The Left Underestimates the Danger of Trump

By Arun Gupta (September 21, 2016)


I know it’s the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but there is little to celebrate at such a grim moment. That being the likelihood Trump may very well win.
If he does, Black Lives Matter will be declared a domestic terrorist outfit, just like the Earth Liberation Front was under Bush.
Trump and Attorney General Giuliani would relish using the National Guard to crush blockades of oil pipelines and trains, and indigenous people defending their lands. There will be no more climate justice movement or even hesitant steps toward limiting climate change.An English-only law would likely be passed, DACA be withdrawn, and sanctuary cities outlawed. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Klan, and the Alt-Right would all be welcome into his administration, overtly or covertly.

There would be an all-out assault on reproductive rights and Planned Parentood

Significant gains made at the National Labor Relations Board in the last few years will be overturned.

Huge swaths of the West under federal control will be turned over to logging, ranching, mining, and oil and gas industries.

Tens of millions would go from inadequate healthcare to no healthcare.

The Alt Right will aggressively disrupt the left.

Massive voter suppression becomes the norm.

There will be organized vigilante violence, perhaps even mini-pogroms, against Muslim and Mexican communities with the state turning a blind eye.

Don’t think it can’t happen; the WWI period saw hideous pogroms against African-Americans and Chicanos with state support. Entire communities were wiped out and thousands killed.

This would just be the beginning. Trump makes Reagan’s Voodoo economic policies like a beacon of rational economic planning. His combination of budget-busting tax cuts, decimating social welfare, roiling U.S. alliances, and abrogating free-trade deals would send the economy into a nosedive. As soon as a recession hits, Trump would immediately go hunting for scapegoats to distract his followers. This could include a ban on Muslim immigration, a registration program, and mass round-ups of immigrants, meaning concentration camps to hold them before they were ousted, overseen by his “deportation force” of Brownshirts.

There is a quaint notion on the left that somehow Trump is hot air. This ignores the dynamics he’s set in motion that will make new types of state-sponsored racial violence all but inevitable. This is not just a quantitative change over Obama and Clinton, but a qualitative one. In fact, it may even be worse that what I am outlining here. This is a man who muses about using nuclear weapons, he ignores even basic bourgeois political norms or rules, and he is lustily cheered by tens of millions when he calls for the assassination of his opponents and mass ethnic cleansing.

Yet a significant portion of the left is obsessed with how terrible Hillary Clinton is, both as a candidate and politically. As if this is somehow news. I see very little from the Facebook left on the extreme dangers Trump represents. I’ve gone to six different Trump events, and it’s evident he has consolidated a white nationalist movement that is demanding a 21st century apartheid state. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, Trump will inevitably go down this path as he sabotages the entire economy and U.S. foreign relations.

Meanwhile, there is a bizarre faith on the left that the ruling class will somehow keep him in check, despite the fact he will have control over every branch of government. This is matched by a warped belief that somehow extreme racist violence will create new left-wing mass movements. In reality, all the recent organizing gains will whither as the left is forced to wage losing defensive struggles against violent white nationalists.

No one will be able to stop his dictatorial, white supremacist agenda. Congress won’t stop him. He will have a majority on the Supreme Court, and while sections of the ruling class may be deeply unhappy, they will still be safe and obscenely wealthy and can always escape.

This election is a choice between two movements. Do you want to see movements like Black Lives Matter, Climate Justice, low-wage workers, immigrant rights, and other left social forces continue to grow and develop? Or do you want to see Neo-Nazis, the Klan, the Alt-Right on the offense and backed by a Trump administration?

21 thoughts on “The Left Underestimates the Danger of Trump”

  1. This is exactly the danger it seems to me that Trump represents as well comrade.

    Solidarity and anti-fascist greetings from Ireland.

  2. Articles like this underestimate the danger of a Clinton presidency while fear mongering the dangers of a Trump presidency. These authors insist that the left must accept incrementalism because chance is slow but yet somehow the right gets to make sweeping changes that’ll destroy our country. While completely ignoring the serious evils and harm committed by the Clintons in their first eight years in office.

  3. nah, moving target, many enemies, fraud, coercion of many sorts.
    berners robbed, jill worth a try, different states different margins.
    MSM, Wall Street and Parties to blame. Have to see things play out
    with all the above. fought trump in Chicago at Pavillion. Messy problem
    years in the making evolving up to election after debates. will it be Kill vs Drumpft?
    not at all sure, smarty pants guilt tripper know it all foister.

  4. I don’t think the left is not taking this very seriously as your column implies. Everyone I speak to (including friends and relatives) are extremely worried and quite scared! I’m spending any free time I have to register voters, speak to people, next will be canvassing and finally phone banking for getting out the vote. We must not let him win!!!

  5. So well put forth. Thank you for this pithy statement of the horror of what could happen easily enough if Democrats don’t start admitting to the necessity of the reality of accepting the lesser of two evils. I mean my goodness, the facts are before our eyes as to what Trump would, could and likely will do? HOw does that rest with your conscience Progressive American: families of friends, friends possibly incarcerated the natural world being raped, not to mention women and children not being protected from rape.

    You have already said it so frightfully well. Senator Sanders has been speaking to this with his supporters. All I can say is, if you would like to live with concentration camps because you aren’t willing to make a political compromise well then so be it but damn it I won’t.

  6. This is an absurd article. Violent white nationalists? Do liberals have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t see reality all around them? The violence in 2016 America isn’t coming from white nationalists… It’s coming from leftists! It’s coming from protestors in Charlotte and Baltimore and elsewhere who set their areas on fire, throw rocks at cars and pedestrians, who throw firecrackers at police, and who spout hatred towards white society and people in general. All the while, white leftists sit around and ignore the ugly side of these riots and convince themselves that it’s all peaceful.

    There aren’t going to be any progroms, you jackass. Trump’s America isn’t going to become an “apartheid state.” White people are just sick of being blamed for everything. Regular, middle/working class, whites are sick of turning on the news and listening to assholes like you tell us that we are the problem. We don’t oppress black people. Most of us are just living our lives, minding our own business, and trying to put food on the table and give our kids a decent life.

    The left is paranoid and delusional. This article is one of the best examples I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. I am a deplorable. I have worked hard for all I have, and can barely make ends meet. I have proudly served my country, and have raised two sons. I think everyone matters, and take exception when I am told mine doesn’t. You are an idiot to think that we will engage in a pogrom. We are tired of supporting people with our tax dollars, who don’t belong here. Change the immigration policies but enforce the law until its changed.And you could just as easily paint this picture using the name Hillary Clinton. We really need a few more years of Obamas policies based on lies, pulling us down the toilet. This woman is dirty and given the power, she will be dirtier still. The FBI may not have indicted her in court, but her many misdeeds are apparent and even her most ardent supporters amongst my friends don’t trust her. They are just hoping for the best. Get over your poor insight and talk avout her corruption and how she got that way. The media is crap,I nwver thought I would say this, but hackers are better at exposing the truth than you govt lapdogs.

  7. So true! If Trump wins the Republicans will keep control of the Senate and so have control of all 3 branches of government. The spineless Republicans will submit to Trump and his agenda as they are already doing. This is truly dangerous, possibly a pre-Fascist moment in American history comparable to Germany 1932. We have to stop him!

  8. While I have absolutely no dispute with the risk Trumpff poses, what’s not mentioned here is that Trumpff and his acolytes are the direct product of the neoliberal economics and NeoCon imperialist policies followed & espoused by Clinton & the Dims. Absent rational national & international economic & security policies the election of Trumpff or possibly even more extreme clone is inevitable. Electing HRC will be pouring kerosene on the fire. The only rational candidate in the race is Jill Stein, but since her chance of winning, or having won being able to effect her policies, is nill, all that one can look forward to is a very grim future.

  9. If I had a vote I am thinking it would be worth voting for Trump just to watch the Left run around pulling out their hair. That might make it all worth while

  10. So, you paint an extreme picture of the danger Trump poses using an example of the WWI-era — the height of the early Progressive movement. Love when “progressives” inadvertently expose their own sordid roots.

  11. Chicago PD openly spying on and repressing BLM for many months under terrorist Democratic mayor who’s father was a fascist terrorist who Wikipedia removed his profile under a president who’s carried forward Bush Deep State domestic spying and not prosecuted any big fish but little whistleblowers Espionage Act sledgehammer, intentional run on about run on problems

  12. I always remember the essay that David Brower, godfather of the US environmental movement (built the Sierra Club into a national force, then started Friends of the Earth for a more radical voice), wrote in 1996. He pointed out that Clinton and Gore did more damage to the environment in their first four years than Reagan and Bush managed to inflict in 12. Two reasons: Clinton had sold the party to corporate donors who demanded paybacks. Second, the big environmental groups had fought hard against Reagan and Bush (Watts was an incredible fundraising tool) but kept quiet when Clinton / Core did bad things since so many activists’ career were tied to the Democrats and they also didn’t want to loose access. So most liberals don’t want to believe how bad the Democrats will be.

  13. Ha! I knew it! This guy spent most of the primary season posting serial jeremiads against Bernie Sanders for being insufficiently radical, a sheepdog for the Democratic establishment, etc., despite the fact that Sanders was expanding mass consciousness by the millions on the progressive agenda, popularizing suppressed or marginalized ideas like single-payer healthcare, free public colleges, breaking up the big banks, combatting institutional racism, recognizing the humanity of the Palestinians, etc., etc.–thus helping to plant seeds far and wide for the birth of a genuinely massive progressive movement and giving a major lift to the prospects of independents like Jill Stein.

    So after standing aside from this epochal stride forward for the left as not nearly radical enough for his taste, Gupta does an about-face and launches an implicit apologia for . . . HILLARY CLINTON, the neoliberal/neocon water carrier for the savage global elites that are destroying the planet. And he flacks for her by recycling the precisely the fear-mongering talking points that emanate from her campaign staff. This article could, in fact, have been written by Robby Mook.

    In point of fact, the institutional foundations of the deep state resist facile manipulations by this or that individual. We saw this in the seamless transition from Bush II to Obama-the former was also held up as a bogeyman threatening the sanctity of the good and the true and the just, yet all his crimes were abetted and ratified and continued by the supine corporate Democrats of the kind that Gupta would now have us line up to vote for.

    So here’s the irony–it’s Gupta himself who is the real sheepdog–but a sheepdog in earnest. Whereas Sanders mobilized millions around a boldly progressive left agenda and planted the seeds of a mass growth for the progressive left, Gupta seeks to divert that momentum back into the dead end of the Democratic wing of the bipartisan Washington consensus.

    There may be examples of more craven confusion, hypocrisy, and self-contradiction in the annals of left commentary. but offhand I can’t think of one. At least we know now that when the shit hits the fan, the ultraleft posturing of Gupta turns out to be nothing more than a cloak for a thoroughly conventional liberal hypocrite.

  14. There is much in this comment to reply upon, however, the argument is fatally undermined by being ad hominem (ie directed at the person). This side of the pond we call it playing the person, not the ball.

    Second, the view with Brexit, fascist and armed groups on the street and new left movements in Europe means the warnings being sounded about fascism and Trump have more than a scare-story aspect to them. You can, and indeed always will, see the development of revolution and counter-revolution in reaction. Which leads me to the last point.

    Third, the danger of a Trump presidency is the pertinent issue: the right (alt-right and fascist, open counter-revolution right) threatens to be emboldened by a Trump presidency. That, conceivably, could wash away any gains of the new forces of the left emerging, like Stein, BLM and others. Personally, I see this as the way forward for the left, a ‘politics of anti-fascism’. That is the way to build new progressive coalitions. The equation of Trump and Clinton as ‘no different’ could be fatal to the left at this stage.

    Last, I type all this safe in the knowledge, this side of the Atlantic, under the cover of US and British nuclear weapons. Imperialism in the global north is an issue we all have to face.

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