The word contradiction explains much of what seems inexplicable as Donald Trump prepares to take office. It may seem strange that progressives are quoting the CIA with great enthusiasm or that Fox news host Sean Hannity is lionizing Julian Assange. These events are logical at the moment when the system is cracking under its own weight. The contradictions have become quite acute.
All of the crises are coming to a head. The Band-Aids and the public relations can no longer hide the truth. Donald Trump won enough votes to secure an Electoral College victory in large part because white America latched on to his promise to make their lives great again. He also garnered support because he tapped into the angst of the age. Decades of deindustrialization, trade deals and a poverty producing “gig economy” have created unemployment and financial insecurity for a majority of Americans. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump spoke to these concerns.
The Democrats assumed they could keep spinning their way back into the White House, despite their track record of electoral failure. Their loss of both houses of Congress and a majority of state legislatures was not just the result of the Koch brothers scheming and deep pockets. The Democrats are, in fact, partners with the Republicans in doing the business of the ruling classes. Their refusal to address the needs of their voters was proven by their inability to get them out to vote. Bernie Sanders began the process of exposing them but he capitulated and Hillary Clinton was the worst messenger possible after the extent of corruption was brought to light.
In all likelihood, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer was also put off by the sleaziness and presented damning information to WikiLeaks. The evidence of Russian interference is scant but no one who depends on the Democratic Party and the corporate media for information would ever know that.
The empty and tenuous successes of the Barack Obama administration are also being exposed. His foreign policy decisions have brought great suffering to people from Somalia to Libya to Ukraine. His attempt to make America the sole super power resulted in greater cooperation between China and Russia. All the talk of isolating Vladimir Putin is just that, nonsensical chattering. Putin was unsuccessfully used as the bogeyman to defeat Trump in the United States. He was also the poster child of evil-doing in the attempt to defeat the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom. Voters there still chose to leave the European Union.
The contradictions aren’t confined to the United States because the crisis of capitalism isn’t confined to the United States. The European Union exists to make the movement of capital easier, not to improve the lives of the citizens of member nations. NAFTA and CAFTA and TTIP and TPP are all intended to do the same and eviscerate human rights and public sovereignty in the process. Most people are not familiar with the details but they know they are hurting and they know that the political classes are doing nothing to speak for them. They see that as sufficient reason to throw out the rascals and their gimmicks.
The triumph of Donald Trump and the Republicans does represent grave dangers. The old segregationists are back, along with a host of right wing extremists. But this situation could have been averted with truly progressives politics. Instead anti-Trump protests are still being used to uphold the useless Democrats. The architects of the electoral debacle continue to hold sway in party circles and only a few members of the rank and file are willing to call them to account.
The humiliation should not have been a surprise. Any questioning of Barack Obama’s political skills was silenced with the word Obamacare and little else. The Affordable Care Act was a bailout of insurance companies and Big Pharma and it didn’t provide health care to all or control costs. The skimpiness of the success was always obvious and soon the Republicans will send it to the proverbial dust bin of history. All the crowing about Obama’s political brilliance is mere background noise. The meagerness of his legacy is clear.
That is why many progressives have shamed themselves into idolizing the CIA and NSA. Liberals now follow anyone who can help to fill the Democrats empty suits. The Democrats pile disgrace on top of disgrace and now attack Trump from the right with their Russian hacking hoax.
The truth is that Donald Trump won’t be able to keep the ship from sinking either. The system is in an active state of collapse. Perhaps Trump can rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic for a time but ultimately he will fail too. In that process the levels of confusion will increase and the contradictions will be more evident.
This is not the moment to prop up failure. It is the moment to name and abandon it once and for all. Progressives ought to kick the Democrats while they are down. There should be no more elections in which neo-liberalism and empire get support from the left. They must be rejected out of hand and progressives must demand what they claim to want. One side must step away from confusion and contradiction and work for true change.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.