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You are here: Home / 2019 / Lessons of Trump's Government Shutdown So Far: TRUMP'S USA : NO COUNTRY FOR WORKERS

Lessons of Trump's Government Shutdown So Far: TRUMP'S USA : NO COUNTRY FOR WORKERS

Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA, by RAY LIGHT, February 19, 22019


President Trump chose Christmas week to launch an unprovoked attack on 800,000 innocent U.S. Federal workers and their families. Without due process, the billionaire bully suddenly cut off their paychecks. Indeed, President Trump himself did not try to cover up the fact that this cruel and unusual punishment, this federal government shutdown, had nothing to do with any actions of these almost one million workers.


Moreover, about half these workers were compelled by Trump to keep working without pay. On the face of it, this latter act seems clearly a violation of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Even more draconian, this is an apparent violation of the Thirteenth Amendment rights provided by the U.S. Constitution. This amendment prohibits “involuntary servitude” (slavery) except when one has been convicted of a crime.




What is going on in the USA today?! How has Trump gotten away with this frontal attack on the U.S. working class? And how has Trump been forced to back off at least for a three week period? Finally, where do we go from here?





-Trump Demonizes Latino Immigrants Trying to Deepen Division in the U.S. Working Class-



The Trump Regime has made a sustained effort to create an hysteria among the largely ignorant white and Afro-American citizens of the USA, with its three hundred million people. This hysteria is concerning a few thousand men, women and children seeking economic relief and asylum, fleeing from hard-pressed Central American countries dominated by U.S. imperialism and paramilitary gangs. Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Trump employed inflammatory rhetoric and the connivance of the monopoly capitalist media and deployed several thousand federal troops to the Mexican border, creating a crisis in a situation where the flow of immigrants has already been sharply diminished for a number of years.


Trump's moderate success with this ploy in stemming a major electoral disaster for himself and the Republican Party encouraged his renewed emphasis on this anti-immigrant hysteria as he seeks to fulfill his 2016 anti-immigrant campaign promise to build a wall to keep Mexicans and all Latin Americans out. While Republicans have traditionally been for small and cheap government, neither Republican nor Democratic politicians have focused on Trump's wasteful expenditure of hundreds of millions of tax dollars to deploy and maintain U.S. combat troops at the southern border against an imaginary invading army composed of a small number of desperately poor Latin American families. Here the U.S. military presence is the main source of the crisis.


It is vital for Trump's continued kleptocratic rule that he retain the loyalty of a mobilized right wing, white supremacist and great nation chauvinist base “against Wall Street finance capital” and its ongoing and intensifying congressional and FBI (“political police”) investigations. The key to retaining this base is the anti-immigrant hysteria connected to “the Wall.”


So Trump called on the Republicrat Congress, still dominated by the U.S. Empire's Wall Street ruling class, including his Democratic Party enablers led by Schumer and Pelosi, to agree to fund with U.S. tax dollars the Wall that he had originally promised would be paid for by Mexico. But Wall Street sensed an opportunity to push back against the Trump Empire's drive to autocratic, one man dictatorship. Thus, Pelosi and Schumer, on behalf of the U.S. Empire, refused to go along with Trump.


What had been fabricated already was clearly not sufficient. The Trump regime needed to foment a greater crisis, to stir especially the white working class to greater enmity against the Latino immigrant working people, to try to get Pelosi and the Democrats to cave in on the Wall funding.


-Trump's Federal Government Shutdown-


On December 22, 2018 the federal government shut down. The shutdown didn't end for thirty-five days until Friday, January 25, 2019. It was the longest U.S. government shutdown in history. It was clearly an act of desperation for the Trump Regime as there was no direct connection between the 800,000 government workers and the Democratic Party. There is much chauvinism among the working class as well as all other classes in this imperialist society, after more than five decades of U.S. global hegemony. Nevertheless, the Trump forces need the suffering federal workers and families to blame the immigrants or at least the Democratic Party that Trump claims is “soft” on immigration—even though President Obama was tougher on immigrants than any modern U.S. president before him.


It is remarkable how thoroughly lacking was any empathy on the part of the billionaire Trump or any of his top aides for the suffering his shutdown inflicted on the federal workers. (Trump's Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, a long time Wall Street financier, callously advised the federal workers that they should “apply for loans.” This is reminiscent of Queen Marie Antoinette's advice to the rebellious French poor, “Let them eat cake,” shortly before meeting her violent end.) This is in stark contrast with the corporate democrats who are past masters of phony “sympathy and support” for the working class. And it is clear that rather than blaming the immigrants or the Democratic Party, most federal workers blame Trump and the Republicans for the suffering they and their families have experienced. Trump's reactionary base still seems in place. But there has been no expansion of the U.S. population that blames the immigrants for their hardships. And federal worker resistance has been rising. So Trump had to back off the shutdown for three weeks at least.


-How has Trump gotten away with his frontal attack on the U.S. working class?-


Trump has bullied his way through his first two years as President. He has deliberately appeared to be all-powerful. Unlike the Democratic Party leadership that is now looking to the 2020 presidential election, Trump is still looking at winning or intimidating hearts and minds. Even in relation to the government shutdown, Trump has needed for Congress to not appropriate the funds so that the government would grind to a halt. Thus, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell's unwillingness to bring appropriations bills up for votes in the Senate made Trump seem like he was shutting down the U.S. government by himself.


Trump had already threatened that he would cause a government shutdown if he didn't get his wall funding. Moreover, he claimed he wouldn't blame the Democrats but be proud about his responsibility for it. All the while, Trump planned to sign a clean continuing resolution until he listened to the criticism from Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, influential leaders of his right wing base and then provoked a shutdown anyway. After trying to bully his way through, it was then difficult for him to blame the Democrats for the shutdown.


The treacherous misleadership of the AFL-CIO and the other major unions largely tails the conservative (not left or even liberal) corporatist Democrats who are too corrupt themselves to seriously challenge Trump in his drive for a Trump Dynasty dictatorship.

All this has combined to give the workers and oppressed peoples within the USA the idea that they have no rights to defend and fight for and with.


Trump can only exercise one man dictatorial rule if he declares a National Emergency, invoking the National Emergencies Act or some other emergency executive decree. But in that instance he would be subject to a challenge protocol. And in this situation, his fabricated series of crises might be more likely to be exposed than upheld. Indeed, it is significant that thus far in this current crisis Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency on several occasions trying to bully his way through, but has failed to carry out his threats.


-What power compelled Trump to stop the Government Shutdown?-


Despite Trump's insistence that he would carry on the Government Shutdown until Congress passed an appropriation funding his Great Wall on the Mexican border, he folded after thirty-five days. Mass media pundits representing the Wall Street ruling class promoted the fiction that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had beaten the formerly “all-powerful” Trump in a duel. In fact, Pelosi did not cave in this time to Trump's bullying. But, while Pelosi merely held her position, it was the actions of the workers themselves, mostly in spite of their bankrupt leadership, that defeated Trump in this battle.


The Air Traffic Controllers union workers at their local airports and the TPS workers there were individually and increasingly collectively staging sick-outs. This culminated at New York's LaGuardia Airport with the temporary suspension of flights because of staffing issues. It was clearly heading in short order to a general collapse of the airline industry. Other federal workers, including 14 thousand IRS workers did not show up for work; again, with every indication that a disruption of tax revenue was on the horizon. Reportedly, there had already been several deaths at closed National Parks across the country. Every day that the shutdown continued was weakening Trump's position further.


U.S. working class militancy has been on the upswing for past year or more, beginning with the victorious West Virginia school workers strike that spread to many so-called red states and then to Chicago where the teachers, hotel workers and others fought Obama's right hand man, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. During the thirty-five day government shutdown, the Los Angeles teachers victoriously struck against privatization and charter school draining of the public education system in the second largest school system in the USA. Working class courage is contagious.


It is the working class that shut down Trump's government shutdown.



-Trump's Secretary of Labor and Trump's Hatred of the Working Class-


Alexander Acosta has been Trump's one and only Secretary of Labor during these first two years of his Presidency. The Labor Secretary presides over the entire Labor Department. It is the only federal agency that monitors child labor and enforces child labor laws. The office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking is part of the Labor Department.


In late November 2018, the Miami Herald carried an explosive expose involving Florida millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein who a decade earlier had abused underage girls “on a near industrial scale” in a “child molestation pyramid scheme.” Epstein's federal indictment could have put him away for the rest of his life. According to Herald journalist Julie K. Brown, Epstein, not his several hundred young victims, was rescued by then Miami chief federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta. Brown described the Acosta-Epstein “non-prosecution agreement” as “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.” Incredibly, Acosta is the man Trump appointed to this Cabinet position.


Of course, Acosta's appointment and his continued retention as Labor Secretary, in spite of his scandalous handling of the Epstein case, is an indication of Trump's contempt for girls and women. It underscores, in the aftermath of Judge Kavanaugh's elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court, the assertion in our previous issue that “Trump's USA [is] No Country For Women.” (See Ray O'Light Newsletter #111, November-December 2018) It is important to note that, having selected the monstrous Acosta to be his main functionary on the front of the U.S. working class and labor movement, Trump has made it crystal clear that he is hostile to all working people in the USA.


Trump's utter disregard for the well being of almost a million federal workers and their families in his shutdown power play along with his continued demonization of Latino and other immigrant workers is just the latest and most blatant example of this.


-Where do we go from here?!-


Trump's USA is No Country for Workers! So, will the lawless, out of control Trump Dynasty drive the federal workers, including many unionized workers, into a slave condition as already patterned in the thirty-five day government shutdown? Will Trump's propaganda about the Wall and his demonization of immigrant workers and their families, especially from Mexico and Central America, continue to drive immigrant and especially undocumented workers down to a status of peonage and slavery? Or will we the workers of the USA, in solidarity with each other and with the workers of the rest of the world continue to grow in unity and struggle against finance capital and U.S. imperialism? And will we drive the Trump tyranny out of the USA!?


The Trump Regime defends Trump's Empire. The “Republicrat” Democrats and mainstream Republicans defend Wall Street's Empire. The top AFL-CIO, Teamsters and Change to Win union leadership defend the Democratic Party wing of the “Republicrats” and therefore Wall Street's Empire. These labor misleaders and traitors to the U.S. and international working class remained largely silent during Trump's shutdown attack on both the Latino immigrants and the almost one million federal workers furloughed and otherwise abused in this period.


At a time of rising worker militancy in the USA---what an opportunity for militant working class fighters, militant unionists, revolutionary socialists to fight for the hearts and minds of all the working people—white, Afro-American, Latino, Asian, African, Native American and to fight for their unity in the struggle against monopoly capitalism and imperialism--- in the USA today.


As the three week moratorium on the federal shutdown comes to an end let us remain clear that it was the activity of the TSA and Air Traffic Controllers, the school teachers, the IRS workers and other federal workers that took the power into their own hands and stopped the tyrannical Trump Regime in its tracks. The power in the workers hands needs to remain there and grow through the class struggle.



 Finally, I remain convinced that in the struggle to defeat the fascistic Trump Regime, the valuable guidance of George Dimitrov and the Communist International (now at the hundredth birthday of its founding), and the heroic example of the Soviet Union's people, Red Army and Communist Party led by comrade Stalin that led the global victory over world fascism in World War II, will help us on our path to a brighter future.


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