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Trump, Biden, and Why Elections Don't Bring Bigger Policy Changes

Kevin A. Young (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)

Trump and the Deeper Crisis

ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2, eISBN: 978-1-80455-512-5

Publication date: 12 December 2022


Most US activists place a high priority on elections. The default strategy for those seeking policy change is some combination of electoral campaigning and pressure campaigns targeting politicians. Yet policies show a high degree of continuity across recent presidential administrations. Despite substantial differences in rhetoric and legislative agendas, the policies resulting from Republican and Democratic presidencies have stayed within a narrow range, defined by the promotion of corporate profits, the impunity of law enforcement agencies, the defense of imperial prerogatives, and nearly unfettered ecological destruction. Focusing on the Trump and Biden presidencies, I analyze some of the structural barriers that inhibit major policy change. I also explore why the ruling class as a whole has not yet united against parasitic industries like fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals that endanger the interests of other capitalists. I argue that activists must move beyond electoral and legislative approaches by directly disrupting ruling-class interests that have the power to change policy. Only then will we win major progressive reform.




Discussions with Michael Schwartz and the late Richard Lachmann informed the analysis in this chapter, though any errors of fact or interpretation are mine.


Young, K.A. (2022), "Trump, Biden, and Why Elections Don't Bring Bigger Policy Changes", Young, K.A., Schwartz, M. and Lachmann, R. (Ed.) Trump and the Deeper Crisis (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 7-29.



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