Bernie Sanders ran for president on a platform of “Political Revolution.” And we had one. Donald Trump’s victory virtually overthrew politics as we’ve known it by trashing both the Republican and Democratic parties. He replaced them with his own by tapping into the despair of the people, which neither party had the honesty or intelligence to do. I suggest his yet unnamed new party be called “The Inferno Party,” taking its name from the “Inferno” section of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” in which the entrance to Hell bears the sign, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” It was indeed the hopeless and the despairing who carried Trump to the White House – and they will be burned for it.
Trump’s “policies” are nothing but posturing, framed only to win votes, utterly undoable, and swallowed by desperate, gullible people. He will not bring jobs back to America by restoring American industry, because industry is in the hands of multinationals that cannot be handcuffed to any particular nation. He cannot enforce protectionism against imports, because the World Trade Organization, subscribed to by all industrialized nations, will retaliate against American exports, thus further crippling the U.S. economy. He will not build walls to keep immigrants out, because much of American business – particularly agriculture – thrives on the cheap labor of immigrants, legal or otherwise. He will not curb racial violence through his heavy-handed “law-and-order” policies, because these very racist policies are causing the violence. He will not reduce or forgive unsustainable student debt, or attempt to curb unaffordable higher-education costs. And he will not address the urgent need for affordable, universal health care, and, instead, will possibly attack what little protection people have through the Affordable Care Act.
He will, on the other hand, promote even greater inequality by lowering taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals like himself, thus further depriving the government of revenues needed for essential social programs. And in order to pay for his tax cuts, he may attempt to lower Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits – further attacking the poor and the elderly. One could cynically say that the people deserve these deprivations since they voted for him, but those who voted for him do not deserve punishment, only enlightenment. Not to mention that returns are showing that he lost the popular vote by increasingly large margins.
Sadly, it could have as easily been a true people’s revolution. It could have been the Sanders Revolution, in which all the necessary social restructuring touched on above would have been the agenda of a real people’s president. But despite his overwhelming popularity, the Democratic Party jettisoned Bernie, the only prospective nominee who had his hand on the people’s pulse as Trump did – and therefore could have soundly beaten him. Instead, imagining there was still a political “middle,” the corporate-dominated, out-of-touch Democratic Party elevated an anachronism that personified it: Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party put Trump in the White House – and the ruling class that commands that party undoubtedly prefers him there to Bernie, however many of its members denounce Trump.
Trump’s neo-fascist revolution is moving ahead quickly, with the new president already appointing some of the most virulent right-wingers to government positions. On his list are Rudy Giuliani, New York’s racist former-mayor who instituted the “stop-and-frisk” policy against black people; New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie, who slashed school budgets, blocked transportation improvements that would have made life better for millions of commuters, and is accused of inconveniencing thousands of drivers by unnecessarily closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge in an act of political spite; Joe Arpaio, the notorious Arizona sheriff who faces jail time for contempt of court in a case regarding his brutal treatment of immigrants; and Sarah Palin, the know-nothing reactionary whom even the GOP discarded. These are just the beginning of the neo-Nazi parade Trump is leading.
There is only one way for the American people to save themselves from the horrors of the Trump revolution: immediately organize a counter-revolution. We must take to the streets en masse and hold ongoing demonstrations; demand the social benefits people need – e.g., affordable health care and education, decent housing, a living wage, and relief from poverty; relentlessly hound our legislators to act in our interests; join every struggle to save the environment that Trump and all other fascist capitalists will mindlessly continue destroying for profit; resist vacuous pleas that we accept injustice and deprivation by passively “coming together” as a nation. There is no “togetherness” with your persecutor! And we must organize, organize, organize – perhaps under the banner of the Sanders Revolution, if Bernie advances it. Or perhaps forming a new political party to replace those Trump destroyed – one that truly represents the people, as the old ones didn’t.
However we do it, we must turn the country upside down in order to turn it right-side up again.
Burlington Free Press,11/15/16