Kshama Sawant’s Response to Trump’s Inaugural Speech
Sisters and brothers,
Donald Trump is now Predator in Chief, and head of one of the most dangerous and right wing administrations in U.S. history.
In his inauguration speech, a few minutes ago, Trump said that his government will follow the righteous path, that it will be a government for the people. That the forgotten men and women will be forgotten no more. That he will create schools and good jobs for all, and bring back the wealth to the working people of America.
But, sisters and brothers, Trump is a liar and a con-man. He has built his administration on the worst muck of the billionaire class, right wing bigotry, and the corporate elite.
There is absolutely no mandate for Trump’s hateful, anti-worker, misogynist agenda. Trump will arrive at the White House with the lowest approval ratings of any incoming American president, hovering around 40%.
But opinion polls will not be sufficient to stop him.
Trump and the billionaire class only understand one thing: power.
Our over-riding task is to build the power of the 99% – working people and all those marginalized by the capitalist elite.
As a socialist, I completely reject the compromising of elite liberalism, which Hillary Clinton perfectly expressed when she said after the election that “Trump deserves our support” and that we should “give him a chance.” Nor can we afford to wait until the 2018 and 2020 elections to vote the Republicans out.
Trump can be defeated if we build massive resistance now. History is full of examples of right wing governments forced to partially or completely retreat in the face of mass movements.
Today and this weekend, protests, mass marches, and student walkouts are taking place all across the country and around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions, are protesting to send a powerful message that we are ready to fight against Trump and the billionaire class.
My organization, Socialist Alternative, has been at the forefront of protests against Trump since the beginning. We called for protests in major cities around the country the day after elections, and mobilized over 50,000 people on the streets.
For this inauguration weekend, Socialist Alternative is helping to organize students walkouts and protests in dozens of cities, as a launchpad for our resistance.
To defeat Trump will require a massive and ongoing movement, that bases itself on maximum unity in action and the social power of the working class.
But what does this mean?
To answer Trump’s vicious attacks will require building up a determined, fighting movement. One that seeks to mobilize millions from below into collective struggle, building grassroots, democratic structures, our own independent organizations.
Timid, symbolic protest will not be enough. We will need to organize mass non-violent civil disobedience. Marches of tens of thousands of people can shut down highways and find other ways to shut down “business as usual”. We need mass, peaceful, direct actions to block efforts to deport our immigrant brothers and sisters.
To inspire huge numbers to take action, we need fighting demands that point to an alternative vision of society that puts people and the environment above the profit-driven agenda of big business.
Of course we need to mobilize around defeating the litany of attacks from Trump and the Republicans, from defending the gains that were won by the Affordable Care Act, to defending public schools.
But this needs to be linked to putting forward audacious demands that can inspire with the promise of a dramatic improvement in people’s lives, like those popularized by Bernie Sanders:
- Medicare for all;
- $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers;
- Free higher education;
- Tax the rich to fund massive public works program to create jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, develop green energy, and mass transit; and
- Black Lives Matter! End police brutality and the racist mass incarceration state.
Bernie’s bold program inspired enthusiasm from millions, especially young people, while Hillary’s timid, corporate friendly, proposals of tinkering around the edges failed to mobilize them.
This weekend needs to be our starting point. As an immediate next step, let’s make March 8, International Women’s Day, a day of defiance against Trump and the disgusting misogyny and sexism he represents. A day of mass action, protests to defend Planned Parenthood, and against all forms of sexual violence.
May 1 is International Workers Day and of immigrant protests. Our target should be to bring millions into the streets in a truly massive wave of demonstrations for immigrant rights and against racism.
We can look to 2006 as our example – when a huge immigrant workers strike stopped an anti-immigrant bill in its tracks.
In these struggles, we will need the broadest unity in action of all those forces prepared to seriously struggle against Trump and the Billionaire Class.
Unions, immigrant rights, women’s, civil rights, LGBTQ, environmental organizations and activists, Sanders supporters, progressive Democrats, Greens and socialists.
But there is no avoiding that there are major political differences of strategy and social interests in this movement.
Our movement needs to base itself on the needs of the struggle against Trump and the Billionaire Class. We can not let it be subordinated or restricted to the limits of what the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party will allow.
Democrats in Congress will be put to the test in terms of their willingness to stand firm against Trump.
Let’s remember, when Obama first took office in 2009, he had massive popular support, the Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate and a large majority in the House. Yet the Republicans succeeded in relentlessly fighting Obama, blocking much of his agenda.
There is no reason the Democrats in Congress could not seriously obstruct much of Trump’s agenda, with the Republicans only having a razor slim majority of 52 seats in the Senate. Trump will not be able to appoint a right-wing zealot to the Supreme Court if the Democrats stand firm and filibuster him.
Unfortunately, recent experience does not inspire confidence in the Democratic Party, especially the pro-capitalist politicians who dominate the Party.
We saw this in the cowardly refusal of the vast majority of Congressional Democrats to challenge the results of this election, based on voter suppression.
I commend the stand of those Congressional Democrats who refused to attend Trump’s swearing in today, but we need to recognize that the majority of their colleagues refused to do so, instead shamefully attending.
But most outrageous was the recent decision by 13 Democrats to join Republicans in siding with Big Pharma against ordinary working people.
As a socialist, I do not think the Democratic Party is offering the kind of combative, working class, or movement-based leadership that will be needed to confront a ruthless foe like Trump.
Working people and the 99% need to build an alternative to the right-wing Republicans and Wall Street Democrats, our own political voice.
A new political party that rejects all corporate donations and instead bases itself on the funding and active support of working people and progressive organizations.
A grassroots, democratically run party that fights unreservedly for the interests of the 99% and against big business. That runs anti-corporate candidates all over the US.
I recognize that many honest activists are trying to “take back” the Democratic Party, following the lead of Bernie Sanders.
Our differences should not stop us from working together to build the largest struggle in the streets against Trump and the Billionaire Class, while continuing to have a honest debate about strategy as we work together within our movement.
In these trying times, I am given great hope by the new found spirit of rebellion amongst young people. Most important is the growing support for socialism, with thousands joining socialist organizations across the country.
The reason why is no mystery: capitalism is a failing system.
Donald Trump is a particularly repulsive expression of the predatory nature of the capitalist system itself.
We found out this week than now 8 people, just 8 people, now own more wealth than half the world’s population. We also found out that global temperatures, for the third year in a row, have broken all previous records – that climate disaster continues to rapidly advance.
We need a radically different society. We need socialism.
Socialism means a society run by and for working people, rather than the billionaire class.
A society where the major corporations are taken into public ownership so we can democratically plan how to use society’s resources to meet human need, rather than private profit.
An egalitarian society, rather than the dog-eat-dog, bloody competition of capitalism.
A society based on international cooperation rather than the vile nationalism that Trump is promoting.
A few days ago we celebrated Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King, in his final years, was becoming a socialist. In 1966 he said: “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums … There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
Sisters and brothers, another world is possible. I hope you will join us in the fight for a socialist future. There is no time to lose. Get organized!