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We Can Blame the Voters or Blame the Elite. Only One Choice Offers a Way Forward

Monday, November 14, 2016 11:18
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You can't defeat predators like these by fighting with your neighbors

by Gaius Publius

The next phase for the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on.

The left is awash in tears and anger at the moment (as are dyed-in-the-wool Clinton supporters, who are “the left” in only some cases). Angry people lash out, and the frequent target of Democratic anger over the election of Trump is suddenly the voters themselves.

In other words, the “deplorables,” to use Hillary Clinton's unfortunate, inaccurate and overly broad characterization. Or, in other other words, fellow members of the suffering middle class, many of whom would have voted for Sanders in the general election, had they been allowed to.

Which of these characterizations you choose, the first or second above, will determine whether you see the world in “the left vs. the right” terms or “the rich vs. the rest” terms, and also whether you wish to continue the failed American struggle against the elites, or improve your chance of winning it.

Obviously, I choose the latter, improving our chances to win the struggle, and I'm not alone. The editors of Jacobin are here to explain:

We have no illusions about the impact of Donald Trump’s victory. It is a disaster. The prospect of a unified right-wing government, led by an authoritarian populist, represents a catastrophe for working people.

There are two ways to respond to this situation. One is to blame the people of the United States. The other is to blame the elite of the country.

In the coming days and weeks, many pundits will be doing the former. Frightened liberals have already written explainers on how to move to Canada; last night, the Canadian immigration website went down after a surge of traffic. The people who brought us to this precipice are now planning their escape.

But blaming the American public for Trump’s victory only deepens the elitism that rallied his voters in the first place. It’s unquestionable that racism and sexism played a crucial role in Trump’s rise. And it’s horrifying to contemplate the ways that his triumph will serve to strengthen the cruelest and most bigoted forces in American society.

Still, a response to Trump that begins and ends with horror is not a political response — it is a form of paralysis, a politics of hiding under the bed. And a response to American bigotry that begins and ends with moral denunciation is not a politics at all — it is the opposite of politics. It is surrender.

To believe that Trump’s appeal was entirely based on ethnic nationalism is to believe that a near majority of Americans are driven only by hate and a shared desire for a white supremacist political program.

We don’t believe that. And the facts don’t bear it out.

First, on the facts:

This election, in the words of New York Times analyst Nate Cohn, was decided by people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Not all of them can be bigots.

Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama’s 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along America’s southern border, a candidate who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists.

Clinton won 34 percent of white women without college degrees. And she won just 54 percent of women overall, compared to Obama’s 55 percent in 2012. Clinton, of course, was running against a candidate who has gloated on film about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

There's much more, but the bottom line is this: “This was Clinton’s election to lose. And she lost.”

You Can't Defeat the Rich by Fighting With Your Neighbors

What's required to win this moment in history — to dismantle, in my phrasing, this era of hyper-predatory capitalism and the government it has wholly captured — is a politics focused on just that, dismantling the power of the owners of great wealth to control government, and also (necessarily) dismantling that great wealth itself.

You can't take down the boss who controls the company town by focusing on the transgressions of your neighbor. She as much a victim of the boss as you are. You must focus on the boss.

And this moment, in this post-Clinton, post-Obama era and the wreckage it has wrought, is the moment we've been handed to do it in. Not a bad moment, when seen that way. The agents of greed on the right are insurgent, but the agents of greed on the left are limping and wounded. What an opportunity, and what a shame, if one of those agents is allowed to heal and grow strong again.

I'll focus on defeating the Republicans in due time — there are ways with Trump, who ran as an unusual Republican,  at the helm. But for now let's focus on defeating the corporate Democrats and doing the work that Sanders started — by replacing the corrupt many who run their organizations with the honest few who deserve to lead it going forward.

Ambition and greed for the few versus service to the many. Didn't someone once say, “He who would be greatest must be the servant of all”? Must have been a Democratic Socialist talking that way.

GP
 

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis

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