President Trump. President Donald Trump. Yes, a few months from now that will be an actual thing people say. For now, he’s President Elect, but sadly, he is no longer a joke and he never should have been. We need to keep fighting Trump.

The over-the-top reality star will soon be Commander-in-Chief of the largest military in the world. Islamophobia, racism and misogyny have been part of American politics for a while, but they just went uber-mainstream with Trump’s win a little over a week ago.

What’s now frighteningly apparent is that his alt-right (really a fancy way to say white nationalists with computer skills) base, emboldened by his win, are voicing their bigotry and hatred and scaring the crap out of immigrants, visible minorities and anyone that doesn’t fit into their white supremacist, misogynistic and anti-Semetic worldview.

Swastikas are showing up all over the US, people are being attacked, middle schoolers are even chanting “build that wall” and making school a frightening place for some of their classmates. Buzzfeed has even put together a tracker of racist incidents in the US since the Trump victory.

While Trump did tell his supporters to stop it with their racist attacks and graffiti, his early staff choices send the opposite message. He just appointed Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart “News” as CEO until joining the Trump campaign, his top policy adviser. Bannon had proudly declared Breitbart to be a “platform for the alt-right” and oversaw the publication of articles with incredibly nasty headlines.

Just a taste of the nastiness (image: gizmodo.com)
Just a taste of the nastiness (image: gizmodo.com)

There is also now word that Trump will, in fact, be creating a Muslim Registry. One of his supporters even cited American internment of citizens of Japanese origin as precedent.

Throw in promises to break US climate agreements and the prospect of a second Supreme Court pick after he fills Scalia’s seat and you get a picture that is terrifying for people of colour, the LGBT community, women and the planet.

How Did We Get Here?

President Trump is bad news, that much is clear. But why is this now a reality? It’s because no one took his candidacy seriously. Comics thought him running would produce gold for them, but no worries, because, of course he wouldn’t win. Pundits, same thing. Even I didn’t take him seriously at first.

But we’re not the only ones. The establishment of the Democratic Party clearly didn’t consider Trump as a serious threat, either, despite their public rhetoric. They even tried to push both him and Ted Cruz to the top of the GOP heap thinking they would be easier candidates to beat than Jeb Bush.

clinton-sanders

It’s true that Trump’s core support came from xenophobic racist misogynists and they’re now the ones strutting and scaring the shit out of everyone,  but this “basket of deplorables” weren’t the only ones who voted for him. If they were, the electoral map would have looked quite different. The bigots are still a minority.

It’s white working class voters in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and now Michigan that tipped the balance this time around. It’s not that their privilege blinded them to what a Trump Presidency could mean, it’s simply that Trump’s obvious bigotry meant less to them than the prospect of losing jobs due to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did. Some lifelong rust belt Democrats who voted Obama twice and supported Bernie in the Primaries switched to Trump in the General.

A truly selfish act, to be sure, and an ultimately counterproductive one. Stopping the TPP is probably the first campaign promise Trump will break.

There was also a real feeling of dissatisfaction with the political establishment which Trump, posing as a populist, was able to tap into. If the choice had been between a right-wing, xenophobic pseudo-populist and a real left-wing populist like Bernie Sanders, Sanders would have easily won.

This election also proved that standard political tactics like a good ground game and mainstream media support are now less important than huge rallies and a solid social media strategy. Trump ran an unconventional campaign, so did Sanders. Clinton played it business as usual and lost.

What Needs to Happen Now in the Democratic Party

It’s all water under the bridge, now, but that water is what people need for drinking and bathing, so we can’t ignore how we got here and Democrats can’t ignore the mistakes they made. If they do, they are bound to repeat them.

The party establishment didn’t just lose. They lost to a third-rate PT Barnum who only ran to get a better TV deal with NBC. They lost to a man who admitted to being sexual predator during a national radio interview and who has bragged on tape about sexual assault. They lost to their dream opponent. They lost to Donald Fucking Trump.

If that’s not the impetus Democrats need to show their leadership the door, I don’t know what is. Now is the time to replace everyone at the top who pushed for Clinton over Sanders in the Primaries. Progressives need to take over the Democratic Party…soon!

If there is pushback, and there will be, fight it. If the pushback from the DNC establishment succeeds, it might be time to think about a new party. Even as President, Trump may end up destroying the Republican Party and there could be room for a new party in the two-party system.

What Needs to Happen Now Outside of the Echo Chamber

I had thought, as did many, that if he won, protests against Trump would start on day one of his Presidency. I was wrong. They started less than 24 hours after he won the Electoral College vote and became the President Elect.

From mass marches in New York City, Chicago and around the country to high school students walking out of class, people are voicing their displeasure with an impending Trump Presidency and what it will mean for them and their communities. This needs to continue.

Anti-Trump Protest NYC (image CBS)
Anti-Trump Protest NYC (image CBS)

No, the whole “just accept the election results” line or the “give him a chance” attitude don’t fly in this case. First, he’s already shown us by appointing Bannon that he blew his chance to change the tone to a more President of all Americans one. Second, protesting the government, or even an incoming government is never wrong, in fact, it’s a right.

If Clinton had won and stepped too far to the right with her picks, I would expect progressives, even those who voted for her, to be challenging her every step of the way. Now with Trump living up to the worst nightmare scenario fears and his most fervent bigoted supporters having their day in the sun, protesting has become a necessity.

An  election does not give the winner immunity from protest in a democracy. When the President Elect is promising to usher in a downright dangerous environment for marginalized groups, those groups and their allies should challenge the President Elect any way they can.

As for tactics, hitting the streets, boycotting Trump-aligned brands and calling out racism and misogyny can all be effective. Right here in Montreal, there is a Stop Bannon Phone-a-Thon putting Americans living here in touch with their local elected officials. There is also a solidarity action in the US encouraging people who aren’t the target of persecution (ie. white people) to register as Muslims if Trump enacts a registry.

While I like the idea behind the move to impeach Trump, I’d like to remind those behind it that success would only lead to President Mike Pence, who, in many ways, is just as bad if not worse.

I would recommend aligning anti-Trump protests with other groups fighting against the things that this incoming President stands for. Solidarity with the #NODAPL protesters, for example, would be a great first step.

Politicians, other people and the mainstream media not taking Trump seriously during the Primaries and the General Election is what got us here. We can’t afford not to take the threat of a Trump Presidency seriously now. It’s time to fight.

 

You may have seen that meme. The one contrasting two Bernie Sanders rallies.

In the first image, taken when he was still running for President, Bernie’s in a stadium surrounded by thousands of people. In the second, he’s promoting Hillary Clinton to about 150 people in what looks like some sort of auditorium:

bernie-solo-bernie-hillary

So, what happened? Did Bernie really drop that far in popularity in such a short time? No, he didn’t. By most accounts, he’s still one of the most popular politicians in the US.

I suspect the sharp attendance drop isn’t due to the speaker but rather the subject matter. It’s not what the thousands who flocked to him in the primaries want to hear him say, or at least not what will motivate them to come out in droves and hear him speak.

Think of a famous musician or band that you and quite a few others adore. They’ve got so many hits, but they also have that one album that really seems out of place. Now imagine they were going on tour and promised just to play songs from that one album very few like.

Sure, some may show up. Diehard fans and those few who actually do like the obscure material. But it won’t be anything like the attendance they would get on a regular tour.

It’s not that people no longer like the artist, they just don’t like the tunes they’ll be playing. It’s not that people no longer like Bernie, it’s just that they really aren’t fans of “We have to all vote Hillary to stop Trump.”

Now some of those Bernie fans staying home may very well vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent a Trump Presidency. They’re just not super excited about doing it.

DNC Logic Fail

It could have been easy for the Democrats this election cycle. They could have picked someone who inspired people by the thousands. Those who flocked to Obama in 08 but felt disappointed overall by the result were ready for Bernie to be the next phase, the one that would actually make the change happen. People who never voted before, or never voted for a major party before, were ready to do so for Bernie.

Problem was that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and establishment Democrats already had their nominee (the leaks proved it). They didn’t want Bernie to run for President under their banner, but they did want the people who flocked to him to vote Democrat in November.

bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton

The Dems thought they had the perfect solution: rig the Primaries against him, then convince Sanders to come on board and support Clinton. They had to make some concessions in the platform to do so, but it didn’t matter, once elected, they could do what they wanted to.

They got Bernie on board, so why didn’t their plan work? Surely all these people were just following a charismatic leader and would continue to follow him wherever he led them.

That thinking by the DNC is why America now faces the prospect of a reality TV star turned Twitter troll turned cornball fascist actually becoming President. The Democrats couldn’t see outside of their own bubble of top-down leadership and cult of personality.

If they had looked deeper, just a bit deeper, they would have remembered that Bernie Sanders had been saying the same things in pretty much the same way for decades. None of it had received much response outside of Vermont until 2015. They would have realized that it was only after the Occupy Movement happened and people began searching for a political voice that was aligned with their thinking that Sanders went from being someone people knew (and loved) in Burlington to a political phenom that millions wanted to see in the White House.

The movement that backed Bernie existed before it became Bernie’s political revolution. The people involved chose him as their champion and he agreed. When he stopped speaking for them and started speaking for Hillary, it was the end of that unofficial contract. They had chosen Bernie as their representative, they never chose Hillary, even if Bernie did.

You can co-opt a progressive politician. You can’t co-opt a progressive, bottom-up movement. The only thing you can do is embrace it and let it tell you where to go. The DNC clearly didn’t think of that, and now they’re paying for it.

Bernie’s Movement in Pieces

Now, Bermie’s movement is fragmented politically. Some have followed Bernie and gone to Hillary. Revolution later, stop Trump now, presumably. Others are supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein, which makes most logical sense policy-wise.

A few, though, are outright voting Trump, I’m guessing to give the middle finger to the DNC, also probably all white. Some have chosen Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, which really confounds me. He’s like the anti-Bernie on many issues.

Yet, there are more who plan to simply write in Bernie’s name on the ballot and others who plan to stay home, or go to the bar, on election  day.

clinton-trump

So this huge block of voters that would have all voted Democrat? They’re not a block anymore. Also, those volunteers that would have campaigned for Democrats up and down the ticket provided Bernie was at the top? Not gonna happen. Huge opportunity missed.

Instead, the Democrats’ path to retaining the White House relies on their traditional supporters and the fear of a Trump victory. Currently, Clinton and Trump are pretty much tied, with Clinton losing in key battleground states. Sure, it’s only by a little bit and tonight’s debate may turn that around, but the fact that it is even a contest is the real problem, a problem that the DNC could have avoided.

With all of the former Berners added to those who always vote Democrat added to those who fear a real life version of Idiocracy, Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance. The debates would have just been icing on the cake.

People want to vote for something. Now they have to vote against something and that’s never a good situation.

As for Bernie, he’ll draw the crowds once he starts playing the hits again.

 

 

Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump won both New York Presidential Primaries. He crushed his Republican opponents and the establishment Democrats brought his ideal general election opponent a huge (not yuuuge, that’s a good thing) step closer to clinching her party’s nomination.

No wonder Trump was beaming the next day when he said: “Bernie’s gone. You know that? Bernie’s gone. I love running against crooked Hillary. Bernie wouldn’t be as much fun.” More like Hillary he can beat, Bernie not so much.

trump and clintons

For months, the Democratic Party establishment and allies in most major American corporate media outlets have had two main goals:

  1. Make the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign go away
  2. Force all progressive voters to unite with neo-liberal and somewhat socially left neo-con dems behind the candidate they had selected eight years ago: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Tuesday they came closer than ever before to making their first goal a reality. Unfortunately for them, they did so in such a way that all but ensured their second goal will be next to impossible to fully achieve. What they have done since has only compounded their mistake.

Can’t Forget Voter Suppression

For a party that has railed against voter suppression tactics and still does when the Republicans try to pull them in general elections, it’s a little hypocritical that all Democrats aren’t up in arms demanding to know what happened with the 126 000 people in Brooklyn who were unceremoniously de-registered as Democrats and denied the right to vote in the Primary on Tuesday.

It’s also unfortunate that New York only let people registered as Democrats by last October vote in the primary. A move designed to prevent rival parties from pushing less electable candidates ended up hurting the Democrats’ chances of running the most electable candidate in the next general election.

Moving forward, there is now word that Rhode Island, a state where Sanders leads in the polls, will only be keeping one third of their polling places open. How can this not be considered voter suppression?

While all of this is horribly undemocratic, it’s also real sad for the Democratic establishment. They don’t realize a very simple truth: getting the party faithful to rally behind Sanders and join all the new progressive voters he has inspired is a helluva lot easier than the opposite path they have chosen, the path they always choose.

Why would someone who never saw themselves as a Democrat until they were inspired by a particular candidate turn around and support the opponent who they associate with denying them their right to vote in the primaries? Or, as this meme puts it:

sanders wonka

Maybe the DNC feels that the Trump or Cruz boogeyman will be enough to convince Sanders supporters to hold their nose and vote Clinton. It may be, but #BernieOrBust and #BernieOrJillStein (referencing the Green Party leader) are real things. Stein even reached out to Sanders, asking him to cooperate on a political revolution.

Bernie Sanders is a Stronger General Election Candidate

Adding establishment support to the grassroots movement Bernie built would clearly be the easier path to victory for the Democrats. But not only that, Bernie Sanders is a much stronger general election candidate than Hillary Clinton.

The Republicans have been planning to run against Clinton for about eight years. In that time they have surely amassed significant dirt on her which you had better believe they are waiting for her to get the nomination to release.

If the Democrats flip the script and put up Sanders, all attacks will have to be policy-based. Sure, they can call him a socialist, to which he clarifies that he is a democratic socialist, explains what that means and moves on. Calling someone a socialist only works as an attack if the candidate is not one and thinks it’s a charge he or she has to defend against.

Bernie Sanders has proven himself to be a movement builder. He is inspirational just as Obama was inspirational in his campaigns. Clinton comes across as someone who feels it is her turn to be President.

Sanders has pull with independents and could even bring in votes from Republicans dissatisfied with the prospect of voting Trump or Cruz. He has respect on both sides of the aisle while Republicans have been conditioned for years to hate the very mention of the name Hillary Clinton.

Sanders has proven to be quite a good fundraiser, too, on his own terms. This means the DNC could focus any PAC money they have received on House and Senate races.

Could Things Be Changing?

In an interview that was published in the New York Times on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden criticized Clinton’s attacks on the boldness of Sanders’ promises:

“I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can. I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic. C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’”

While Biden and President Obama have refused to officially endorse any candidate in the primaries, as incumbents finishing their second term generally do, their remarks have heavily hinted that they favour Clinton. So why this sudden change?

At first I thought, optimistically, that maybe Biden was floating a test balloon as he did with Marriage Equality. Then I realized that it probably had more to do with Democrats wanting Bernie’s email list of donors in the event that he drops out of the race.

hillary clinton computer

It doesn’t look like the HRC camp’s tactics are changing. A few days ago, a Clinton Super PAC was caught paying $1 million for online trolls to attack Bernie supporters (one former paid troll even shared her story on Reddit). These are tactics most frequently used by right-wing parties.

Meanwhile the message out of the Clinton Campaign and many democrats has been that Sanders is done and should drop out “for the good of the party.” This despite the facts that Clinton herself argued in 2008 that it’s not done until California votes and that Obama had less pledged delegates at this point in 2008 than Bernie has now.

Bernie’s not done, as much as Donald Trump and Clinton supporters wish he was. He does face an uphill battle, and even admits that his path to victory is a narrow one. It is made considerably more difficult by attacks and the risk of more voter suppression in the upcoming primaries.

California may turn the tide, but if it doesn’t (and there are already stories of independents accidentally being registered as members of a right wing party and unable to vote) and it comes to a brokered convention, then the Super Delegates will play an important role.

For months, people in the Sanders camp have loathed how presumed Super Delegate votes were and still are being included in delegate tallies in media reports and have voiced concern that Super Delegates could thwart the will of the people. However, given the countless would-be Democratic voters denied the chance to vote for their candidate, it wouldn’t be undemocratic for Super Delegates to vote for Sanders  if Clinton still has the lead in pledged delegates come convention.

It would be correcting an injustice and insuring that Sanders, a stronger general election candidate, was nominated. Of course, that would take the Democratic establishment, or at least enough members of it, realizing and admitting that their handpicked candidate is the weaker choice and that the last eight years of strategy was wrong.

Progressives are sick of being taken for granted by neo-liberals and neo-cons and might not take it this time. While Sanders has ruled out running as an independent, his supporters may forego voting for Clinton. If that “splits the left vote” and elects someone like Trump, the Democratic establishment only has to look in the mirror to know who’s to blame.

Last night, Donald Trump took his travelling Muslim-bashing, racist-baiting, headline-grabbing roadshow to a place that few probably expected it would go: the Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont. The Burlington Free Press has a rather thorough report on all the turmoil and protest the event caused and screening tactics at the door.

What it didn’t touch on, though, is why Trump made the trip in the first place. Why would a Republican front-runner, still trying to get the party’s nomination, spend a Thursday evening campaigning in a state that has voted Democrat in presidential elections since 1992? In Burlington, of all places. A city so much to the political left that local power is split between the Democrats and the farther left Vermont Progressive Party.

Does he want to show GOP voters that he is the candidate who can, finally, flip those three Electoral College votes Vermont has? Doubtful. Most likely, he is thinking beyond the primaries to the General Election and trying to prove to Republicans that he can have an impact in the hometown and home state of his future opponent Bernie Sanders.

But wait, I thought Hillary Clinton was a lock for the Democratic nomination. That’s what all mainstream and even some of the larger internet media sources have been telling us for months, after all.

I have been skeptical of those assurances as thousands of people across the US have been flocking to Sanders rallies in several states. Meanwhile Bernie has been showing up on mainstream talk shows, maintaining support from his base of unions, and getting endorsements from the likes of Seth MacFarlaine.

While those controlling the Democratic Party and their well-placed media friends want everyone to think it will be a Hillary landslide, people on the ground probably know better. The Trump Campaign may have figured out just who the opponent will most likely be and have sent their candidate into the lion’s den rather early in the game.

Yes, Donald Trump is an idiot, but his strategists know a thing or two about politics. They know how to grab headlines and they probably know who Republicans think the Democratic nominee will be.

Now, to play Devil’s Advocate, maybe this move was an attempt by the Trump Campaign to help make Bernie his opponent. That doesn’t make sense if you look at the polls that say Sanders would clearly beat Trump in a general election. Also, the media hardly touched this event, the same media that loves to report on anything the Donald does.

If you need proof that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate to beat in the primaries, you have it. Donald Trump just campaigned in Vermont.