Monday, November 21, 2016

Presidential Elections: Myths and Deceits

James Petras

Every aspect of this year's US Presidential election has been

fraught with myths, distortions, fabrications, wishful thinking and invented


We will proceed to discuss facts and fictions.

Electoral Participation

The mass media, parties and candidates emphasized the 'unprecedented voter
turnout' in the elections.  In fact, 48% of the eligible voters abstained.  

In other words, nearly half of the electorate did not vote.
There were many reasons, including widespread disgust at both major party
candidates and the weakness of 'third parties'.  This includes disappointed
Bernie Sanders supporters angry over the Democratic Party's cynical
manipulation of the primary nomination process.  Others were unable to vote
in their neighborhoods because US elections are held on a regular workday,
unlike in other countries. Others cast protest votes against economic
programs or candidates reflecting their distrust and sense of impotence over
policy.  Eligible voters generally expressed reservations over the gap
between campaign promises and post campaign policies.  These political
attitudes toward elections and candidates are deep-seated among those who
'stayed home'.

In contrast among registered voters (53% of the electorate) over
90% cast their ballot.  Ultimately, the presidential elections were decided
by just half of the eligible voters with the winning candidate receiving
about 25% eligible votes.  This is not a robust mandate.  Furthermore,
Clinton may have 'lost' with the plurality of popular votes, since the US
Presidency is ultimately decided by the 'Electoral College'.  In this case,
Trump secured more states earning substantially more Electoral College
votes, while the losing candidate's votes were more concentrated in big
cities and large coastal states.

The Myth of the Trump Revolution

Trump's campaign displayed the typical demagogy of US
politicians.  In previous campaigns Barack Obama's promised to work for
peace, domestic prosperity, social justice and immigration reform.  Once
elected, Obama reneged on his pledge and continued to wage the old wars and
launched new ones (seven altogether for the 'peace candidate').  He approved
a $2 trillion dollars Wall Street and bank 'bailout', while leaving over 3
million family home mortgages in foreclosure.  He rounded up and deported
two million immigrant workers.  Meanwhile wage inequality between black and
white workers actually widened; and overt police violence against black
youth increased.  We can expect Trump to follow Obama's pattern of double
speak and reverse his campaign promises.

So far, Trump seems to have appointed conventional Republicans
to his Cabinet posts.  Treasury and Commerce Secretaries will remain in the
hands of Wall Street insiders.  Prominent Republican warmongers will manage
foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Trump has been on a post-election charm offensive to
woo traditional conservative Republican Congressional leaders who had
opposed his candidacy during the primaries.  They will work with Trump in
lowering taxes while eliminating government regulations and environmental
controls - policies that have long been on their agenda.  On the other hand,
Trump's populist pledge to 'reindustrialize' America will be opposed by
Congressional Republicans with ties to Wall Street and financial
speculators.  Trump's promise to persuade US multi-nationals to repatriate
their billions and headquarters to the US will be opposed by the majority
Republican Congressional leadership.  Even a Trump Republican majority on
the Supreme Court, will veto any Trump initiative to 'force' big business to
sacrifice its tax-free overseas profits to come home and 'Make America Great

In other words, Trump will implement only policies that coincide
with the traditional Republican agenda and will continue some version of
Obama's pro-Wall Street policy.  Instead of Obama's executive tax loopholes
benefiting big business, Trump will do it through legislation.   Where Obama
made pronouncement about supporting Civil rights and justice for
African-Americans but actually ended up increasing police power and
impunity, Trump will simply make modifications directly favoring the police
state via Congressional legislation or Presidential decree.  Whereas Obama
rounded up and expelled 2 million immigrant workers, Trump will go after an
additional 2 million Latinos on the basis of 'criminality'.  Obama relied on
border police; Trump will beef up border patrols and concoct some agreement
with Mexico's conservative counterpart - short of erecting 'the Great Wall'.

Obama and his Democratic predecessor, President 'Bill' Clinton
cut the proportion of unionized workers in the private sector to 8%, through
economic and labor policies backed by millionaire trade union bureaucrats.
Trump, on the other hand, will crudely dismiss these impotent 'union'
functionaries and hacks while slashing whatever remains of worker rights.

Presidents Obama and Clinton linked 'identity groups' with the
interests of bankers, billionaires and militarists, but Trump will toss out
'identity politics' in favor of populist appeals to construction workers and
infrastructure contractors while attracting the same Wall Street executives,
billionaires and militarists that had worked closely with previous

Trump's Wall Street appeal was clear after his victory when the
stock market broke new highs, jumping 1,000 points between November 4 and

The pro-Clinton Wall Streeter boosters were smartly outflanked
by the 'silent majority' of financial CEO's who applauded Trump's promises
of deregulation and corporate tax cuts.

Despite the certainty of President Trump's reneging on all his
promises to American workers, he will still retain the support of small and
medium businesses and professionals, who outnumber and outvote the so-called
'white worker vote'.
Trump Complies with Rightwing Republican Agenda
To unify the Republican Party and gratify the rightwing
electoral base Trump will offer up some symbolic gratification, such as:

1.      Increase frontier security -  He will triple the number of border
patrol officers and extend the Obama-Clinton's search and expel formula. His
PR machines will crank out timely reports of mass deportations of Latino
workers to titillate the Anglo voters - while reassuring agribusiness and
other industries that their access to cheap imported labor will continue.

2.      He will appoint a rightwing WASP (first in a long time) to the
Supreme Court after decades of 'identity appointments'.  His court will try
to reverse Roe versus Wade on access to abortion- satisfying Catholics,
fundamentalists, orthodox Jews and Protestants - sending the issue back to
the reactionary states.  Women in the urban centers and large population
coastal states will retain reproductive health rights while poor and rural
women will see significant regression. 

3.      Trump will 'renegotiate NAFTA' without reversing current free trade
provisions, offering tax incentives and tax penalties to discourage future
flight but with little effect.

4.       Trump will force a repeal of the multi-party nuclear agreement with
Iran, but he will not re-impose international sanctions because of Russian
and Chinese vetoes in the UN Security Council and the lucrative billion-
dollar trade deals signed between Iran and Germany and France.  Trump's Iran
caper may pleasure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby,
but this would force him to violate his own stated pledge to avoid more
Middle East entanglements.

5.      Trump's anti-Muslim policy will be reduced to writing tighter
immigration rules for Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia, but not
include total exclusion.  These watered-down policies will quell opposition
and satisfy Islamo-phobes.

6.      President Trump's deregulation of environmental protections will
alienate ecologists and the science community but will appeal to big energy
corporations and their employees, workers and gas property leasers.
However, the rest of the world will continue to treat climate change as real
and Trump will end up isolated in a climate-denial corner with the
reactionary presidents of Poland and kleptocratic-Ukraine.  

7.      Trump will face stiff opposition when he tries to break the newly
restored diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba to please his rightwing
Cuban exile supporters.  But the deals will go thru:  On December 1, 2016
Delta Airlines will begin three daily flights, joining a dozen other
airlines to the delight of thousands of travel agency owners and employees
as well as tens of thousands of tourists and visitors.  US business and agro
exporters will object to any re-imposition of trade sanctions.  Trump will
probably end up tossing some bones to the rightwing exile community in the
way of rhetoric while maintaining diplomatic ties and Obama's embargo.  He
may expand the US base in Guantanamo.

8.      Trump will continue to support the right-wing 'golpistas' in
Venezuela but will not commit US troops for an invasion.  He will make deals
with right wing and center-left regimes in the Latin America without pushing
for coups or exclusionary regional trade pacts.

9.       Trump will end economic sanctions against Russia and then negotiate
some cooperation agreement with Putin to bomb Syria's Islamist terrorists
'into the stone age' and withdraw US commitments to the Saudis, Gulf
Monarchies and its jihadi mercenaries on regional 'regime change'.  He will
renegotiate trade relations with China to encourage greater reciprocity,
investments and exchange rates (if necessary).
On vital economic policies, Trump will pursue traditional
Republican business policies - the linchpin being lower taxes and fewer

On identity politics (as well as human rights), Trump will
tighten restrictions on access to abortion and immigration to satisfy the
right-wing moralists and religious fundamentalists.
Trump will not confront Wall Street, the multi-nationals, the
military industrial complex or the pro-Israel billionaires and lobbies.  US
workers will find very few new well- paying jobs except in select
infrastructure projects.  The industrial rust belt will continue to rust.
The tens of thousands of public sector workers and professional slashed by
Trump's pledge to cut government will not find decent jobs in the private
sector.  Over time, Trump supporters who flocked to his promises for
economic change will be replaced by a motley collection of Bible thumpers of
all colors and faiths.  There will emerge a new groundswell of frustrated
workers, employees and professionals -- but where will they turn?  Certainly
they must not return to the increasingly discredited 'progressive' Bernie
Sander, who perfected his role as political 'Judas Goat' herding his
reluctant supporters into the blood-stained Wall Street Corral of the War
Goddess Hillary Clinton - known as the Democratic Party.

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