By STAN OREGANO
For the past three years, the center of Democratic Party opposition to the Trump presidency has been on the basis of loud and repeated claims that Trump is a bought-and-paid-for agent of the Kremlin.
Dreams of recouping the party’s fortunes by explaining away the debacle of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat stirred the Democrats to initiate charges in Congress and later ignite an investigation by the FBI. Since May 2017, the Democrats’ efforts have rested mainly on the probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI.
For months MSNBC and CNN have worked from the stance that it was inevitable that evidence of illegal relations with Russia would come to light. But when the summary of the Mueller Report was released on March 24, it revealed no evidence that the law had been broken concerning the Trump campaign’s relationship to the Russian government.
This isn’t to say Trump’s real crimes are not numerous. He has overseen a monstrous treatment of immigrant families and the escalation of ICE as a terrorist police force against working people. He has encouraged the big fossil-fuel emitters in polluting the environment and exacerbating climate change. He has helped to whip up a violent and semi-fascist far-right movement. And he has worked tirelessly to make the experience of trans people in this country even more precarious and dangerous by attempting to remove what little legal protections they have.
Each of these policies, which merely represent a small selection of his reactionary actions, would justify a mass movement of opposition in themselves. But the method and basis of the Mueller probe never had the potential to be anything of value to a genuine movement opposed to Trump and the system that makes him possible.
The Democrats are trying to fight Trump on the same terms in which they opposed his presidential bid—that he is personally “unworthy” of the office since he is a liar and a crook. But that is true of all bourgeois politicians, including the Democrats who invested themselves in the probe. They can’t oppose him on most policy grounds without openly admitting their own bankruptcy. The real mass movement activity that is needed to defeat the retrograde capitalist agenda is just as antithetical to the Democrats as it is to Trump.
The Democrats are a party of the capitalist class, and as such, they are far more attached to law and order prevailing than they are in fighting the politics that Trump represents. Even when individual Democrats sometimes express themselves as being favorable to a more “progressive” policy, their party affiliation makes them virtually incapable of acting on that inclination.
Although the Democrats have stage-managed rallies in the street on occasion, as they did in the months immediately following Trump’s election, they have given little support to tactics that have actually been effective at opposing Trump’s policies. The airport protests in the wake of his Muslim ban, the sickouts of airport workers during the government shutdown, and the massive wave of teachers’ strikes were generally opposed by the Democratic Party.
Socialists point out that it is a grave mistake to place any confidence in sections of capital that claim to be the “friends” of working people. Maintaining faith in the twin parties of capital—the Republicans and Democrats—is entirely detrimental to building a movement for social change and progress. The only force that can stand at the forefront of a serious opposition to Trump, and the political policies that he champions, is one that is led by the independent action of working-class people and their close allies.
The disproportionate coverage that the Mueller probe received from the media and the semi-official mouthpieces of the Democratic Party caused the investigation to receive an enormous amount of attention, to the exclusion of more serious ways to oppose Trump. Accordingly, the failure of the probe has helped to restore public confidence in the president—leading to a four-point jump in his approval ratings and a boost to his campaign for “four more years.”
The puncturing of the Democratic Party’s charges against Trump make allegations that he is being unfairly persecuted seem more reasonable to people who are uninformed. But for class-conscious workers and those who are more politically aware, these developments merely confirm the bankruptcy of the Democrats and the rottenness of their politics.