Is there a cure for the cancer of Trumpism?
A scene from the Women's March on Washington. The women's movement has played a major part in the recent forced resignations of two top Trump aides. | AP

“There is a cancer on the Presidency,” John Dean famously told Richard Nixon in the throes of the Watergate crisis.

The same can be said today of the crisis in the state/government apparatus of U.S. imperialism as President Trump spreads the obstruction of justice disease to his retinue of friends, family, and minions in Congress as he desperately tries to stop the Mueller investigation.

This crisis can be resolved in only one of two ways:  Either the people and broad democratic forces win, or Trump and right-wing extremism prevail.

In the first case, it would mean that Trump will be ousted through impeachment or forced resignation, and many of his close associates would likely be convicted of a wide range of financial and other crimes. It would also mean a devastating and possibly fatal setback for the Republican Party.

In the second case, it could mean the establishment of an extreme authoritarian regime that attacks living standards, represses deeply-entrenched democratic institutions and rights, and threatens world peace and environmental sustainability.

The people must continue to make it clear they will not accept the second solution. Millions have already taken to the streets and demonstrated their readiness to protest and resist the right-wing program of Trump and his GOP followers. To be successful, this movement must be intensified and broadened. It also needs stronger leadership, coordination, and organization.

A major shortcoming is the limited involvement thus far by organized labor. The labor movement still shows weakness in building broad working-class consciousness among its members. In many instances, this stems from narrow trade union consciousness and is especially evident with some unions in relation to immigrant rights, racist police violence, protecting the environment, and international solidarity. On the other hand, labor has a direct interest in ending exploitation and can provide the organization, skills, and resources needed for a successful resistance movement.

Every effort must be made to unite the multiple reform movements and bring labor into the lead.  The weaknesses in labor have similar expressions in every reform movement (including feminism, nationalism, etc.) leading to their isolation, despite the fact that all these movements face the same enemy of right-wing extremism.

There is growing recognition among working people that Trump and the Republicans rely on racism and other forms of division to achieve their goals. That is why the Poor People’s Movement led by Rev. William Barber seeks to unite grassroots forces around a broad range of issues, including voting and labor rights, raising the minimum wage, and ending racism. Because of such efforts, unity is growing, and the overall democratic movement has had at least partial success in preventing repeal of the Affordable Care Act and gaining some commitment to restore the DACA program. The mass movement has aggravated and exposed the whole government crisis, forced out some Trump appointees from key agencies and departments, and won some important elections, such as those in Alabama and Virginia. Republicans are viewing the 2018 midterms with growing anxiety.

While the right currently controls all branches of government, administration officials are continually being thrown overboard or resigning and jumping ship, the two latest due to the growing influence of the women’s movements. In addition, forces leaning to the right face their own internal conflicts. The ruling class is deeply divided over Trump’s push towards authoritarianism. Up until now, the military has been silent, suggesting that there are divisions in that institution as well. Like the intelligence and foreign policy agencies, they have serious problems with surrendering U.S. world hegemony to gangster Russian oligarchs for the sole purpose of saving Trump and his corrupt regime.

Thus, while there are overall grounds for hope, it is difficult to predict the outcome of this crisis.

Trump is desperate and highly unstable and could resort to nearly any reckless measure, including war or martial law, to get out of his bind.

The democratic forces, including bourgeois liberals and centrists, are gaining ground as Mueller’s noose tightens around Trump’s neck and, most importantly, the street heat continues to grow.

Writing a little over a century ago, Vladimir Lenin showed in Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution that such a movement can lead to fundamental systemic change.  Lenin and the experience of every socialist revolution demonstrated that bourgeois liberals cannot be relied on to carry this process to completion. Only if Communists maintain their revolutionary organization and principles can an historic victory over right-wing extremism be secured and the door be opened to socialism.


Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.