The past presidential election in the United States of America, where the republican nominee Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the country’s history, was very particular and different from any other election in the past. The business man’s campaign was highly controversial, where he expressed his ideas with any type of restrains, and convinced the American people to elect him as their next leader. Among the main focuses of his campaign, the country’s economy and the income distribution in the society were two of the most outstanding (but still polemical) ones. He explained his plans in detail in a speech that the President-elect gave in the city of Pueblo, Colorado, in the past month of October. There were several opinions about this speech that came from different perspectives, but what would Karl Marx and the socialist mentality, would think about this speech?
The Marxist Lens
The focus of the Marxist’s criticism is “to analyze how the competition between different classes inspired or influenced a given work” (click here for more information). Listening to Trump’s speech while using this point of view allows a person to identify the targeting class and different groups of people that the President-elect was talking about, the difference in powers, and the power struggles or benefits from the different social classes. Using the Marxist lens helps to see America’s economic situation and what will happen under the presidency of the next commander in chief from a more abstract (and fair) point of view.
The Speech (October 3rd, 2016) Pueblo, CO.
Before starting the speech’s analysis, it is important to know about the location where the speech took place. Pueblo (click for more information) is a small city located in the state of Colorado. It is not very wealthy and there’s a variety of races gathered together, since there were countries like Spain and Mexico that held dominion over this city for the past 2 centuries. This is an important factor to take into account at the moment of analyzing this speech, since the audience wasn’t necessary composed only by white Americans but also Hispanics and immigrants.
In only 2 minutes into the speech, Donald Trump was already addressing taxes and his future plans. He promised that he was going to make the “largest middle class tax cut since Ronald Reagan”(minute 2:00).But what does this mean? His plan is to reduce the amount of money that the middle class has to pay to the government every year (either directly
or indirectly). In the current American society, the high-income class has to pay higher taxes, as well as the middle class, and not so much for the lower class. But in terms of what those taxes mean to each of those social classes, using a Marxist lens, the lower class should pay less, the middle class’s should remain or increase slightly, and the higher class should pay more in order to achieve equity. What Donald Trump will do is to cut taxes for both the middle and working class, which will eventually support equity in the short-term, but that in realistic terms, it would be hard to put into action. Considering the economic struggles that the American government is handling, less taxes will mean less government income and in the future, Trump will be forced to increase taxes and generate more inequity in the society.
“The unfairness of the tax laws is unbelievable“
– Donald J. Trump (minute 4:15)
Last Decade’s Economic Crisis
One of the most outstanding topics of the speech was Trump’s ability to recover an economy from downturns with his intelligence, which is what he believes and what he makes other people believe. He addressed the crisis from the last decade and used it as an example to show how he made his businesses overcome that hard financial situation and reinvest on them to make them succeed. He quoted the following: “With my knowledge I knew that I would make a comeback, without question. I never had a doubt on my mind” (minute 16:45), referring to his “success” in not letting his businesses shrink during the crisis. But the question is, why did so many business disappeared during the crisis and Trump’s didn’t? Intelligence had nothing to do with it, or maybe not as much as he presumes.
“I never had any doubts, whatsoever, and most importantly, I never ever gave up or even thought about giving up”
– Donald J. Trump, referring to the economic downturn of the last decade (minute 13:57)
Here is where the differences in economic power show up. During the speech, the President-elect spent a great amount of time talking about how many business failed and his didn’t and presuming about it. The reason behind this is the economic power that those “may business that disappeared” had, and Trump’s. Many businesses (from middle class) vanished after the crisis because they didn’t have funds to be re-built and this also affected the lower class that increased in unemployment. In the other hand, the higher class (Trump was one of the wealthiest men in the world) had enough to not only re-build their struggling business, but also to create more. Marx would strongly disagree with Trump’s comments, and from his point of view, it would be fair to assume that Trump can’t cover the U.S.’s high debt and save it (as he saved his businesses) from another crisis. This is just another example of how the unfairness in economic power affects more the lower classes while the higher just benefit from them.
U.S.’s Position in the World
Using the Marxist criticism in a more abstract and general point of view, it is possible to
identify the difference of classes between countries. Countries like the U.S. or China are considered the first-world countries. Some other in the European Union and Asia are considered second-world countries. Lastly, there are the underdeveloped countries in South America or Africa that require help. In the speech, Trump mentioned the global role of the U.S. as a first-world country. He stated the following: “we protect other countries with tremendous losses. And we want to protect countries, but they should pay us the proper amount. Why should we be losing money?” (minute 21:18). This is a strong opinion, as the “higher class” of the planet is going to close up and reduce their aid to those in need.
“We owe 20 trillion dollars in debt”
– Donald J. Trump (minute 20:22)
In times where the world’s economy can be taking a downturn, the greatest country on earth will stop collaborating with others in need under Trump’s presidency. From a Marxist point of view, the inequality in the world’s economy will make that the countries with resources and opportunities like the United States start benefiting and growing individually, while the underdeveloped countries will shrink in a recession that will cause big impacts globally. Those who ‘have’ should not create a bigger gap between them and the ‘have-nots’, but by breaking trade deals and protecting the U.S. from other countries, the world’s economy will shrink faster than expected.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that Marx would disagree with Trump’s plans regarding the economy and the income distribution in the United States. Seeking equity is what every country should do, under a Marxist lens, and Donald Trump’s policies and plans are not only going to create more unfairness, not only for the lower classes in the country but also for the countries that depend on U.S.’s aid, and it will make a bigger gap between those who have power (in terms of money) and those who don’t. In this speech, where Trump was mainly convincing people that he was going to be able to ‘save’ the country from struggles and difficulties, he forgot to take into account a more realist view of the world, where the greediness of the higher class will only create more problems. The U.S. and the world will face difficulties if these plans are applied. After all, a little bit of socialism wouldn’t harm anybody but the higher class.