The usual Clintonite pundits are crowing triumphantly about their narrow, expensive victory over a spectacularly awful candidate in Alabama yesterday, effectively claiming that this vindicates the way they’ve been ignoring everyone to the left of John McCain since the election. I don’t care about the Democratic party enough to write an entire article about how this is yet another sign that its leadership has no intention of ever moving even a single inch to the left in any way that matters, but I’d like to share a few thoughts on the general big-picture trend in US politics that this is a part of.
When I say that anti-Trumpism is anti-progressivism in disguise, I don’t mean to suggest that Trump is progressive in any way, shape or form, nor do I mean to suggest that his administration isn’t advancing many legitimately toxic policies which must be ferociously opposed. By anti-Trumpism I mean the blinkered, frenzied “ZOMG LITERALLY HITLER” cult which prioritizes impeachment of the sitting president above all else and at any cost, and by anti-progressivism I mean it’s being used as a deliberate ploy to manipulate what remains of the American political left into the pro-neoliberalism, pro-war “center”.
The campaign against Roy Moore was simply a microcosm of this general “vote for us because we’re not that scary boogieman” good cop/bad cop game both parties have been extorting the American public with for generations. Like Trump, Moore was a scandal-saturated slob who represented some of the most pernicious aspects of the GOP, and, though his opponent Doug Jones campaigned as a centrist who would work with Republicans, he was still viewed as better than Moore by enough people to win an election. This extortion scheme forced the people of Alabama to choose between a senator who would help move US politics far to the right and someone who would help move US politics only somewhat to the right, and they voted in self-defense, not because they liked Jones but because they feared Moore.
This is a perfect illustration of how anti-Trumpism is being used on a much larger scale. By constantly masturbating the absurd narrative that Donald Trump is simultaneously (A) crazy, (B) stupid, (C) a secret Nazi and (D) a treasonous Kremlin agent, the Democratic party is able to herd the political left into supporting pro-war, pro-oligarchy candidates and agendas. In the same way they used “But Roy Moore!” to win support for an imperialist corporate whore, they will use “But Trump!” to win support for their neoliberal neoconservative extortion scheme at every turn.
Whenever I point this out I get a bunch of Democratic party loyalists telling me “We can walk and chew gum at the same time! We can work to impeach Trump while advancing progressive causes!” No you can’t. You can’t and you don’t. When it came time to fight the DNC’s illicit, charter-violating installation of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders they “But Trump!”ed you into conforming. When it came time to support a third party they “But Trump!”ed you into conforming. When it came time to demand a massive overhaul of the DNC they “But Trump!”ed you into conforming. When it came time to demand a full investigation and restitution for the Democratic party’s misdeeds and manipulations exposed by WikiLeaks they “But Trump!”ed you into conforming. Every meaningful movement toward economic justice has been muted and marginalized since the election by “But Trump! But Trump! But Trump!” while the Republicans march the country further into corporatist oligarchy, and this scheme will continue for as long as it continues to work.
As long as the American left allows fear of Trump to determine the way it thinks and votes, the American left will be completely neutered. When this boogieman is out of office, they’ll simply elevate another one just like they did with Trump, probably one that’s even scarier since the last one was so effective. If they can’t beat that one they’ll use him to herd the left into the center, just like they’re doing now.
There’s a pipe dream in the DemEnter school of thought that progressives will be able to stage a takeover of the Democratic party beginning in 2018, but as long as the cult of anti-Trumpism, impeachment and Russiagate continues to dominate the way Democrats think and vote, this simply will not happen. 2018 will not be a year in which Berniecrats shore up influence over the Democratic party, it will be a year in which Democrats are “But Trump!”ed into supporting the so-called “center”, which only gets to call itself that because its massive corporate funds and media influence have enabled it to become a mainstream force.
You cannot have your impeachment/Russiagate crusade and also move US politics to the left, progressives. You cannot. What you are trying to do isn’t like walking and chewing gum at the same time, it’s like trying to walk in one direction while taking a jet plane in the other direction at the same time. Keep supporting the impeachment/Russiagate narrative and you’re just handing the ranchers an easy day’s work as you march yourselves all straight into the slaughterhouse. They will “But Trump!” you into conformity until you stop letting fear and corporate narratives rule your minds and start pushing for what you truly want for yourselves instead.
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