Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump's Victory: Looking on the Bright Side

On Tuesday of last week, an absolute disaster happened. Donald Trump, the worst presidential candidate either major party has coughed up in many years, managed to win the presidency. It was an unwelcome surprise to many, including myself. At this point, it is clear Trump has secured more than enough electoral votes to secure the presidency, winning Wisconsin, which no one expected, and Michigan, which was also thought to be a state that was leaning Democratic. Hillary Clinton, though, is the winner of the popular vote--the second time in sixteen years the archaic, Byzantine piece of shit that is the Electoral College denied the popular vote winner the presidency and handed it to someone that failed to win even a plurality of the people's votes. An institution designed by racist, rich white men who were afraid of the commoners has ensured the election of another racist rich white man. Ho, ho. The continuity that exists in American politics is striking sometimes.

Trump at his victory speech (image from CNN).
There are some immediate takeaways from this election. First, the Electoral College needs to be abolished--or it needs to be ensured that it awards the presidency to the popular vote winner--ASAP. Secondly, the DNC fucked it up majorly when they pulled out all the stops to ensure Clinton got the nomination. Her supporters always tried to scare away support from Sanders by saying that she was more electable. Look how that worked out. Ho, ho. Obviously we can also talk about major failures on the part of the polling industry, the media, and any other number of institutions. Unexpectedly, we have to perform an autopsy instead of holding an inauguration.

Election day and the day thereafter, when Trump was declared victor, mark dark days for America, particularly for those of us who are Muslim, LGBT+, Latinx, black, or just concerned with having a country that isn't run by a bloviating narcissist billionaire whose ego trip went further than even he could have probably ever expected. There's no getting around that. Donald Trump's election is a tragedy, and the people too blind to see it now might have to learn it the hard way by seeing how truly awful his presidency can be.

But that doesn't mean this result, as horrifying as it is, doesn't carry with it certain upsides. I'm not trying to paint it as a blessing in disguise; that it isn't. But few things are entirely good, or entirely bad. And elections are rarely, if ever, among them.

One of the major good things likely to come out of this election is the defeat of the Democratic Party establishment. Their candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost, which is bad news for many people, but very bad news for them. They'd bet everything on her, and she lost to a gag candidate. It's going to be awfully hard for them to come back from that. That means that in four years, we could be looking at a genuine anti-establishment progressive as Donald Trump's major opponent--the nominee of the Democratic Party, if the party still exists. It might seem petty to focus on this, as a Sanders supporter, but I maintain that Clinton was unlikely to bring the changes we need. If she was pushed hard, there was a chance she would take some steps in the right direction, but that's as much as I can say. On the other hand, we could very realistically have a genuine progressive in 2016, the same way George McGovern gained the Democratic Party nomination in 1972 after Hubert Humphrey, the establishment pick, lost the 1968 race. But unlike poor McGovern, who stumbled against a popular president and got crushed, our progressive would face a con man who, on the day of his election, had a favorability rating in the thirties. And imagine where it will be when the people who fell for his con realize they've been played for fools.

Another good thing: liberals hate Trump. As in hate. They rightly see him as a monster, not just an opponent. This is the sort of thing that radicalizes people--that pushes milquetoast liberals to more sweeping critiques of the status quo. If I hadn't despised the Republican Party under Obama so much, I might never have actually shifted to the left, reexamining sacred cows like capitalism and the state. Even if we don't see liberals all becoming radical socialists, the amount of hatred they have for Trump is enough to get them mobilized like they haven't been before. We saw a massive mobilization of support behind Bernie Sanders earlier this year. It might well take the sheer ugliness of a Trump presidency to provoke the reaction necessary to keep important segments of society--young people, ethnic minorities, LGBT+ people--truly, militantly organized, aggressively challenging the status quo in ways they weren't before.

What about the people who supported Trump? For me, there are two major groups there, and the correct attitude toward each is shown with unusual wisdom by a cartoon I stumbled upon on Twitter:

Indeed, the genuinely bigoted of Trump's supporters will not be of much use, until they abandon their bigotries, but those who voted for him because they are disenchanted with the political and economic status quo are people that should absolutely be reached out to. The good news about Trump's victory, with respect to them, is that they can now see for themselves what a con job the right-wing populism Trump ran on really is, and therefore be all the more skeptical of right-wing populists in the future, realizing that it is the left that offers the best prospects for replacing the status quo with something better and fairer.

While a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been far preferable on the whole to a Trump regime, it would have made it easy for liberal and left-leaning segments of the population to be too complacent, as they have been under Obama. But a Trump presidency might be enough to provoke a serious reaction against the unpopular, undemocratically elected maniac. This could be the day that a sleeping giant was awoken--one that wouldn't stop until it crushed Donald Trump and his Republicans, crushed the corporate centrists within the Democratic Party, and finally took hold of power in ways we haven't seen for a long time, if ever at all. Vive la RĂ©sistance.

No comments:

Post a Comment