May 9, 2016
On the Wednesday after the Indiana primary, President Barack Obama was in Flint, Michigan. In his short visit there, he asked for a glass of filtered Flint water and proceeded to drink it while delivering a threefold message. First he said, “I’ve got your back” and secondly, he encouraged residents to drink filtered tap water in order to get water containing a new treatment circulating throughout the Flint water system. Finally, he inferred that Flint children are all right, and that no permanent damage was done. He even suggested that perhaps he had eaten a lead chip or two as a child and, obviously, he turned out all right; even grew up to be President....
Riding in a limo with Governor Snyder, Obama repeated promises to get money for Flint to begin the process of fixing the water system. And in the meantime, he says, what Snyder wants to say, “go ahead and drink the water.”
In fact, he did what Republican Snyder could not do; he intervened to persuade the population to move on, and finally, to accept their situation.
This is the horrible fact of the matter: in a situation where the drive for profit resulted in deaths and permanent damage to residents of Flint and their children, the governments, federal and state, have nothing to propose but more of the same. And while Democratic and Republican parties held primaries and announced “historic” results for candidates on Wednesday, neither party has anything to propose to address the life and death problems faced by the U.S. working class. Only words.
No doubt, this is one reason for the troubling support of a section of the working class for Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican candidate for president. Flying in the face of top level Republicans and Democrats, the Republican Party voters, no doubt mostly white and mostly male, knocked down traditional conservative Republican Party men like Bush, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich to give the nomination to an outsider, a wild card, a totally untested and untried candidate who joined the party four short years ago.
Why would voters do that? Yes, Trump plays to all of the nationalist, racist, sexist crap that has plagued the working class for centuries. Yes, he directs workers’ anger against other workers who are just like them; he plays on the prejudices and anger of workers in order to convince us that he has something different to offer.
But most importantly, he plays the card that the Democrats and many union leaders played before him: he promises jobs for everyone. He points workers away from blaming their bosses who eliminate jobs and into the dead end of blaming immigrants and trade laws.
Perhaps in the coming months, we will see a quieter, “more presidential” Trump; a Trump who looks to pull the Republican Party around him. Or we may see a Trump who engages in a dogfight with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and/or Bernie Sanders, both of whom mostly support the status quo or talk about social fixes that they have no way to enforce on the U.S. bosses.
In any case, we can anticipate six more months of this political circus followed by four more years of deteriorating conditions. Worsening jobs, schools, roads, bridges, infrastructure, all broken after years of theft by these same politicians on behalf of the Wall Street bosses. War, unending war that is devastating entire regions of the world and further damaging any hopes for a peaceful, prosperous life for working people.
Why are we wasting precious time watching the acts of political players who are from and for the upper class – pretenders who have done nothing but diminish our abilities to lead a decent life?
Workers have nothing in common with these bourgeois parties: the working class needs its own party to lead in organizing a real fight for jobs, for clean water, for healthcare for all. After all, the U.S. bosses are pulling the strings behind this puppet cast, both Democratic and Republican – bosses who have no intention of giving workers a dime without a fight.