Why did Trump lose? A materialistic analysis

Humberto Rodriguez

“The 2020 elections bury once and for all the mistaken notion that the 2016 elections were a historic accident, an American freak. Donald Trump won more than 70 million votes, the second largest vote in American history (behind only Joe Biden, who was elected). Nationally, he has more than 47% turnout in his votes and appears to have won 24 states, including his favorite Florida and Texas.” 

BBC, 9 November 2020

First, it should be noted that Trump got more votes now than four years ago. But the BBC explains Trump’s defeat by claiming that “people are tired of his aggressive style,” that is, from the political superstructure and superficially this result without being able to explain its concrete causes.

The election was the most polarized and had the highest participation of any in in U.S. history. 75 million votes for the Democratic nominee, 70 million for the Republican. Although the Democratic victory was inflated by the media, and the difference in delegates in the electoral college was more than 76 votes, in the number of voters the election was hotly contested. 3% was the amount of percentage votes difference. Pro-Biden polls were an instrument of the Democratic election campaign, supported by most of the financial capital and more than 90% of the world’s media monopolies.

Trump got more votes than four years ago, but lost the election because he lost in states with higher proletarian concentration, where he had won in 2016. Trump failed to repatriate industrial production to the country, as he had promised. During the current economic crisis, accentuated by the pandemic, Trump was no longer able to maintain full employment (supported by precarious jobs), which he had managed until 2019. This reflects the political turnaround in the Midwest and the Rust Belt in Biden’s favor. The Democrats recaptured most of the Rust Belt.

Historically loyal to the Democratic Party, or at least since the 1930s, the proletarian electorate of those states voted for Trump in 2016 in reaction to the deindustrialization policy promoted in recent decades by Democrats. Four years ago, the proletariat believed in the promises of the then-outsider tycoon to bring factories and jobs back to that region. The outsider found room to project himself onto the political scene after, in the eyes of the American proletariat, the Democratic and Republican establishment, associated with Wall Street’s financial capital and Silicon Valley’s “new economy,” promoted globalization and financialization.

Until the mid-1970s, 62% of the working class in the U.S. was made up of the industrial proletariat. This huge mass of factory workers was mainly concentrated in the regions of the Great Lakes and Appalachian Mountains. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, were considered the industrial heart of the USA and so were called the Manufacturing Belt of the country. The imperialist bourgeoisie that had reshaped itself into an immense productive force, which drove the creation of Fordism, had also produced its own gravediggers in the Manufacturing Belt. For political and economic reasons this region was dismantled. Monopolies feared the dangerous heavy battalions of the American working class, which exerted strong pressure for wage increases. Monopolies, mainly automobiles such as GM and Ford, wanted to reduce production costs and increase profits. Imperialist capital chose to strangle the proletariat economically and socially, replacing the internal labor force with cheaper foreign labor, promoting two movements: the emigration of industrial production to the East, and the immigration of Latin workers and those from other regions, made legally vulnerable by their precarious condition as poor foreigners and forced to receive less than those who were there already, to work in non-manufacturing services. The rentier, parasitic imperialist bourgeoisie chose to deactivate its own productive region and when it went into decay the industrial belt of the country was renamed Rust Belt. This tragedy is portrayed in the film Roger and I, the documentary that launched the career of Democratic filmmaker Michael Moore. In Roger and I, the filmmaker tries to find Roger Smith, president of General Motors, the largest automaker on the planet, to explain the mass layoffs and closure of eleven factories in Flint, Michigan. GM’s decision contributed to the collapse of the city in the late 1980s.

“Trump’s base in the rust belt of the former working class, was won over by his right-wing populist program of banning Muslims from the U.S., attacking ‘foreigners’ and oppressed groups that “stole jobs,” by protectionism against China to which huge industrial parks were transferred, supposedly keeping the U.S. out of aggressive wars in the Middle East particularly, in part because of powerless disillusionment with 40 years of neoliberal attacks, givebacks to employers, and the prolonged decline in living standards since the days of Ronald Reagan.” (Communist Workers’ Front, the U.S. Election: The Threat of dictatorship, 2020)

Where did Biden’s 10 million more direct votes than Hillary’s vote, come from? As soon as the working class saw that Trump’s promises of reindustrialization were not realized, as early as 2018, they returned to vote for Democrats in so-called mid-term Congressional elections and for Governors, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 Senate seats are decided. In Michigan, the state that has the largest number of industrial workers, and in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democrats won the race for the Senate and state governments and expanded their seats in the House, defeating Trump-backed Republicans at all levels in 2016 and 2020, re-voting for Democrats, ensuring Trump’s defeat.

Trump had gained popularity among a working class tired of being cannon-fodder in the bosses’ wars when he reduced the intensity of wars opened by his predecessors (Democrats and Republicans) in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya. But the little he gained by reducing casualties and exhaustion in the external wars of imperialism, Trump lost with internal casualties, with his criminal denialism of the pandemic, which made the richest country in the world the one with most infections and deaths in the world, and exposed his real nature by supporting barbaric murders of poor black workers by police forces. This, given the aridity of proletarian organizations, allowed a mass resurrection of Democrats, regaining their traditional electoral spaces and aborting Trump’s second term.

And, answering the question we asked at first, where did Biden’s 10 million more votes than Hillary come from? This was the reverse of Trump’s social polarization, a reaction to white supremacism, xenophobia, Latinophobia, Islamophobia, machismo. Anti-Trumpism, associated with the disillusionment of a part of the ‘native’ proletariat, mobilized 10 million more votes in these elections. All this was capitalised on by an imperialist party, deceiving with all kinds of illusions which were again deposited in it.

From the desperation to fight for socialism even through rascals like Bernie Sanders, to the biggest anti-racist demonstrations in history

During Trump’s white supremacist and anti-communist tenure, the working class and new generations of U.S. social fighters destroyed the myth that america’s working class would be chronically reactionary. In fact, by its deep contradictions, it has taken a major turn towards socialism in recent years, although it was the fraction of the world’s working class that is most ideologically bombarded by its bourgeoisie, which suffers the most anti-communist brainwashing, which is most persecuted in offensives such as McCarthyism, the hunt for the Black Panthers, and by governments like Reagan and Trump.

In 2008, Barack Obama won in all states of the Rust Belt and the Midwest. In 2010, Democrats suffered heavy defeats there, losing governor’s races in all three states and also in Ohio. In 2012, Obama recovered and won again in 2012 in those states. As it turns out, the proletariat experiments at all times, not hesitating to vote against those who betrayed it in the last term.

In the 2018 elections, the growing voter base formed primarily by younger, non-white people and women spoke strongly across the country. The Democrats managed to elect the first two Muslim women to Congress, Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan. They elected the youngest member of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley, the first African-American elected to Congress in Massachusetts.

Kamala Harris is part of a process stemming from a record number of women who increased their participation in Congress. However, Biden’s deputy, who is at serious risk of becoming president, the first black woman to become vice president, has built “her career within the imperialist policy staff for the Senate, and now the presidential ticket, through the office of California’s attorney, when she was responsible for a racist policy of mass incarceration of the poor and black population, condemning her to hellish U.S. arrests for petty crimes, so-called crimes without violence.” ((IDEM)

During Trump’s anti-communist administration was when the biggest wave of sympathy for socialism in the U.S. emerged. This wave adopted as father-figure a senator who presented himself as a socialist and supporter of “Medicare for all” in the U.S., but who was nothing more than a defender of imperialist military invasions against oppressed peoples. As soon as the wave grew enough to threaten control of the oligarchies over the party’s candidacies, Sanders allied himself with the leadership to sabotage his own candidacy and support Biden.

In the election was reflected the largest street struggles in the country’s history against racism. Trump represented the racist vote, which retreated when faced with these struggles. And that reflects the direct votes of the population. Trump also failed to meet the expectations of the ruling classes, Trump failed to regain the ground lost to China in control of world trade, despite the trade war he fiercely waged. He did not do so because it did not interest the parasitic imperialist bourgeoisie who fear the proletariat if there were a reindustrialization of the United States. This frustration is reflected in its way in the different states of the USA. Legally, the U.S. is the union of 50 sub imperialist states, some larger than countries like Italy and Spain in capital concentration. The frustration with Trump in the different states it was reflected in the setback he suffered in the number of votes in the Electoral College, from 304 in 2016 to 214 in 2020.  Given this trajectory whose early exhaustion widened after Sanders’ defeat in the primaries, the demand for a Party of workers independent of imperialism and employers becomes the main issue of the day for the Revolutionary Socialists of the United States. The illusions in any Democratic Party politician are substantially diminished, so now we clearly need a mass workers’ party, a Party supported by trade unions and popular organisations, a party fighting against racism, xenophobia, racism and homophobia. The potential is clearly there. We cannot let the right capitalize again on the discontent of the proletariat in the heart of the imperialist monster. It is necessary to give a revolutionary solution, with continuity, to the masses, otherwise their pendular condition dissipates very powerful struggles such as those of 2020. The Sanders phenomenon highlighted the potential of America’s working class. But they desperately need their own leadership and political party. And to this object the entire socialist left in the United States must be oriented. They all have to demand from all union leaders that they start forming an independent Proletarian Party in the US now. With no class alternatives to trust, the proletarian electorate zigzags to one of the wings of imperialism. For a workers’ party independent of its imperialist bosses, supported by trade unions, popular and multiethnic working-class organisations!

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