Did you see that bitter warning by Hilary Clinton to the American people to make sure that they reject Donald Trump by a very substantial margin because “otherwise you can get three million more votes than him and still lose the election”? She speaks from experience of course, but hers was not the first US presidential campaign to expose the flaws inherent in the country’s much vaunted form of bourgeois democracy.
Ronald Reagan, amongst others, was elected on the back of a minority of those eligible to vote. By then. however, this had become so common-place it was barely mentioned in the media. A few candidates later, and Governor Jeb Bush interfered so blatantly in the voter registration process in his state that Michael Moore, the popular maker of political documentary films, was able to openly call it the “stolen election”. Jeb Bush interfered on behalf of his brother George W Bush, who set the benchmark for political incompetence in the White House. Until the present incumbent took up the position, of course.
While a minority of better-educated Americans are well able to assess the statesman-like capabilities of their country’s leaders, the majority have no such capability. They have never been taught to analyse the policies of their leaders; instead, they are assiduously taught to pay attention only to the candidate’s “image”, to judge his suitability to lead the country on the basis of the hoopla and razzamataz of his carefully orchestrated rallies and the often meaningless rhetoric of his campaign slogans. Trump, let us not forget, got elected on a slogan that promised to “Make America Great again”.
For some, of course, it was a potent slogan: especially all those bewildered folk wondering where the USA’s former industrial might had gone and with it all the jobs. Additionally, all those living in trailer parks because they cannot afford to buy a house, acutely aware that in every US town and city, entire residential blocks are standing idle, boarded up or burned out, while homeless people – men, women and children – are forced to sleep in their cars or under bridges. The “American dream” is a nightmare for a huge number of people who are baffled by why it has apparently passed them by.
Donald Trump has an easy answer to that question: put the blame on China. An appeal to xenophobia and racism has worked often enough in the past, but the problems facing US capitalism today are systemic and complex. Looking for a scapegoat to blame is just a way of evading the issue. May as well bury your head in the sand and hope that things will improve. Meanwhile the rest of the world is actively exploring ways to benefit from co-operating with China and Russia, despite US hostility.
Once, US opposition to any project was enough to stop it in its tracks. But, to its anger and dismay, US imperialism no longer has that kind of clout. In fact, as the leader of Russia’s communists, Gennady Zyuganov, said already two years ago, “The world is turning to the Left”. And for all the frantic efforts of Donald Trump to launch new wars, both hot and cold, and to sow dissension between countries almost willy nilly, there is very little that a deeply divided imperialism can do about the situation.
The world has changed – and it will never be the same again.