Behind Trump's Refusal to Pledge to Accept Election Results
Trump’s Fascism, Clinton’s Refusal to Call Him Out, and the Illegitimacy of This Whole System
October 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Wednesday, October 19, at the presidential debate, Donald Trump refused to pledge that he would recognize the results of the election. In the days since, there has been an uproar from the media and many politicians. “This goes against what makes America great,” they say. When they try to explain Trump’s motives for what is, in many ways, an unprecedented statement, they may say that he’s a “narcissist” or that he has the “wrong temperament”—Hillary Clinton at the debate even said that it’s because he’s a sore loser, and compared this to the way he acted when he lost the Emmy award for his TV show.
It’s way deeper than that. And way more significant than they’re letting on.
The Elephants in the Room: Unbridled Racism...
First, let’s look at what they are NOT saying. A lot of Donald Trump’s argument that the election is supposedly rigged boils down to the idea that Black people and immigrants are going to be committing voter fraud. So let’s ask this: Where was the question at the debate, or the statement from Clinton, that called attention to the fact that Trump in the days leading up to the debate had been essentially calling on his supporters to prevent Black people and immigrants from voting by directly confronting them at the polling places? Where was this even mentioned?
Indeed, where during or after this debate was there even mention of the fact that Trump has recently made a point of calling for the re-imprisonment of the Central Park 5—despite the fact that the railroad of these Black and Latinos youths was a notorious racist frame-up in which Trump himself was a major player, and that they have been convincingly exonerated?1
Trump’s whole campaign has normalized open and vitriolic racist attacks against Mexicans and Chicanos, Black people, Muslims, and immigrants way beyond even what Reagan and Bush I did. And by the way, despite Obama and Clinton now wanting to “claim” the mantle of Ronald Reagan, he not only ran an extremely racist campaign but was infamous while he lived for his racist agitation and actions.2
Hillary Clinton’s tepid criticism of Trump at the debate for “going after” different groups of people doesn’t begin to capture the real venom involved at every single one of his rallies, the real terms of it, and the real aims. And now, should Trump persist in this, there is the real possibility of armed white supremacist fascists answering his call to “monitor” the vote in the big cities. (See “Trump Goes Even Further in Openly Rallying White Supremacist Fascists,” update October 20, 2016.)
Here’s another elephant in the room, just as big as the first one: Trump’s whole campaign has been an openly fascist one, giving vicious and aggressively open expression to the ugliest trends. Where was, and where is, the major politician of either major party who is willing to say that Trump all along has been whipping up an openly fascist movement and analyzing his threat in that light?
Trump calls into question the traditions of U.S. capitalist democracy from a reactionary point of view of making things even more repressive.
And no, the elections are not “rigged” in the sense that Trump means it. Trump implies that if only they were done by the rules, all would be well. Trump is pushing the idea that the system works perfectly, but it’s been broken by corrupt people like the Clintons, and now we need a “strong man” to make the system work. No—this system has never “worked” to do anything but grind down and exploit billions, from the slavery and genocide on which it was founded to its worldwide empire today. The elections themselves are designed to serve the rule of the capitalist-imperialists as a class.
Ask yourself this: if the capitalist-imperialists did NOT control the elections, then how in the world would an ignoramus like Trump get so much free air time and publicity? No other candidate even came close to him on this. How did Trump go on and on, debate after debate, and interview after interview, without being shredded—or even seriously confronted—for his racism, his lies, his views of and attacks on women, his open attacks on the rule of law, and all the rest? What does it say that all the candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties treated him as “legitimate”—when, again, it has been clear all along that he is a brutal fascist?
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump may cultivate the image of someone “who says what he thinks,” but in running this fascist stuff, Trump represents a significant section of the U.S. ruling class. Again, this is reflected both by how every major political player in this system still treats him as legitimate and will not call out his fascism. It is further reflected by the presence of significant ruling class politicians and forces who are in Trump’s camp. This includes people like Rudolf Giuliani with his ties to the police forces and repressive apparatus, Mike Pence with his deep ties to the Christian fascists, Newt Gingrich with his past history as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and key Republican leader, retired general Michael Flynn with his background of high-level military positions, etc.
These forces have for a long time pushed the idea that much greater repression is needed to hold society together. They look around at the fact that for large sections of people the so-called “American Dream”—the idea that each generation would at least be materially better off than their parents—is dying. They see potential in that for disillusionment, questioning, and unrest and they don’t like it—or they want to turn it to reactionary purposes. They see both a necessity and an opportunity to direct the resentment of millions of whites toward Black and Latino people, and toward immigrants of color—and they seize on it. They look at the threats to American domination of the world (which is in fact the basis for that “dream” in the first place), and they see the need for more militarism and more repression to shore up that domination. They look at the way that changes in the economy are undermining “traditional relations,” and they attempt to cohere both men and women around the “traditional family”—and, in Trump’s case, the traditional prerogatives of males to openly and grossly prey upon women—to batter down women’s rights. They look at legal rights that people have fought for, and they see obstacles. In their view, if they need fascism to do all this, so be it.
What “Alternative” to Trump Does Hillary Clinton Actually Offer?
Donald Trump is a non-stop misogynist, a naked racist, a compulsive liar, and yes, on some level a ridiculous, fucking idiot (even as there’s a very deadly fascist logic to all this and a very ugly mass movement behind it). He’s got an ugly past and an uglier present. So in a certain sense, it’s relatively easy to look good in comparison. But what program was Hillary Clinton actually putting forward in “opposition” to Trump? And what’s her history?
Yes, Trump’s a raging jingoist, beating the drum for American military superiority and domination—but how did Clinton expose and counter that? By denouncing Trump for being a lightweight who’s too soft to run the U.S. empire! Mocking him as “Putin’s puppet” because he’s not “tough enough” against Russia. Because he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice while she was in the “Situation Room” overseeing the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Because he’s for “backing down” and conceding Aleppo, and Syria as a whole, to Russia, while she’s ready to escalate the war with a no-fly zone.
Clinton cited 10—apparently former presidents and VP’s—who’ve been responsible for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, who’ve said “they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes or to have his finger on the nuclear button.” But what about Clinton’s fingers? Military officials are now warning that the no-fly zone she’s proposing in Syria could lead to a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation, with the potential to go nuclear. And let’s not forget that it was a “liberal” and very down-to-earth, “sensible” Democratic president—Harry S. Truman—who is the only person in history who actually utilized these weapons of mass incineration. Or that it was another liberal and one with intellectual pretentions—John F. Kennedy—who came closest by far to igniting a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Such is this system’s “lesser evil” and “realistic” alternative to Trump on foreign policy.
Clinton brags about her qualifications. Well, what are those qualifications? Being neck-deep in the first Clinton administration military embargo (“sanctions”) against Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of half a million children.3 Taking the lead in deciding to make war against Libya, which led to thousands of deaths directly and which made the refugee crisis much worse, leading to untold suffering. In other words, she’s arguing her qualifications to be—and promising to be—much more aggressive in using American force and violence all over the world.
What alternative did Hillary Clinton propose in opposition to Trump’s naked, violent anti-immigrant racism and incitement? She agreed on the need for border security. She feels walls should be built in places where that’s “appropriate.” And she went after him for hiring undocumented immigrants and hurting American workers. All this while staying totally silent on the fact that the Obama administration she was part of and still supports deported 2.5 million people—more than any president in U.S. history.
And what about women, where surely there’s no comparison; Hillary Clinton’s program really is fundamentally different than Trump’s ugly misogyny, right? Some of Clinton’s current positions, such as on abortion, are not identical to Trump’s. But a champion who’s “found her voice” for women? As Sunsara Taylor pointed out in Revolution, as Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are excoriating Trump for abusing women, “To cite just one dimension of this: Even as Michelle Obama was delivering her recent speech, Saudi Arabia, with U.S. backing and U.S.-supplied arms, etc., is bombing and blowing to pieces large numbers of civilians, including many women and girls, in Yemen; and the same Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the U.S., embodies some of the most horrendous oppression of women and girls anywhere in the world.
“And this isn’t all. There is the reality that the system represented by the Obamas, the Clintons, and the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, rests in a fundamental way on a worldwide network of sweatshops, where masses of people, a large number of them women and girls, are viciously exploited.” (See “Women Are Not Bitches, Ho’s, or Punching Bags... Women Are Full Human Beings,“ October 15, 2016).
In other words, Hillary Clinton is just as much a representative of the system of capitalism-imperialism as Trump is. What separates them is that she represents a section of the ruling class that believes a different set of “cohering norms” (what people agree to as “legitimate”) is needed to keep the U.S. as top dominator of a rapidly changing world. These include at least the appearance of “inclusivity” and “diversity,” some form of a social safety net, and the claim of adherence to the rule of law (while continuing to further undercut and shred the actual rule of law and legal rights of the people as Obama has done). Clinton and those she represents believe that traditional notions of bipartisanship are essential to holding this monstrous empire together at a time of tremendous stress, strain, and challenge. They think that the GOP/Trump program would destabilize, weaken, and threaten the whole oppressive system.
The Democrats and the “Pyramid of Power”
It’s important to understand that Clinton and the Democrats also appeal to a different social base than the Republicans.
In “The Pyramid of Power And the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down,” BA explains:
Who are the people that they try to appeal to—not that the Democrats represent their interests, but who are the people that the Democrats try to appeal to at the base, on the other side of this pyramid, so to speak? All the people who stand for progressive kinds of things, all the people who are oppressed in this society. For the Democrats, a big part of their role is to keep all those people confined within the bourgeois, the mainstream, electoral process...and to get them back into it when they have drifted away from—or broken out of—that framework. Because those people at the base are always alienated and angry at what happens with the elections, for the reason I was talking about earlier: they are always betrayed by the Democratic Party, which talks about “the little man” and poor people and the people who are discriminated against, and so on. And at times they’ll even use the word oppression. But then they just sell out these people every time—because they don’t represent their interests. They represent the interests of the system and of its ruling class. But they have a certain role of always trying to get people who are oppressed, alienated and angry back into the elections. You know: “Come on in, come on in—it’s not as bad as you think, you can vote, it’s OK.” This is one of the main roles they play. But the thing about them is that they are very afraid of calling into the streets this base of people that they appeal to, to vote for them. The last thing in the world they want to do is to call these masses of people into the streets to protest or to battle against this right-wing force that’s being built up.
This points to a key reason why Clinton and the Democrats do NOT want to directly call out Trump for what he actually is—a fascist—and do NOT want to make a big deal out of his threats to unleash armed racists at the polls. As BA points out, the Democrats fear that doing so would arouse and unleash their social base in confrontation against these fascists, and that then “the genie is out of the bottle.” That is, as people begin to question and resist what they normally accept, the movement for revolution can seize on this to advance the revolution and expand its organized forces.
It is very important that every progressive person, everyone wanting to see change, who believes that the Democrats are “our only hope” in this situation, come to grips with this basic point from BAsics 3:11:
These right-wing politicians (generally grouped within the Republican Party) can, will, and do actively mobilize this essentially fascist social base...yet, on the other side, the sections of the ruling class that are more generally represented by the Democratic Party are very reluctant to, and in fact resistant to, mobilizing... the base of people whose votes and support in the bourgeois political arena the Democrats seek to gain. This (Democratic Party) side of the ruling class generally is not desirous of—and in fact recoils at the idea of—calling that base into the streets, mobilizing them either to take on the opposing forces in the ruling class and their social base or in general to struggle for the programs that the Democratic Party itself claims to represent and actually in some measure does seek to implement....
As an amplification of the basic point here, it is important to recognize this: Within the framework of the capitalist-imperialist system, and with the underlying dynamics of this system, which fundamentally set the terms, and the confines, of “official” and “acceptable” politics, fascism—that is, the imposition of a form of dictatorship which openly relies on violence and terror to maintain the rule and the imperatives of the capitalist-imperialist system—is one possible resolution of the contradictions that this system is facing—a resolution that could, at a certain point, more or less correspond to the compelling needs of this system and its ruling class—while revolution and real socialism, aiming toward the final goal of communism, throughout the world, is also a possible resolution of these contradictions, but one that would most definitely not be acceptable to the capitalist-imperialist ruling class nor compatible with the imperatives of this system!
Trump, the “Lesser Evil” Clinton, and the Illegitimacy of This Whole System
Donald Trump’s fascism, Hillary Clinton’s refusal to call this out or mobilize serious opposition to it, and the fact that both represent the same oppressive, murderous system, exposes the bankruptcy of the “lesser evil” argument, and the illegitimacy of the whole set-up.
As we argued in “The Deadly Logic of the Lesser Evil”:
As for the argument, “Well, yes, Clinton is not what we really want, she is actually quite bad, but she is ‘the lesser evil,’ and there are realistically only two choices—either Clinton or Trump—so if you don’t go for Clinton you are helping elect Trump,” this actually amounts to nothing more than the argument that, “As long as you accept the logic and ‘choices’ dictated by this system, you have to accept the logic and ‘choices’ dictated by this system.” Doesn’t the fact that this system has produced someone like Trump as a “legitimate” candidate, heading one of the two major political parties of this system—doesn’t this powerfully demonstrate the utter illegitimacy of the whole system? And the fact that Clinton and the Democrats will only oppose Trump with arguments that amount to insisting that they are better representatives of this same system, and can do a better job of perpetrating its crimes—doesn’t this powerfully demonstrate the urgent need to break with the logic and assumptions of this system and rise up against it and those who represent it, including Clinton as well as Trump? (August 1, 2016)
This gets to the very essential point made by Bob Avakian:
“The much-proclaimed democracy under this system is a sham, and worse—it promotes the illusion that it is expressing ‘the will of the people,’ while really involving the people in ‘legitimizing’ the rule of a rapacious and murderous class of capitalist-imperialists, who dominate and shape the electoral process, and political decision-making overall, and whose rule is in reality a dictatorship that fundamentally relies on brutally oppressive force and violence.” (June 6, 2016)
What Must Be Done
This underscores the importance of what we wrote in Revolution only a few days ago and how it has taken on increased urgency with the wildly unpredictable but very possibly convulsive turns events could take up to November 8, and afterwards:
[T]his is no ordinary election. The potential for further and much deeper crisis to erupt in the days to come, and especially around the election itself and its immediate aftermath, looms very large. The already sharp conflicts between sections of the ruling class could deepen and crack further. Such crisis can act as a jolt on people, jarring them out of their normal way of looking at things and leading them to question and resist what they normally accept. We need to come from behind to be ready to seize on whatever does happen to hasten REVOLUTION, preparing and organizing masses of people to respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution.
This means confronting the actual situation and fighting to take things as far as possible, including in the current Get Into the Revolution National Organizing Campaign and Tour, working to bring into being a revolutionary situation—a situation, as the Party statement How We Can Win says, “Where millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government that will be based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. That is the time to go all-out to win. That is what we need to be actively working for and preparing for now.”
1. For background on the Central Park 5 case, see “How Trump Agitated for the Railroad of the—Innocent!—Central Park 5: Donald Chump, the Lynch Mob Master,” May 9, 2016 at revcom.us and “Propaganda Instruments of the Ruling Class... And the Railroad of the Central Park 5,” December 16, 2012, by Bob Avakian, also at revcom.us. [back]
2. In 1980, Ronald Reagan officially kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Neshoba County, at a fairgrounds used as a meeting place by the KKK and where, in 1964, civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were killed. Such symbolism characterized how Reagan appealed to and promoted white supremacy without actually using overt racist language. The tone of George H.W. Bush’s campaign for president was set with the infamous “Willie Horton” ad that showed a Black man who, while on his ninth furlough from a Massachusetts prison, was arrested and charged with rape. Bush’s campaign manager bragged that it wouldn’t be necessary to say Horton was Black, that because of the ad “Every woman in this country” would “know what Willie Horton looks like before this election is over.” [back]
3. For background, see “American Crime Case #76: U.S.-UN Sanctions on Iraq—‘A Legitimized Act of Mass Slaughter’,” October 17, 2016. [back]
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