Sawant - who led a successful struggle for a $15 minimum wage - was among the most prominent figures to call on Sanders to resist the pressure to fall in line behind Clinton. Had Bernie done so, it could have transformed the landscape of US politics, completely undercutting Trump's support. What's more, it could have helped lay the foundations for the creation of a mass party of the 99%.
But despite this missed opportunity, there remains huge potential for new forces to be built. It is only by building a political alternative that the basis for Trumpism can be well and truly undermined.
The task of building a mass party for the 99% is not unique to the US. Here in Britain, the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Labour showed a deep desire for a break with the pro-capitalist politics that has dominated the mainstream parties for decades.
But while Corbyn has been twice elected as leader, the majority of the party's MPs, councillors and bureaucratic machinery remain wedded to the pro-austerity politics of the past. Unless there is a concerted fight to defeat the Blairites, this opportunity to transform Labour into a party that stands up for working class people risks being lost.
The Socialist Party in Britain is part of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), which links us together with socialist organisations all over the world. We say: take the wealth off the billionaires. Fight for a society that works in the interests of the 99%. Join us and get involved in the fightback today.