Words to inspire
There are plenty of reasons why we should be very afraid of what's to come in America in the next two years, at least. The Republican party, or the alien slugs that have taken over the carcass of the Republican party, didn't just win the White House. They also won the House and the Senate. No doubt they'll try to ram through and lock in every right-wing wet dream in the next two years: abolish same-sex marriage, abolish the Affordable Care Act, abolish the minimum wage, defund Planned Parenthood, overturn legal abortion, enhance drill-baby-drill, and on and on.
It's hard to dispute the realization of what's likely to come. It's even harder to find a silver lining in the wake of it all. But, as Eduardo Galeano tells us, "Let's save our pessimism for better times." So, here are a few dim candles that I hope will light the darkness a little:
- An increasing repudiation of corporate neoliberalism. Say what you will about the scandal-soaked Trump; he did give lip-service on the campaign trail to a lot of anti-neoliberal themes: opposing the investor-rights "free trade" "agreements" like NAFTA and the TPP, opposing big corporate mergers like that proposed between AT&T and Time Warner, the dissolution of American jobs, particularly in manufacturing. Hillary Clinton didn't give the forceful repudiation of neoliberalism that Bernie Sanders would have, and it may have been the middle-finger to the corporate elites of which she's a part. Point is, people don't need to be convinced that the economy is a game for the well-to-do; they already know and are pissed. It's one of many sacred cows ground into hamburger tonight. I hope that the Democratic party got the message that neoliberalism isn't a winning strategy; they would be smart to heed that lesson. (The Republicans got anti-neoliberalism shoved down their throats and they could well gag.)
- The less-than-unified front of the Republican party. George W. Bush was disciplined and on-message and consistent -- easy enough for someone who didn't have an original thought in his head in his adult life. But Donald Trump is anything but disciplined; his aides will try to shackle him, but he handles straitjackets about as well as a werewolf handles a full moon. America elected Mike Pence president tonight, who will likely be overworked being both president and vice-president. Paul Ryan ostensibly "won" tonight, but he still has to deal with an unruly caucus and a president whose syntax is suspect and who probably can't read. There are no doubt a few wedge issues just waiting to surface. What's more, the win was comparatively thin (128,000 votes' difference in Florida; 76,000 votes' difference in Pennsylvania; 82,000 in Michigan); the crisis of legitimacy has already begun. And Trump is a scandal magnet, as is abundantly clear. Will a scandal or scandal emerge to impeach the dude? Perhaps not, but then again hardly anyone outside of Bill Maher or Michael Moore predicted the guy would even get elected.
- We've won before even when things looked bad. When things look hopeless, I just remember the Media Ownership Uprising of 2003. The FCC was planning to ram through a series of controversial media ownership rule changes that would have irreparably ruined and consolidated American media. It looked pretty damn hopeless; the FCC's votes were locked in; pro-corporate right-wingers held the levers of power in Congress, the White House, and key court positions; the media were mute since they stood to cash in big. But I joined efforts, first small ones, but ones which grew and accelerated and caught a bunch of lucky breaks. The rules faced protests (a first in the FCC's history), and a deluge of negative feedback which fueled an emergency court order (in one of the sane courts; thanks Third Circuit!) that blocked the rules and halted them for eight years. The activism even fueled a resurgence in low-power FM radio, which was implemented as a screw-you against the "unified front" of corporate media lobbyists. You can roll over and give up, or you can fight and have a chance. And I am convinced that acts of activism, however small, are never wasted. You never know how the actions you take today can compound on positive actions later, which leads to...
- The population will not be restless. Chicago's own pathetic excuse of a mayor, Rahm Emanuel, faced the greatest test of legitimacy of his career in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video. But as Paul Street puts it: "His self-important hubris and arrogance has – now joined to an ugly history of vicious institutional racism within and beyond Chicago – helped ignite a 'volcano' of Black rebellion the city's mostly white corporate and financial overlords finds most unwelcome. Untold thousands of young Black and other Chicago residents are now in militant motion like no time in recent memory. Good corporate mayors are supposed to keep ghetto residents pacified. Emanuel is failing at the task." I imagine that Trump will likewise fail at the task at keeping people pacified. The struggle to follow will not be easy, and we probably will sustain more than a few defeats, not the least against foes we can't yet foresee (I'm looking at you, Zika). But people are active. We need to sustain that anger and unify that power into a more cohesive whole.