By Freedom Road Socialist Organization Standing Committee
Coast to coast and north to south: On behalf of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the Standing Committee sends its greetings to the working people of the United States of America and the world! What a year it was: from the January protests at the inauguration of Donald Trump as president and the massive and historic Women’s Marches, to the closing days of December where immigrant youth protested Trump’s ending of the DACA (Deferred Action for Children Arrivals) which put hundreds of thousands of undocumented at risk of deportation, this has been a year of people’s struggle!
The people were able to beat back many of Trump and his Republican congressional allies’ attacks. Tens of thousands of people rallied at airports across the country to protest Trump anti-Muslim travel ban, which was later blocked by the courts. Mass opposition to the Republicans in Congress who wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act caused their majority to crumble and saved health insurance for millions of people. The movement to remove Confederate statues and to rename buildings named after prominent slave-owners and Ku Klux Klan leaders picked up steam in the wake of a fascist murder of a white anti-Nazi protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia. The New SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) held their first west coast national conference in Santa Barbara, California. Student activists and solidarity messages from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, and central Mountain regions marked the emergence of the New SDS as a truly national student organization.
Trump has not only become one of the least popular presidents in history, but has also been isolated around the world. Trump’s withdrawal from the global Paris climate accord was met with unanimous rejection by countries and people of the world. In one of his last acts of the year, Trump’s announcement that he was moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which the Israelis have illegally occupied for more than 50 years, was rejected in the United Nations by a vote of 129 to 9, with not a single major U.S. ally supporting Trump.
There have also been victories for the labor movement in many local areas. The union organization of Mayo Clinic food service workers in July, the August victory of Aramark laundry workers, and the October contract of Northeastern University dining hall workers were just a few of the wins notched by workers in struggle.
But there were also setbacks in 2017. The U.S. Senate confirmation of right-wing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch gives a majority on the Supreme Court to legitimize right-wing attacks by big corporations and the Trump-Republican government. In September, Palestinian American community activist Rasmea Odeh had to leave the U.S. after more than 20 years of service to Palestinian and Arab American communities, despite a years-long battle. And in December, the Republicans and Trump (barely) passed a trillion-dollar tax cut for big business and the rich, which opens the doors to more attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other federal social programs.
2018 will be a year of challenges for the people’s movements. The year will start with a battle for a ‘clean’ Dream act that would legalize undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. Also, there will be trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago policeman who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times as he tried to walk away. The Supreme Court will rule on Janus case mid-year, which is likely to ban ‘agency shop’ union contracts for government workers, striking a blow at one of the strongest segments of the trade union movement. And the Trump administration is hell-bent on starting a war, whether with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (north Korea), Iran, or some other country that refuses to bow down to the wishes of the U.S. and its imperialist partners.
In 2018, as in 2017, much of the people’s movement will be focused on fighting back against attacks by the Trump regime and the Republican controlled Congress. But we must remember that they are the political representatives of the class of billionaires that also control the Democratic Party. Real change that benefits working people, and that ultimately can replace the corrupt, anti-woman, and racist system of capitalism, can only come from socialism. We hope to see you in streets in 2018!