In this issue: Eric Draitser on the racial animus that animated Trump’s legions. 70 Years of Decline for American Labor: Eric Laursen. When Clinton Intervened in Russia’s Elections: Nick Alexandrov. A World Beyond Trump: Matthew Stevenson. Tech Industry Monopolies: Rob Larson. What Blacks Don’t Owe Obama: Yvette Carnell. America’s Homeless Children: Richard Schweid. The War on Fracking: Lee Ballinger. Exxon and Climate Change: Jeffrey St. Clair. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Central Banks; Chris Floyd on Trump’s America; and Jeffrey St. Clair on John Berger.
Exclusively in the New Print Issue of CounterPunch
At the close of his inauguration speech, Trump stood in front of the US Capitol Building and raised his right fist in the air. In keeping with a speech that combined bombast and fury, he appeared at that moment more conquering king than elected president. Indeed all that was needed to complete the image was a giant sword in his left hand.
As to the contents of his speech, we had classic right wing tropes of national renewal seasoned with a populist leftist tinge in the form of a pledge to prioritize the interests of American labor. “America First” was the overarching message of one of the most remarkable inauguration speeches the American people have ever been treated to, one that began with a declaration of war against the Washington establishment on behalf of ‘the people’, thus ramping up rather than tamping down the populism that had fueled his election campaign. More
It is an era of instability and disintegration which began in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 and in Europe and the US in 2016. These regions are very different, but their recent political convulsions have basic features in common, notably a feeling shared by people from the Mississippi to the Euphrates that they are unhappy with the status quo. Likewise, political elites from Damascus to Washington DC have demonstrably underestimated their own unpopularity and the narrowness of their political base.
Inequality has increased everywhere with politically momentous consequences, a development much discussed as a reason for the populist-nationalist upsurge in western Europe and the US. But it has also had a significant destabilising impact in the wider Middle East. Impoverished Syrian villagers, who once looked to the state to provide jobs and meet their basic needs at low prices, found in the decade before 2011 that their government no longer cared what happened to them. They poured in their millions into gimcrack housing on the outskirts of Damascus and Aleppo, cities whose richer districts looked more like London or Paris. Unsurprisingly, it was these same people, formerly supporters of the ruling Baath party, who became the backbone of the popular revolt. Their grievances were not dissimilar from those of unemployed coal miners in former Democratic Party strongholds in West Virginia who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. More
Listen and you can hear the sneering “elite” liberal left narrative about how the big dumb white working class is about to get screwed over by the incoming multi-millionaire- and billionaire-laden Trump administration it voted into office. Once those poor saps in the white working class wake up to their moronic mistake, the narrative suggests, they’ll come running back to their supposed friends the Democrats.
It’s true, of course, that Trump is going to betray white working class people who voted for him in the hope that he would be a populist champion of their interests – a hope he mendaciously cultivated. But there are three basic and related problems with the scornful liberal-left storyline. The first difficulty is that the notion of a big white proletarian “rustbelt rebellion” for Trump has been badly oversold. “The real story of the 2016 election,” the left political scientist Anthony DiMaggio notes, “is not that Trump won over working class America, so much as Clinton and the Democrats lost it…The decline of Democratic voters among the working class in 2016 (compared to 2012) was far larger than the increase in Republican voters during those two elections” If the Democrats had run Bernie Sanders or someone else with “a meaningful history of seeking to help the working class,” DiMaggio observes, they might well have won. More