On Tuesday night, ex-President Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024. Speaking before a vetted audience at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump brushed aside recriminations from within the Republican Party over his role in the GOP’s failure to regain control of the Senate or win a substantial majority in the House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections.
Trump reiterated the themes that dominated his appearances at election rallies for far-right candidates: rabid US nationalism, anti-China vitriol, anti-immigrant racism, law-and-order demagogy, attacks on voting rights, thinly veiled anti-Semitic rants against “globalists,” and unhinged denunciations of Biden and the Democrats as radical-left extremists, socialists and Marxists.
At the same time, he attempted to channel massive popular anger and alienation from the entire economic and political system—reflected in narrow margins of victory for Democrats in battleground states where they faced Trump-endorsed election deniers and outright fascists—by cynically raising the danger of nuclear war and the impact of near-record levels of inflation.
Trump pointedly predicted that the economic and social crisis in the US would only intensify over the final two years of the Biden administration, giving the Republican Party under his leadership the opportunity to reverse its dismal performance in the 2022 midterms. “There is much criticism that the Republican Party should have done better and much of this is correct,” he said. “I have no doubt,” he continued, “that by 2024 the people will see how bad things are, and the voting will be much different.”
In other words, the reactionary, anti-working class policies of Biden and the Democrats and their efforts to maintain unity with the Republican Party to prosecute the war against Russia in Ukraine, will, by default, weaken the popular anti-fascist sentiment that found a pale and distorted reflection in last week’s elections.
Trump played down his rigged election narrative. This was, no doubt, in light of the defeat in key races of almost all Trump-endorsed candidates who embraced his claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and complaints from prominent Republican office-holders, advisers and corporate donors that his promotion of candidates who endorsed his “big lie” led to Republican losses.
Many right-wing Republican figures and media outlets, including the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and New York Post, have called on Trump not to run and switched their support to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was reelected by a wide margin. DeSantis’ politics—viciously anti-immigrant, authoritarian and hostile to workers’ rights—align with those of Trump, but the Florida governor has distanced himself from Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged in order to position himself to challenge Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
On Monday, Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, openly joined the internal party attack on Trump. Interviewed by “ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, Pence denounced Trump’s support for the January 6 insurrection as “reckless” and said, “He decided to be part of the problem.” Asked about Trump’s plans to run for a second term, Pence said, “I’m sure we have better choices,” adding that he was considering running himself.
The sharp divisions within the Republican Party in the aftermath of the elections are also seen in challenges for leadership posts by Trump-aligned lawmakers in both the House and Senate against the current House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While backing off from direct references to the supposed theft of the 2020 election in his announcement Tuesday night, Trump made an indirect but clear allusion to the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol. He declared that the “corridors of power” belong to the “people” and added, “We are coming to take those corridors back.”
Among the police state policies he pledged to carry out if elected were the “removal of the illegal alien criminals,” the death penalty for drug dealers, and the dispatch of National Guard troops to states and cities whose elected leaders failed to crack down on “the total breakdown of law and order.”
In the run-up to his announcement, Trump published or republished a series of fascistic posts on his Truth Social platform, aimed at mobilizing his far-right base. One blamed McConnell for the Republicans’ failure to win control of the Senate and included a racist swipe at McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife, Elaine Chao, dubbed “Coco Chow” by Trump.
Another declared that Kari Lake, a staunch election denier who narrowly lost the race for governor of Arizona, was “cheated.” Lake has yet to concede to the Democratic winner, current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
One referenced Trump’s return to power as “the storm,” in QAnon parlance the apocalypse in which the Jews, globalists and socialists will be destroyed.
Another showed the head of Biden on the body of a turkey, with the caption: “No pardon for you, Joe—you treasonous turkey! Happy Thanksgiving.”
In his candidacy announcement, Trump made a point of appealing to his QAnon fascist allies, linking his return to the White House with a “storm of fire.”
Trump’s announcement underscores the fact that the elections, widely presented in the capitalist media as a return to “normalcy” and political stability, instead ushers in a new stage in the crisis of American capitalism and its corrupt, sclerotic and widely hated two-party system. Both parties are internally divided, facing an accelerating economic crisis, mounting geo-political tensions, and, above all, an explosive growth of the class struggle, beginning with some 110,000 rail workers who are furious over the efforts of the government and the union bureaucrats to impose a sellout contract and determined to mount an all out strike.