The election: more analysis and what to do about it
On 11-25-16, Gabriel Rockhill reminded us on counterpunch.org that “the US wasn’t founded as a democracy; the Electoral College is one of the many indications that it was explicitly established as an oligarchic republic. Trump received approximately 1.5 million votes fewer than his immediate rival, and wouldn’t be president in most countries in the world. Out of 325 million people in the US, only about 225 million are eligible voters, of which around 58% actually voted. As in every US election since World War II, the clear winner was abstention, which received 42% of the vote. Abstention is encouraged by the two-party system’s only presenting candidates who are corrupt spokespeople for corporate power…All said and done, we have a fringe, oligarchic demagogue with no political experience going into office, not a democratically elected leader with popular support. Fascism came to power in the interwar period in Europe in a similar way: via corrupt and poorly functioning ‘democracies’ that allowed, in a context of economic destitution not unlike our own, the state institutionalization of nationalism, racist xenophobia, belligerent militarism, and autocratic rule. Although there are, of course, important historical differences, we would do well to remind ourselves that the rise to power of fascism required both a compromising elite and the quiet complicity of well-meaning liberals.”
Rockhill recommends that we “join, establish, donate to or volunteer for organizations that will be at the forefront of socio-economic and environmental justice struggles in the coming years (such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the NAACP, CAIR, SPLC, 350.org, Code Pink, and many others). Community social and educational programs will be particularly important, as well as organizations providing legal services and a common front in establishing sanctuary cities and institutions to resist mass deportations. Broad-based coalitions to struggle against the acceleration of ecological degradation will be of the utmost significance, and the current movement by the protectors at Standing Rock should be an inspiration to us all. Organizations and movements like Black Lives Matter will only become more important as the full force of white supremacy – as well as what Jeremy Scahill has called Christian Supremacy – is unleashed on every so-called minority community, from Muslims and Latinos to women, LGBTQ, and others. The labor movement also needs to be further developed and reinvented in such a way that it can exercise more power by working in greater harmony with the struggles for racial, gender, sexual and environmental justice. Solidarity with workers around the world, the rejection of xenophobic scapegoating, and more expansive and creative inclusion of the precariat [those living in precarious economic conditions] will be key. Finally, anti-capitalist organizations that diagnose the core structural problems with the current system and chart paths to alternative socio-economic orders, some of which already exist, are absolutely essential.
The DNC has proven time and again that its role is to quietly execute the dirty work of imperial corporatocracy under cover of progressive rhetoric, so let’s bypass Obamostalgia and Clintonism. If the corrupt DNC hadn’t done everything in its power to sabotage Sanders’ campaign, we’d likely be in a very different situation right now. This isn’t to suggest that there were not serious problems with Sanders’ record and campaign, or that Sanders himself didn’t turn his back on his supporters in order to kowtow to the DNC. However, it would, at least in principle, be possible to completely rebuild the Democratic Party with the Sandernistas at the helm, and to do this at the local, state and national levels.
At the same time, electoral reform and broad-based left-wing coalitions are necessary. The two-party system, which has increasingly proven itself to be the one-party system of Capital, has to be deposed. We need to instigate serious electoral reform by abolishing the oligarchic Electoral College, expanding ranked-choice voting beyond Maine, developing proportional representation, encouraging a multi-party system with a two-round election, setting up regular public referenda (including the possibility of dismissing elected officials), and reversing the massive right-wing anti-democratic assault on the right to vote.
It was neither love nor tolerant liberals that defeated the fascism of the interwar period. It was the united and popular fronts of Communism and left-wing politics. With the needle of institutionalized politics in the Western world, and elsewhere, moving consistently to the right over recent decades, the Left needs to build coalitions capable of uniting people of various ideological orientations around shared issues and concerns (such as climate change, mass deportation, economic oppression by the 1%, and anti-fascism).
The corporate media, concerned only with profits and the entire system of mass media spectacle, helped catapult a fringe freak show into the White House that was only receiving about a third of the votes from the whopping 17% of registered Republicans who turned out in the primaries. The media-money complex presents mostly misinformation and infotainment. It ignores or mischaracterizes real issues, indulges in fear mongering, ceaselessly perpetuates ideological tropes and stereotypes, and sidelines rigorous, critical journalistic work. We should all donate to, volunteer for, contribute to, develop, and help circulate alternative media. The time is ripe for a broad and deep cultural upheaval that puts progressive radicalism in the forefront of daily life. Young people have expressed overwhelming support for the Left, and radical politics are clearly on the rise around the globe. The drumbeat of countercultures can rouse many from the slumbers of the current gruesome dreamscape and put them in sync with fellow travelers who ready to shake off the horror. Artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals and cultural actors of every sort should come together, as all of us should in our daily lives, in order to foster a new ethos of alternative social and political imaginaries. The time couldn’t be riper for an emancipatory groundswell.”