Armed with a Pen

Views from a worker and student

Tag: Liberalism

Liberalism, Race, and the Rise of Trump

Most in the US attribute Trump’s 2016 election to one of two reasons: economic anxiety or racism. Either analysis however is incomplete. It would seem that conservatives and liberals alike, both so entrenched in their own right-wing worldviews, retreat into the comfortable shade of ideology before any meaningful conclusion can be arrived at. Thinkers on all sides of the mainstream political spectrum have touched upon the truth of the matter but, having reached the absolute limits of their ideology, immediately pull back, writhing in agony like a man having touched a sore wound.

Two Forms of One Ideology

The conservatives which seeks to erase the obvious racism of Trump, his administration, and his supporters are the most shameless, brazen, and arrogant of ideologues. The bad faith which has come to so characterize the conservative faction is never more displayed than when the Bill O’Reilly’s and Ben Shapiro’s come out to defend white supremacy. Adept dog-whistlers, they babble on endlessly about criminality and welfare queendom, making careful efforts to avoid using the n-word (usually by substituting it with “thug” or something similar). More often than not their “debates” consist of logical and rhetorical fallacies shouted over an increasingly frustrated opponent who somehow never gets a word in. Of course, this is intentional. Few of their claims stand up to the facts, even fewer to history.

That being said, they are damn good at what they do. No finer ideologues have ever existed than those conservative pundits under Obama and Trump. Their dedication to ideology is matched only perhaps by their liberal counterparts.

Whereas the conservative ideologue is essentially a snake oil salesman, deep down aware of their absurdity or at least their dishonesty, the liberal ideologue has a childlike naivety that could actually be endearing in another time. The liberal ideologue attempts to make sense of a fluid world with “woke” pseudoscience and an unwavering righteousness that fails to recognize its own ideological constraints. Nothing can be understood through the liberal lens precisely because it is so riddled with ideology. The ABC thinkers–that is Anything But Class as the Marxist Michael Parenti calls them–fail to note even the most obvious economic relations inherent to racism. They relegate the realities of racism to moral failings in much the same way early human tribes described the sun as a god. Having no science available to them, they created comforting narratives to explain the things that scare them. The difference is that the tribes were afraid of being eaten and did eventually figure out the sun was a star. Liberals, on the other hand, are afraid of being called out on their privilege and have not yet developed even the rudiments of a scientific world outlook.

What they end up with is highfalutin and admittedly very well written opinion pieces that contain nothing in the way of substance. They grasp at eclectic theories and pseudoscience, unable to create anything coherent. But that’s exactly what makes a liberal a liberal. Liberalism can be characterized precisely by its lack of science, its idealism. Ignoring the material realities of class, it latches onto the most superficial elements of a given issue. This is especially the case with racism.

Liberalism, of course, is the ideology of both conservatives and liberals. It’s so intricately woven into the fabric of mainstream political discourse that it’s effectively invisible. Class becomes a nonissue as the focus is shifted onto liberal identity politics uprooted from any material base in substance but maintaining the existing economic relations in practice. The conclusions may differ ever so slightly but the exact same methods were employed to get there and the result is the same: class is ignored and whites continue to benefit from the exploitation of black people.

In the middle of all this is the precariously situated centrist, the social liberal, fiscal conservative. All this means is they’re a liberal when times are good and a conservative when they aren’t. When push comes to shove, the centrist moves further right. They don’t like divisiveness though, it’s uncomfortable, and so they too entertain the idea of “post-racial America.” Centrists are often the most vocal on this.

Obama, Trump, and Post-Racial America

It is only once one has become so thoroughly diluted as to consider their ideology common sense, as nonideological that the question of “post-racial America” can be asked. Is the US post-racial? Of course not! The question isn’t even worth asking, the answer is so obvious.

Yet liberals, that is liberals, conservatives, and centrists, all saw evidence of this in the election of Barack Obama. A black man in the highest office in the country obviously changes none of the actual economic relations which keep black people impoverished and disenfranchised, which necessitate racism. Did Obama stop the plundering of Latin America, Asia, and Africa? No. Did Obama not detain and deport millions of innocent people? No. Did Obama not support Blue Lives Matter over Black Lives Matter? No. Did Obama even attempt to create a healthcare system which put people over profit? No. He moved to phase out federal private prisons, yes, and he blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, yes, but only in the final half of 2016. It took him a full seven and a half years to do this? Really?

Both moves, by the way, he so clearly knew would either be reversed by Trump immediately upon entering office (which they were) or would sweep the issues under the rug, giving Clinton room to reverse them without provoking much backlash. Is that a speculative claim? Sure. But nothing else in his presidency was in line with either of these. Obama had never disempowering corporations, he worked with them. Just look at his support for fracking, for example. Indeed, his and Trump’s policies are more aligned than they are opposed.

So why are liberals so horrified by Trump? In a purely logical world, they’d support him about as much as they supported Obama. But liberals, and again I mean both liberals and conservatives and even centrists, do not exist in a logical world. Obama was black and that in of itself was supposed to change things. For liberals, it was the end of racism. For conservatives, it was the intensification of racism against whites. For both, it was an opportunity to advance the cause of white supremacy, either by covering it up completely or justifying its active advance.

So why’d Trump win?

It is correct to say that people voted for Trump due to economic anxiety; but one must first recognize the racial lines these economic issues fall upon. Conservatives and centrists were vindicated by Trump. Here was their man, the staunch defender of white interests. McCain was their white man, Romney too, but neither were as vocal about it. Neither made it their cornerstone. None could sweep on this alone like Trump did. The issue was economic. The economic relations have long been racialized. So, economic anxiety caused by racism which is the result of the exploitation of black people for the benefit of whites is what caused people to vote for Trump.

It was both racism and economic anxiety. The two are linked. One cannot exist without the other.

Conservatives and centrists want to deny the racial element and liberals want to deny the economic element, either by ignoring the class struggle completely or putting the obviously secondary identity struggles on par with it. By doing so, all obfuscate the issue so much that they can continue to benefit from class and race exploitation in peace, dealing only with what are effectively nonissues.

Worse than that, all opposition to the bourgeoisie, to capitalism, is cast aside. Conservatives throw themselves to the feet of the bourgeoisie, begging, “Please, slash my wages, bust my union, divide my class, I’ll do anything to stay white!” Liberals, a bit less afraid of change, approach the bourgeoisie and demand, “Let the exploiters be as diverse as the exploited!” As for the centrists? They all pick a side eventually. Thus, the class interests of the bourgeoisie and the racial interests of all whites find protection, insulated by the inescapability of liberal ideology.

I’m Callin’ It Now — Trump Will Win in 2020

The 2016 presidential election was one of the biggest political upsets in American history. Everyone, even Trump supporters, were shocked when Hillary Clinton was defeated by Donald Trump. At the time, I was floored. I still remember sitting in front of my computer watching Google’s real-time election map, my jaw dropping with every new state turning red. Looking back, I’m surprised Clinton did as well as she did. So I’m calling it right now, Trump will be reelected in 2020. Here’s why:

1. Trump’s surprisingly popular

Go on to Twitter, go on to Facebook, go on to Instagram, go anywhere, and search “Trump.” A flood of (well deserved) vitriol and criticism will pour out. People hate Trump. That’s why he has such low approval ratings right? Let’s check.

According to Gallup polls, 40%. Hmm, that’s actually not bad. But okay, maybe they’re wrong. What’s CNN saying? 44%. Oh jeez. Uh… Reuters? 47%. Shit.

Real Clear Politics, taking every poll into consideration, puts Trump’s approval rating at about 44%. That’s astounding. To put that into perspective, by the Summer of 1994, Bill Clinton had a mere 38% approval rating; and that’s a whole point higher than Barack Obama had in the summer of 2010.

Moreover, Trump is untouchable at this point. He said it himself. Remember when he said he could shoot someone and not lose support? Remember thinking that was the end of him? The fact is, his supporters drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago and everyone in the middle has only had time to get used to him.

2. That Blue Wave may not be as big as Democrats think

The moment Trump was elected, it was immediately assumed that, come November, Democrats were going to crush the midterm election. This “Blue Wave” was predicted like the weather. No one doubted it. But Democrats, instead of striking while the iron was hot and showing that they could oppose Trump and stand on their principles, have appeased the man at every turn and done literally nothing to actually appeal to voters. Sure, they’ve gone on and on about the Mueller probe and some Russia nonsense but what has it actually uncovered? Trump’s not a nice man and is mean to women.

Wow. What a bombshell. Who would’ve thought the pussy grabber might mistreat women? Throw that on the pile of things to hate about Trump.

Now I am in no way trying to downplay what Miss Daniels went through. Trump threatened both her and her baby’s life. That is unacceptable and Trump’s dangerous misogyny is symptomatic of a much greater problem which affects every woman in America and which has literally killed women, as well as men.

But what has actually been done here to oppose Trump? His supporters stuck by him through all the “locker room talk“, through all the sexual assault allegations, through Ivana Trump’s claim that Trump raped her. This is all just an attempt to stoke some sense of liberal outrage.

And nothing will ever match conservative outrage.

There’s still no reason to vote Democrat. For all their talk, Democrats have let Trump do whatever he wants. For example, appointing war criminal Gina Haspel as CIA Director. Maybe they’re trying to enrage liberals even more, maybe they’re just spineless, maybe they’re looking forward to the day there’s a Democrat in the White House and they can torture people in peace. Either way, they’re so arrogantly certain they’ll sweep in November that they haven’t done anything to actually earn a Blue Wave.

When Republicans took the House in 2010, they earned it. They had a plan and they obstructed Obama at every turn. They didn’t just talk, they acted. They got voters riled up and then they showed they could take on Obama. As of now, Democrats have only sort of gotten around to that first part.

3. Republicans can’t get rid of Trump and Democrats don’t know how to win

In 2016, Donald Trump should’ve been the easiest man in the country to soundly thrash out of politics. A little organization would’ve easily secured the pretty darn popular Ted Cruz the Republican nomination. Even taking into consideration his unpopularity on Capital Hill, Marco Rubio too could have won. And John Kasich even had some crossover appeal, being pretty moderate by GOP standards. Instead of uniting behind one candidate and saving themselves the embarrassment (and the loss of funds caused by Trump disturbing major Republican donors), the party fractured and had Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, and Bush competing against each other and, oh yeah, Donald Trump. They had a brief window to shut him out but, as Lindsey Graham would later bemoan, they screwed it up. Now, Trump is terminal. There’s no pushing Trump Republicans to the back the way the Tea Partiers were anymore.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. The Democratic nomination quickly came down to only two serious candidates: Bernie Sanders, the one who legitimately inspired working class, minority, and younger voters, and Hillary Clinton, the one with the lifeless eyes, the bad record, and who every non-Democrat abhorred.

As we now know, the Democratic Party “rigged” the election in favor of Clinton, to use Elizabeth Warren’s words. Many have speculated that Sanders would have won if he was nominated. Maybe he would have, maybe he wouldn’t’ve. That much is unimportant. In fact, focusing on it kind of misses the point. He probably would’ve won and the Democrats lost a lot of needed votes with how they handled things, but they should have swept no matter what.

In 2016, Trump did not win. Clinton lost. She spent most of her time campaigning in states that were pretty much guaranteed to go blue. Her campaign simply ignored key battleground states.

Worse yet, there was no reason to vote for Clinton. Much of her campaign was anti-Trump and that was about it. Her most inspiring points were lifted from Sanders. That’s why, even among white women, she failed to get the kind of support Obama had in 2008 or even in 2012.

The Clinton campaign (and, of course, the Democratic Party) was fighting for the status quo. This was a disaster, a completely avoidable, utterly idiotic disaster. The “let’s keep doing what we’re doing” thing barely even worked for Obama who saw a greatly diminished turnout in 2012.

And, as if to alienate and bore voters even more, Clinton chose Tim Kaine, some unknown pro-lifer, to be her running mate. If she had any sense, if she stood for anything besides outward respectability, she would’ve chosen a woman, a feminist, to be her running mate and it would’ve been a huge deal. Her opinion about Clinton aside, it’s not like Elizabeth Warren would’ve turned down a shot at the vice presidency. If she had a woman running mate, maybe did some photo ops with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, it would have actually been pretty cool (ya know, by liberal standards) and very well could’ve galvanized women voters. Instead, we got some moderate man.

Which, speaking of…

4. Joe Kennedy III

Let’s talk about the Massachusetts Representative who’s shaping up to be a major contender for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Joe Kennedy.

This asshole

Joe Kennedy is the human embodiment of why Democrats are going to lose and why they deserve it. Yeah, yeah, he’s a fresh-faced young Kennedy just like John and Bobby who the only kind of looks like Conan O’Brien. But guess what? He’s boring!

Joseph Kennedy III is the blandest human being to ever be considered for the presidency. This saltine cracker is the kind of kid who’d run for student council president every year and lose to the same quarterback who shoves him in his locker. He had one or two decent speeches before absolutely botching his response to Trumps State of the Union address. Yet many liberals still continue to dream about this nerd ending up the president.

Worse than that, ginger boy over here is vehemently against legalizing marijuana, including for medical purposes. And why is that? Because, “If you smelled [marijuana] in a car, you could search a car. When it became decriminalized, you couldn’t do that.” You hear that? White kid thinks it’d be a shame if police were given less of a chance to randomly search your property. In one swift motion, Kennedy has completely alienated young people and minorities.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, you will never be president. You don’t deserve it. You’re boring, you’re behind the times, you’re racist, and you’re part of a political dynasty, something which really turned people off to Clinton. Go home.

5. Liberals have abandoned the people

Ultimately these are all parts of one main problem. The Democratic Party has defected from blue-collar America. And this is not just a problem for Democrats, liberalism as an ideology has left workers, students, and especially marginalized peoples without anything to hold onto and nothing to rally around.

What have Democrats done for working people, for minorities? They’ve never opposed tax cuts for the rich. The Clintons were instrumental in beginning the War on Drugs and the mass incarceration policies which have and continue to devastate black and Latinx communities. Hillary Clinton herself is a vocal warmonger. Obama never supported Black Lives Matter until it was politically impossible not to, and even then he still supported Blue Lives Matter legislature. He never fulfilled his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, hugely inflated military spending, escalated military presence overseas, especially in Africa, and ICE under Trump is little different than it was under Obama.

And when Democrats finally faced some consequences for their actions in 2016, did they ever once turn inward and look at themselves and their platform? No. What did they do instead? They placed all the blame on workers. They claimed Trump won by appealing to the “white working class” and was helped by people “wasting their vote” on third-party candidates. Objectively, this wasn’t true. It was wealthy landed whites who voted Trump into office. Workers were more likely to vote for Clinton than rich voters. But this didn’t matter. It was all too easy for liberals to retreat into classism.

As for the handful of liberals attempting to actually do anything, the #Resistance has been laughable. The Women’s Marches, perhaps the largest and most well-organized protests against the Trump administration were extremely problematic. The pink pussy hats alienated trans people and, when this was brought up, white TERFs came out of the woodwork to promptly shout out trans people and allies, using transphobic and racist slurs with shocking regularity both in person and online. Moreover, it cannot be overlooked that the majority of attendees were, in fact, white, well-off, and took it upon themselves to speak over people of color.

Hey look, liberals and Trump agreeing on something!

Indeed, liberalism’s most repugnant offspring was the first on the scene, opposing Trumps hate with its own. This bastard child is, of course, white feminism or what I would prefer to call bourgeois feminism. In addition to being trans-exclusionary, transphobic, and more often than not racist, the goal of white/bourgeois feminism is not to liberate women from sexist oppression and inequality but simply to replace the boot on our necks with a high heel. Case in point, the dogmatic support for the historically anti-feminist Hillary Clinton and even the fascist Marine Le Pen.

More recently there’s been the March for Our Lives protests which, as a movement, has remained wholly unaware of its privilege. It’s only as well known and respected as it is because it has white faces up front and it’s completely left black kids behind. Cops and military personnel were an active part of March for Our Lives for god’s sake! Liberals were fine with Obama’s Shadow War and a militarized police force. Why is it that arming the citizenry, the people of color, the women, the LGBTQIA communities, and the workers, the line not to be crossed? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, any movement to disarm citizens but not the police and the military is white supremacist. Liberals might know this if they didn’t abandon Black Lives Matter the minute it actually challenged their privilege.

Liberals have outright refused to do anything for workers and marginalized peoples. This isn’t anything new. It’s certainly not Clinton or Obama’s fault. Martin Luther King Jr. himself said just that in Letter from a Birmingham Jail back in 1963.

The Democrats are done. They have no appeal. They have nothing to offer workers or minorities but more sensitive oppression and exploitation. All they do and have ever done is appeal those privileged few who worry about looking respectable. And, as we’ve seen with Trump, most of the privileged don’t care that much about respectability.

At the end of the day, there’s no one working for the workers, there’s no one representing the unrepresented. Until liberals stoop down to the level of us plebeians, they can expect nothing more than defeat and irrelevancy. That is why Trump will win in 2020.

Liberals Need to Get Real on Russiagate

With the utterly unsurprising reelection of Vladimir Putin and the ever plummeting approval rating of alleged Kremlin puppet Donald Trump, Russia has been put in the cross hairs of western politicians and media outlets yet again. Not since the McCarthy era have Americans been so worried about Russians meddling in American affairs. Let’s not mince words, Russiagate is birtherism for liberals. It was ridiculous to suggest that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. It’s ridiculous to suggest that, as Huffington Post columnist Robert Kuttner put it, “Trump literally became president in a Russia-sponsored coup d’etat.”

Of Memes and Money

According to Advertising Age, political campaign ads in the 2016 presidential election cost a whopping $9.8 billion. Meanwhile, the Russian propaganda that’s apparently destroying US democracy cost about $100,000 in a span of years to put up on Facebook.

These ads were little more than memes, grainy stock photos with misspelled captions. “Hillary is Satan!” “Sharia in America!” “Democrats for open borders!” “They’ll kill patriots and Christians!” It was nothing different than what right wingers have whispered for years and been made fun of for. Not exactly Russia’s best work

But what of their tactics? Former Hillary Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon told the Washington Post, “It seems like the creative instincts and the sophistication exceeds a lot of the US political operatives who do this for a living.” So what did they do exactly?

Well, they tried to target disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters, workers in Middle America, and anyone in battleground states. Ignoring the fact that Trump himself said that was his strategy, all they managed to figure out was that some voters were more persuadable than others.

I honestly don’t understand how people aren’t embarrassed to suggest that thirteen dudes with an okay grasp of the English language ran a better campaign than a former secretary of state and her team of moneyed professionals.

Going Low

By far the most disturbing aspect of the Russiagate scandal is that liberals have proven themselves to be exactly as bad as conservatives.

Every liberal in America felt disgust and amusement as conservative zealots blamed climate change and gun violence on Black Lives Matter and George Soros, alluding to some vast communist conspiracy. Now they’re doing the same thing. Where conservatives saw Muslims controlling Obama, liberals see Russians controlling Trump.

Guess which sign was made by a liberal and which was made by a conservative.

This kind of thing is all too familiar and shows us the hard truth about the Cold War – it never ended and it was never about ideology.

The Cold War was only ever about controlling the eastern European and Eurasian markets. Hell, Putin likely would not be president today if the International Monetary Fund didn’t facilitate the pillaging of the former Soviet Union, creating the perfect conditions for a strong man to take power and challenge US and NATO imperialism.

Though the Russian Federation is unabashedly capitalist, their foreign policy motivations have remained nearly unchanged since 1949. When we see the conflict in Ukraine and Syria, when we see spy dramas play out in real life, when we see Americans (and Brits) across the political spectrum being called Russian or communist agents, this is simply a continuation of the Cold War. Russiagate and all related controversies are just more battles in our war of words.

And the blatant Russophobia goes back even further.

Left: cartoon by Steve Bell, 2018. Right: Nazi anti-Bolshevik propaganda, 1935.

Liberals have once again shown their true colors. Actual injustice, the exact things so-called “progressives” should be outraged over, are being dismissed as hoaxes, fabricated stories made by Russian operatives.

Take the continued controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Violating a treaty with Native Americans, having had five spills after only six months of operation, and having Trump’s express approval, this should be a huge rallying point for environmentalists, civil rights activists, and Democrats across the country. The violence against protesters by the police alone should inspire the same kind of outrage Black Lives Matters was able to harness.

And for a brief moment it did, Obama actually blocked the pipeline before leaving office. But this was only to protect his image. He knew Trump would unblock it as soon as he took office. Of course, this was extremely unpopular but, fortunately for them and the oil companies, the entire thing was chalked up to a conspiracy spread by Russian trolls.

But that’s nothing compared to the shameless hypocrisy of crying at the possibility of a foreign power interfering with US politics while supporting violent regime change in Syria, Venezuela, and the DRP of Korea. Just during the Cold War the US attempted to change at least 72 governments, most of which were democratically elected reformist governments.

Democrats have stood right beside Republicans during all of it. Whether it’s Vietnam or Iraq, going to war has been almost exclusively a bipartisan effort. Hillary Clinton herself was an outspoken war hawk, supporting military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, the overthrow the government of Libya, and military intervention in Syria and Yemen. Though less outspoken about it, President Obama only increased US military presence in Pakistan, Syria, and especially Africa.

Liberals, I’m speaking directly to you now

If you actually want change and progress then you have to stop it with the conspiracy theory nonsense which has so isolated the Republican Party and embrace principled resistance to the right wing. Return to the anti-war platform. Return to social justice. Embrace actual leftist ideology.

Stay away from baseless accusations and xenophobia. You’re only hurting yourself as well as every marginalized people, the working class, and the world.

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