In recent weeks two states, Colorado and Maine, have ruled that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to be on their presidential primary election ballots. Needless to say, some Democrats and progressives rejoiced, believing that something has saved them from the possibility of him becoming president again. But while these rulings (one by the Colorado state Supreme Court, the other by Maine’s Secretary of State) will surely be challenged and may not be the final word on whether he appears on their ballots, they beg the question: should Trump be ineligible to run for reelection?
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is a criminal. He started by inheriting wealth. He then spent his life as a capitalist getting even richer on the backs of his companies’ workers and then taking advantage of some laws that favored the wealthy and apparently breaking others to avoid the consequences for his business failures. On top of his boasting about sexually assaulting women, he has defamed those who have accused him. He’s spent his recent life as a political con-man, playing on fear and hatred, pitting workers against one another as he uses their fears to stoke his ego and ambition for political power. Once he got to the White House, he used lies against conscientious poll workers and calls for insurrection to try to stay there.
But as horrific as all that is, it’s important to recognize that Trump himself isn’t the root of the problem, and keeping him off the ballots won’t save us. In fact, it’s likely that Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court won’t let states keep him off their ballots.
Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t do that, the real problem is that there seems to be no real alternative to Trump vs. Biden for president. It looks like it will be the billionaire vs. the millionaire, neither of whom represents the interests of ordinary people facing high costs of living, lousy pay, unacceptable healthcare, education, housing, and transportation systems, the threat of extreme weather from global heating, and whatever else is oppressing you today.
If you want Trump off the ballot, it’s because you fear that things could get much worse. But trading the billionaire for the millionaire is not going to solve our problems. Biden might not be Trump. But he has failed to take the climate emergency seriously; despite his “no more drilling” rhetoric, his administration has continued to allow new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite his “I’m a friend of working people” talk, he used his government power in 2022 to undercut railroad workers’ fight for safer working conditions. And he has recently come down heavily on the side of the Israeli state’s genocidal attacks on the people of Gaza. Biden is no friend of working-class and other oppressed people.
Even if Trump is taken off of ballots, the root causes that allowed him to rise will still exist. There will still be millions who are sliding backwards or struggling to maintain a precarious existence, feeling ignored by the political system, being left behind by capitalism, and therefore in some cases still open to conspiracy theories that play on their rage and hatred for the system. And they see no alternative. As long as those problems continue to fester in our society, so will the rage that fuels the Trump movement.
The only way to save ourselves from the despair that many Trump supporters feel is to give them a real alternative — working people and other oppressed people can build a revolutionary mass movement against the One Percent and their lying politicians. Why not try? Relying on the bosses’ politicians has never been a winning strategy.