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Presidential Elections: Myths and Deceits
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Introduction: Every aspect of this year’s US Presidential election has been fraught with myths, distortions, fabrications, wishful thinking and invented fears.

We will proceed to discuss facts and fictions.

(1) 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 Barak 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 Again’.

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 administrations.

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 10th.

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.

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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).

Conclusion

On vital economic policies, Trump will pursue traditional Republican business policies – the linchpin being lower taxes and fewer regulations.

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.

(Republished from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2016 Election, Donald Trump 
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  1. It seems to me that Trump has demonstrated that among all presidential candidates, maybe ever in our history, he won’t sell out to the establishment if he feels strongly about an issue. Why would he? For a comfort zone; hardly. He has already taken more hits than any human could be expected to endure.
    Maybe he’s the real deal. Could we as Americans even recognize one if one appeared? Methinks not.

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  2. What a steaming heap of shit. Your Trump is a straw man. You don’t know what Trump will or will not do. I’m embarrassed ever to have taken you seriously.

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  3. Commenter WorkingClass has put it in a way that cannot be improved upon. This is a bad, bad article.

    Still, my sense of charity compells me to try to help mr. Petras understand a point about which most leftists are either misinformed or stubborn liars: the myth about the Obama administration being harsh on immigrants. This is clearly explained in the following article:

    High deportation figures are misleading – LA Times

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-deportations-20140402-story.html

    From another angle, a possible consequence of the Trump election is that the correlation between geopolitical alignment and ideological orientation is going to change. Up until now, mostly Marxist third-world governments aligned with Putin. If Trump himself aligns with Putin, it will reconfigure the geopolitical scenario. On the other hand, if Trump subverts the current neoliberal paradigm in the U.S., this may also have a healthy influence on the third-world right.

    All that may prove too bitter a pill for both leftists and rightist to swallow.

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  4. Good piece, reasonable predictions, likely scenarios indeed.

    But who knows, hope dies last, the future is unwritten…

    I mean, if this was 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was just elected, what would you be predicting? Business as usual, I’m sure…

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    • Replies: @Joe Levantine
    The much ballyhooed FDR's New Deal was a flop that did not get the economy starting. Both FDR and Hitler were elected within weeks from each other. While Germany experienced full employment in less than two years, the USA was still stuck in depression 6 years later. It was finally the warmongering of FDR, who as usual rode on a pre election promise of peace and no entanglement in European wars, that placed the USA on a war footing by squeezing Japan into a corner after all FDR's deliberate provocations against Germany failed to produce the desired reaction from Hitler. The war effort finally kick-started the American economy into growth with all the anti market measures of price and wage control and extreme austerity on American consumers.
    Meanwhile let us remember FDR's confiscation of the American citizens' wealth after he forced everybody to give up their holdings of physical gold at a preset price under the penalty of incarceration for anyone found to be holding gold.
    The man was an unrepentant Globalist who only continued the legacy of the equally crooked president Woodrow Wilson who brought on America the three calamities that are at the source of the current hopeless situation of the once prosperous and independent America:
    1- The Federal Reserve Act
    2- The Income Tax Act
    3- The U.S. entry in WWI
  5. He’s got guts, nerve and he’s not Hillary. In this moment, that’s enough for most.

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  6. “US elections are held on a regular workday, unlike in other countries.” We vote on Thursdays in the UK.

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  7. “seven altogether for the ‘peace candidate’”: I’d be grateful for a list. I’d like to bookmark it for future use.

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  8. Quite realistic and sounds about right.

    Another prediction can be added: Señor Trump will not get the Nobel Peace Prize, even though there are probably a whole host of crypto-Nazi Norwegians that would like to give it to him.

    It is too early to tell whether that is a good or a bad thing in relation to any new United Statesian wars.

    Probably neither.

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  9. Dr. Petras – Donald Trump is adorned by several warmongering foreign leaders such as Netanyahu and Narendra Modi too.

    Remember Benjamin Netanyahu hailing Donald Trump as true friend of Israel on November 9. Trump’s selection of hardcore pro-Israel anti-Muslim Jews and Zionist Christians as part of his administration, proves Netanyahu was not wrong even though 70% American Jews voted for Hillary.

    So what Netanyahu expect the most from Trump as president of United States?

    David Wainer provided the answer at the Bloomberg recently. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to win from Donald Trump what he failed to wring from Barack Obama: a harder line against Iran,” he said.

    The prime minister Netanyahu will argue, first and foremost, that Trump administration should work to diminish the partnership between Russia and Iran in the region, said Wainer.

    Israeli leaders have realized that though Trump and Netanyahu agree on the so-called historic P5+1 and Iran nuclear agreement, which Donald Trump called the worst deal ever negotiated – Washington wouldn’t dare to walk-out of the deal as Russia and China will not follow United State at the UNSC this time.

    In fact, the hardcore Republicans who voted against the US-Iran agreement in the past, are now urging Trump to ‘stiffen’ it rather unravel it.

    https://rehmat1.com/2016/11/19/israel-trump-must-stop-putin-supporting-iran/

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  10. Mr. Petras, I read your article a second time and I am sorry to say I stand by my earlier assessment. But I still value your contributions to this site, especially because you are one of the few who devote some attention to the Third World, where I happen to live.

    Granted, it is not impossible that some of your predictions turn out to be true. I just find that unlikely for most of them.

    Please, answer me one thing (a rhetorical question since you do not heed your readers’ plights): why do you think immigration restriction is an issue cherished by “right-wing moralists and religious fundamentalists”? It’s a rather puzzling association.

    On a positive final note, I am glad to say yours is not the worst piece on the president-elect to come out on this site. That dubious honor goes to Patrick Cockburn’s article, which is truly odious, as, for that matter, is most of that writer’s output.

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  11. @Mao Cheng Ji
    Good piece, reasonable predictions, likely scenarios indeed.

    But who knows, hope dies last, the future is unwritten...

    I mean, if this was 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was just elected, what would you be predicting? Business as usual, I'm sure...

    The much ballyhooed FDR’s New Deal was a flop that did not get the economy starting. Both FDR and Hitler were elected within weeks from each other. While Germany experienced full employment in less than two years, the USA was still stuck in depression 6 years later. It was finally the warmongering of FDR, who as usual rode on a pre election promise of peace and no entanglement in European wars, that placed the USA on a war footing by squeezing Japan into a corner after all FDR’s deliberate provocations against Germany failed to produce the desired reaction from Hitler. The war effort finally kick-started the American economy into growth with all the anti market measures of price and wage control and extreme austerity on American consumers.
    Meanwhile let us remember FDR’s confiscation of the American citizens’ wealth after he forced everybody to give up their holdings of physical gold at a preset price under the penalty of incarceration for anyone found to be holding gold.
    The man was an unrepentant Globalist who only continued the legacy of the equally crooked president Woodrow Wilson who brought on America the three calamities that are at the source of the current hopeless situation of the once prosperous and independent America:
    1- The Federal Reserve Act
    2- The Income Tax Act
    3- The U.S. entry in WWI

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    You have the right for an opinion, but leaving the judgment of the merits of FDR's reforms aside, it certainly wasn't 'business as usual'. Which was my only point.

    Things tend to go in the same direction for a long time, and it's natural to predict that they'll keep going the same way. And it's usually the right prediction. Until it isn't...
  12. @Joe Levantine
    The much ballyhooed FDR's New Deal was a flop that did not get the economy starting. Both FDR and Hitler were elected within weeks from each other. While Germany experienced full employment in less than two years, the USA was still stuck in depression 6 years later. It was finally the warmongering of FDR, who as usual rode on a pre election promise of peace and no entanglement in European wars, that placed the USA on a war footing by squeezing Japan into a corner after all FDR's deliberate provocations against Germany failed to produce the desired reaction from Hitler. The war effort finally kick-started the American economy into growth with all the anti market measures of price and wage control and extreme austerity on American consumers.
    Meanwhile let us remember FDR's confiscation of the American citizens' wealth after he forced everybody to give up their holdings of physical gold at a preset price under the penalty of incarceration for anyone found to be holding gold.
    The man was an unrepentant Globalist who only continued the legacy of the equally crooked president Woodrow Wilson who brought on America the three calamities that are at the source of the current hopeless situation of the once prosperous and independent America:
    1- The Federal Reserve Act
    2- The Income Tax Act
    3- The U.S. entry in WWI

    You have the right for an opinion, but leaving the judgment of the merits of FDR’s reforms aside, it certainly wasn’t ‘business as usual’. Which was my only point.

    Things tend to go in the same direction for a long time, and it’s natural to predict that they’ll keep going the same way. And it’s usually the right prediction. Until it isn’t…

    Read More
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