PANW Staff: During the course of 2016 you wrote extensively on the outcomes of the primaries and general elections campaigns. Were you surprised by the victory of real estate magnate Donald Trump?
Azikiwe: No I was not. When I examined various aspects of the voting patterns in the primary process it was clear to us that Trump had a strong possibility of winning. There was the decline in African American turnout in comparison to 2008 and 2012 at the polls even in the Southern states. This represented a lack of enthusiasm for the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Also Sanders after the initial primaries in the South scored a series of victories that stunned the Democratic Party hierarchy as well as the corporate and government-sponsored media. In many states during the primaries, the Clinton supporters virtually stole the elections.
The New York state primary for the Democratic Party represented the efforts by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to stop Sanders. Reportedly there were a quarter-of-a-million people who were unable to cast a ballot due to restrictions. These developments were confirmed by the WikiLeaks revelations leading to the dismissal of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz.
Sanders’ supporters were enraged and staged a political rebellion in several primary conventions set up to select delegates to the convention in Philadelphia. At the convention itself, there was tremendous acrimony and infighting. Many were censured prompting the derision of Clinton and the walking out of the convention. Such an atmosphere did not bode well for the Democrats.
Clinton was so desperate that she dragged President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle into campaigning for her. This was absolutely absurd. It robbed the presidency of any semblance of official dignity. Despite all this Clinton lost anyway. It illustrated a profound crisis within the party politics in the United States.
Moreover, the Clinton campaign suggested strongly that the U.S. was doing fine economically and socially. It refused to acknowledge the growing poverty inside the country. Clinton paid no attention to the legitimate grievances of the African American people who are subjected to state repression and economic exploitation. Although Trump threatened to deport undocumented workers, many were well aware that the Obama administration had deported more people than any other regime in the history of the U.S., over two million.
There was no discussion about the failures of the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wars against the people of Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Africa has been subjected to an escalation of military interventions. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was founded under the administration of George W. Bush in 2008. Nonetheless, under Obama it has been strengthened and enhanced. Obama continued the same national oppression and imperialist policies that have characterized the U.S. for centuries.
PANW Staff: What is the reason for the emergence of phenomena such as Trump and Sanders in U.S. presidential elections?
Azikiwe: There is an existential transformation regarding the way people are thinking about politics and the dominant two-party system in the U.S. Many people in various sectors of the working and middle classes are discontent with the status-quo. This is largely due to the profound economic crisis that has gripped the capitalist system over the last decade.
Millions of working families have lost their homes to the banks through foreclosures. Others have been released from their jobs leaving many in low wage employment and millions who are jobless.
The Democratic and Republican parties have done nothing to ameliorate these monumental problems. What has happened is a bailing out of the banks, insurance companies and automotive firms since 2008-2009. There has been no bailout of the people.
Those who have lost their homes and jobs as a result of the unscrupulous practices of the large corporations have not been compensated.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to this discontent from the left spectrum and real estate magnate Donald Trump appeals to a right-wing sentiment saying that immigrants and other targeted groups are taking resources away from people inside the country. Both Trump and Sanders criticized trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which did eliminate millions of jobs. This is the legacy of the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George Bush, Jr. and Barack Obama.
PANW Staff: Why has no independent candidate or party won in the U.S. presidential elections?
Azikiwe: Well Sanders says that he is not a member of the Democratic Party and calls himself an independent democratic socialist although he sought the nomination within those structures. His efforts were thwarted by the machinations of the Democratic Party hierarchy.
This was obvious during the primary campaign when in many states the caucuses and party races were rigged in favor of Clinton. Again the rules in the New York primary for example were designed to ensure a Clinton victory where hundreds of thousands were disenfranchised through rules that limited participation as well as the purging of voter rolls.
There was tremendous acrimony leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia between forces aligned with Sanders and Clinton. The Convention experienced factional struggles that have not been present at this level since the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago where the party was split over the questions of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the African American liberation movement and other issues.
Trump says he is a Republican although he has never held office in the U.S. He is someone who appears to have walked in off the street and gained a groundswell of support from rank-and-file Republicans and Independents.
The U.S. ruling class supports a two-party capitalist political system where both groups are controlled by Wall Street, the transnational corporations and the Pentagon. Other parties such as the Greens, Libertarians, etc., are generally ignored by the corporate media. At the same time these “independent” parties have not developed a program and strategy that could mobilize the tens of millions of voters needed to have an actual impact on the political system.
PANW: Trump expressed concern over the possibility of manipulation of election results. Basically was there the possibility of fraud in the elections?
Azikiwe: There is a history of fraudulent elections in the U.S. However, this is usually carried out from the right-wing. The 1876 elections which resulted in the demise of federal Reconstruction were marked by irregularities. In 2000, the elections were stolen by the Republicans in the state of Florida. There were tens of thousands of votes that were never counted.
The Supreme Court ruled that this was alright and consequently gave the election to George Bush, Jr. Four years later in 2004, the election was stolen in Ohio through the manipulation of vote counting, the failure to have adequate voting materials and outright intimidation of the electorate. It is quite obvious that most within the ruling circles wanted Clinton to win on Nov. 8.
The major metropolitan newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post along with networks such as CNN and MSNBC did everything possible through their editorial policy to secure a Clinton victory. Both candidates are loathed by a majority of voters. This illustrates the potential for the creation of new political organizations that can effectively challenge the system.
When Trump won the Electoral College the Democratic Party hierarchy was stunned along with the corporate and government media. This revealed the flawed research methodology utilized by these billion dollar news groups. The ramifications of the events have further damaged the limited credibility that exists in regard to capitalist media groups.
PANW Staff: Is there a clear mechanism to monitor the election process and the accuracy of its results?
Azikiwe: No there isn’t because the elections are conducted by the states and municipalities. There is of course a national tabulation center for the processing of votes. Therefore, election officials on the state level can manipulate the vote counting as was done in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.
PANW Staff: Do you have an example of suspicion about the authenticity of the results in the past elections?
Azikiwe: Yes. The elections of 2000 and 2004 are clear examples. People in the U.S. are discouraged from participating in community-based politics. The system fosters the belief that voting is equivalent to democracy. With the two ruling class parties being tied to Wall Street and the Pentagon, voting in many cases turns out to be a validation of the existing system of class exploitation and national oppression.
There was no debate over the validity of the capitalist system. Neither Trump nor Clinton are opposed to U.S. militarism and imperialism. Unless the people rise up to change the system the wars of regime-change and genocide will continue.
There needs to be blame apportioned to those political and economic interests who are responsible for the disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Colombia and other geo-political regions.
Ruling interests who have looted the cities in the U.S. creating massive dislocation, poverty and racial turmoil need to be held accountable for their actions. They owe the impacted populations reparations for the damage they have caused.
PANW Staff: Finally, do you see any fundamental changes being made in regard to domestic and foreign policy in the U.S.?
Azikiwe: No there will be no basic change. Trump represents the ruling class. He is selecting mainstream Republicans as officials in his administration. As a real estate developer he has to rely on the financial institutions.
As it relates to foreign policy, we can look back on the ascendancy of Obama in 2008. Many harbored the illusion that State Department, Pentagon and intelligence policies would change for the better in relationship to Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean. Of course this did not happen.
The wars against the people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti continued. New wars were initiated in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. The Palestinian people remain landless and colonized.
Nonetheless, Trump’s continuation of the status-quo will take the world into an even deeper crisis. We believe there will be no fundamental shift in foreign policy towards the Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the refugee problem in the Mediterranean region leading into Europe.
Over the last decade-and-a-half, the U.S. has spent at least $15 trillion on military, intelligence and weapons development, including in the nuclear field. However, despite all of this, there is still widespread instability. Pentagon and CIA wars of regime-change and genocide have left a trail of death, destruction, injuries and displacement impacting tens of millions of people. The world is facing the worse crises of displacement since the conclusion of War World II.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency the problem is escalating. Trump has no solution to these problems. His maintenance of the status-quo will only lead to many more deaths and displacements both internationally and domestically.
Change will come from the bottom up and not the top down. There is no such thing as a “billionaire outsider.” Trump will maintain capitalism and imperialism or be removed by his ruling class cohorts.
PANW Staff: Thank you for your insights.
Azikiwe: You are most welcome.
-Pan-African News Wire