The legal system won’t save us from Trumpism; we need a mass working class movement against the billionaire class, racism, and sexism that can challenge both parties and the capitalist system they represent.
Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative (ISA in the United States)
(This article was first published on 3 April 2023)
Socialists certainly won’t shed tears if Trump sees the inside of a prison cell. Trump, along with other billionaires and presidents (from both parties), should be tried for his countless crimes against humanity. Trump will turn himself in on Tuesday, but he won’t be in jail for the 2024 election, and the right-wing fervor he’s come to represent will continue. The legal system won’t save us from Trumpism; we need a mass working class movement against the billionaire class, racism, and sexism that can challenge both parties and the capitalist system they represent.
At the same time, we need to keep a close eye on these Trump indictments (there will be more!) because they will affect the terrain of U.S. politics. Pro-capitalist liberal media outlets like The Economist are running headlines titled “Prosecuting Donald Trump over Stormy Daniels looks like a mistake.” They claim the legal charges against Trump are weak in this case, that no legal indictment will stop Trump from running for President again, and that this puts Trump’s Republican rivals in a difficult position.
Whether it’s Trump’s declared primary opponent Nikki Haley or other potential Republican hopefuls DeSantis, Pompeo, or Pence, they’ve all rallied to support Trump against the legal system. Other potential Trump indictments around his attempted theft of the 2020 elections would be even trickier for Trump’s GOP rivals as they try to placate a Republican base in the primaries while leaving themselves enough room to cynically “pivot” to a wider audience in the general election. An indictment around Trump’s business practices (which could actually cut across his base somewhat) would be difficult for both parties because most politicians are connected to corrupt corporate dealings, from insider trading to collecting funds from tax-dodging billionaires.
The biggest crimes
Trump has been committing crimes for decades, from the serial sexual assault of women to his shady business practices. He hasn’t seen jail time because the legal system is rigged in favor of the super-rich and against workers, the poor, and especially Black people. The daily criminal activity of the wealthy and powerful is “perfectly legal” as they destroy the environment, exploit workers, wage war, and dodge taxes in the pursuit of ever-growing piles of cash. Trump bungled the onset of the pandemic, denying it had even come to the U.S., resulting in the needless deaths of thousands. He also encouraged a widespread increase in racist and sexist attacks, whipping up hatred and laying the basis for the dismantling of abortion rights and anti-immigrant policies, all “legally.”
While Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was worse than other modern presidents, his policies were actually a continuation of Obama, who deported more immigrants than any U.S. president ever. And Biden has continued the worst aspects of Trump’s immigration policies, leading to the brutal events of last week in Ciudad Juarez where 39 migrants were burned to death after a fire broke out in an “immigrant processing center.”
Even when Democrats opposed Trump, they always feared a movement in the streets and in the workplaces that could actually defeat the right wing as they held back struggle and tried to push it into “safe” channels like elections and legal proceedings. This failing strategy led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade and countless other terrible right-wing policies at the federal, state, and local levels. They’ve declared “victory” over Trump countless times now, only to be blindsided by the resilience of his support among his hard-core base.
We need an active movement to fight against right-wing attacks, particularly those against trans people who are currently being targeted by reactionary politicians. We need to rely on the strength of working people, not the politicians and the courts since both ultimately protect the interests of big corporations. With Democrats in power, right-wing populism can actually grow as people become disaffected by an administration (and their “left-wing” apologists in the Squad) that breaks potential strikes, oversees runaway inflation, and only offers shallow “woke” words instead of defending oppressed people.
Trump should be tried for his real crimes, ones that he’s been getting away with for years, and the most heinous crimes that are perfectly “legal” in a rigged system. And Trump’s not the only one. Bush should have been tried as a war criminal instead of being paraded around by liberals as a “good” rich Republican. Democratic warmongers like Lyndon Johnson should have been punished for their countless atrocities against people in Asia. The list could go on and on because this whole damn system is guilty as hell.
The courts won’t stop Trump or Trumpism. They are only prosecuting him now because sections of the ruling class are afraid of the instability it could bring to their system if Trump got back into the White House. While we should analyze the implications of this indictment and the ones to come, we want Trump and similar scumbags to be punished and the system of exploitation and oppression that gives birth to them relegated to the trash heap of history.