- by Eileen Whitehead
- The Guardian
- Issue #1947
Joe Biden has now replaced Donald Trump as President of the United States. After Biden’s electoral win, a photograph was taken of him wearing a hat that stated “We Just Did,” a callback to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat. But has America become great again? This might be a good time to look more deeply into that early assertion.
To start, like much of politics in the West, the US elections are no different, with each side denigrating the other, and popularity playing a large role in seeking the electorate’s votes. It has become such a travesty that in countries like the US and Australia we seem to accept the lies told by both major parties, cynically conceding that their promises won’t materialise. Thus, the claim that America’s already “become great” by electing Biden is enough to cause one’s eyes to roll.
We hear from America that Biden’s election is a historic victory against “fascism,” which is not simply misleading, but utterly false. The Democrats, aided and abetted by the press and the wallets of Wall Street, ensured excessive attention was paid to Trump’s personality rather than giving an objective analysis of his presidency. He was a loose cannon, an outsider, with a populist message targeted against “the global elite” – a message, which in part, spoke to America’s working class which had suffered under decades of crippling neoliberal policies. This pushback against the establishment was also found within the Democratic primaries, where Bernie Sanders fronted a more genuine working class rebellion. However, with mainstream media propagandising against him and the Democrats’ ironically undemocratic selection process meant that he was unable to overcome the obstacles to win the Democrat nomination.
Trump’s 2016 campaign was ostensibly about bringing jobs back to Americans and ending the continuous overseas wars – both of which were unacceptable to the American empire elites. Thus, in some respects, Trump represented a social force of the disenfranchised that wanted to see an end to the cycle of endless wars – this was totally at odds with the warlike ruling class.
The 2020 campaigns illustrate this point further when one looks at who was financing both campaigns. Statistics show that, in zip-codes with a median household income of at least US$100,000, Biden crushed Trump in fund-raising – US$486 million to only US$167 million. Biden’s support came from wealthy America but had Trump not alienated white college-educated voters who knows what the outcome would have been.
The anti-Trump movement went into overdrive the minute he was elected. While it rightly called Trump a “racist” for his attack on immigrants and building a border wall, the messaging seemed insincere when these calls came from establishment figures like House Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Because despite Trump’s aggressive messaging on immigrants, he actually deported fewer immigrants than Barack Obama.
In moments, Trump managed to frustrate the neoliberal agenda. One of his first acts as President was to cancel TPP, the economic deal seeking to isolate China in the Asia Pacific region. He attempted to make “peace” with North Korea, a détente with Russia and, unlike Obama, did not take America into new wars. However, despite some of these advances, Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal, started a new Cold War with China, and helped further colonise Palestinian land by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem – a move that has helped Israel cement its claims on the land.
It is important to note that despite all the damage done by Trump during his administration, the lack of new wars is quite startling given the US agenda. The inability to engage in new conflicts frustrated members of his cabinet like John Bolton. Here, we can turn to Glenn Greenwald’s comments about a Wikileaks document – a classified 2010 CIA “Red Cell Memorandum”:
“What made this document so fascinating, so revealing, is the CIA’s discussion of how to manipulate public opinion to ensure it remains at least tolerant if not supportive of Endless War and, specifically, the vital role President Obama played for the CIA in packaging and selling US wars around the world. In this classified analysis, one learns a great deal about how the ‘military-industrial complex,’ also known as the ‘Blob’ or ‘Deep State,’ reasons; how the Agency exploits humanitarian impulses to ensure continuation of its wars; and what the real function of the US President is when it comes to foreign policy.”
If this is just a fraction of the Wikileaks’ revelations, the witch hunt of Julian Assange needs no explanation.
Another interesting point, made by Ajamu Baraka, the national organiser of the Black Alliance for Peace, in his paper Agenda 2021: Resist the US/EU/NATO Axis of Domination is the opposition Trump faced when he revoked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) with Iran. His reintroduction of sanctions, requiring economic disengagement from Iran by many European firms, produced a major crack in the Atlantic alliance. This and the efforts to undermine the NORD stream two pipeline from Russia have alienated German capital and seen many European firms lose revenue.
Dr Archishman Raju, of the Rockefeller University, in his paper “What Happened in the American Elections?” stated that “the time calls for the establishment of a new international economic order, comprehensive reforms in the UN and a world campaign against American sanctions and military bases,” commenting that “We are operating in very dangerous conditions where movements are no longer crushed, they are simply bought out” (in reference to Black Lives Matter). “Ideologies are no longer countered, they are simply manufactured by universities. In such conditions, what Fidel called the battle of ideas becomes paramount. We must battle for those ideas that are for peace and for a just social order and a human future. These ideas cannot come unless they draw from and are based in the people.”
Thus, while Trump’s presidency was never a serious countenance to US imperialism and never an administration for the working class, the fact remains that the populist rhetoric highlights a desire for systemic change. It is on us to ensure that change is one truly designed for the people.