Trump, the Ruling Class, and the Crisis of the Regime

To the Marxist, it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes,” a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time,” but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.

—V.I. Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International

The above quote by Lenin echoes with great force in America today. The first two factors Lenin outlines are clearly the case today. The third is still the music of the future, but things are clearly moving in that direction. Hegel explains that historical necessity is often expressed through accident. Donald Trump is a giant, catastrophic accident for the capitalist class.

After the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the three branches of the federal government were able to oversee the expansion of US imperialism and firmly maintain the rule of the capitalist class. This same federal government has now turned to its opposite and has become a source of colossal instability. The “checks and balances” established by the US Constitution were supposed to insure prudent rule and guard against radical change, but they are now leading to government paralysis. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 but was duly elected by the Electoral College—an institution originally intended to prevent a demagogue from rising to the presidency. It is the long-established, institutionalized two-party system that has helped Trump take control of the Republican Party, which is now made up of two groups: those who agree with him and those who are afraid of him!

The ruling class does not want just one person calling the shots, particularly not a shortsighted sociopath. Trump’s presidency opened a Pandora’s box for the American ruling class—especially as it ended with the riot at the US Capitol on January 6. They tried to regain control of the situation with his second impeachment, but they came up 10 senators short of a conviction. Now, they have indicted Trump in the courts, and the Supreme Court is the key to how these legal cases will play out.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is presiding over an angry population. Inflation ate into the standard of living and homelessness is reaching record levels, even in smaller cities and towns. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Biden and the Democratic majority in Congress did nothing to reimpose legal abortion nationwide. However, the Democrats did make sure that the railroad workers were legally prohibited from going on strike to fight for better wages and working conditions in December 2022. The Biden administration has busied itself instigating and continuing the Ukraine War and supporting the mass murder perpetrated by the Zionist state in Gaza. This is all very unpopular. The ruling class was, therefore, hoping to keep Trump out of office by convicting him in court.

The Biden administration has busied itself instigating and continuing the Ukraine War and supporting the mass murder perpetrated by the Zionist state in Gaza. / Image: The White House

The Supreme Court

Throughout most of American history, the Supreme Court has looked out for the overall, long-term interests of the capitalists. They aim to reduce social conflict and provide a buffer for the more partisan political institutions of Congress and the presidency. However, increasing social polarization has created a Supreme Court that reflects the divisions in the ruling class. In the early 1970s, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion rights to cut across mass movements in the streets. Today’s Supreme Court revoked Roe v. Wade—pouring gasoline on the social fire!

Normally, the ruling class would lean on the Supreme Court to rein in a politician like Trump and make an example of him to deter future potential “rebellious politicians.” The present Supreme Court includes Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife is a fervent Trump supporter and backed his efforts to discredit the 2020 election results. There is also Samuel Alito, a doctrinaire, hard-line, right-wing judge. Three of the other nine justices were appointed by Trump himself, giving the court a pro-Trump majority.  Some of the justices are reminiscent of other rulers in the period of their demise. At the beginning of World War I and the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas was similarly disconnected from reality. He focused more on paddling his boat and having tea on the balcony than the impending social crisis.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will decide three big cases. First, is the Colorado case, Trump v. Anderson, which would bar Trump from the Colorado ballot as a result of his role on January 6. The case, based on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, was heard on February 8. It seems almost certain that the Supreme Court will overrule Colorado and put Trump back on the ballot.

Such a ruling would shut down efforts in other states, such as Michigan, to keep Trump off the ballot in November. Michigan is a must-win state for Biden. It was very close in 2020. It has a large number of people of Arab descent, and tens of thousands have made it clear they will not vote for “Genocide Joe.” They saw him hugging Netanyahu and know the US continues to send arms and ammunition to Israel.

The second Supreme Court case relates to Trump’s indictment by the Justice Department for electoral interference. There are four charges involved, again linked to his actions on January 6. In the final case, Joseph W. Fischer is challenging a conviction for his actions on January 6. Should Fischer win his case, it would affect two of the four election interference charges leveled at Trump.

It is clear the Supreme Court majority seeks to help Trump in his legal battles. / Image: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

In the election interference case, Trump claims “presidential immunity.” District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against him, as did another appeals court. Trump is now asking the Supreme Court to put the entire trial on hold while he files other appeals. Earlier this year, the federal prosecutor asked the Supreme Court to step in and rule on immunity. This would have kept the trial moving forward as quickly as possible, but they did not take the case.

Having passed on it before, the Supreme Court will now take the matter up. Even if the Court rules against Trump, all this legal craziness means a further delay in the trial. If Trump manages to delay the trial until after the election, he can order the Justice Department to end the proceedings or even pardon himself if he wins. It is clear the Supreme Court majority seeks to help Trump in his legal battles—but this only causes greater problems for the ruling class as a whole.

All roads lead to ruin

On top of this, the House of Representatives seems unable to play its role in the capitalist governmental machine. Gridlock in the House means another potential government shutdown is looming. The Speaker of the House is next in line after the vice president to replace the president should something happen to him. In the past, speakers would rule for years and wielded dictatorial powers over the chamber. No longer. Speaker Kevin McCarthy held the position for only ten months. Current Speaker, Mike Johnson, knows that if he goes against Trump and the far right, he will be quickly removed from office. This has led to a deadlock in Congress. The dysfunction will be exacerbated further when Mitch McConnell, the longtime Republican leader in the Senate, steps down after the November elections.

Trump has also been indicted by Georgia and New York State. His Georgia trial is up in the air as the Atlanta District Attorney is being accused of a conflict of interest in the case. Even if Trump is convicted in New York State, it is not clear that he would be sentenced to prison.

One definition of a crisis is a situation where there are no good choices. This is where US capitalism and its mainstream establishment finds itself today.

Stability is not on the agenda but the growth of communism is! / Image: Revolutionary Communists of America

Trump: a sworn enemy of stability!

What can the capitalist class do? Can they avoid Trump 2.0? If they get the sequel, how will they deal with it? It seems likely that if Trump can stay out of jail and stay on the ballot, he will beat Joe Biden. He could even win if he is sent to prison. Even if Trump gets fewer votes than Biden, he could still win the Electoral College which is biased toward the smaller, more conservative rural states.

Most of the ruling class supports Biden, and they are trying to scare people with the idea that a second Trump term will lead to a personal dictatorship. But no one should fall for this fearmongering. A second Trump presidency would not be a dictatorship, but an incredibly unstable period. Mass protests would break out the night of his election. There would be conflicts within the state apparatus. The ruling class would try to use the population against Trump, like the Israeli ruling class used mass protests against Netanyahu prior to the war on Gaza. This is dangerous for the bourgeoisie as the working class will come to see its potential power and what it could achieve if it mobilized to fight for its own class interests. 

Reformists are beating the lesser-evil drums and saying that a Trump presidency will be a disaster for the working class. The truth is that another term for either Trump or Biden will mean further attacks on the working class. If Biden has done so much for the working class, why is he so unpopular? Why are all segments of the population less likely to vote for him than in the last election?

The working class must unite and fight back. There is no progressive wing of capitalists to save us! We can depend only on our own forces. Those forces will be strong when we are properly organized with communist leadership. No matter who wins the presidential election, the main problem is the decaying capitalist system, which both candidates support. Stability is not on the agenda but the growth of communism is! Join the RCA and help build a mass communist party in the center of world imperialism! We can turn the instability of capitalism into real working class power.

Are you a communist?
Then apply to join your party!