The following is the rebuttal response to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address of January 30, 2018, from Peace and Freedom Party state chair Kevin Akin.
In his record-length State of the Union address Tuesday night, Donald Trump (as expected) told an astonishing number of lies. More politically significant is the nature and purpose of those lies.
In addition to routine Republican touting of his tax gift to the wealthiest corporations and their controlling owners, massive military waste, brutal policies toward foreigners who resist his reactionary allies, and cuts to any programs that help the working class, Trump emphasized the racist and xenophobic baiting that has increasingly characterized his administration.
After his much-repeated boast of a record low in African-American unemployment, a rate far higher than the rate for white workers, he went on to attack immigrants. He repeated, in stronger terms than in previous public speeches, his demand for immigration restrictions that would take us back to the Klan-inspired policies of the 1920s. It was these restrictions that kept out millions of Jews when they faced annihilation by Hitler, also excluding the Romany and other Eastern European peoples who suffered terrible persecution and mass murder during World War II. Trump’s particular targets are those whose skin comes in various shades of brown, who have been insulted and attacked by him for years, but especially during his year-long term in office.
Distorted statistics and reports of crimes by immigrants are gathered and publicized by a special White House office in outright imitation of a Nazi Jew-baiting program from the 1930s. Trump again cited these racist, xenophobic distortions that are designed to hide the undeniable fact that immigrants have a far lower crime rate than native-born Americans. He claimed that the MS-13 gang is infiltrating the United States, reversing the truth that MS-13 was actually exported to Central America from the US by official government action.
Trump promised to expand the dead-end prison at Guantanamo, an illegally-occupied Cuban territory that the whole world has repeatedly stated in UN General Assembly resolutions should be returned to Cuban control. During the speech, the text of a presidential order to keep Guantanamo open was released to the media. Joining this to his sinister hints in the speech at bringing back torture as official policy, we can see some ugly struggles ahead.
Far from promoting unity as Trump claimed, his speech outlined his intentions to continue reducing the rights and lowering the standard of living of the working class, particularly through persecution and deportation of immigrant workers and their families, and by further cementing the solid grip of the billionaires on our economy and the government. His claims of wage gains are refuted by the actual statistics, and his promises to make America great again for everyone were echoingly empty, as surely was apparent to most of the population.
Given a field of possible Democrats that includes women, new African-American, Latino, and immigrant office-holders, the Democratic Party chose a male Kennedy to respond to Trump’s address. His speech made some good points, and some that were merely distractions, but mainly Kennedy passed up opportunities to explain Trump’s policies in terms of class. Better post-speech comments came from Bernie Sanders and some more progressive Democrats, but at the end of the evening one could be excused the feeling that more opportunities for refutation were missed than taken.
What is required to dislodge Trump from his position atop the federal government’s three branches? Mass resistance – Not in the form of turning to barely-better rivals, but in mobilizing tens of millions to demand and work for an end to the dominance of the government and the economy by the billionaires. We need working-class power in this country, and we must seek it at every level.
Struggles are coming in which the class war will rage with repeated attacks on workers by the ruling class, but by uniting and mobilizing the working class and its allies for advances and victories, we can push back these assaults from the wealthy. One milestone of progress, though an early one, will be the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency. But only by continuing our fight can we prevent his fellow billionaires from continuing his policies, and those of several recent presidents who have involved us in endless wars and continuing consolidation of power by the ultra-rich.
-- Kevin Akin, California State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party, 30 January 2018