Now that Trump has been ousted (even if he doesn’t know it yet), and there have been modest Democratic wins, I urge all my left-leaning American friends to see this not as a victory but as a second chance. Don’t waste it. Organise, unionise, demonstrate and strike. Push governments at every level to create meaningful opposition to American imperialism, mass incarceration, anti-immigration, and the destruction of the social safety net. Otherwise, Trumpism will not stay away for long.
There has been a lot of talk about this election as a chance to annul the last four years—don’t buy it! Trump’s tone is different, but his actual policies and rhetoric have been a continuation of mainstream American politics. Both parties supported Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the expansion of the world’s largest prison system, Obama’s indiscriminate deportations, and the utter destruction of welfare from the Carter administration onwards. The current leaders of the Democratic party, including Biden, Schumer, and Feinstein, have all contributed to the move to the right that prepared the way for Trump, and it will take a great deal of political pressure to get them to move away from the brink now.
For generations, popular culture, political commentary, and the education system have refused to provide a counter-argument to extreme right-wing ideas. Movies make the case that American intervention is a force for good; journalists and commentators present punishment and policing, not systemic changes, as the right response to crime; and politicians talk about the poor as undeserving slackers. It’s no surprise then, that there are a lot of people who believe them. Nor is it a surprise that someone willing to repeat those lies louder and more brashly than mainstream politicians is able to attract support! One of the worst ideas dredged up to explain Trump is the anti-democratic libel that the people are irrational or ignorant. That’s not true, but for more than fifty years the left has refused or been afraid to argue its case, let alone demonstrate it. In order for the electorate to see that there are non-violent solutions to social problems, we must show that that is the case. That’s why it’s crucial to follow up this modest victory with relentless pressure to implement policies that really help people. Otherwise, Trumpism will return (in one form or another). The Trump nightmare is not an aberration; it is a direct consequence of the lies American society has fed itself, and the lack of political will to address the problems that need addressing. Now that America has a chance to wake up, don’t go back to sleep. Otherwise, the nightmare will return, worse than it was before.