We all know that the election of Donald Trump means heartbreaking times ahead. Racists are feeling entitled, authoritarians are readying their clubs, Republicans are moving in for the kill they’ve been waiting for since FDR gave us the New Deal, lobbyists are licking their chops, and rich, rightwing oligarchs are settling down in their lavish lairs, a snifter of brandy in hand, and a satisfying sense of a job well done. Many Americans will suffer.
How did it happen? And what can we do?
Kevin Drum suggests that we can’t really know definitively what happened yet if we ever can. But he nevertheless lines up “all the usual suspects” in order to consider whether or not they actually played a role in the Trumpocalypse, and if so, how much of a role. He looks at the contribution of FBI Director Comey, what he calls whitelash, white working class anomie, racism, third parties, the “fundamentals,” the media, sexism, millennials, turn-out, voter suppression and the electoral college. He concludes that:
Once again: this is my best take on all of these theories right now. But the actual evidence is still weak. CPS data won’t be available for years, and in the meantime we have exit poll data—which is suggestive but not much more—and a lot of people looking at county and precinct level data, trying to tease out who voted for whom. We’ll eventually know more, but it will take a while. Until then, it’s probably best not to be too sure of whatever your own pet theory is.
Except for James Comey, of course. That guy sucks.
Personally, I think we can also be pretty sure about the role played by the electoral college. It sucks too.
Peter Drier at The American Prospect also gives us his take on some of the usual suspects: Comey, voter suppression, media bias, and rightwing money, and concludes that they were all in it together. He takes it a bit further, though and argues that the future looks better thanks to demographics, and what polls show to be a preference for progressive policies among voters – but only if we get it together. He concludes:
This is no time for liberals and progressives, Bernie Sanders supporters and Clinton followers, to point fingers. This is a time for cooperation and strategizing. Unions, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, community organizing groups, LGBT activists, and wealthy progressives must collaborate. Progressives must raise the money—hundreds of millions of dollars—to send an army of paid organizers to key swing states and House districts now. We can’t just parachute organizers into swing states a few months before the next election. We need to build on and expand the base by organizing ordinary people around local and national issues. We need to ramp up protest and engage in civil disobedience to stop Donald Trump’s initiatives. And we need to register voters, so they’ll be “fired up and ready to go” for the midterm elections in two years and the presidential race in 2020.
In an article published in the Washington Post, Harold Pollack elaborates on what it means to take to heart Drier’s admonition to “mourn, then organize.” He identifies thirteen steps that progressives need to follow in order to reclaim our democracy. They run the gamut from fighting voter suppression and supporting good journalism, to not allowing the GOP and compliant media to normalize the Great Orange Atrocity. His final prescription:
Chin up. I remain heartbroken. I’m also oddly exhilarated, girded for the coming fights. There is a clarity to these coming battles. We must remove a grifting demagogue from the White House. The stakes could hardly be higher. Those of us who oppose him have one another. We have much of the country, too, which I suspect will soon experience massive buyers’ remorse.
So cheer up, progressives, and let’s work. It won’t be easy. Important things rarely are. We can weave our own silver lining within the dark cloud that now hovers over our nation.