We are deeply concerned about Donald Trump’s electoral victory. The elected president has carried out a disjointed, racist and sexist campaign, demonstrating a vociferous lack of respect for human rights. His victory could institutionalise an ultra-reactionary movement, similar to those that are now resurgent in many parts of Europe, and which are reminiscent of the worst nightmares of our past. The risk is greater because, in addition to the Presidency, the Republican Party will control the House of Representatives, the Senate and a majority of states. It may also deepen the conservative majority in the Supreme Court, which will have important consequences for the political and civil rights of people in the US.
The result reflects a deep crisis of the North American political system. Trump has been able to ride on a wave of popular discontent caused by growing economic, social, and gender inequalities, as well as the perception that party elites are in it for themselves, in cahoots with their large donors through the unbreakable bond of corruption. The loss of support from the white working class and the inability to mobilise minorities, young people, women, and those groups hardest hit by the growth of poverty and social exclusion in the country demonstrate that the 2008 crisis and its subsequent management has taken its toll on the Democratic Party. The nomination of Hilary Clinton, who represents the worst features of the establishment, only worsened their chances.
The Democratic Party must take note of what has happened. Its leadership actively boycotted the powerful and exciting progressive movement that propelled Senator Bernie Sanders, who advocated a radical change to democratise the American economy and society, including calls for an increase of the minimum wage; universal and free public health and education; the protection of women’s rights and minorities; the defense of the environment and opposition to free trade agreements. After losing the primaries in 23 states, amongst complaints about serious irregularities in the process, Clinton decided to ignore the political reality that Sanders represents and embarked on a conservative and lackluster campaign that did not pose a genuine alternative to the neoliberal policies implemented during the past four decades. Looking to the future, both the opposition to Trump and the articulation of a democratic and popular alternative in the United States depend on the hope, excitement and mobilisation generated by the Sanders movement, and which poses a democratic and emancipatory way out of the country’s crisis.
Trump’s victory is also a serious warning for Europe. In the coming months we face presidential elections in Austria, the Italian constitutional referendum, and decisive elections in both France and Germany. The Brexit vote has already shown that xenophobic organisations and ultranationalists will have fertile ground to continue growing as long as austerity is not reversed, rights are cut, and trade agreements promoted that benefit elites and push millions of women and men to poverty. At Podemos, we refuse to stand idly by as we witness the dismantling of our rights and the advancement of the extreme right in the continent. Faced with the international advance of reactionary movements, we will continue to work with other political parties and social movements around the world to build an alternative based on democracy, human rights, gender equity and social justice. The best alternative to what Trump represents is not to subject our people to the electoral blackmail of ‘the lesser evil’. It is to build democratic projects and alternatives that defend our right, and that of future generations, to live in peace, equality, freedom and fraternity.