Last night Trump was elected President of the United States. A multitude of ordinary democrats are going through sorrow and grief right now. For them, it is like their only protection was snatched from them. They are feeling vulnerable and afraid. Over the next few months a significant portion of these people who couldn’t hear any of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton will begin to process them and, possibly, accept many of them. The primary reason they couldn’t hear these criticisms before the election, let alone the primaries, is that they were afraid. Fear is a powerful motivating factor. Ultimately the reason so many flocked to Hillary Clinton is because they were afraid and, crucially, they thought Clinton and the democratic establishment could protect them.
Just like Brexit, a right wing famous institution (the European Union in Britain’s case, Clinton in ours) was marshalled as a defense against far right wing reaction and proved incompetent to the task. This has been the most important point that Clinton supporters could most fundamentally not hear. In some narrow sense you might think that Clinton is “better” than Trump but that’s never what the conversation was. As I said in the aftermath of Brexit, “you can ‘prefer’ the status quo over right wing reaction until you’re blue in the face, it doesn’t matter, status quo can’t hold”. Even if Clinton was capable of squeaking out a victory this time around, she would never have had eight years. The right wing ghoul in four years would have been more cunning, more capable and more evil. The democratic party establishment cannot protect anyone from right wing reaction. It is a rotting albatross across the neck of this country, not a protective amulet.
Fear has been the only thing the democratic party has had for a long time. Pure fear cannot win for long. It just can’t be a long term motivation. You may wish otherwise, but that doesn’t change reality. Frankly, I’m not sure we should want a bunch of people to continually sacrifice themselves for the sake of coastal elite liberals. Maybe, just maybe, it is the responsibility of politicians to respond to the concerns of ordinary people. The data bears out the failure of fear as a long term motivation. Tom Ferguson (who will have what is sure to be an absolutely excellent analysis out soon) tried to warn people in 2014. Turnout in many places had fallen to pre-civil war levels in the 2014 midterms. Presidential elections always have a bump but it seems likely that this will be a presidential turnout low for many places. Already we can see that turnout collapsed in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Thus, don’t let anyone say differently- it is a turnout collapse that lost democrats this election and the turnout collapse is because of the democratic party’s complete abandonment of ordinary people. The strategy of supporting our wall street and silicon valley oligarchy to protect people from the rabble is an utter failure and needs to be recognized as such. The democratic party elites won’t learn. They are already talking about how Clinton should have moved to the right on immigration. They will ride this sinking ship to the end. It is up to rank and file democrats to abandon the establishment en mas and say loudly and clearly that they will not support anyone but left wing candidates. As anyone in a negotiation innately knows, the credible threat of exit is the only thing that gives one power.
This will not be an easy move. The world is very scary when you don’t believe democrats can protect you. It will be comforting to run back to them in future years in a moment of panic. This must be resisted. It is not hyperbole to say that the fate of human civilization relies on our ability to smash or reform the democratic party and pull us away from the precipice of fascism and climate catastrophe. It is also not guaranteed that we will win. The arc of the universe does not bend towards justice- and even if it did sometimes that arc can snap into a million little pieces. However, this is our best chance. Nonetheless we have no other choice- we must try. Hope isn’t necessary, action is.
P.S. The interview I did in June, especially 20 minutes to 33 minutes, at the Nostalgia Trap holds up quite well in analyzing this election.