By Danny Haiphong
Mar 27, 2016
A Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois erupted in protest on March 11th, forcing the Republican presidential candidate to cancel the event. The protest was led by a multinational group of activists angry with Trump's white supremacist rhetoric. Sanders supporters, Black Americans, Chicanos, Arabs and Muslims confronted Trump's followers and denounced his racist remarks. Thus far, Trump has received the most corporate media attention out of any candidate in the 2016 Presidential elections. His campaign has also received the most attention from the US left.
There is a strong tendency on the US left to unite against the Republican Party. This tendency has only intensified in response to the Trump campaign. Trump's call to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and institute a Muslim identification system has united liberals and radicals against the leading Republican Party candidate. So while Hilary Clinton has received some negative media attention for her connections to unpopular politicians such as Rahm Emanuel, George W. Bush, and Nancy Reagan, there remains an absence of organized opposition to the Democratic Party in the 2016 elections. A united front against Trump alone leaves open the possibility that "lesser-evil" politics will dictate the left's approach to the 2016 elections.
Generally, Presidential elections further promote the most reactionary characteristics of US society. Anti-intellectualism, a staple of US corporate rule, rises to the surface of political debate. The talking points of the two corporate parties become what Antonio Gramsci called "common sense." Cognitive dissonance reigns supreme. The left’s attachment to the "lesser of two evils" ideology is the most marked example of the anti-intellectualism and cognitive dissonance inherent in the US electoral circus.
“The talking points of the two corporate parties become what Antonio Gramsci called ‘common sense.’"
In 2008, Barack Obama's victory was heralded by the Democratic Party establishment as a historic achievement. Obama was framed as the progressive alternative to Republican John McCain. In the eyes of the left, McCain represented a continuation of Bush-era policy of endless war and economic crisis. Four years later, Barack Obama was once again given the "lesser of two evils" pass over Republican Party candidate and Bain Capital founder, Mitt Romney. So far in 2016, the "lesser of two evils" has been centered on the false dichotomy of Trump versus everyone else.
Donald Trump's racist comments have received numerous condemnations from Democratic Party politicians across the country. Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio have all distanced themselves from Trump's racist remarks toward Muslims, Black Americans, and Chicanos. Yet, while Trump's rhetoric may be obscene, the Democratic Party's record is arguably worse. Trump has made billions exploiting workers all over the planet. But the Democratic Party as a whole and President Barack Obama in particular have established a deep record of service to Trump's class and have done so without protest.
Trump has called Mexicans rapists and proposed that a wall be built along the US-Mexican border to prevent migration. In less than eight years, the Obama Administration has deported more migrants than any other President and further militarized the US-Mexican border. Trump has called for a system to identify Muslims in America yet the Obama Administration has waged war on Muslims domestically and conducted an extensive drone program against Muslims abroad that has killed thousands of people, including two US citizens. Few have protested the Obama Administration over these policies, but thousands have come out against Trump's rhetoric. Trump is indeed evil, but Obama and the Democratic Party remain the far more effective evil.
“The Democratic Party as a whole and President Barack Obama in particular have established a deep record of service to Trump's class and have done so without protest.”
A united front against Trump without equal attention and resistance to the Democratic Party can only be of benefit to US imperialism. Imperialism's foundation of war and profit is crumbling and the 2016 elections reflect the crisis of the system. The increased space the left has secured to raise real questions about the character of US society will be wasted if Trump is allowed to scare the left back under the Democratic Party umbrella. The Democratic Party apparatus has been where movements go to die and capitalism turns to stabilize. The true test in the 2016 elections is not whether Trump can be defeated by a united front but whether radical forces in the US can find a way to defeat the plague of lesser evil politics.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.