The Role of Class Struggle in the Presidential Election

Lexi Zaugg-Honorbound

The presidential election came to a close early last month, the results surprising to some and not so much to others. Since the beginning of the year, many have been attempting to predict the outcome of the election and how it will come to pass. One source, however, did not endeavor to predict the results, but to claim that 2016 will be the year of class struggle, mainly due to the election.[1] Class struggle can be defined as “conflict between different classes in a community resulting from different social or economic positions and reflecting opposed interests.”[2] According to Karl Marx, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” meaning that society exists due to of class struggle.[3] Marx also states that capitalism is a catalyst for competition which causes struggles within the class, which is exactly what the United States’ (a capitalist country) presidential election (a competition) is. Another source claims that the election is merely about class struggle, and that each candidate has taken to supporting a certain class. This article states that Hillary Clinton has promised the assist the middle class and the poor by reducing income equality and cutting the power of the disgustingly wealthy, while Donald Trump voices the opinions of (mainly white) working class members and those without a college degree.[4] One might ask, “How does this even correlate to the election’s results?” Well, these class struggles could have been the key to the election’s results.

Some believe Trump was elected because he is a male, unlike Hillary, a female. There are those who believe that a woman is not fit to be President of the United States. This is not a new concept, as Aristotle reflects in The Politics, “no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them.”[5] One could deduce that, since women are no different than slaves, they would not be able to lead as women are expected to be subservient. Many think that those who have this kind of mentality are aged white men who are living in the past, men that are probably working class and would perhaps have voted for Trump over Hillary.

The second article further explains that there is division in the political parties themselves, not just division between the parties.[6] There used to be only division between the Democratic and Republican parties, until this decade, and specifically this election. This divide could have swayed Democrats who were divided to potentially choose to vote for Trump, further weakening Hillary’s political support.

However, Karl Marx foresees destruction in the wake of the finished election, writing that, “in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the process of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of society, assumes such a violent, glaring character.”[7]  One can only hope that what Marx writes does not come to pass, as he only predicts discord and disorder for the near future.



[1] White, Jerry. “2016 Will Be a Year of Escalating Class Struggle.” World Socialist Website. January 4, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2016.

[2] Accessed December 05, 2016.

[3] Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, Samuel Moore, and David McLellan. 1992. The Communist manifesto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[4] Walsh, Kenneth T. “Class Wars.” U.S. News. January 8, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2016.

[5] Aristotle, Benjamin Jowett, and H. W. Carless Davis. 1908. Aristotle’s Politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

[6] Walsh. “Class Wars.”

[7] Marx, Engels, Moore, McLellan. The Communist manifesto.

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