CPUSA chair responds to Trump State of the Union speech
Communist Party chairman John Bachtell. | 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 Feb. 5, 2019. Below is the text of Bachtell’s speech. Watch a video of the speech.

Good evening and thanks for tuning in. My name is John Bachtell. I’m the national chair of the Communist Party USA. Welcome to our response to the State of the Union address.

Our country and the world are at a crossroads.

Both humanity and nature face existential crises. We face a climate catastrophe and an escalating nuclear war danger.

We are at a crossroads where a just a few billionaires concentrate extraordinary wealth while millions of working-class families barely make ends meet.

And despite Trump’s false picture of the economy, wages are stagnant and forty percent of workers are outside the workforce. Many having given up looking for work.

We are at a crossroads where youth are mired in mountains of college debt.

Where African American, Native and other youth of color confront generational unemployment, and where social inequality has grown.

We are at a crossroads facing the most corrupt presidential administration in our history. A crossroads where democracy and the truth are under daily assault, and where the danger of fascism has grown.

And where children fear being slaughtered in their classrooms by someone with an assault weapon.

These things are truly frightening.

Yet, Trump’s speech tonight tried to instill fear of a different sort: a nightmare of hordes of Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans overrunning our border with crime, violence, and drugs.

Trump is lying about every aspect of the border crisis and immigration as he conjures up external and internal enemies threatening the American people.

In reality, these are our working-class brothers and sisters, and their children. They are refugees desperately fleeing violence rooted in U.S. corporate exploitation and militarism.

Victorina Morales was seated in the audience tonight listening to Trump. She is one of 11 million undocumented workers in this country. She worked for years at one of Trump’s properties, making his bed and washing his clothes. She barely earned enough to raise her family while he enriched himself.

Victorina Morales spoke out against Trump’s hypocrisy. She and her co-workers, who were also undocumented, were fired.

We, the American people will not turn our backs on Victorina Morales.

In November 2018 a majority of Americans voted to reject Trump’s anti-working class, anti-people, and anti-planet agenda. The political landscape shifted dramatically.

Coast to coast, women, people of color, trade unionists, socialists, and grassroots activists were elected to champion the urgent issues facing us.

Drawing upon our greatest revolutionary ideals, Americans increasingly embrace diversity, equality, and solidarity; we are one multi-racial working class, native and foreign-born, men and women, gay and straight, united in the recognition an injury to one is an injury to all.

Trump’s border wall is a symbol of white supremacy and anti-immigrant racism and prejudice. It is aimed at dividing the American people.

The expulsion of our immigrant brothers and sisters, tear gassing of refugees, separation of families, and caging of children, is inhuman and immoral.

Trump’s government shutdown over the wall was an assault on democracy, the role of government, and public workers. 800,000 federal employees were forced to go without paychecks, millions were denied vital government services, and public safety was endangered.

Again, Trump lost that battle because the overwhelming majority of Americans and their Democratic elected officials united to oppose the shutdown and the wall.

And because air traffic controllers, TSA agents, food inspectors, and other government employees and their unions, took matters into their own hands and many stopped going to work.

Trump becomes more dangerous the more he loses. He is becoming more desperate as the Mueller investigation challenges the very legitimacy of his presidency.

By fostering a coup in Venezuela to overthrow an elected socialist-oriented government, and threatening regime change in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran, the Trump administration and its extreme right-wing corporate backers are endangering world peace, democratic rights and sovereignty of other countries.

Most people with the notable exception of Trump were outraged by foreign interference in the 2016 elections. We should be equally outraged when the U.S. interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.

We won’t cooperate with that agenda.

By declaring a trade war with China, he is threatening an economic crisis and destabilization of the global economy.

We won’t cooperate with that agenda.

And he and the military and fossil fuel corporations are endangering the entire planet by sparking a new nuclear arms race with Russia, pursuing a $2 trillion nuclear modernization, the weaponization of space, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.

We won’t cooperate with that agenda.

A majority of Americans reject these pro-corporate and anti-working-class policies. Instead, they are responding to a new people’s agenda that addresses the immense scale of the challenges we face.

This agenda includes:

  • A Green New Deal to transition to a green, demilitarized economy, build a modern infrastructure, and employ millions at union wages with affirmative action.
  • Immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
  • Medicare for All that makes health care a right.
  • A health care system that guarantees reproductive rights, and addresses the opioid crisis caused by the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Full equality based on race, gender, and sexual identity and orientation.
  • Criminal justice reform, ending the cash-bail system, and decriminalization of marijuana.
  • Free university tuition and cancelation of all student debt.
  • Gun control including universal background checks and banning assault weapons.
  • Elimination of the electoral college, an end to voter suppression and gerrymandering, and removal of corporate money from politics.
  • Tax the rich and a radical redistribution of wealth and income.
  • Peaceful foreign policy – respect for national sovereignty and global cooperation to solve global crises.

Yes, we are at a crossroads. And this agenda can inspire and unite people in a powerful movement to oust Trump and the GOP and their corporate backers from Congress, governorships, and state legislatures in 2020.

By electing a progressive-oriented government, the door can open to a new era of struggle that puts people and nature before corporate profits.

Where the working-class and people govern.

Where a green, collaborative, peaceful socialist society of full economic and political equality and democracy can be built.

Thanks for listening. We want to hear your thoughts too. Together we’ll build a better world.

Goodnight.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He served as national chair of the Communist Party USA from 2014 to 2019. He is a regular writer for People's World, and active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Albuquerque and attended Antioch College. He currently lives in Chicago where he is an avid swimmer, cyclist, runner, and dabbler in guitar and occasional singer in a community chorus.

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