Communist Party leader responds to Trump’s State of the Union
Communist Party chairman John Bachtell. | Gokhan Cukurova / PW File Photo

John Bachtell, the national chair of the Communist Party USA, offered his party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in a live video presentation on Jan. 30, 2018. Below is the text (as prepared for delivery) of Bachtell’s speech. Watch a video of the speech.

Good evening.

Thanks for joining us for the Communist Party USA’s response to Trump’s State of the Union.

And a special greeting to the unprecedented, mass resistance, and especially to the women who are playing a leading role in it. The #MeToo movement is deeply challenging our society and transforming politics, culture, and attitudes. Together, we’re forging a better future.

Tonight, not surprisingly, we heard a lot of demagogy and lies which are surely keeping the fact-checkers busy. Trump is, after all, a pathological liar.

In his speech, Trump offered no constructive solutions to addressing social and economic inequality, health care and education needs, the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the planetary emergency posed by climate change, and growing nuclear war danger.

In fact, every Trump-Republican policy aggravates these crises, including the opioid crisis.

Instead of embracing values most of us hold dear—telling the truth, caring for one another, family, community, fairness, tolerance, peace, and protection of the environment—Trump (when he’s not playing golf, watching TV, or tweeting), his white supremacist and fascist allies, and the Republican Congress are all working overtime to take us back 100 years.

Trump distracts, disguises, and divides with lies, hate, and fear. We can never allow this to be normalized.

As distractor-in-chief, Trump is desperately obstructing the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into criminal and treasonous acts which threatens to send Trump, his family, and confederates to prison—where they belong.

If Trump is successful in ending the investigation, we’ll face a far graver constitutional and democratic crisis and take another step toward authoritarian rule. It is up to the American people to demand the investigation take its course.

As disguiser-in-chief, Trump is using lies and fake populism to hide the real aim of his policies—enriching the one percent and himself.

As dismantler-in chief, Trump, under the guise of doing away with frivolous regulations, is in fact eroding democratic norms and attempting to eliminate every environmental, consumer, worker, and anti-discrimination protection possible, repeal Obamacare, and stack the courts with reactionary judges who will do damage for years to come.

Trump and the Republicans passed only one major bill all year—a tax cut scam for the rich demanded by their oligarchic backers. This week, Oxfam reported eighty-two percent of global wealth created in 2017 went to the richest one percent. Forty-two oligarchs now have wealth equal to half the world’s population.

This tax cut scam accelerates wealth concentration with our own oligarchs. By 2027, when the meager tax cuts for working people expire, a full eighty-three percent of cuts will go to the top one percent.

Trump bragged about a booming economy, but in fact most of the gains are a result of the economic policies started under the Obama administration.

Behind the pomp: thirty-eight percent of eligible workers are no longer in the workforce, wages have been stagnant for decades, household debt is increasing, and many are forced to work two and three jobs.

While workers of color and women are most heavily impacted, all working people are suffering.

The tax cut scam will deliberately create a revenue crisis. Then Republicans can claim they must eliminate social programs, the EPA, and cut or privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The $1.5 trillion Trump infrastructure program remains vague. But of what we know, it will only enrich Wall Street and create private roads and bridges, while working people will foot the bill twice—once to pay for off the bonds and then again in usage tolls.

Trump and the Republicans increased military spending to $700 billion a year, over 60 percent of the federal budget. This is equal to the military budgets of the next eight countries combined, including China and Russia. This remains a boondoggle for military corporations, increases the likelihood of war, and robs funds for everything else society badly needs.

That figure doesn’t include the $2 trillion modernization of nuclear weapons which will fuel a new global nuclear arms race. Combined with threats to obliterate North Korea and end the Iran nuclear deal, the danger of nuclear annihilation will radically increase.

The divider-in-chief is pitting whites against people of color, communities against one another, native born against immigrant, and Americans against the global community.

By scapegoating and fear-mongering, Trump’s immigration policy is breaking up families, destroying communities, and deporting our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow students.

By deceptively raising the specter of the MS-13 gang, Trump is vilifying all immigrants. Statistics prove immigrants, including young Salvadorans, commit crimes at a lower rate than the rest of the population.

The real aim of Trump’s immigration policy is threefold:

First, to appeal to his right-wing base;

Second, to use it as a wedge issue, pitting native-born workers against immigrant workers in competition for jobs;

Thirdly, and most strategically, to reverse the historic demographic shifts taking place that along with voter suppression and gerrymandering, will institutionalize right-wing, white supremacist government for decades to come.

It’s a fantasy that denies our history as a racially and ethnically diverse nation, people, and culture evolving together.

Immigration will be a central wedge issue for the GOP in the 2018 elections.

We, along with tens of millions of Americans, stand in solidarity with immigrant communities. By championing diversity, inclusivity, and multi-racial solidarity, a better life for all can be achieved.

We either thrive together or perish separately.

The Communist Party believes we need the following:

  • An emergency response to the climate crisis. We (and the world) are experiencing rapidly changing eco-systems, extreme weather events, sea level rise, droughts, forest fires, and ocean acidification that will make the planet uninhabitable.
  • A massive program to modernize our crumbling infrastructure, adapt the country to the impact of climate change (for example, chronic flooding of coastal cities), and transition us to sustainable energy production.
  • A program with special investments in communities that have been historically discriminated against and aid for developing countries the lack of resources to adapt.
  • A program that creates millions of jobs with union wages and protections and affirmative action guarantees.
  • A just transition to an economy without fossil fuels and militarism; that ensures a guaranteed wage for every displaced worker until they are retrained or find new jobs.
  • The elimination of all nuclear weapons, the closing of the U.S.’ global network of military bases, and a peaceful foreign policy based on diplomacy and cooperation.
  • Free universal health care and education, with the cancellation of all student debt. Pay by taxing the rich and transferring money from the military budget.
  • Criminal justice reform to end mass incarceration, radically reform sentencing laws, and decriminalize drugs.
  • Restoration and expansion of voting rights, an end to gerrymandering, and new electoral reforms that eliminate money and allow for the emergence of independent politics and a mass people’s party.
  • A path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, beginning with the 1.8 million Dreamers and their families and those with Temporary Protective Status. No Trump border wall.

The 2018 elections offer the best opportunity to block Trump and Republican policies, oust their majorities in Congress and statehouses, and set the stage to oust Trump in 2020 and elect a progressive-oriented government.

Republicans are armed with hundreds of millions of dollars in Koch brother cash and racial and anti-immigrant hate aimed to divide, disorient, and demobilize.

We’ll counter with the unity of our multi-racial working class, people of color, women, youth, immigrants, the LGBTQ and disabled communities, social and environmental justice and peace organizations, cultural performers, professional athletes—all in alliance with the Democratic Party and other independent electoral formations.

Its possible to elect thousands of grassroots activists to public office, including many women, people of color, and labor activists emerging from the resistance.

The 2018 election can be one of unity over hate and division, of hope over despair, democracy over authoritarianism, people and planet over the climate deniers and warmongers.

We see the 2018 elections and the decisive defeat of the right wing as indispensable steps in the process of achieving a society that puts people and nature before profits. This is what Rev. Martin Luther King called a “revolution in values” and a “massive redistribution of political and economic power.”

It’s what we call a just, democratic, sustainable socialist society.

Let’s unite and build a bigger resistance. Victory can be ours.

Thanks, and have a great evening.


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.