“For a hundred years or more the world, our world, has been dying,” wrote Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer. “And not one man, in these last hundred years or so, has been crazy enough to put a bomb up the asshole of creation and set it off. The world is rotting away, dying piecemeal. But it needs the coup de grace, it needs to be blown to smithereens.”
Will President Donald Trump be that crazed suicide bomber? It is, no doubt, a frightening prospect. But as I write this on the date of Trump’s official swearing-in as President of the United States, Miller’s nihilistic quote seems the only logical way to process this once unfathomable scenario.
There is no question all working class Americans are going to suffer in the months and years to come. Some of us, to be certain, will suffer more than others—Muslims, women, immigrants, African Americans, people with disabilities, and journalists, in particular. But suddenly such misguided games of so-called “Oppression Olympics,” seem highly counterproductive, if not altogether childish.
The stark truth is we are all “deplorables,” now. The era of Trump has officially begun. It is time to resist with everything we have got.
Activists kicked off Trump’s first day and half as president with two massive protests: The “Not My President” rally on Friday, Jan. 20 interrupted the bourgeois pomp and circumstance of Trump’s inauguration, while the “Women’s March on Washington” the following day proved even larger, with more than half a million participants.
Protesters who could not make it to D.C. held local sister rallies in Chicago, Boston, Oakland, CA, New York, and Portland, Maine. And the protests spilled overseas, in cities like London, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris, and Barcelona.
Both actions sought to remind Trump that, despite his claims to the contrary, he has no mandate. Hillary Clinton received three million more total votes than Trump, yet lost the election due to the antiquated Electoral College—a relic of the slave-holding Founding Fathers. And some seven million voters (I among them) did not cast a ballot for either Trump or Clinton, opting instead for a third-party candidate, like the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
Indeed, both Clinton and Trump registered record low favorability ratings since they emerged as their respective party’s nominee. What does that say about the self-appointed “World’s Greatest Democracy” when it offers voters two lousy candidates to choose from? No wonder so many Americans just skip the process, entirely.
Furthermore, the corporate media’s narrative of a “Rust Belt revolt” propelling Trump to victory has been, in the words of left-wing writer, Paul Street, “badly oversold.”
Trump basically received the same amount of support as Mitt Romney did in 2012. His election should not be taken as a sign that the nation’s proverbial political pendulum has suddenly swung to the right. Trump’s victory is due less to Republicans gaining support among working class voters as it is to Democrats losing that support.
As Counterpunch’s Anthony DiMaggio observes, the 2016 presidential election result was “more about growing working class and white voter disgust with the Democratic status quo than it was about being enamored with the Trump candidacy.”
“If the Democratic Party had fielded a real progressive candidate who had a meaningful history of seeking to help the working class—Bernie Sanders for example—the outcome of the election may have been very different.”
The point is that you and I are not alone. We are the majority. And, as one of the marchers’ chants puts it, “We do not consent!/Trump is not our president!”
This fact was hammered home by the massive number of women (and men) at Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. In fact, the crowd was so unwieldy protest organizers scrapped their original marching plans at the last minute, opting for just the star-studded rally. But defiant attendees marched anyway, getting as far as the Washington Monument before security stopped them.
The contingent of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which I am a dues-paying member of, proved one of the most vocal and galvanizing forces at the march.
Even before the official proceedings began, we fenced ourselves in to a visible spot and began chanting loudly. Dozens of passerby jubilantly joined in—many of whom likely do not even consider themselves socialists or may have negative associations with the term.
This is, I hope, one step in slowly changing people’s minds.
Many attendees wore Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama pins. Others held signs proclaiming Trump is “Putin’s Puppet,” referencing the highly dubious, yet nonetheless widely accepted, belief that Russia covertly influenced the election results. And, of course, the anti-Trump slogan, “Love Trumps Hate,” was ubiquitous.
These sentiments of lesser-evilism illustrate the ideological limitations which continue to plague the left–limitations we must overcome if we are to defeat the newly empowered radical right.
The fact is Obama spent his two terms pursuing neoliberal, corporatist, and imperialist policies that were utterly devastating for the working class. And Clinton–whose husband gutted the federal welfare program, repealed Glass Steagall, and passed NAFTA–made it abundantly clear that she intended to deliver more of the same.
The left cannot continue to invest its hopes in a Democratic Party that cares nothing for working class Americans. It is for good reason that former Republican strategist, Kevin Phillips once called the Democrats, “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.” The unfortunate truth is the working class has no political representation under capitalism. Supporting the supposed “lesser evil” candidate every four years merely paves the way for the “greater evil”–in this case, President Trump.
To simply throw up your hands and insist the Democrats are “all we’ve got,” or that Obama “did the best he could,” is not a viable political strategy for advancing working class struggle. It is an admission of defeat.
This argument tends to be a difficult one to make to the mostly liberal activists who attended the Women’s March. But the rousing embrace the ISO received, coupled with the growing interest in socialism particularly among young people, demonstrates there is an audience for our ideas. We must seek out people in that audience and be willing to patiently but steadfastly try to win them over to socialist ideas.
Let the historical record show that the majority of Americans had no interest in “giving Trump a chance” to enact his sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist campaign of bourgeois hate. Trump’s first day and a half as president already generated the single largest protest in U.S. history.
One protester’s sign perhaps best summed up the weekend’s mass mobilizations: “Respeta mi existencia o espera resistencia.” Translated, it reads, “Respect my existence, or expect my resistance.”
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