It’s Over For Trump, So What Next?

By Arun Gupta (October, 11, 2016)


It’s over for Trump, so what happens next?


No modern presidential candidate has overcome a 4-point gap in October, and that was the margin before the tapes. The latest poll, NBC/WSJ, has him 11 points down in a four-way match, 14 points in a two-way match. There is noise in the data as it shows much of the drop is with self-identified Republicans. Some will likely return to the fold, but it appears college-educated whites and white women are now turning decisively against him.


If a double-digit gap holds then things get interesting. If Trump draws less than 40%, then that would likely flip both chambers to the Democrats because ticket-splitting is relatively rare. This would give Clinton a rare two-year opportunity to push through some modestly reformist legislation.


If the Democrats take back Congress, we will likely see an increase in the minimum wage. The battle will be over $12 or $15 an hour, with the Clintonistas and their “progressive” allies trying to block the $15 push, as The Intercept reported today. The other key issues around the minimum wage will be the schedule of increases, and exemptions, particularly for tipped workers, teenagers, disabled, agricultural workers, and immigrants.

A Democratic majority Congress would provide another opportunity for big labor to push for card-check legislation, but the neoliberal Clintonistas would fight it tooth and nail. The last big item on labor’s agenda would be an infrastructure program, and this is where it gets interesting. There would be a lot of conflict and horse-trading between labor, big environmental groups and sectors of capital over a mini-Green New Deal that might halt the accelerating rate of climate change if we are fortunate, but certainly not take the necessary steps to begin to reverse it.


Then there is immigration reform. This is even more complex, but there would be a push to legalize everyone covered by DACA and DAPA, but that covers only about 4.5 million undocumented immigrants. That leaves 6.5 million without legal status.The Clintonista M.O. is for complex half-assed reforms with a guest-worker program, an arduous “path to citizenship,” and increased enforcement and border militarization.


Some plan for student-debt relief and debt-free higher education is also likely. With Bernie Sanders going all out for Clinton, there is little doubt this was promised to him as was indicated at the DNC. Sanders will emerge as one of the most powerful figures in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, but I imagine any student-debt plan will also be complicated rather than a simple comprehensive fix. There was reports from a few months ago that Elizabeth Warren went all in for Clinton with the apparent understanding Warren would get some veto power over Wall Street executives being put in charge of financial regulation. Warren will also likely demand tougher regulation of Wall Street and more stringent rule-making around consumer financial issues, particularly debt, which is not a minor thing.


The most complex question of all is healthcare: Public option? Medicare for all? Or just patchwork fixes? Once again, the cautiousness of Clinton and deference to the ruling class makes any comprehensive and simple solution unlikely.


Obviously, there are many other important issues from policing, drug policy, and criminal justice reform to trade and foreign policy. Clinton is an enthusiastic supporter of U.S.-backed wars, coups, and interventions. But stopping this is pretty much up to the left. Unless activists can strengthen and revive solidarity, anti-interventionist, and anti-imperialist movements that can bring large numbers of people into the streets and creatively cause nonviolent disruptions, there is unlikely to be any attempt to rein in Clinton’s fondness for drones and despots.”


These are some of the battles that would break out if the Democrats take back both houses of Congress, and which the left might, *might* be able to intervene in and push leftward if organizations can figure out where the fault lines are, who to mobilize, where and when to mobilize, and how to create the type of disruptions that would force elite interests to offer bigger concessions.


And, yeah, I would love to see far more radical actions and policies implemented. But the left is far too weak and fragmented. It needs years of base and capacity-building before it could really flex muscle on a national scale beyond episodic outbursts.

It’s Game Over for Trump, but Not for the Need to Organize

By Arun Gupta (October 9, 2016)

Trump is toast barring something unprecedented like Clinton being forced from the race. He has a slim chance to staunch the bleeding, though not really recover, if he trounces Clinton in the debate Sunday night. But that is unlikely given a) that a town hall format plays to Clinton’s strengths and will showcase his weaknesses; b) his refusal to do debate prep and the likelihood the audience will be hostile to him and; c) he is likely completely disoriented at this point by the all the odious revelations from Friday.
With nothing left to lose, Trump is likely to double down on stoking the nativist hysteria he has cultivated for 17 months. He and his followers already have a burn-it-all-down mentality, so it makes sense for him to now try to undermine the legitimacy of both Clinton and the electoral process (don’t call it “democratic process”). If it wasn’t for the numerous tapes and recordings that surfaced yesterday, as well as the expose of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, the big news might have Trump feeding rumors that Obama is ordering the Border Patrol to allow “illegals” to “pour into the country so they can go and vote.”
This is after numerous comments claiming the election was being rigged and calling on his supporters to engage in voter suppression. He pivots to these threats and lies when he is down in the polls and now that he is flaming out he will go all in.
Trump, a teetotaler, has always been drunk on power, and now he will go on one last bender. Don’t expect this hysteria to end and congressional Republicans will be happy to welcome the xenophobes, racists, and misogynists back into the fold so they can use them to try to hamstring the Clinton administration.
But the white nationalist movement has likely peaked for now, and he has discredited the Alt Right. That they won’t be working the levers of power is a huge relief. And they will likely descend into infighting, quasi-random white-male terrorism, and go to seed as more organized forces will concentrate on the state level and feeding bizarre anti-Clinton, anti-immigrant media conspiracies that worm their way into the mainstream.Democrats are poised to take back the Senate and have an outside chance to build a firewall to withstand the inevitable losses they will suffer in the 2018 midterms when they have 23 seats up for election and two independents who caucus with the Democrats (Maine and Vermont), while the GOP has only 8 seats to defend.
As for the left, it has distinct advantages if it can patiently organize militant movements that can make gains around policing, structural racism, climate justice, immigrant rights, healthcare, anti-imperialism, and income and wealth redistribution.  Showing that political, policy and social gains can be achieved will win more people to the left. But that militancy can’t lapse into collaboration with, or a defense of, the Democratic Party. And there will be significant clashes between the Left and big labor, mainstream environmentalists, and establishment feminist, LGBT, Latino, and African-American organizations.
But this is all welcome even exciting because this is the essence of politics, the fight for social power and conflicting visions of how society should be organized and function.

Never forget that Clinton and the Democrats are the enemy. They just present different threats and opportunities.
While we can envision some of the road ahead under a Clinton administration, much is unknowable. The paths we take depend on careful planning, creativity, foresight, and a refusal to ever compromise the principles of on solidarity, justice, and equality, and an unwavering belief in our collective ability to create a better world for all.

A final thought: Voting as an individual act is inconsequential. It is the mass aggregation of votes that has the potential to influence the outcome. At this point, it is game over for Trump, barring something truly extraordinary. So vote or don’t vote. If you do vote, vote for whomever you want wherever you live. It doesn’t matter anymore. My analysis was always based on what is happening on the ground, not the armchair ossified reading of history that passes for analysis on much of the left. The real question is not what you do in the voting booth on November 8. It’s what you do every day for the next four years after the election.

Women Are Not the Only Ones Offended by Trump

By Mark Naison (October 9, 2016)

As some apologists for Donald Trump have suggested, the type of language Mr. Trump used in the “Access Hollywood” video just uncovered is hardly unique to him. Unfortunately, they are right about this. Not only did Bill Clinton use it through most of his political life-something I know from first hand testimony as well as rumor-it can be found in locker rooms and work places all over the country wherever men gather without women present, or in such numbers that women are too intimidated to protest. Many men still consider the use of such language a sacred right, which is why some country clubs still ban women from their bars at certain hours of the day.

However, this is something we as a society have been working very hard to overcome as women have moved into positions of influence in our economy and public life. From police stations and fire houses to television stations and the trading floor of investment banks, women have fought a lonely uphill battle to end the normalization of this demeaning intimidating language and the actions that follow it. I have story after story from former students who joined previously all male occupations about the struggle they waged for dignified treatment from men who thought talk about women’s private parts or their own sexual exploits was an integral part of the culture of their workplace. The most horrifying stories came in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s when women first began to break into law enforcement and the financial sector. They have been significantly reduced in the last few years.

So the question I ask is- do we really want to elect a President who is an unapologetic representative of this culture and who has lived it for most of his adult life? I had hoped we were better than that. That we were moving away from the toxic male culture that so many women have had to fight at the workplace,and unfortunately in their personal lives

But this is not only an issue for women, there are men who find it objectionable as well.

I am one of those men. I spent much of my time in the 1970’s playing sandlot football and schoolyard basketball in parks and schoolyards and gyms around the city. On some of the teams I played on, sexual banter and comments about women’s anatomies were an integral part of the conversation among men, to the point where it became a form of bonding among men from different racial backgrounds. I still have vivid memories of Sunday morning football games where the main subject of conversation was who people f….d the night before. As someone who was dating and eventually married a feminist, and whose life was enriched by many strong women friends, I found this discourse offensive and deeply troubling. But I wanted so much to be part of this team that I never openly protested. My protest, pathetic as it might seem, was complete silence. I just went out on the field and hit people, devoutly hoping my teammates would JUST SHUT UP.

I am sure there were and still are many men like me who would feel liberated if this kind of talk were no longer welcome where powerful men gather.

I hope they join with me and women across the country in assuring that someone with Mr Trump’s values and persona never becomes President.

Trump and Rape Culture: Let’s Get Free and Nourish Collective Liberation

By Chris Crass (October 8, 2016)

The misogyny and rape culture that Trump celebrates is wrong, period. Yes, I have women in my life who I do not want spoken of in that way, but I also have men and boys in my life who I do not want socialized, trained, and rewarded to dehumanize, degrade, and assault women. I do not want my boys or any boys to be expected to act in this way or face violence on play grounds or locker rooms for “not being a real man”.

I do not want my boys or any boys to suffocate the tenderness and fullness of their hearts and souls so that they can be real men in a male supremacist, misogynistic, homophobic, rape culture, rooted in a capitalist economy built on the daily and systemic devaluing of women’s labor, voices, and lives. 

I want my boys and all of our boys and men to grow up in and live in vibrant feminist culture dedicated to the liberation of us all from the might of patriarchy.

Yes, let us strategically target Trump as a misogynist as part of a larger effort to bring down his campaign and the GOP and yes, let us engage in these times to expand feminist consciousness, vision and commitment to action and transformation among men, men who have all been raised in this rape culture. Let’s get free, from what’s inside of us, and all around us that is poison, and nourish all that brings us closer, inside of us and all around us, to collective liberation.