Political Criticism in the Age of Trump: A How-To, or A How-Not-To

At some point in the coming weeks, I’d like to write an essay, a brief essay, on political criticism in the Age of Trump—a how-to, or a rules-of-the-road, for the way we ought to be doing analysis right now.

One of the counters I often get to the various claims I make about the weaknesses or vulnerabilities or incoherences of the Trump regime—or when I point out policy moments when I think those weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or incoherences are being expressed—is this: Well, even if Trump pulls back from position x or even if he does action y (where y is not as a bad as z), he’s still awful, he’s only doing it to save his ass, he’s not giving birth to a new order of justice, he’s no friend of the left, and lot of people still will suffer.

I’m always brought up short by that response. Because, I think to myself, of course he’s not going to do anything good, of course he’s not going to do anything for the right reason. He’s a horrible man leading a horrible party that believes in horrible ideas. Given everything we know about this party and this movement, how could it be otherwise?

But also, and more important, how does it tell us anything to say that if something changes in Trump’s positions, it’s not in alignment with the ACLU or Jacobin or Bernie Sanders or even the most minimal Clintonism? How does it tell us anything about what we really need to know—which is not that Trump is bad or that a lot of people are going to suffer under his rule (Does anyone on the left really dispute that? Do most people in the mainstream media even dispute that?) but whither are he and his movement and his party tending?

What I worry about—and why I want to write this essay—is that we seem to occupy two simple poles when we assess the Trump regime: fascism/authoritarianism/terribilism OR human rights, maximal liberalism, democracy, socialism, what have you. And if we can only toggle between these two poles—between Trump bad and left good—we’re going to miss a considerable amount of action within the Trump regime itself.

My presumption when I say the Trump regime is incoherent, vulnerable, weak, etc., is never that that regime won’t do a lot of damage or that there is anything redemptive in it. It’s that if we’re going to be watchful for and of the moment, we need to be watching what’s happening in the moment. And thinking and looking beyond the moment, both to the past and to the future.

I fear, in short, that some of our normative judgments—our insistent and relentless turn to the normative, our constant need to be normative, to always and everywhere remind ourselves and each other that things are bad and wrong, as if any of that were in doubt—are getting in the way of seeing the Trump moment for what it is and, more important, what it may be becoming.


  1. CarlD March 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm | #

    Right. When you’re shooting a rapids, it’s beside the point whether particular rocks and currents, the banks and the river itself are good or bad, right or wrong. There they are, paddle accordingly.

  2. ronp March 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm | #

    Seems pretty clear to me Trump can do a lot, and I mean a lot, of really popular things, in the next 18 months, tax cuts, child leave, pro-police, pro-military policies and budgets, anti-crime policy, senior benefits, etc. — that is if Republican house and senate will agree.

    He just needs to stay away from budget cuts affecting seniors and he will be fine. Dems need to point out all the lying, corrupting and ignorance, and obstruct, obstruct obstruct.

    Even if his policy proposal is “good” obstruct it anyway and point out a Dem policy that is better. Road back to power for Dems will be long and hard and will need a Trump Katrina event.

  3. The virtue of “thinking and looking beyond the moment, both to the past and to the future” is that it allows us to consider what we may do. In that direction the responsibility of progressive aims and points, for it permits a consideration of actions.

    On the other hand, “to always and everywhere remind ourselves and each other that things are bad and wrong” seriously risks self-paralysis as it arrests agency into the limiting stasis of mere lamentation. After all, what path out does merely saying “man, does this ever blow” (although correct) offer? Thinking about the past allows us to understand how we got here (there was a path to this place); thinking about the future assumes there is a possible path out this mess. Of course, it also risks seeing the graveyard in that future. For this reason, we can’t (afford to) chicken out.

    See Masha Gessen’s Rule # 6: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/

  4. Catherine Rudder March 1, 2017 at 3:24 pm | #

    Ordinary measures simply do not apply to Pres. Trump. Perhaps a different way to keep track of his presidency is to assess how the public and others respond to his statements and actions that seem to be constitutionally suspect, such as when his press secretary excludes the New York Times and other publications from the gaggle. Have we heard from Members of Congress? How many? Do the numbers grow? Have we heard from those in the press who were not excluded? In what way? Then there are additional possibilities: Are Trump’s significant misstatements increasing or decreasing? What level of harm is he causing in specific areas of importance? To whom? How are Congress, the Supreme Court, and the states responding to his administration’s actions? Create categories of possible harm (or impact), devise reliable operational definitions, and start counting. Create categories of response and effectiveness of response. Count. The categories you select necessarily will derive from normative theory, but once that’s done, you’ll be able to begin the empirical assessment that is definitely needed. Easier said than done, I realize.

  5. fosforos17 March 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm | #

    A loose cannon on the deck of a piratical Ship of State is a very good thing indeed. But now that Flynn has been made to walk the plank, and Mr. Trumpe-l’oeil made very aware of the JFK precedent, that loose cannon seems to have been tied down and the Adults in the lower-regions of the deep-state iceberg seem once again to be in charge. That should inform all critique of the Pence Administration.

  6. Bill Quimby March 1, 2017 at 3:32 pm | #

    I hope that when you do write your essay on political criticism in the Age of Trump, you can clarify your position – I read your post twice and am still somewhat at a loss as to how your admonition leads us to effective action.

    Meanwhile, aren’t we being, every day, swamped with Trump and cohort twists and turns? Perhaps in order to pursue a “resistance” goal it is absolutely necessary to have some fixed normative positions to guide us as we navigate through them?

    • jonnybutter March 1, 2017 at 6:17 pm | #

      Isn’t it important to consider what’s going on before you devise your resistance? Wouldn’t it be important, for example, to note what the fissures are between Trump and the party (and obvious fissures within the party)? I don’t know if you expect a precise road map to follow, or what you are objecting to here…

      Allowing ourselves to be engulfed by feelings of helplessness and fear is acceding to Trump’s context (his ‘frame’). His frame is crap. He’s a gigantic liar all the time.

  7. Chris Morlock March 1, 2017 at 3:33 pm | #

    Maybe the best way to go about it, rather than Hysterics and emotional reactions, is to weigh and measure the issues, similar to what Sanders has been advocating since the election. There was no round of applause from the “left” when Trump killed TPP. That made progressives look weak. When Trump talks huge infrastructure spending, the Dems and their operatives start to cry about “big government” spending. It makes no sense, it’s literally a twilight zone episode.

    We have principles, and we have to admit where we can work together on issues that intersect. Denying everything and tripling down on an impeachment strategy based on hysteria is a joke bound to fail and push the Left further into the hole it’s already in.

    This is the worst time for Left wing politics in American history, no doubt. I fight with depression, anger, and yes even real hatred every day. But we have to keep our pants on.

    • fosforos17 March 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm | #

      Trumpe-l’oeil killed TPP? No, the American people thought they had left it for dead when they forced the Clinton to voice hypocritical opposition. They were wrong. All Trumpe-l’oeil has done was leave it for the real president, Pence, to bring it back at the opportune time.

    • jonnybutter March 1, 2017 at 6:21 pm | #

      This is the worst time for Left wing politics in American history, no doubt.

      Oh, there’s not only a ‘doubt’ – it’s just wrong. Left wing politics looks more viable – more inevitable, even – than at any time I can remember, and I’m fairly old. *Liberal* politics looks bleak, but that’s another cup of Ovaltine.

      • Chris Morlock March 2, 2017 at 1:03 am | #

        The Democrats have been wiped out in all rungs of government. Trump is poised to totally reconfigure the Supreme Court, the Federal Judiciary, and Republicans control both houses of congress, the governors, and most State AG’s. The Left is constantly red baiting, moving us that much closer to a nuclear midnight. Bernie Sanders is 75, and will be 80 in 2020. He has no clear compatriot in congress, not even close.

        The Democrats, at the behest of corporate donors and Obama himself, interjected to railroad in Tom Perez, a corporate shill, over a middle of the road Sanders choice. The stock market is at record highs as the corporate owner class moves all of it’s money out of bonds to head to the casino.

        The New Deal is dead, the great society is not far behind, and half of America is poor. Half of America makes less than $30k a year, and half of America could not afford a $400 emergency.

        What are you feeling positive about? Maybe it’s time to wake up and be honest.

        • Robert Daniels March 2, 2017 at 10:30 am | #

          Remember that we have a one party system with two wings.
          The New Deal saved Capitalism for FDR’s class, even though they never appreciated that.
          Henry Ford, Lindbergh and Prescott Bush wanted to overthrow him and install a Mussolini.
          (See Gen Smedley Butler.)
          He left a little meat on the bone they throw us.
          We are still a ways from bread riots.
          It would take cancellation of all entitlements with no replacement.
          And I can’t see the police siding with rioters as long as they have their municipal unions.
          Thousands have been slaughtered by Pinkertons, National Guard, Police already, and more to come.
          Bend over and spread or move to New Zealand.

          • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant March 2, 2017 at 10:40 am | #

            The history of American police departments long predated municipal unions, yet their reactionary tendencies is common to the period before and after their unionization. We need to ask why that is.

            Once we understand that, we will also understand why cops don’t side with rioters. Unless those rioters are rightists beating up on hippies and Negroes – and again, this revives the question as to why.

          • fosforos17 March 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm | #

            “Remember that we have a one party system with two wings.” Almost a correct repetition of Gore Vidal: “we have a system of one party with two right wings.”

        • jonnybutter March 2, 2017 at 12:27 pm | #

          I’m not ‘feeling positive’, believe me!

          Your comment implies that ‘the left’ is a smooth continuum – say, from center, to center left, to liberalism, to socialism (or something like that). I think that mindset is misleading. Liberals now have more in common with the right than with the left. That’s why when Democrats finally go on the attack, it’s against the left.

          But prospects for actual left politics (your phrase) in the US are better than in a long time, IMO.

        • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant March 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm | #

          There is NOTHING to feel positive about, and I LOATHE optimism.

          But johnnybutter is right.

          And any path forward for progressive politics turns solely on those of us who are committed to it for its justness and its utility. Indeed, it is its utility that forms the basis of its justness. We do it ‘cuz we wanna live and we want others to live (and to be able to live with others) and we want to have a planet that we can live on.

          I am recalling a quote from an Irish folksinger/Marxist; it was referenced by Doug Henwood some years ago who, for his radio show, had interviewed that singer. The quote, and I hope I got it right, goes something like this: “You can get a lot of good work done if you just give up ‘hope.'”

          Maybe he said “faith” instead of “hope”, but one gets the point.

          We can discuss ideas as to what is to be done.

          But faith, hope, optimism, and being positive are way too close to surrender since none of these assume agency, that we DO stuff — indeed, they even risk that we doin’ stuff is not even really necessary.

          Me, I will take agency. That is how stuff gets done. But we must also be real – especially when looking at Republican domination of sub-national politics. S#it blows right about now, but fortunately for us this is not written in the stars.

          I am sure a lot of boxers go to church but all of the good ones train relentlessly. And no one has a right to expect that she won’t get her ass royally kicked by her opponent, as we will when we fight back. We Blacks are quite familiar with massive losses, demonizations, death and near-death experiences. We know what it is like to hide in our basements while fascist marchers tramped through our segregated burgs with the press enthusiastically touting their Godly mission to keep White women safe and the White race pure from Negro taint. Who in her right mind could be “positive” under that situation ‘way back then?

          Yup, we got our butts kicked bigly, and worse.


          Fighting back does not always work, but it is the ONLY thing that can. To this we must resolve.

          Whereas the present will always give us plenty of “why bother?”, the only real question is how.

  8. D-Loot ? (@Dee_loot) March 1, 2017 at 5:55 pm | #

    I am also frustrated by this compulsion to constantly decry Trump’s badness. When I encounter the compulsion, it seems like it might come from a place of weakness. As if the person demanding that everyone constantly be against Trump is secretly afraid that, if people were to let up, they themselves would forget that he is bad.

  9. mark March 2, 2017 at 4:39 am | #

    “One particular kind of overconfidence that appears to be common is a tendency to believe that history is irrelevant, not a guide to the future, and that the future must be judged afresh now using intuitive weighing only of the special factors we see now. This kind of overconfidence discourages taking lessons from past statistics; indeed most financial market participants virtually never study historical data for correlations or other such statistics; they take their anchors instead from casual recent observations. Until academic researchers started collecting financial data, most was just thrown away as irrelevant.”


  10. zenner41 March 2, 2017 at 11:40 am | #

    I think this post is absolutely right. I would only add that when people on the left cry “socialism” or “revolution” on the one hand and “fascism” on the other, what they may be doing is trying to probe more deeply into the present situation than just criticism of Trump.

    I think it is imperative to think much more systematically or in a much more system-oriented way than on the latest Trump idiocy, but that has to be done based on serious study of what the present economic/political/social system really is, which labels like “fascism” or “neoliberalism” or even “capitalism,” as those terms are usually used, don’t touch. Of course, this is a huge task, and I don’t know of anyone who has yet succeeded very well in it. But I think there are some sharp people working on it, and I hope to hear from them soon.

    In the meantime, I think we have had enough of superficial announcements that “Trump is awful,” “this country is really fascist,” and “the choice is ‘socialism or barbarism,’ ” to revive the old slogan with no consideration of other alternatives. We need much more complex analysis than that.

  11. b. March 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm | #

    When the “Tea Party” faced the “terrible” prospect of an Obama presidency, did it try to work out how to become a functional opposition to Obama? To “limit the damage”? Of course not. Before being co-opted by inbred wealth and almost astro-turfed into a tool of sponsor-politician warfare inside the GOP, the “movement” focus on the one tool that could – and soon would – obstruct the Obama presidency.

    Trump is serving as a splendid distraction from the dilemma facing anybody on the “left” of the divide – is the Democratic Party a useful tool for change? Reagan, Bush II were transformative presidents, Clinton and Obama were not – they finished the transformation without any hint of reversal, let alone an accounting.

    • b. March 2, 2017 at 12:49 pm | #

      I suppose, as voters and even organizers, our first challenge is to determine how to deal with the horrible party of Obama/Clinton/Pelosi/Schumer. This whole posture of “standing against” Trump or mitigating the abnormality is besides the point. If we cannot even stop the ‘crats from repeating their 2016 choices for 2018 and 2020, I doubt there will be meaningful impact on the GOP and the “bipartisan” centrist consensus, no matter how “weak” Trump might be or become.

      The realignment is proceeding apace. Here’s a preview:

      • b. March 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm | #

        “They want to preserve the status quo,” [Carter] said of Democratic leaders. They want “to preserve politics as usual, to maintain at all costs their own entrenched, unresponsive, bankrupt, irresponsible political power.”

        Which is going to be the decisive obstacle to change and reform – Trump’s overreach, or the Clinton/Obama hold on a Party that primarily exists primarily to serve as the “other goat” behind Door Two, all the while converting donations into individual profit? The Democratic Party has come not to offer an alternative, but to prevent it – all the while setting the stage for their now-delayed “creative confrontation” with Russia.

        Let the Democrats “deal” with Trump, so that we can focus on the Three Goat Monte that got us into this predicament in the first place.

    • zenner41 March 2, 2017 at 9:37 pm | #

      Is the DP a useful tool for change? Not nearly as useful as it could be, certainly. But on the other hand, if we ignore it completely, pretend it doesn’t exist, what do we have left? The existing organizations to the left of the DP? How big are they? What power do they have? What power are they likely to get in the coming years? What should our strategy really be?

      I think Congressional Democrats and other members of the party leave a lot to be desired, but pretending that they don’t exist, have no use at all, is not realistic. We need all the allies we can get.

  12. Carl Weetabix March 2, 2017 at 7:07 pm | #

    I also fear that our endless litany of accusations against Trump, whether deserved or not, has the virtual effect of crying wolf until no one listens. It is in effect as Neil Postman wrote, a sign that Huxley was more right than Orwell – entertainment, that is in this case the entertainment of endless doses of outrage, would totally distract us from any coherent thought, analysis, or action.

    The fact is, and I’m not sure it’s not intentional, the barrage of slights that Trump, his administration, and his surrogates inflict is so mind-numbingly endless that we become fatigued to the point we’re hardly listening. Worse, we just cannot calculate a coherent response. Do we worry about the nationalism, the authoritarianism, the racism, the sexism, the cronyism, the destruction of civil government, the stupidity, the Russians? There is just no end and we, as liberals, are not figuring out which ones of these we should be focusing on, nor because of that working together in any useful way.

    For myself, I think we need to focus on one thing and one thing only – neutering the rich and the powerful so that we can gain back institutional control. That needs to be affected not by the standard liberal mantra of transferring wealth, but rather by ensuring wealth is not transferred upward, and more importantly, creating a system of governance that ensures wealth is distributed more equally from the beginning.

    This I believe is a moral imperative, not because the current distribution of wealth is profoundly unfair (it is), but because unequal distribution of wealth creates unequal distribution of power in an ever spiraling progression. The more money that moves upward, the more influence, the more policies that encourage money moving upward. Eventually, democracy, other than in name, fails.If we don’t stop this, the die.

    Racism, sexism, homophobia, while all enormously important, in my opinion need to reviewed as being the primary expression of leftist agenda. I say this because unless we wrest back control of our political processes, then all the gains in the world in other areas, not only will become tenuous, they literally won’t matter. Everyone will gain equal rights to live in the same miserable, shitty, and horribly unequal society.

    That is not to say that we should ignore, racism, sexism, homophobia and the like (or worse, encourage), not at all. Rather, the fact is this is no longer a battle limited to identities. What makes racism, sexism, and homophobia so awful is the great dehumanization and inequality it represents. What blacks, women, and gays face is preview of what we all will face if we do not reign this in. In that sense, the cause whether it be for minorities or for the increasingly downtrodden middle class is the same. Instead of getting caught up in polarizing identity debates, debates that are being intentionally used by leadership on both sides to distract from the big picture, we need to see this as a common fight for equality for all. That is, the end of elitism, whether that be white over blacks, straight over gays, men over women, or the rich and powerful over the average American (human frankly).

    For 30+ years after the war there was great comfort and prosperity. That shared comfort and prosperity largely came from the fact that society was comparatively level. One had the option to become rich enough that it would motivate, but not so rich that they could distort. Yes, there was a lot less winning of the proverbial lottery like the creation of Facebook and Google, but there was a lot less pain and misery for those that didn’t win. Boring was good. Hell we went to the moon on boring, something we couldn’t seem to hope to repeat today.

    Yes, racism, sexism, homophobia greatly marred those 30 years – it wasn’t perfect, but we have learned much. We can bring back the good lessons of that past, but also hold those new lessons we know are good and bring them forward. In my opinion that starts by taking back financial control of the country, so that we are again “one (wo)man, one vote” rather than “more dollars, more vote”. We’ve got to level this beast up again and set up a system so it stays that way.

  13. Howard B March 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm | #

    A big glaring weakness for Trump is that he abhors any feeling of weakness, of being labelled a loser, of being dependent on anybody (like Putin) of being shown up. He could care less about being morally wrong. It validated him when everybody attacks him- but for someone to humiliate him, to heckle him out of the night club, to humiliate him- that is his psychological weakness- if we had as in the British system a staged meeting where the opposition challenges the ruler directly, we’d have plenty of chances, and we had a chance to show him up in the election when he was a lord among losers. All his events are staged- any decent stand up comic would be all over him

  14. Thomas Rossetti March 4, 2017 at 1:29 am | #

    To fight Trump command the heights of language. Churchill put the English language to work. We are about to see the greatest plunder in all of human history. PLUNDER! Every effort has to be towards impeachment. Stop the coming PLUNDER before it is to late. Shout it to the hilltops. PLUNDER!

    • Carl Weetabix March 4, 2017 at 10:36 am | #

      The problem with impeachment is that leaves next-in-line “Mike Pence” and even of we could co-impeach him, we would get the oh so lovely, Republican, Speaker of the House.

      I’m afraid it’s going to come down to a waiting game, albeit it might be slightly better to have *any* Trump alternative, but I’m afraid it will be just a more reasonable seeming evil, that actually might be more likely to get even worse legislation passed. Right now everyone is on guard.

      I say this in part because I’m not sure that, for instance, Cruz wouldn’t have been worse as people wouldn’t have seen the radicalism. I mean, after all, part of why we’re here is all of our friends on the left turned a blind eye to Obama because he was *their* candidate. At least Trump is obvious. Of course he could be obvious in a “goose stepping into your neighborhood” way unless he’s properly checked.

  15. Chris Morlock March 4, 2017 at 7:05 am | #

    Right now corporate Dems are raking in the money by just mentioning Trump. It has made them extremely lazy and their base loves to hear about Russian propaganda. They could not care less about progressive ideas and have actually been working to further marginalize progressives since the election. Obama’s last minute railroad of Tom Perez was the slap in the face after the punch in the gut after the shot in the head.
    I hate Democrats more than Republicans right now. For the first time in my life! At least the Republicans, after getting double autopsied in 2008 and 2012, formed a coherent plan to allow more radical elements in the form of the tea-party in to their fold. I hoped and expected the same of the Left this time, after being WIPED OUT on all levels of government.

    I pleaded with progressive friends after the election to focus all our effort on reforming the Democratic party and to simply ignore Trump for the time being since there was nothing constructive to do. Instead, they piled on to the hysteria bandwagon and totally missed all opportunities to for once have the Dems lead by progressive ideas. A good friend told me “we can chew gum and walk at the same time”. Really? Seems like all we did was chew gum and allow corporate Democrats to maintain their power. So with the opportunity now drifted away and the Trump admin humming along to oblivion I find myself even more inconsolable than after early November 2016. Whats left to do as a progressive? Even Bernie is starting to fall in line talking about Russia………….

  16. Bruce Wilder March 6, 2017 at 8:08 pm | #

    Trump is already an absurdity: parody and bathos are superfluous means of criticism in this circumstance.

    What needs a sharp critique is not Trump — he’s the political equivalent of a self-defrosting freezer, a self-cleaning oven or permanent-press slacks; he is self-satirizing, just another consumer convenience suitable to a consumer politics of passive spectation — what needs sharp critique is the pseudo-left response to Trump by corporate media. What has roused the pundits from their foppery? What are the motives of institutions like the CIA or CNN? What is the meaning of the Russian Conspiracy Theory?

    A left, if the U.S. had one, would be organizing. What we are witnessing, as I said in an earlier comment, is mobilization without political organising of the mobilised. It is manipulation by organs of propaganda controlled by decidedly un-left institutions. Being genuinely left, anywhere along the Left spectrum, requires observing as much and acknowledging that this barrage against Trump is not coming primarily from a left perspective.

    Pointing out Trump’s political and ideological incoherence is a superfluous effort. Pointing out the incoherence of Trump’s loudest and most tendentious critics — of the Clintonite rump establishment especially — is the work of realignment.

  17. Bruce Wilder March 7, 2017 at 8:01 am | #

    I was wrong about the election: I actually thought Hillary’s neoliberal all-stars would pull it off, that Trump, like Romney before him, was sent into the electoral fray as a designated loser, as prelude to at least one last round of loser liberalism and partisan gridlock, within which context an authoritarian and neoliberal agenda could be furthered without effective opposition from the Left. I fully expected a continuation of the legitimacy crisis that has been building since Whitewater, if not Watergate. I just expected Hillary to bear the brunt in a way calculated to distress the Left.

    Well, the legitimacy crisis is accelerating, but with a reversal of partisan roles. We are back to the last years of W’s administration, when Katrina and the debacle in Iraq and the attorney general incompetence scandals, backed by the effect of rising gas prices on W’s approval ratings, drained away the political credibility of the Republicans.

    Whatever the details of Trump’s myriad vulnerabilities as they reveal themselves in kaleidoscopic variety, their meaning is dominated by the global context of an on-going erosion of legitimacy, which has been underway for decades. The pseudo-left’s strange absence of memory in their campaign against Trump is a tell. We are not supposed to put Trump in historical context and especially should not put attacks on Trump in historical context.

    • Carl Weetabix March 7, 2017 at 8:34 am | #

      It’s hard to have a lot of hope – huge swaths of the Democratic electorate are still stuck on the idea that she was a good candidate, that she was “liberal”, that he losses were not over a failed neoliberal agenda, that it was Russia, Comney, Berniebros, vote rigging, sexism, racism, that there was nothing wrong with Clinton (sometimes literally at all – as if she weren’t a politician at all), nor suddenly when it was convenient, that the economy was even a problem (as if GDP measured comfort/happiness or that there wasn’t discontent like I’ve never seen in my life).

      I don’t argue these all played a part, but while it may have carved off critical percentages, the fact is it shouldn’t have been close enough that it mattered. No one in the world should have lost to Trump, but somehow she found a way.

      But sadly, again why I am depressed, these people are still blind to the truth – they want to play the same game. If they could replace Trump they wouldn’t rethink the bigger questions. They still want it to be exclusively about wedge issues, albeit important ones, but ignoring the core concern of Americans – that they want to have a stable financial future. You know, one like our parents grew up with, that is apparently suddenly impossible because, um, progress.

      It’s hard to have a lot of hope – huge swaths of the Democratic electorate are still stuck on the idea that she was a good candidate, that she was “liberal”, that he losses were not over a failed neoliberal agenda, that it was Russia, Comney, Berniebros, vote rigging, sexism, racism, that there was nothing wrong with Clinton (sometimes literally at all – as if she weren’t a politician at all), nor suddenly when it was convenient, that the economy was even a problem (as if GDP measured comfort/happiness or that there wasn’t discontent like I’ve never seen in my life).

      I don’t argue these all played a part, but while it may have carved off critical percentages, the fact is it shouldn’t have been close enough that it mattered. No one in the world should have lost to Trump, but somehow she found a way.

      But sadly, again why I am depressed, these people are still blind to the truth – they want to play the same game. If they could replace Trump they wouldn’t rethink the bigger questions. They still want it to be exclusively about wedge issues, albeit important ones, but ignoring the core concern of Americans – that they want to have a stable financial future. You know, one like our parents grew up with, that is apparently suddenly impossible because, um, progress.

      I read people like Digby, who I respect, saying essentially, “Screw those ‘deplorables'”. Which is to say, abandon your conservative neighbors because we (magically) can find a way to outvote them and continue the status quo “liberal” agenda. Unfortunately when I mean “status quo”, I mean one that continues to transfer wealth upwards, encourage war, and just generally act as an arm of the landed classes.

  18. b. March 8, 2017 at 10:56 am | #

    Obama actions were a normalization of Bush’s, Trumps words are a hyperbole of Obama’s and Clinton’s actions. I can respected Glenn Ford, I cannot respect Heather Parton. In many ways, the 2008 election proved as clarifying as the 2016 election. “Partisan” is just a synonym for unprincipled.

    At this point, I am tempted to vote Sanders in every race in which a binding None Of The Above should rightfully be a ballot option, especially in 2020 – whether or not he is running, whether or not he is alive.

    While the walking dead of the ‘crat Party are engineering their Russian Dodge (the forward-looking, aggressive successor of Incompetence Dodge, which played so well for the Democrats for years, but did not fit the Clintechnocrat narrative), Sanders is demonstrating how to argue with ‘deplorables’, and how to oppose Trump.

    He just managed to get the Realignment Tools at the Post – “always ‘post'” – to get him the kind of free press coverage that helped start his primarries run (and pretty much made the Trump campaign) – by offending “postal” sensibilities in calling Trump a liar, no less. I don’t really see a compelling reason to vote for any ‘crat that is unwilling to support Sanders when it counted – and counts. Lesser evil implosion continues apace. You want me to vote for you, pace FDR, make me do it.

  19. Chris Morlock March 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm | #

    Noam Chompsky predicted that American politics was moving to the right, and that the goal posts were always moving. I think we see the reality of that now, the paradigm has moved all working class, New Deal ideology out of the equation. Economic justice seems totally and undeniably dead on almost all levels. A true “End of History”.

    To me the left is nothing more than a collection of authoritarians that mostly want to talk about fixed single issues like diversity or identity politics. That’s it, they want to see an America where 50% of people are poor, as long as those poor people have the correct ethic percentage makeup.

    I can only hope that by some bizarre tangent or intersection Trump’s pro USA nationalism / nativism sparks a movement within labor to re-organize, but somehow I know deep down this is a pipe dream, and that pro-corporate forces will always prevent this from happening.

    When Bernie dies, I think the New Deal is ultimately completely dead. I had some hope the DNC would realign but they are getting enough money and support just opposing Trump, so they aren’t going to do anything good.

    The only candidate for DNC chair I liked, Sam Ronan, got ZERO votes. He was the only progressive.

  20. union horse March 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm | #

    With my apology for not going through this active posting,
    I would ask to share a perspective on just what is possible now and what is not:
    Medicare For All, on the other hand, does the math right, and makes the best sense to everyone.
    It is not possible now to advance a bill adopting The Metric System.

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