US Politics

Readers Respond to Articles on Trump Indictments

In recent months World-Outlook has published several articles on the various indictments of Donald Trump, expressing our views on the most effective ways to oppose the danger of Trump and Trumpism.

The most recent was “Third Trump Indictment: What Is at Stake?,” published in two parts, Part I and Part II. Several readers posted comments on the website replying to the article. In response to one of them, we published a “Discussion with our readers” column, Confronting the Danger of Trumpism, which also elicited replies.

We have compiled below all the comments on these posts, listed in the order we received them, from the oldest to the latest. The web platform we use does not provide the option of notifying subscribers as new comments appear. We are sharing them to encourage further discussion and debate.

We have lightly edited the comments for typographical errors and readability. Subheadings are by World-Outlook.

Tourists atop a double-decker tour bus pass by assembled reporters, police, and demonstrators waiting for Trump to arrive at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, to be arraigned for his third indictment, on August 3, 2023. (Photo: Jonathan
Ernst / Reuters)

In response to “Third Trump Indictment: What Is at Stake?”

‘Good articles’

Good articles. The whole history of the labor movement and of all the related struggles clearly demonstrates that capitalist governments’ attempts to oppose the right, including Bonapartists like Trump or even fascists, by restricting their democratic rights will be used with a vengeance against the democratic rights of socialists, labor unions, Black organizations, and so forth.

— Barry Sheppard


‘There is a bigger picture’

There is a bigger picture, the one where working people have no political vehicle and we are all almost literally forced to decide either to support the prosecution of Trump by any means necessary or inadvertently side with his democratic rights you free speech because the instrument holding him to account is also our enemy. It is indeed the lesser evil trying to defend democracy from the evil represented by Trump and the, still small, fascistic layer of the reactionary right wing of both the capitalist class and the layers of the working class politically supporting them.

I do understand the need to educate and bring large layers of working people and the oppressed to greater self-consciousness of the role we can play. But as I said sometimes being “right” isn’t something, especially working people, women, and oppressed racial/ethnic communities are in a place to hear; either politically or socially.

No matter how well argued and incisive such an analysis, in this context it will only appear like an apology in support of Trump. I doubt most angry, mostly liberal, workers at the threat to democracy Trump represents will understand such a nuance, not because I think working people are dumb, but because their/our reality is so atomized that most only see the struggle in good v. evil terms. That is indeed the product of left evilism itself. I think it is a mistake to engage in this issue as a “debate” over the general aims of the liberal wing of the capitalist class versus those of their right-wing counterparts for the purpose of steering some more viable working-class political path. We seem more like sideline critics at best and apologists seeking to get an ear with right wing workers at worst.

I’m my view, such an approach makes us seem less trustworthy in the eyes of liberal workers who still only see that a criminal, one that they see as a clear and present danger to what they believe is democracy, has a point about political advocacy that should be defended. Neither World Outlook nor revolutionaries in general should be trying to provide some “supreme court” judgement about whether the people trying to prosecute and punish this criminal, and actual threat to democracy, are doing it with our interests in mind. Neither the lawyers nor the Democrats are doing this in our interests at all. But in the context we find ourselves today, it is by far the only instrument currently available when the working class is so politically weak.

I share your view that there is indeed a better more viable way out, a politically strong, more directly conscious working class united in common struggle against sexism, racism, xenophobia, and capitalist rule. And, I do understand what appears as your intent to try and educate working people about the differences between their (capitalist rulers) interests and ours (working people, women, and the oppressed). I believe it is short sighted to focus on the nuances in this issue and but the more dire need to ensure this criminal misogynist racist hater of democracy is crushed along with the current he represents inside the working class.

I appreciate your efforts and always look forward to reading your thoughts. I just believe we need to stop the tendency to sectarianism in speaking to the “small ears” for the sake of thinking how to win over the larger ones. If, and when, working people become more politically conscious enough to mobilize in our interests, I think they will hear “us” better if they know we were willing to come with them in their development than appear to be sniping at them when they are wrong. To be sure, I do not claim to know how to do that well by myself. I don’t counterpose my view against yours. Rather, I believe we need to do more than just be correct for the sake of doing right. In the time and space we have.

In solidarity always,

— Mtomas3 (Manuel Barrera)


‘Look up criminal conspiracy’

Look up criminal conspiracy. Free speech does not apply to a criminal conspiracy, whether a scam or fake electors or hiring a hit man. They produced fake documents and try to intimidate Pence into accepting them, threatening his life and all those politicians that day. That crap is not covered by free speech. We will see what plays out in court, and in the court of public opinion. Sometimes it is better to wait and see what happens as you print occasionally but things are changing daily.

— William Rayson


‘Arguments Trump lawyers will make’

You are making some arguments that Trump lawyers will no doubt make, and the judge and jury will decide whether proving his intent was done or whether it was even necessary legally. The evidence will be presented, and none of us should presume there won’t be more to come that we have not heard about. If the case is “railroaded”, or there is a “kangaroo court”. If Trump is treated unfairly by a judge or prosecutor, that should be opposed. The one charge you mention you picked a bone with – but what of all of the other charges?

— William Rayson


‘Actual illegal actions’

I agree with this article in general. However, at least one of the charges is based on actual illegal actions, not just him exercising his free-speech rights. 

The taped phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger proves he asked that 11,779 votes be found for Trump. Trump was trying to overturn the will of the majority of Georgia voters. 

In a conference call on January 2, 2021, Trump pressured Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (left) to “find” more than 11,000 votes needed to overturn Joe Biden’s win in that state and threatened him with “criminal charges” if he declined. Raffensperger refused to buckle and made public the transcript of the call.

There has been a lot written about this, so I found the call transcript and read it. This was a long phone call more of than an hour and two minutes. This was not aspirational, or a speech, claiming he won. Trump says over and over again that he is not interested in court cases or further investigations, he just wants the Georgia Secretary of State to find enough votes for him to win.

Thinking about what working class leaders should do over the next year or so I think the situation is unusual and complex. On the one hand, we don’t have a party that represents our interests, and our union and other organizations are weak.

There are some bright spots like the organizing happening at Amazon, Starbucks, and other places. There seems to be stirrings among railroad workers and auto workers, and we have seen recent strikes as an indication of that. National Nurses United is consistently organizing more hospitals.

These efforts need more time to make mistakes, learn, and mature. My opinion is Trump has a real chance of winning in 2024, and that has grave implications.

I had a personal experience last year that I want to briefly share. Extremists made a concerted effort in the 2022 elections to elect majorities of school district boards, so that they could attack public education, weaken teacher unions, and implement a whole list of proposals, such as curriculum changes, book bans, and attacks on LGBTQ+ students and staff.

Where I live, the extremists put forward a slate of three candidates that were amazingly well funded and organized for a relatively small school district.

The local teachers union voted to endorse a competing slate of three candidates. These candidates were Democrats with imperfect programs, but were at least open to considering reasonable positions on the issues.

At the time I was the president of the local, retired teachers chapter. My conclusion was it was critical to support the union endorsed slate because there wasn’t time to do anything else.

The extremists had professional election organizers and out spent the union slate 5 to 1. Our side out worked them sending handwritten postcards, going door-to-door and systematically organizing to talk to friends. The result was two of the three union candidates were elected, maintaining a bare majority of 3 to 2 on the school board.

Since the election, the extremists have made a concerted effort to force teachers and staff to immediately report to parents, if a student wants to keep private an LGBTQ+ issue. For transgender students this is the life and death issue. 

So far, the extremist have only been able to have their two votes so I think I made the correct decision in helping the union slate to win.

I know my comments are not clearly thought out. I hope to participate in a discussion.

— Jwburfeind


‘I don’t agree’

I don’t agree.  I’ve read the indictment through.  It’s not about political advocacy, it’s about (in your own words) “a concerted campaign to overturn the election result.”  The words cited in the indictment are there to demonstrate what he DID and that he knew (an element of the crime) that he was urging criminal activity in behalf of a lie.  Do we regard all speech as protected?  If someone threatens me verbally, that’s the crime of assault.  Should it not be?  If someone verbally threatens to do or say something harmful to me and mine unless I give him/her money, that’s extortion or blackmail.  Should that not be a crime?  And, in the old saw, shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is also not protected speech.  Neither is urging others to engage in obviously criminal — and blatantly and dangerously anti-democratic — activity. In my opinion, workers and socialists should hope that Trump is convicted and jailed.

Like it or not, determining intent is unavoidably necessary in judging many genuine crimes.  Intent makes much of the difference among manslaughter, homicide 2, and homicide 1. 

— Bruce Levine

In response to “Confronting the Danger of Trumpism”

‘I don’t know what you are saying’

I was previously under the impression that you were in fact calling on the government to drop the charges against Trump. I don’t now know what you are saying. I don’t agree that the Senate Hearings were a “showtrial”. They were necessary and informative in their way. They brought out the truth and served as a springboard for further investigation. I was glued to them like the Watergate Investigations, which shed light on a lot of Nixon administration lawbreaking and violating constitutional rights of us all. We all have an interest in everyone learning what happened and how it happened, so then we can have a beneficial and educational national debate about what to do about it.

The courts will do what the juries decide, and the lawyers will appeal any convictions, so this will take a long time, and in the meantime, we can learn a lot, but also not forget about all of the other nightmares unfolding in the age of the simultaneous collapse of the Goldilocks climate and capitalist democracy. Here is a tip – make sure your passports are up to date, because renewing them is harder now and could get real hard.

— William Rayson


‘I found this post clarifying’

Hello, my apologies. I replied to this post yesterday, but I lost it while responding on my phone. My mistake. I will just say here that I found this post clarifying and cannot disagree with much of it. I do believe that, as is unfortunately too common, there is a tendency to ascribe almost conspiratorial motives to the reactions of the Democrats in their attempts to blunt the effects of Trumpism on what they believe to be democratic rights and democratic process. I agree that the reactions of the Democrats are ultimately aimed at preserving the two-party system, their hold on it, and using their efforts to prosecute Trump as a way to apply their efforts to the working class and their organizations. It’s not surprising. They are a capitalist party with people dedicated to preserving capitalism.

However, I am skeptical that there sometimes knee-jerk efforts going after Trump are an organized concerted effort to blunt the rights of working people and the oppressed and “using” the prosecution of Trump’s clearly anti-democratic crimes to override the bourgeois elections. It seems more of a capitalist-inspired reaction to right-wing efforts to maintain white supremacy in local, state, and national government. I also agree that this battle is an internecine struggle between differing forces among capitalist politicians, capitalists, and their related political currents. I simply do not believe this struggle is all that deliberate except in the general way that anything capitalists and their politicians do to address their differences which are at best “nuanced”.

Each such group of politicians and their masters within the ruling class want to stay in power. Thus, Republicans see that Trump still has a large following and are seeking to ride that dynamic back into a majority. Democrats purport to defend “democracy” essentially for the same reason; to maintain electoral power. That their machinations have little actual defense of democratic rights, especially for the oppressed seems secondary albeit damning and antithetical to democracy or to working people and the oppressed.

I agree that it is a difficult place to be; to decry the racist, sexist, anti-working class politics represented in raw form by Trump and stand against the anti-democratic, sexist, racist, anti-working class power politics represented by the Democratic Party. All of that in the context so many other fronts such as wars, the catastrophe of the environment, the ongoing misogyny threatening women’s rights, the anti-immigrant xenophobia, to name just a few of the most blatant.

I do not pretend to have a clear answer or best way forward better than what is outlined in your posts. What I am responding to is the tendency to apply analyses in sectarian frameworks; from the near conspiratorial ascriptions of the politicians acting in the interest of capitalism to the constant relying on past works of revolutionaries like George Novack, Marx, Trotsky, etc.

Doing so appears narrow not in terms of analysis of the situation but in terms of what is needed to be done. . . . I do understand, it’s comforting to harken back to how revolutionaries dealt with similar situations, in the past. Your posts proscribe a chimera of an independent working class party that could lead “us” out of this morass, something that is, yes, needed but seemingly so distant as to be illusory. Maybe it’s all that can be done, to state what is needed. Such solutions seem more directed at some future class-conscious working class that only has this tiny conscious layer of revolutionaries within this orbit. It seems both pedantic and wistful in the face of storm and chaos playing out before us.

I don’t need to be convinced about defending democratic rights, I’m already there as I am sure many readers here. I don’t need have the veil of lesser-evilism re-lifted as we watch the Democrats trying so ineffectually to counter a right-wing reactionary current seeking to drive even the modicum of democratic rights we have. They do so by seeking not actually to prosecute Trump but simply to blunt his popularity. It’s the reason they are being so unsuccessful and driving many politically wavering working people frustrated by the general demise of empire into the waiting clutches of Trump’s reactionary alternative. While the Democrats have no interests in actual democracy and will reduce it if needed, Trump actually wishes to make it his platform for achieving power; not a substantial difference, but is a difference.

Like I said, I’m not sure how better to navigate this issue and gain some advantage to the voices of revolutionaries than your points in your combined posts, including this last one. I just would like to see us find a way to “thread the needle” and gain a hearing that might actually win a broader following. Perhaps it might be useful to support bringing Trump to account so that the solution for capitalism that he represents is smashed and buried as an alternative working people will not abide. I do know the “danger” in making such a view given that the forces–the Democratic Party–in power are also implacable enemies to the interests of the oppressed.

Perhaps we could be willing to make a relatively small “mistake” for the sake of a larger gain, to build a following not solely based on “purity” of thought. Sorry, I do see the weakness in the argument, but I have no illusions in capitalist democracy and feel confident in my revolutionary zeal and ability to express it without bending to reformism. It seems better than always bending toward sectarianism. It is the affliction of what passes for “leftism” in the US and even the rest of the world to bend either toward reformism or sectarianism. I think the promise of World-Outlook and those supporting it have the capacity to construct a better revolutionary path.

In any case, I do appreciate your response. I found it clarifying. For me as well. Thank you for the work you are doing.

Always in Solidarity,

— Manuel Barrera, PhD
(aka mtomas3)

1 reply »

  1. Dear Folks. I have appreciated your efforts to bring clarity to recent events for some time now, but I was surprised that it has taken you a long time to recognize how profoundly counter-revolutionary Trump and the movement around him really is. Bonapartism arises when the traditional forms of social control that rulers have exercised are no longer effective. Bonapartists use new forms of repression, as well as new forms of ideological obfuscation and simple thuggery to restore the same ugly face in a new set of clothes. Napoleon cannot be the same ugly monarch. Instead, he presents himself as the resurrection of the “noble” Julius Caesar–complete with the phony trappings of the old Roman Republic.

    A reading of the indictments against Trump are both numerous and utterly convincing — to his followers as well as his opponents. Part of his appeal to his followers is that, “He gets away with it.” We should worry less about his free-speech rights and more about our own. Scott Ware


    Scott Ware

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