By David Sole
If we had a government run by and for workers and oppressed people there would be no question and no delay in delivering justice to Donald J. Trump. In fact the vile racism, anti-women actions and language, his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, his scapegoating immigrants and Arab people, his hostility to people with disabilities, his catering to the billionaire class and attacks on the environment– all Trump’s actions – both in and out of office – would be illegal.
Workers and oppressed people, having borne the brunt of the legal system and the prison-industrial complex, wouldn’t wait a minute to charge, arrest and jail Trump for instigating and coordinating the January 6, 2021 insurrection in the nation’s capital.
So why, under this capitalist system, does the ruling class not know what to do about Trump?
As a ruling class presiding over a system of exploiting the working class they are primarily concerned with increasing their wealth. The billionaire class is, of course, also concerned with protecting their wealth and the capitalist system that creates it. This can give us insight into the problem that Trump poses.
There is no question that Trump as the 45th President helped the rich get richer. Taxes went down for the wealthy. Corporations profited from numerous Trump policies that cut environmental protection and other “burdens” on big business. The entire ruling class benefited tremendously from the Trump economic program.
But a significant section of the ruling class worried that Trump’s reactionary social policies might ignite a mass movement that could get out of hand and threaten the system they depend upon. It isn’t a question of whether some upper crust elements are personally liberal on questions of race and gender. Some may be. But when you rule over a system whose very existence depends on squeezing profits from hundreds of millions of people already poor and suffering then it is necessary to use every opportunity to divide and conquer.
Race must be pitted against race. Men must be turned against women. Native born must be worked up against immigrants. Straight has to be convinced that LGBTQ+ are a mortal danger. Every conceivable prejudice is called upon by politicians, the mass media, religious groups and others to keep the working class from recognizing their common interests and uniting under a common banner.
These divisive ideas have been very successful. They are the cornerstone of the Republican Party, with or without Trump. So the ruling class cannot simply go after Trump despite his obvious and well documented crimes. That is why the charges brought against Trump are very narrowly defined. It is a balancing act that the ruling class is carrying out.
To do more, the ruling class would rile up the mass rightwing base they themselves helped create in the Republican Party, including a significant core of outright armed, fascist militias. Such militia groups would never be tolerated if they had leftwing, progressive ideology. The U.S. ruling class destroyed the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense in the 1960s and ‘70s by using infiltration, legal frame-ups and outright assassinations of leaders and members of that revolutionary organization.
Even if Trump is ultimately contained and side-lined there is no shortage of ultra-rightwing politicians ready to take his place at the head of the white supremacist, anti-worker, rightwing movement. Only a movement of the working class and oppressed people that is united around a program of unity and progress has the ability to confront the rightwing threats and defeat both wings of the ruling class and their capitalist system that puts profits over peoples’ needs.