Well? What if? What if Trump was impeached tomorrow? Or forced to resign? However it works, imagine Little Hands is out of office. I’ve seen it suggested that the GOP wants the same as the Dems, for Trump to fail. I’ve even seen it suggested that the Republicans are just waiting for him to step out of line so they can throw him out of office and put a “real” Republican like Pence in his seat.
Wouldn’t that be nice, eh?
But, Mike Pence, right? Even scarier than a loudmouthed misogynist, is a bigot with a plan. Okay, so let’s say Trump and Pence both go. What next?
There are hundreds of bastards like Trump and Pence just waiting in line for the chance to screw over the poor, the religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, the non-whites, non-straights, and non-males. If Trump and Pence were to be spirited away tomorrow, there would be hundreds more just like them jostling to take their places. Politicians louder, more extreme, more outrageous, more controversial, more religious, would fight to win the hearts, not minds, of a nation of ignoramuses created by their policies and populism. In the last century, this country is has become a petri dish for bigots and bastards like trump and Pence. Their elimination from office gives us no more than an afternoon’s respite while their replacements are selected. The next day, it’ll be back to business.
Yay, we win, nothing’s changed. And it’ll take a long time before we have the energy to fight anyone else. It’s a winning strategy for those that hold the power behind the personality politics that plagues this country. We get to win and nothing changes until the next election when we go through it all again and pick the next person that won’t do anything either. This time authoritarian and patriarchal, next time liberal and progressive, right? And when the political pendulum swings back in the direction of our own positions, we can all take a one- or two-term timeout and pretend we’re making progress.
The current dialog seems to be that, once Sanders was eliminated from the race, the “progressive”or left-leaning alternative to Trump was Clinton, a career politician every bit as embedded in self-interest and social apathy as a politician can be; a war-hawk liberal who didn’t inherit her wealth like Trump, but accumulated it while her husband was president and while she was a senator. This so-called servant of the liberal left got rich while her husband was cutting welfare and unemployment benefits to appease the GOP, who wanted him impeached because he couldn’t keep his dick to himself. Clinton, H. (and Clinton, B.) accumulated millions while she voted to inflate the housing bubble, and then got richer again from the coffers of the same companies that cashed in their unregulated toxic loans and junk bonds and bailed themselves out with billions of dollars of taxpayer money. Would she have been a more progressive option than Trump? Absolutely. Would she have been the better option for leftists? Definitely. But Clinton as lefty saviour? Fuck off. The Dems as the progressive party? Double fuck off.
We’re mourning the end of the Obama era not because of what he achieved, but because of what he allowed us to believe about ourselves. Gay-friendly, women-friendly, kid-friendly, peace-loving Obama, the candidate of Hope, the man who said Yes We Can, the man who gave us hope for the future, who spoke eloquently and behaved with dignity, even as he fucked the dog for the first two years, even as he crumbled and signed off on the bailout bills bequeathed to him by Bush’s busted flush, even as he pushed more troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, and loaded up more drones, and dropped more bombs on brown people in more countries than any other president before him. Mourn Obama if you like, he was graceful and smart and funny and cool, and he said a few nice words and signed a few nice laws that lagged far behind the public sentiment of common decency. He is better than what comes next, but he failed to make Obamacare fit his original vision. And he failed to translate the radical popularity of his transformational presidential campaign into real and lasting change. He failed to transform his party from the party that elected him to a party that was electable without him. That is partly on him, but it’s mostly on the sleep-walking neo-liberalism of the Democrats, a traditional right of center party that eschewed the teachings of FDR and worked against Henry Wallace to ensure a leftist like FDR would never again threaten their corporate paymasters.
Blame Pence and Trump and the GOP all you like, and their supporters, but the Dems are complicit in this and we won’t see anything like real change while people like Clinton stalk the Democrats’ convention halls. Sanders almost made it, almost overcame the Democrats nomination regulating machinery, but he’s too old to make another run. Elizabeth Warren is where the Dems need to be looking because she exists beyond easy labels like “socialist”—but she’s also too extreme for establishment Democrats, and too smart, too dangerous, and too impervious to bullshit for the corporations that own them. The Dems are a party that looks to its members for policies and platforms, and only remembers the people, especially the working class, when it is election time and they are forced to go looking for votes.
So where does change finally come from? Will America ever be a progressive country? Will it ever live up to its promise? It won’t happen in my lifetime. The problem is generational and cannot be fixed without a long-term commitment to a concerted and extended grass-roots effort to see beyond personal gain. Maybe a catastrophic collapse of the American empire would precipitate the social and political revolution needed to fix the problem sooner. Maybe we need another Great Depression and Wall Street Crash to persuade people that rampant self interest helps no one in the long term. Trump might just bring that about, and it might bring a progressive backlash.
But while plenty of people still look to FDR’s social policies as the progressive ideal, we can’t forget that it took a pair of World Wars to destroy Europe and propel the USA into its position as the global financial leader and military superpower. More than FDR’s New Deal, WWII brought untold riches to the USA and while it was perhaps unintentional to make such a paradigm-shifting profit from the global conflict, the lesson was quickly learned that a permanent war economy was good for technologists, industrialists, and financiers. It’s not bad for the churches either. Against that level of organized and protective self-interest, it’s going to take a mammoth effort to create lasting change.
Maybe there is hope. And maybe we saw it yesterday when millions of men, women, children in the USA and around the world put on their marching boots and demonstrated that they were prepared to get up off their arses and speak truth to power. People can be moved to stand up for their rights, to stand up for equality, progress, and justice. And what we saw, more than anything else, is that people coalesce around causes and fight injustices. It was wonderful to see, but unless it transforms society it will be a pretty memory and not much more. People don’t march for a label. People aren’t motivated by partisan squabbling. And, as we saw, people don’t vote for a party that doesn’t represent them.
If the Democrats can’t see that, can’t accept that they need to change to capture that energy, then there are millions of votes just waiting for the party, any party, that does. So far, none of them do.