1. Left-leaning folks, we’ve got a lot of work to do. OH, IA, MI, WI? All blue in 2012 by solid margins. Obama’s approval on the eve of his lame duck period? 52.1% – higher than Reagan’s was. Trumpism can be overcome.
But there are a lot of folks in forgotten parts of this country who have been sneered at and condescended to by our elites for a very long time. If we want to claim to be a party that stands against hate and discrimination, then we should also erase the word “redneck” from our vocabulary. Highly recommend you all pick up a copy of J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” and read it carefully. I may not agree with his policy prescriptions, but Vance’s testimony of why people feel left behind is powerful and moving and deserves your attention.
The result of their marginalization is President Trump. If Democrats want to be the party of working people, then they should represent working people. It will take hard work and humility and education and actually listening to what people have to say, but I believe it must be done.
2. At the same time, blame must also fall on a GOP that sanctioned the growth of racist and xenophobic rhetoric in conservative media and conservative candidates for the sake of political expediency. If Democrats left working-class white folks in a ditch, the GOP has turned a blind eye while agitators of hate poisoned it.
Shame on the GOP leaders who put political gain above the integrity of our institutions, their own conservative principles, and basic human decency. Shame on a party which has arrogantly incubated this alt-right movement, believing its rhetoric useful but its effects harmless. But now the cat is out of the bag – the GOP is now undeniably the vehicle for a resurgent white power movement.
3. Seguing off (2), a Trump presidency lends unavoidable legitimacy to the worst of America. Just a few days ago, a black church was set aflame and Trump slogans were graffiti-ed on the side. A Muslim student in Wisconsin was beaten to death in a college town. LGBT and especially trans persons continue to be murdered at a disproportionate rate. The election of Donald Trump, who has been endorsed by David Duke and has retweeted and stumped on white supremacist messaging, will embolden these domestic terrorists. Be vigilant. Exercise your right to protect yourselves. And those of us on the outside who see it coming need to help however we can.
4. Seguing off (3), we must be careful to identify the right enemy. The enemy is authoritarianism, the politics of fear, and the white nationalism that fuels it. Whatever policy differences we have pale in comparison to the threat of a President (empowered by an office which has expanded itself drastically under the color of law for decades essentially unchecked) who has no knowledge or respect for our civic values or the integrity of our institutions. Americans of goodwill, liberal and conservative, can and should work together to create a coalition of principle that in two years, and four years, and in every election after that must put this ideology in the dirt where it belongs.
This is the beginning of a new chapter in a fight that’s been raging since the founding of this country, folks. If you love America like I do, it’s time to get off the sidelines. We live in a world which encourages us to exist in a hermetically sealed bubble of material consumption and politico-cultural echo chambers. Make your life about something bigger than yourself – not in a casual way, but as a central pillar of your decision-making. That’s the kind of action we’re going to need, and I intend to do everything I can to see it through.