After the election it took me a day or two to recover my wits, but I’m not yet past the anger. Not so much at the people who voted for Trump; some of them are racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic pigs, but it remains to be seen whether that’s actually a majority. I’m guessing that more are in the mold of the poor folks who actually expect him to bring jobs back to their neck of the woods. And by poor I don’t necessarily mean impoverished; many of those interviewed by the Times currently have good jobs but expect or fear to lose them in the near future, for instance the employees of the Carrier plant in Indiana Trump often used as an example of how he’d save and repatriate jobs lost to lower-wage countries. I mean poor in the sense of pitiable, because they’re so completely deluded about the solutions to the situation they’re struggling against.
Which is not to minimize that situation. I imagine that much of the eastern Kentucky town where I grew up, once unionized and Democratic, voted for Trump, and though racism and the other hatreds form an undoubted subtext the wish for the return of good economic times is real and pervasive. The town is a third smaller than it was when coal mines, steel mills, chemical plants, and oil refineries provided good-paying jobs for anyone with a high-school education, and even a better-than-subsistence level of existence to those without that qualification. Nowadays the median age is 41 and the per capita income is a little over $19K, which means 18% of the population lives below the poverty line (including 28% of those under 18). The town remains over 95% white, so racism doesn’t really arise in daily life; it’s more of a philosophical stance, similar to the belief that travel and education leave you less pure and farther from God. These folks, bless their hearts, often don’t have the information, or the information-processing power, to see past the hucksterism. Often this ignorance is carefully tended, but it’s still a handicap I can empathize with.
No, what really makes me angry is the struggle by the now completely discredited Clinton/DLC wing of the Democratic party to externalize blame for the disaster of a Trump presidency, transparently attempting to shift responsibility from their own decision-making. Blaming those who voted against you is not only bad politics; in this case it’s particularly idiotic, because as even David Axelrod has pointed out the party’s candidate was not a great one in general and was remarkably unsuited for the country’s mood at present. And that’s coming from one of Obama’s top advisors, not someone with left-wing sympathies.
What fascinates me now is the struggle to head up the DNC. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren agree that Keith Ellison would be perfect for the job, and they’ve managed to bring Chuck Schumer, of all people, on board. So now there’s a flurry of establishment types from Howard Dean to Xavier Becerra offering themselves as preferable candidates for the task at hand, with Martin O’Malley, fresh off a tremendously successful run for the Presidential nomination, claiming some unique ability to mediate between the two groups.
To which I say, fuck that. I don’t want mediation. I want a purge. Clinton/DLC people, move across the aisle where you’ve always really belonged. Or get on board with where the Democratic party and the country have been for decades; but that would mean relinquishing a hold on personal power for the good of the country, which has never been a strong point for the Clinton/Podesta wing. Fortunately the old order’s rapidly fading, as one Nobel prize winner put it. Or as Bill Greider says,
Letís be honest with ourselves. The old political order deserved to die. The moneyed interests that manipulate both political parties and finance the elaborate electoral machinery that shapes so-called “public opinion” effectively suffocated American democracy a long while back. In our modern high-tech society, the notion that we are self-governing citizens has been turned into a cynical joke.
People knew this, sort of. As long as things were going good in their lives, most people learned to live with it. Both parties made pretty promises during campaigns, but average folks understood that these were mostly garbage. Whatever it took to win the election. Voting became a marginal option, since most people had learned to expect that not much would be changed.
The actual facts of governing — the real meat of power politics — were reserved for privileged circles who needed to know what was going down, the lobbyists and do-gooders and agents of heavyweight influence. The news media made sure that the real struggles of governing were dumbed down for average readers so as not to disturb their innocent ignorance.
That worked for the Democrats for many years. Worked, that is, in the sense of keeping the establishment in power; it’s been quite a long time since it worked for individuals who voted Democratic, as the party cooperated in the neoliberal project of hollowing out the manufacturing base and concentrating wealth in the hands of financiers. Speaking of which, can you name a Democrat more closely associated with that neoliberal project than Hillary Clinton? Okay, maybe her husband, but who else?
Until the Democrats become once again a party of the working class, by which we don’t mean people who work for banks and investment companies, they’ll be irrelevant at every level of government.