Trump’s victory might have been a surprise to many, but the liberal infighting that followed has been painfully predictable. Establishment Democrats are desperate to shift the blame for losing, having put out a candidate whose defeat on an electoral college technicality has made critics accuse her of failing to energize the party base. Their target was always going to be non-voters.
The vacuous cult of personality surrounding Hillary Clinton’s campaign from the start had at its core an almost medieval level of entitlement. Nobody’s perfect. Be a good feminist. This is historic. Forget about the whole ‘super-predators’ thing. Forget about the Wall Street coziness. Forget about emails with top aides insulting and denigrating the traditional Democrat voter base. Forget Honduras. Ask not what your candidate can do for you but what you can do for your candidate.
I’m not a US citizen, only a resident. I have no love for the Democrat Party, but I urged American friends to hold their noses and vote because I knew that people of color, LGBTQ communities and women were going to be in genuine danger in the event of a Trump win – as we are already seeing. Plenty of indicators suggested that a Clinton DOJ, a Clinton Supreme Court, could have laid down salient and long-lasting protections for trans people. An American can’t vote their way out of forced complicity with imperialism, but they can at least vote to confiscate institutional power from homophobes and white supremacists.
A dear friend in North Carolina spent months certain that he couldn’t betray his morals and vote for Clinton. On election night, he texted me to let me know he’d voted, and that he did it to protect people like me. That someone can step up, can bring themselves to wade through a pungent mire of self-disgust because their friends needed them, is an act of real decency.
But the cultural argument for Clinton was never about those scraps from the table, those handy little protections. The #ImWithHer pantsuit fest was a gurning orgy of hyper-enthusiasm, pretending that another Clinton presidency will be a really awesome thing and not a grim compromise to make the political terrain more manageable for marginalized people. The Democrats did not deserve my friend’s nobility in crapping on his own values, because they never bothered to ask for it. That would have meant admitting that liberal technocracy sucks.
Instead, we had a parade of celebrities from Beyoncé to Amy Schumer emphasizing how ‘historic’ the whole thing would be, we had Louis CK insisting “it’s not a lesser of two evils”. Against all the evidence: that Hillary is a hawk, that she is a flip-flopping triangulator, that she despises the Democrat base, that Bernie Sanders’s much higher popularity ratings would have been a real electoral asset. They encouraged Trump’s nomination on purpose, because they didn’t want to earn your vote and thought they could scare you into fealty, and then figured you should also be told to be happy about your white savior. If we insist that the terrifying endorsements Trump graciously received are an indicator as to the character of his future presidency, we ought to apply the same standard to Clinton. And her endorsements were an insipid, patronizing joke.
It wasn’t that voters were told to hold their noses, it was that they were told to flare their nostrils wide, to inhale the overpowering fragrance of bullshit, and pretend that they smell daffodils.
So the fact that the Democrat establishment is now turning belly-up in its dedication to ensuring Trump ascends smoothly, is very much consistent with their real priorities. Clinton told us during the campaign that Trump is “dangerously incoherent”, “temperamentally unfit to hold office”, and “not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes”, and we all agreed. Now she insists on “a peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.” There are a couple of ways to interpret this: she either never believed a word of what she was saying and just liked having a helpful bogeyman, or she really does believe it and still thinks it’s worth handing the keys over to Trump. Either way, the message is clear: your life never really mattered for a second.
To be a Democrat is ultimately to be conservative, favoring order over liberty. I wish I knew why. I wish they knew why, but I doubt they do. The ghastly rictus of the Clinton campaign’s forced smile has melted into the grinding teeth of a skinless Terminator trapped under a fallen beam, unable to adjust its own mission, unable to compute its own uselessness.
President Obama’s meeting with Trump laid the Democrats’ priorities out quite plainly. He told reporters: “my number one priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.” It is as if none of us are meant to know or care what Trump’s definition of ‘success’ is.
But we do know, and we do care. We know that if our President-elect is successful he’ll build his wall. We know that if he is successful his KKK and neo-Nazi benefactors will have a Justice Department which will grant them a long leash. We know that if Trump succeeds at what he intends to do, America will burn and the world will burn with it. And the Democrats will stand by the fire and warm their hands, marveling at how mature and peaceful they are.
There are two moments in history that suggest where the real politics are about to go down.
The first is how the New Deal was created. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was originally and instinctively a fiscal conservative, a fact often forgotten because of his Keynesian legacy. It is almost impossible that he would have initiated the New Deal by himself, except for the lucky happenstance that unions had organized state-by-state to threaten a socialist revolution if a new consensus with the capitalist class wasn’t arranged very quickly.
The Democrat was, in other words, kindly supplied with the motivation he needed to actually improve people’s lives.
The second is the Battle of Cable Street, a famous street-fight in East London (1936) between the Nazi-supporting Blackshirts and a coalition of socialists and Jews. The Blackshirts’ leader, Oswald Mosley, marched through East London in a uniformed show of force intended to intimidate the local Jewish population, but they were stopped on Cable Street by 20,000 antifascist demonstrators. The Blackshirts were treated to a hail of broken furniture, bricks, rotten veg, and piss, and were eventually forced to disperse. The Battle of Cable Street is widely regarded as the moment in which British fascism as a political force was broken, and it melted into relatively harmless insignificance shortly thereafter.
Oswald Mosley was not beaten in the ballot box, and he was not beaten in a debate. He was beaten in the face, with a chair leg.
This article was amended after the vote count was finalized to clarify that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.