Is Donald Trump a Marxist? Maybe, but which one?

By Paul Rozycki

After several presidential primaries, it’s clear the 2024 election will be a rerun of the 2020 contest between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump. But while the candidates are familiar, their campaign rhetoric seems even more intense this time around.

One of Trump’s common attacks is to claim that his opponents are Marxists or Communists. The charge resonates with his most avid supporters as he slams Democrats, liberals, social activists, establishment Republicans and many others with the label. 

After one of his criminal indictments last year he was quoted as saying, “If the Communists get away with this, it won’t stop with me. They will not hesitate to ramp up their persecution of Christians, pro-life activists, parents attending school board meetings, and even future Republican candidates.” 

And at a later Veteran’s Day rally, Trump continued on the theme. 

We pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” he said.

His most ardent supporters, such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have also echoed such sentiments. Yet, I suspect that Trump may be more than a little bit of a Marxist himself. The only question is, which one?

Trump and Karl Marx?

 “The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggles…Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat…Workingmen of all countries unite!”                       

 — The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

In many ways Trump’s appeal follows the class warfare of Karl Marx, outlined in “The Communist Manifesto” of 1848. There Marx wrote, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains,” as the working class, the proletariat, clashed with the upper class, the bourgeoisie. 

Much of Trump’s support comes from the working class, those without college education, rural voters, and those who feel dismissed by “the elite.” That support is often led by Trump’s attacks against the media, celebrities, universities, establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney, civil service government employees, and the “deep state.” 

How does one explain Trump’s support from some union members, evangelical Christians, women, and a growing fraction of Hispanic and African-American voters, when much of his policies and personal qualities are in direct conflict with their values and interests? 

Trump’s support from those groups comes from divisions and resentment between those classes outlined by Marx. 

During and after the 2016 election, Trump supporters expressed anger over Hillary Clinton calling them “a basket of deplorables” in a September 2016 campaign speech.

Despite the fact that few of Trump’s policies were aimed at helping the working class, resentment over that unfortunate phrase caused Trump supporters to rally around him in cult-like fashion, as they felt he was being attacked by “the elite establishment” of the media, the courts, and career politicians.

So is Donald Trump really a closet Bolshevik trying to rally the working class to shake off their chains as they challenge the oppressive elite capitalists?  I doubt it. Most of the policies of this gold-plated, bombastic billionaire are aimed at helping people like himself, boosting his own ego, or keeping him out of jail rather than aiding any of the workers who support him. 

But he may be a Marxist of a different stripe.

Trump and Groucho Marx?

It was Groucho Marx as Professor Quincy Wagstaff, in the 1932 movie “Horse Feathers” who sang: 

Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood:
Whatever it is, I’m against it
And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it
I’m against it

The list of things that Trump has come out against is long and gets longer with every new tweet: Democrats, establishment Republicans, people with college degrees, the FBI, the Justice Department, a number of judges and courts, women, gay people, people with disabilities, the media, the election system, his own vice-president, The Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Critical Race Theory, COVID vaccines, wind farms, solar energy, electric cars, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, NATO, veterans who are POWs, Taylor Swift, Nikki Haley, and almost anyone who is critical of him.  

But there is one thing on his list that is deeply significant for this year’s election. Trump’s denial of the 2020 election results and his role in trying to overturn that election also highlight one more thing he is against: Democracy. 

On more than a few occasions Trump has shown a willingness to ignore the most basic elements of the Constitution, especially those that place limits on a president’s power, and ignore the traditions that have led to a peaceful exchange of that power for over 200 years. 

He has said that he would be a “dictator for only one day” in a second term, but the events of Jan. 6, 2021 demonstrate the lengths he would go to in order to keep power, in spite of the law and the Constitution. They are an ominous warning of what a second Trump term could look like. 

In the end, Groucho Marx may offer another insight for this year’s election. 

Following his movie career, the comedian and actor hosted a televised quiz show called “You Bet Your Life” in the 1950s. That title may now be a perfect label for the 2024 election. 

Whatever your views on the candidates this year and whatever misgivings you may have about them, it’s fair to say that this is one of the most significant and important elections in our lifetime. Take the time to learn what the real issues are, and don’t be distracted by the name calling, the latest insult, or the newest conspiracy theory on social media. 

Just be sure to get out and vote. There is too much at stake in this year’s election. 

You can bet your life on it. 

This article also appeared in the March 2024 print issue of East Village Magazine.

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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