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The Internationalist
February 2019

Chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” to Woman-Hater Trump’s Praise

Imperialist Feminism
and the Democrats

Millionaire Democratic speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi joins Republican vice president Mike Pence in applauding billionaire imperialist chief Donald Trump’s jaw-jutting vow, in his February 5 State of the Union speech, that “America will never be a socialist country.” (Screen shot from New York Times video)

So Donald Trump finally got his State of the Union speech to Congress on February 5, which even the right-wing Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts dismissed as a “political pep rally.” What we were treated to was a bipartisan spectacle of imperialist politicians chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” While it was Trump’s show, Democrats were in a self-congratulatory mood over House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi denying the Republican president his showcase until he backed down (for now) on his partial shutdown of the federal government over the failure of the U.S. Congress to fund his wall along the Mexican border.

True to form, Trump used his “bully pulpit” to demonize immigrants, claiming that “countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens,” when in fact undocumented immigrants commit far fewer crimes proportionately, and particularly far fewer violent crimes, than do American citizens. Trump as usual claimed that there is a “crisis on the southern border,” citing El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California as places where crime supposedly went down after walls were built. Yet every Congressional representative from a border district, including a Republican from Texas, has opposed his call for a wall (CBS News, 8 January), while El Paso and San Diego have had lower crime rates than most U.S. cities for decades.

Republican congressmen and senators cheered Trump’s xenophobic fear-mongering while the Democrats just sat there. The fact is that Democratic president Barack Obama deported millions, far more than Trump or any prior president, the Dems are just as committed to militarizing the border, and their supposed opposition to a wall is just grandstanding. (Bill Clinton built the first wall, in San Diego.) The real crisis at the border is that thousands of refugees forced to seek asylum from the devastation wreaked by U.S. imperialism in Central America have been kept out, and that tens of thousands of immigrant families that have been ripped apart, with children held in cages by the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) under both Obama and Trump.

Trump went on to brag about creating millions of new jobs, and that 58 percent of these jobs have been filled by women. That prompted the bloc of Democratic congresswomen (all wearing white in honor of the suffragettes) to give a standing ovation to the misogynist president! (Some “resistance.”) Meanwhile, the truth is that most of these new jobs are low-wage – nearly seven out of every ten workers earning less than $10 an hour are women, according to the National Women’s Law Center – and many are only part-time. The marked preponderance of women in new jobs also reflects the pattern in the decade-old economic crisis in which almost 80% of those who lost their jobs were men (Der Spiegel, 1 May 2009). Continued long-term unemployment of men is no gain for women workers.

Democratic congresswomen wearing suffragette white chant “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” as sexual-molester-in-chief Trump delivers applause line hailing record number of female capitalist legislators. DSA members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (front, center) and Rashida Tlaib (rear, left) joined in the orgy of imperialist chauvinist celebration.
(Screen shot from New York Times video)

But cheering Trump’s claim over jobs was only the start. For his next applause line (“Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this”), he bragged: “we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.” At this point, on cue from Nancy Pelosi on the podium, the Democratic women in white leapt out of their seats to cheer again. This soon morphed into chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” including by the supposed “democratic socialists” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (see photo). Applauding the sexual-molester-in-chief boasting of a supposed gain for women under his baton is bad enough; to join in the imperialist-chauvinist chanting like the spectacle at Olympic games is positively obscene, especially for anyone claiming to be a leftist.

Then came Trump’s claims of foreign policy triumphs. The Democrats sat stony-faced as he said that the U.S. would likely have been in a major war with North Korea if he hadn’t been elected president (probably true, as Hillary Clinton was incessantly banging the war drums). But when the nuke-rattling commander in chief announced that he had recognized the U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela – in other words, that he was launching a coup d’état to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro – many if not most of the Democrats applauded, including New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand (see photo) and House speaker Pelosi. No doubt so did Democratic senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who hail the U.S. blockade of Cuba and Venezuela.

New York senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand applauds Trump’s Venezuelan coup attempt. (Screen shot from New York Times video)

Trump claimed that the Venezuelan government’s “socialist policies” were behind the country’s economic collapse – which is the opposite of the case, as the economic emergency is centrally due to the bourgeois nationalist Maduro’s vain attempt to conciliate the imperialists and domestic capitalists, religiously paying the foreign debt as food supplies dwindle. The uber-capitalist U.S. president then launched into a tirade against calls for “socialism” in the U.S., by which he meant the social-democratic flavored liberalism of the Bernie Sanders wing of the capitalist Democratic Party. When Trump proclaimed that “America will never be a socialist country,” and more shouts of “U.S.A., U.S.A.” rang out, there was Democrat Nancy Pelosi behind him clapping.

No surprise there, or over the House speaker applauding Trump’s coup-mongering in Venezuela. As top House Democrat in the 2000s, Pelosi knew about the U.S. torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan (and later helped engineer the multi-trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street banks). For a rap sheet of some of the crimes against working people by this millionaire leader of the imperialist Democrats (“we’re capitalist, that’s just the way it is,” she responded to a student at New York University who asked about youth interest in socialism) see “Nancy Pelosi,Icon of Female Capitalist Power” (The Internationalist, January 2019).

We have noted as well that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, the two Democratic (Party) Socialists of America (DSA) members of Congress, voted on their very first day in office (January 3) to maintain funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes the I.C.E. immigration cops, after they earlier called to “abolish I.C.E.” In addition to approving that bill (H.J.Res. 1), on the same day DSAers Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib voted for a second bill (H.R. 21) – which “progressive” Democrats Jamila Jayapal, Ilham Omar and Ayanna Pressley likewise voted for – that included some $20 million “for programs to promote democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela,” that is, preparing the way for the coup by financing the pro-imperialist opposition.

Organizers of 1913 women’s suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. ordered anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells (left) and other black women to march in a segregated contingent at the back. Wells refused.  (Photo: Chicago History Museum)

As for wearing white (along with the other female politicians of this capitalist party) in honor of the women’s suffragists, this glosses over and covers up the fact that the main leaders of the movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, now celebrated as heroes, were racists who following the Civil War counterposed the struggle for the vote for women to the 15th Amendment for the right to vote of black men. This racism was so pervasive that organizers of the huge 1913 women’s suffrage march in Washington, D.C. demanded that black women march in a separate contingent at the back. Anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells courageously refused this vicious segregationist demand.

To be sure, after taking a lot of flak for her vote to fund I.C.E., while tacking between Democratic unity appeals and burnishing her “woke” image, “AOC” subsequently voted against a continuing resolution which funded the DHS, saying “our community felt strongly about not funding” the hated migra cops. But meanwhile she praises House speaker Pelosi as the “strong woman we need right now” to face down Trump over the government shutdown, and follows that up by cheering and chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” when Trump praises the election of more congresswomen. And don’t forget Ocasio-Cortez’ support for “border security” or her praise for racist imperialist war criminal and warmonger John McCain as “an unparalleled example of human decency and American service.”

The liberal bourgeois media is celebrating the number of women representatives and senators (127, a little under a quarter of the total) in the 116th Congress. They are echoed by many on the reformist left, such as Socialist Alternative (February 2019), which effusively headlined “Ocasio-Cortez Exposes the Rot of Corporate Politics” (“corporate,” mind you, not capitalist). But the fact is that these “progressive” and even “socialist”-posturing Democrats have acted exactly like the capitalist politicians that they are, loyal to the U.S.-dominated imperialist world order. That includes flipping and flopping on issues in order to maintain “credibility” with their base, and “playing ball” with the party bosses when it counts.  

In supporting the U.S. coup in Venezuela supposedly in defense of “human rights,” the Democratic Party congresswomen continue the tradition of Madeleine Albright, who as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and then secretary of state under Bill Clinton, whipped up feminist fervor for two imperialist wars on Yugoslavia (1994-95 and 1998-99).

Then there is Democratic senator Kamala Harris, who recently announced her presidential bid, posing as a “progressive” with talk of “Medicare for All,” a “Green New Deal” and the rest. In 2017, Harris spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the hardline Zionist lobby, saying that “America’s support for Israel’s security must be rock solid” over Iran, Gaza, Syria, billions for arms, etc. Earlier, as San Francisco district attorney and then California attorney general, she ran on a “tough on crime” platform, appealing judges’ decisions declaring the death penalty unconstitutional and challenging convictions involving police withholding of evidence (over 600 cases were dismissed).

It recalls Hillary Clinton’s mid-1990s talk of black “kids that are called superpredators,” when she was touting husband Bill’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The package of repressive laws the Clintons passed then (the 1994 crime bill, and in 1996 the “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act,” the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act” welfare “reform” and the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act”) was the single biggest body blow to black rights, defendants’ rights, immigrant rights and the welfare of millions of poor African American, white and Latina women in recent history – laws which Donald Trump is enforcing with a vengeance today.

And it recalls the feminist appeal by war criminal Albright in 2016 that there was “a special place in hell” for any woman who didn’t vote for Hillary, who stole millions from earthquake relief funds in Haiti to set up a sweatshop where women workers earn less than $5 a day; whose State Department oversaw the plotting leading up to the 2009 coup in Honduras; who as senator from New York pushed for trillions to bail out Wall Street banksters in 2008; who in 2007 voted for a bill giving the green light to the “bomb, bomb Iran” crowd, who as a leading war hawk peddled the lie of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion, and more recently beat the war drums to bomb Syria.

Putting more female capitalist politicians in Congress may signal a shifting social climate yet, by reinforcing the Democratic Party’s stranglehold on the poor, oppressed and working people, it reinforces the structures and mechanisms holding back their struggles. It is essentially a repeat of how the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black president “reflected a considerable social change in this country founded on chattel slavery,” but “has not changed the system of imperialist capitalism one iota” (see “Obama Presidency: U.S. Imperialism Tries a Makeover,” The Internationalist No. 28, March-April 2009). The wars, the torture, the skyrocketing inequality all continued.

Next up: a “bipartisan” border security bill being orchestrated by Nancy Pelosi and negotiated by Republican Kay Granger of Texas and Democrat Nita Lowey of New York. Instead of Trump’s “big, fat, beautiful wall,” there will be billions for bollard fences, more repressive technology and more Border Patrol agents. While phony “democratic socialists” and their reformist left cheerleaders round up votes for the Democratic Party of war, poverty and racism, the communists of the Internationalist Group insist that it’s necessary to break with the Democrats and all capitalist parties and to build a class-struggle workers party that genuinely fights for women’s liberation, and for full citizenship rights for all immigrants the only way that basic democratic right will be won: by international socialist revolution. ■