Saturday, November 19, 2016


Over the last week I have read more articles than I can count, critique of the election outcome and critique of the critique... like the reflection of a mirror in a mirror in a mirror...

Much of what I’ve read is a visceral response to the shocking victory of a candidate whose hate spewing rhetoric endangers the very population he has been (s)elected to lead. If you read The Missing Point with any frequency, you may understand why I am shocked by, but not surprised at this outcome. There are plenty of articles with detailed analysis of what it means that a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, has just been elected president, this is not one of them.

And then there are the blame game pieces, chasing (casting) shadows in a pathetic attempt to save face, to cast the DNC and the Clinton campaign as hapless victims after the fact, as if no one was aware that decades of neglect and economic devastation might be a factor in the 2016 election. I’ve seen this written about as sidebar to, and as response to, the previous articles I mentioned. What is disturbing here is that these ideas are mostly being written about in a dualistic fashion; essentially, racism/misogyny/xenophobia vs. economics, as if the very mention of economic factors is some sort of defacto negation or blanket appeasement of systemic racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.

Perhaps we should try a little harder not to fall into a conflict narrative trap that ultimately benefits the ruling class. They would like nothing better than to see us escalate the battle over whose particular oppression is the more righteous cause. Desperation born of oppression can lead to volatile results, and 1% is always looking for an opportunity to “save the day” and secure their power.

Is there a way that we can attend to all our needs, rather than elevate one at the expense of the other? What can we do to empower one another so that our people can break free of this existential threat requires patriarchal savior paradigm?

The decimation of the middle class didn’t start with the crash in 2008. It’s been 22 years since NAFTA went into effect, but it was in negotiation even before Bill Clinton took office. 22 years of Democrats and Republicans pushing free market/free trade neoliberalism while the country bleeds jobs, benefits, retirement, anything and everything that we used to call the American Dream.

Jimmy Carville’s legendary Clinton War Room sign from 1992

The democrats have run on a protectionist platform for multiple election cycles, promising to secure the gains we have made. Women’s right to choose, civil rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights... But their steadfast protection of these rights does little to address the free market economic free fall that has been going on for decades. Insuring equal access to the pie doesn’t really work when there’s no pie to begin with.

Say you live in one of the rust belt states. The factory, or the mine, that practically the entire town worked in, has been closed for more than a decade. If you’re not unemployed, you’re likely living paycheck to paycheck, careful not to rock the boat cause service jobs are hard to come by. Hell, if it weren’t for the prison, there wouldn’t be enough income in the town to keep the Walmart going. You can barely keep up with the interest payments on your mortgage, if you still have your home. Maybe someone in your family is fighting an illness, and you can’t afford the care they need. You are praying that they are going to pull through.

You hear democrats on the TV saying that they are going to fight to protect the gains we’ve made. You’re not sure what the hell gains they are talking about. Their slogan is “Fighting For Us,” but you don’t feel like that us includes you. You heard from a friend at work that their candidate called you a racist, a bigot, a “deplorable.” You don’t think you’re any of those things. You’d tell them so, but they never come to your town. Your former union sends you a flyer that says “I’m with her.”

Along comes a snake oil salesman. Everyone you know is coming out to hear him speak. You’ve seen him before, he’s been pushing get rich quick schemes every night on the TV for as long as you can remember. He’s got a book called “The Art of the Deal,” which he brings up at every opportunity. He says he will “entirely renegotiate NAFTA,” which he calls the “worst trade deal in history.” Everyone at the rally is wearing those red hats that say “Make America Great Again.”

When Bernie Sanders was winning rural and rust belt primaries, the mainstream media pointed out that these were white male voters, that he wouldn’t be able to mobilize the Obama Coalition. No stories about how the democrats had ceded these poor white voters to the Republicans years ago, choosing to focus exclusively on the (fading fast) “middle class.” Rather than looking at this as a potential reintegration along economic class lines, similar to MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign, the DNC used these wins to reinforce the narrative that people of color were already on board with the presumptive nominee.

Looking at the initial results after the election, it would appear that this strategy failed to produce the DNC’s expected outcome. While Republican party vote totals were similar to prior presidential elections, Democrat numbers dropped markedly. It is easy to correlate this drop to lower voter turnout (voter suppression?) in communities of color, but focusing on this racial polarization narrative may be counterproductive. Poor whites may have been more likely to vote Republican in 2016 than poor blacks and latinos, for obvious reasons that have been covered ad infinitum, but there is a common thread that the status quo blame game is bending over backward to avoid dealing with:

Given that the election results are accurate, poor people, across the board, were even less likely to vote Democrat in the 2016 general election.

In a year of anti-establishment populist uprising, righteous reaction to decades of suffering from bi-partisan neoliberal austerity policies, the Democratic party establishment chose a candidate that only offered more of the same.

This should have been obvious. Why was it not? Who benefits from this narrative?

Related articles:
Three Myths About Clinton’s Defeat in Election 2016 Debunked – Lambert Strether
The Clinton Campaign Was Undone By Its Own Neglect And A Touch Of Arrogance, Staffers Say – Sam Stein
Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit – Glenn Greenwald
Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here – Cornel West

And a related video:
President Trump: How & Why – Jonathan Pie

No comments:

Post a Comment