The overriding narrative of the past month from the Democrats is that Donald Trump is someone to be reacted to. His is the kind of message that needs to be fought via Twitter Wars to be memed by the Occupy Democrats page.* Twitter is something to be won and the American people are either with us, to be ignored, or to be mocked.
But Brexit, a false campaign led by the worst kind of fear-mongering (the same kind trunked by Trump – that of xenophobia and extremely vague notions of fixing the economy) just narrowly ousted Britain from the European Union – and may in turn see an exit of Scotland and Northern Ireland from the UK itself.
Meanwhile in the US, we are acting as if what happened in our colonizer will happen to us. That we will allow uninformed and xenophobic voters (not always the same thing) to remove us from the rest of the world and plunge our currency over a shambles. It maybe could happen to us. It’s unlikely to if we make the right decisions and head these fears off, if we confront what could kill us now.
The white working class has been ginnied-up to fear the barbaric, thieving Other Mexican and Muslim who means to steal their culture, communities and health. The common calling card of the anti-immigrant since at least the late 19th century has placed its ire not squarely on immigrants, but those perceived to be such: undocumented Mexican citizens of the US, Mexican-Americans, child refugees from Central America, Muslims, Arab Americans, Persian Americans, Indian Americans…
Unfortunately, Democrats are not really assuaging these fears. They seem incapable of giving working class and impoverished people a better life with a working social safety net or livable wages. Rather, they are feeding into these fears of the Other.
While they are not promising to “build a wall” between Mexico and the US, Democrats are still empowering ICE to tear apart migrant families and sending to Mexico adults and teens who have not lived there since before they could talk. While not detaining all Muslims in the US, they commit to a gun control sit-in that centers on terror watch lists and call Republicans “soft on terror” – both detrimental to Muslim communities here while ignoring White racial terrorists. Trump would block Middle Eastern immigration; meanwhile Democrats send drones and help to destabilize the regions through military intervention.
It’s not an issue of who is better or worse here. Obviously Trump would be cataclysmically, apocalyptically awful for the United States, for international relations, for workers, for women, for people of color, for poor people, for middle class people, for anybody not Trump. Check that, probably for Trump himself. He’d likely be better off under a Clinton presidency.
But the Democratic Party’s playbook in the face of such a world-turning event has largely been one of derision. Democrats have become conservative in the fact that they do not offer any bold visions but rather react and capitulate – allowing Republicans to dictate the terms and the debate. The GOP has been controlling the ball for the whole game and Democrats are frantically playing defense, hoping for a slip up. And then giving the ball back to the Republicans and resetting the clock.
There are many citizens and would-be voters out there who are waiting to be courted, who remain on the sidelines because they are losing hope in either political party. Many who are actually considering Trump because they figure he can’t be all bad. And many who are severely marginalized by society and feel left out of the democratic process altogether.
Things should not be this close. We need a new playbook that will rally the troops, protect them, encourage them, and welcome them on the field to advance the People’s Agenda for People Power.
*No affiliation whatsoevr.