The first year of the Trump administration was one outrage after another. We’ve seen the deportation of immigrant workers, the assault on a woman’s right to control her body, the repeal of basic environmental protections, a tax cut for billionaires, a budget that further slashes social services, and threats of nuclear war with North Korea. In all of this, the Trump administration and the Republican Party could not have made its agenda any clearer. When it comes to anything that matters to working people, the Trump administration is only concerned about how to serve the billionaires, banks, and corporations.
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has tried to position itself as a real alternative to Trump. Any chance they get, they pose as if they are fighting on our behalf, branding themselves the “#Resistance.” They oppose Trump’s policies in speeches, with promises to fight for workers, women, immigrants, and the environment. Some Democratic politicians have joined people at various protests against the Trump administration – some went to the protests at the airports against the travel ban, and many Democrats were on stage at Women’s Marches around the country. The Democrats have also mobilized people in cities across the country to participate in town hall protests against the Republicans’ policies.
The Democrats are ready to embrace opposition to the Trump administration but the only goal of the Democrats’ support for this opposition is the ballot box – to vote for the Democrats in 2018 and again in 2020. This couldn’t have been any clearer than the Democrats’ message at the recent Women’s March: now that we have marched in the streets it’s time to “march to the polls.” Some politicians like Bernie Sanders, who ran as a Democrat in 2016, take a stand against the positions of the Democratic Party leadership represented by Hillary Clinton, and seem to offer a real alternative. However, at the end of the day, Sanders only serves to focus people’s hopes on the elections and to reinforce the Democratic Party at the voting booth – just as he did in 2016 when he called for support for Hillary Clinton.
The Democrats say that if we vote for them, they really will fight on our behalf. But why should we believe them? When the Democrats controlled the White House and Congress they could have passed legislation that would have given permanent status to the undocumented immigrants who came here as children, known as “Dreamers.” But during this past year, after repeated promises that the Democrats would not compromise on citizenship for the Dreamers, they have caved in and agreed to keep pushing the final decision down the road.
During the Obama administration, deportations of immigrants skyrocketed to more than 2.6 million people, ripping families apart and throwing children into detention facilities, with higher yearly totals than the first year of the Trump administration. As right-wing politicians carried out the greatest roll-back of women’s reproductive rights in decades, the Democrats opposed this in speeches and little else. While the Obama administration increased funding to produce new nuclear weapons, now the Trump administration wants to produce even more. Trump’s climate policies have been a catastrophe, but under the Democrats, fracking, coal mining, and offshore drilling expanded, and a 40-year ban on oil exports was lifted. Trump has increased military spending and continued to wage war around the world, but under the Democrats, the U.S. military was used in dozens of countries, killing tens of thousands of people, dropping over 26,000 bombs in 2016 alone. And even though Trump likes to brag about his tax cut for corporations and billionaires, it doesn’t come close to the trillions of dollars handed out to banks during the bailouts in 2008 under Obama.
People are right to want to see Trump and his administration out. But the Democrats will not fight for us. It’s not that there aren’t some differences between the Democratic and Republican parties or between politicians. They have their different characters, their different personalities, and the different ways they try to win votes from the population. But there is no difference when it comes to whose interests they represent – they both serve the wealthiest people in this country and the companies they own. And that is why they have carried out the same sort of policies.
Trump will be gone eventually. He might stay for another term. He might be voted out, or he might even be impeached. But all of the problems facing working people will remain. And to stand up to these problems, to resist their attacks, to fight for immigrants, for women, for housing, for healthcare, for jobs and more – is to do more than choose which political party will be in charge of keeping those problems in place. As working people, we have tremendous power, collectively doing the work of the entire society. And if organized, we can use that power to fight for our own interests. But simply marching to the polls for the Democrats will be marching to a dead end.