Trump’s Triumph: DiEM25 on how progressives must react

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Donald Trump’s victory marks the end of an era when a self-confident Establishment preached the end of history, the end of passion and the supremacy of a technocracy working on behalf of the 1%. But the era it ushers in is not new. It is a new variant of the 1930s, featuring deflationary economics, xenophobia and divide-and-rule politics.

Passion has returned to politics but not in a way that will help the 80% left behind since the 1970s. Passion is now fuelling misanthropy. Passion is exploiting the anger of the 80% to re-arrange power at the top, while leaving the 80% moribund, betrayed and divided. And it is our job to stop this. It is our job to harness passion in the cause of humanism.

The Establishment’s folly is causing its demise. Unable to come to terms with the economic crisis they created, they crushed the Greek Spring because they could. They pushed the majority of British families into austerity-induced hopelessness. They committed millions of Germans to mini-jobs. They conspired to keep Bernie Sanders at bay. And when Golden Dawn, Brexit, the Alternative für Deutschland and Donald Trump were the result, they responded with a mixture of condescension, denial and panic.

Politics is undergoing a shake up that the world has not seen since the 1930s. A Great Deflation is now gripping both sides of the Atlantic, re-kindling political forces that had been dormant since the 1930s. President Trump’s use of Mussolini-like tactics and narratives is a mere symptom of the rendition of that bleak era.

What should we do?

The spectre of a Nationalist International that is upon us (from Trump and the Brexiteers to Poland’s and Hungary’s governments, the Alternative für Deutschland, Austria’s next president, Marine Le Pen) can only be defeated by the Progressive International that the Democracy in Europe Movement, DiEM25, is building in Europe.

But, clearly, Europe is not enough. Progressives in the United States, those who supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, must band together with progressives in Canada and Latin America, to build a Democracy in the Americas Movement. Progressives in the Middle East, those who are shedding their blood against ISIS, against tyranny as well as against the West’s puppet regimes, must band together with progressive Palestinians and Israelis to build a Democracy in the Middle East Movement.

In 1930, our ancestors failed to reach out to other democrats across borders and political party lines to stop the rot. We must succeed where the others failed.

Today, on the day of victory by the politics of fear, loathing and division, we pledge to take the fight to the Nationalist International, to form an effective Progressive International and to press passion back into the service of humanism.

Carpe DiEM25

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4 Comments

  • The necessity to unite Progressives has existed since there were more than one Progressives. As soon as they became two, the first rift was made. So, even though History has made this necessity even stronger in our days, its Reality that reminds us how much bigger this rift has become.

    Europe cannot self-heal. Who will do it? Who will make Euro democratic and transparent? Juncker? Schauble? Dragi? I don’t see them going anywhere in the foreseeable future Yani. Who will bring them down from power? The Brexit voters? The Le Pen voters? The Wilders voters? The Golden Dawn, PASOK, ND, SYRIZA voters? Orban? AfD? or maybe DiEM?

    Its a fools errant and you know it. Its one thing to fight the good fight against misanthropy, bigotry, racism, xenophobia and corruption because we are humanists and couldn’t live any other way, because its who we are. But its a totally different thing, hoping that we can actually win, or change things presently.

    Social change needs tens, hundreds of years to materialize. It certainly won’t happen in the 10 or 25 years of the DiEM agenda. So let’s cut the ‘bull’ and lets agree that we fight to lose.

  • The establishment is full of people who are trying and trying to ‘do the right thing’ with good intentions. Fighting good intention by attack mode, confrontation face to face, raises the defensive wall higher. Reach out to all, find the wish, the human good side in there, even while your skin prickles with fear and distress as you are walking alongside. Alongside is not hand- holding, it is a way to listen and exchange perspectives. In each and every locality here we still have to do business with trump voters. They are my neighbours, they are not Mussolini fan clubs. I am trying to ask for progress to take place through the only knowledge we have, we are ALL in it, I think this is where Yanis is too, but never sure, as his disapproval is strong. Please be kind to those who do not think so clearly as you do, and wonder what they say or feel that is admirable, however hard that might be for you to find. My rational educated progressive self agrees with you, is inspired, a part of my heart is alienated, it wants to stay in touch even with those whose behaviour reminds me more of screaming toddlers than any more mature kind of human. There is something brave in there.

  • Nov. 9, 2016 His victory proves he – and the class of voters who elected him – cannot be overlooked.

    By George Friedman

    Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. The extent of the bewilderment is significant. The pollsters were shocked. The media was surprised. The financial markets were stunned. Many in the Republican Party were astonished. And the Democratic Party was totally taken off guard. The thought that a man with Trump’s values and behavior could become president was, to many, unthinkable. I do not mean that they disagreed with him, or hoped that Trump would lose. They thought it inconceivable that a man like Trump could win.

    That is the reason Hillary Clinton lost. The Democratic Party that nominated her has moved far away from the party that Franklin D. Roosevelt crafted or that Lyndon B. Johnson had led. Their party had as its core the white working class. The liberalism of FDR and LBJ was built around this group, with other elements added and subtracted. Much has been said about this group having become less important. Perhaps so, but it is still the single largest ethnic and social group in the country.

    This group, as I have argued before, is in trouble. The middle class, with a median take-home pay in California of about $4,300 a month, can buy a modest house and a car but certainly can’t afford to send their kids to college. Hence the massive student loans their children must take out. The lower-middle class has a take-home pay of about $2,600 a month. A generation ago the lower-middle class could buy a small house in a not-so-great neighborhood. Now they are hard pressed to rent an apartment. Liberals are concerned with inequality. People in the lower-middle class are simply concerned with making enough money to live a decent life. They are two very different things.

    Trump, it turns out, understood this problem. He also understood that these people had lost the culture wars that had been waged for the past generation. Their churches and parents raised and taught them that homosexuality is a sin, as is abortion and premarital sex. Evangelical Christianity wasn’t so much the issue, but rather the gut values with which they were raised. Many of this class had sinned, but they knew it was a sin and they valued the standards they’d been taught, even when they didn’t live up to them.

    Within a generation, this lower- and middle-class group had been displaced. Pride that comes from working hard and making a good living for their families was lost. They found that values they had regarded as commonplace were now regarded as phobias, illnesses they must overcome in order to be politically correct. Values they were taught as children could no longer be expressed in public.

    This middle-class group no longer had a place in the Democratic Party. They felt the Democratic Party not only had contempt for them, but also that it valued immigrants, and the rights and culture of immigrants, far more than it valued the beliefs of the white middle class. That was true, but it was not the immigrants the party valued, it was the upper-middle class, college-educated victors in the culture wars.

    When Clinton made her extraordinary speech about Trump’s basket of “deplorables,” she was expressing the chasm of contempt that had opened up within the Democratic Party between the educated and the working class. She said there were two baskets. In one was the homophobic, xenophobic misogynists. In the other basket were the poor who had been left behind. It was not clear that this second basket was deplorable, but those in it were certainly not her major concern. Clinton made the “deplorables” statement to make it clear that not only was Trump unacceptable, but his followers were too. Clearly, she didn’t think she needed their votes. But she did need to reinforce her base’s sense of fighting the good fight against evil and failure.

    What Clinton and the elite didn’t understand was that this group was sufficient to serve as Trump’s base and that he could add to it. Looking at exit polls, the hostility of women to Trump turned out to not be there. Over 20 percent of Hispanics voted for Trump. Trump built a coalition that Clinton believed could not be built. It was in some ways a broader coalition than she had created. The elite made assumptions about women, Hispanics and others implying it was inconceivable for anyone other than the deplorables to support Trump.

    Clinton’s statement about Trump’s followers struck me at the time, and still does, as amazing. She was then a few points ahead of Trump, which meant that nearly half of the country supported him. By implication, she was saying that half the country is deplorable. Her statement was not only contemptuous, but showed her to be a terrible politician. To win the election, she needed to hold all of her supporters, plus take away some of Trump’s. The deplorable statement drove many off instead.

    It was not only bad politics. It also represents a core internal problem. The elite of the United States – and all countries have and need elites – has become profoundly self-enclosed. This is similar to the situation in the U.K. when the elite was enraged at the Brexit referendum result, and hurled epithets at the narrow majority that voted for Brexit, calling them uneducated, incapable of understanding the issues and so on.

    Economic stresses build up in all societies at various points. At this moment, European countries are undergoing the same sort of stresses as the United States, but even more intensely. Nationalist movements are growing in many of those countries. They are hostile to the European Union, oppose uncontrolled immigration and are resentful of policies that impose austerity that affects the middle and lower classes, without significant impact on the elite.

    Trump is part of this broader crisis. Where European nationalists oppose the EU, Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Where the Europeans oppose uncontrolled Muslim immigration, Trump opposes Muslim and Mexican immigration. Where the Europeans talk about ending austerity, Trump speaks of tax cuts to stimulate investment.

    Whether these policies are appropriate is not what matters here. The issue is that extended economic dysfunction has inevitable political consequences. This presidential campaign pivoted on the fact that Clinton did not understand the political movement that was rising and dismissed it as marginal. Trump did understand it, played to it and won the presidency. But it goes one step deeper. He won the election by arguing that Washington and the media were oblivious to the economic problem. During the later days of the campaign, he consistently made the claim that the Washington elite in particular was completely out of touch with the reality of any Americans outside its class.

    I can safely assert Trump was the better politician. He won, not an overwhelming victory, but a decisive one. Clinton’s weakness was that she saw her position at the heart of the political establishment as decisive. She dismissed Bernie Sanders in spite of his strength, and she never really took Trump seriously. She regarded the 3-point lead in the polls as sufficient. That was complacency, but it hid a lack of understanding that a political volcano was building in the middle class, and many others shared in the sense that things were going wrong.

    Clinton didn’t see a major problem, although her predecessors in the Democratic Party (LBJ and FDR) had. Her advisers didn’t see it. Instead they saw an intemperate man hurling insults at others, totally unsuited for high office. Unfortunately, voters turned out to be far less interested in Trump’s rudeness than in Clinton’s cluelessness.

    Some will lay blame for the loss on FBI Director James Comey’s letter. That undoubtedly contributed to it. But it was not decisive. Economic dysfunction leads to political upheaval, and Clinton didn’t grasp the significance of the dysfunction. And somewhere in her mind the fact that white males without a college degree opposed her indicated that only deplorable people opposed her, although why white males without a college education should be thought of as deplorable is an important question.
    In any case, the election is a surprise only because the polls were so wrong. Trump was likely in the lead for quite a while. The decline in the accuracy of polls is noteworthy, primarily because Clinton might have thought more deeply about her situation if she had known she was behind.

    Trump executed an obnoxious campaign. I was deeply offended by his attack on John McCain, not over the question of whether McCain was a hero, but rather because Trump said he preferred pilots who don’t get shot down to those who do. As commander in chief, he will, like every president since FDR, have to order troops into harm’s way. How does a commander order his pilots to strike, when they know that if they are shot down, their commander’s respect for them will decline? This was an election where offensive statements abounded. Trump had more than Clinton, but Clinton’s comments were a direct attack on a class of voters, which was more startling. In the end, the voters decided.

    Trump will be president and he has made sweeping promises as all candidates do. It is easy to dismiss these promises, as it was easy to dismiss the idea that he would get the Republican nomination, or that he would win the election. Like all political leaders he will be constrained by reality. But seeing reality clearly enough to achieve what others think is impossible is what makes great leaders. I have difficulty imagining what his government will look like, but I was someone who thought he would never get the Republican nomination. It is important to be cautious about dismissing this man.