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Labor’s Trump Card: Build a Labor Party

Despite predictions to the contrary, Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. What does it all mean?

First the numbers. 44.4% of eligible voters (102.7 million people) did not vote. The number of people who opted out is up three percentage points from the last presidential election in 2012. Trump received 47% of the popular vote (59.4 million); Clinton edged him out with 48% (59.6 million). Libertarian Gary Johnson received 4 million votes (3%), and the Green Party’s Jill Stein received 1.2 million votes (1%). Other candidates combined garnered some 800,000 votes, or about 0.7%.

So as usual, “none of the above” was the winner by a landslide. Next in line was Democrat Hillary Clinton, who actually won the greatest share of the popular vote. Nonetheless, Republican Donald Trump was crowned the winner, having benefited from a rigged system that substitutes the undemocratic Electoral College for the popular vote.

Still, the fact that Trump did better than many expected begs the question: why? The answer is not that the American people have bought wholeheartedly into Trump’s racist, xenophobic outlook. How do we know? Because if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic Party candidate, Trump would likely have been defeated by a wide margin. This is so despite the fact that Sanders is a Democratic Party loyalist who only poses as a critic of the establishment. But however one might criticize Sanders from the left, he is not overtly racist like Trump. A popular preference for Sanders over Trump belies any claim that the Trump vote signals a right wing, racist turn by the majority of working people.

The large vote for Trump, together with the large vote for “none of the above” and the lower than expected obeisance to the manipulative, Wall Street sanctioned, big business endorsed, mainstream media promoted campaign to coronate Hillary Clinton signals one thing: a desire on the part of working people to say f**k you to the establishment. It’s a way of proclaiming, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” (See the film Network.)

Unfortunately, electing Trump or any other Democrat or Republican is not going to solve our problems. In a society so clearly divided into the 1% and the 99%, every political institution serves one side or the other. There is no “we”; it’s “us” or “them”. And there is no ambiguity about which class the Democrats and Republicans serve.

The only way to fight Wall Street and the modern-day robber barons is by tapping into a force that’s even more powerful. And there is only one such force: organized labor. Not organized labor as it currently exists, but organized labor as it ought to be. We need to rebuild a militant, fighting labor movement to counter the economic and political offensive of the corporate behemoths and their two pet political parties. Where current labor misleaders are too cozy with the bosses or the political parties they control, those fossilized labor fakers need to be replaced by young, militant activists willing to help lead the fight that’s needed.

Fighting this fight means rebuilding unions where they are weak or broken; democratizing unions where they’ve become bureaucratic and unresponsive; organizing the unorganized; and, once and for all, taking the fight into the political arena by launching a party of labor, beholden to working people and powered by the economic might of revitalized trade unions.

Such a labor party would harness the justified disgust working people feel for the two corporate political machines, but finally channel it in such a way as to beat back the long-running corporate offensive against working people and the planet. We know from our own history – from the heroic labor battles of the 1930s and after – that there is only one force that the 1% fears and only one power that can scuttle the racist, unjust, exploitive agenda of the 1%. That force is a class-conscious, militant, organized labor movement. Revitalizing the labor movement and launching a labor party are key steps on the path to moving the 99% from the defensive to the offensive. A party of labor would demand and fight for:

*Money for jobs, schools and healthcare, not for war!

*An injury to one is an injury to all! Support for Black Lives Matter. Halt racist killings and prosecute killer cops.

* Guaranteed jobs for all.

* Healthcare is a right! Single payer Medicare for all.

* Tax corporations and the rich, not working people.

* A rapid transition to sustainable energy, with guaranteed wages, training and jobs for all workers replaced in the process.

We know from the current election that working people are fed up. It’s time to reject the dead end of electoral politics that leaves us begging for crumbs from one or another party controlled by our class enemy. It’s time to channel our power effectively. It’s time to organize!

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Bruce Lesnick is a long-time political activist who lives and writes in Washington State.  He blogs at blogspot.com.  He can be reached at blesnick@bugbusters.net.

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