The morning after the 2016 presidential election, I woke up bleary-eyed, feeling as gut-punched as I did the mornings after each of my parents died, and tried to organize my thoughts. Let’s face it, I wrote on this blog, we all know that late stage capitalism sucks. Progressives want to fix it; Trump demagogued it. What can we expect over the next four years?
Among the things I didn’t predict was Flynn being fired five minutes into Trump’s presidency; a big scandal over payments to a porn star; a multi-year Russia investigation; children in cages; a pandemic that is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day as of this week; the growth of Q-Anon; Trump’s thwarted love affair with Kim Jong-il; Michael Cohen, George Conway, Joe Walsh, and Bill Kristol emerging as some of Trump’s loudest critics; Biden walking away with the primaries and the election; a Jewish and a black Senator being elected in Georgia; Rudolph Giuliani leading an attempt to overturn the election, followed by a Trump-fomented insurrection and a second impeachment with just days to go in his administration, and so on. I could go on and on and the odds are good that something terrible and shocking will still happen tomorrow and the day after. But I think I did get a few things right.
Unlike Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini (one hopes) [Trump] doesn’t have a program of global conquest or racial and ideological cleansing ready to roll out; he was a vanity candidate and he’ll be a vanity president. Most of the work of governance will be left to the right wing hanger-ons who flatter him the most and they will do their very worst. There’s not going to be a wall, he’s not going to restore smoke stack industries, or fix the cities. Taxes will be cut, environmental protections will be rolled back, and terrible judges will be appointed to the courts. Undocumented immigrants will be deported at the same pace that they were during the Obama administration. The world will be a little safer for ignorant, backwards-looking white people. Globalized capitalism will march on apace, wealth will continue to flow to the top, and the ice caps will keep melting.
We were just as fucked yesterday as we are today, even if we didn’t know it. But now we do. I don’t see much of a bright side this morning, but I do believe that we progressives can pull the same levers of economic discontent that he did and to just as powerful effect, starting in 2018. The backlash will have its own backlash. Let’s start laying the groundwork for it now.