Here is the great irony in our politics today.
We resist the idea of structuring America’s economic policy in such a way that the middle and lower classes would see their incomes, education and opportunities rise. But this is precisely the action that would help the people we are growing so fearful of. A new “new deal” might take the edge off of the new authoritarian surge on the right wing that is taking over the Republican Party, by alleviating many of the pains that they currently suffer.
And we love to pretend they are not suffering, but they are. Real fears begotten of real troubles. And now some folks are finding ways of channeling those fears into anger at things and people that of course have nothing to do with their troubles. A very dangerous trend to be sure, and one we must be creative in solving.
It is tempting to push instead to maintain the neoliberal status quo, fighting to preserve gains made in the fight for social equality while preserving American economic dominance on the global stage. Awesome. Sounds great, right? Problem is: this agenda offers nothing to those struggling folks who are right now drowning in their fears for the future.
These are the people — the fearful — drawn to Donald Trump’s platform of authoritarian rule and control. And these are the people we need to reach the most. And I’m telling you: he is only the beginning. If he doesn’t win, more like him will follow, with greater and greater numbers.
If we don’t find ways of including the lower income folks — not just in the rust belt or the south; no: throughout this country — in our plans for the evolving future, which will absolutely see millions of jobs lost to automation and outsourcing, the struggling people in this country will continue to gravitate toward men who provide scapegoats, and who promise to divide and rule by force.
We are asking many of the right questions, but missing one of the most important ones. We need to be asking both Bernie and Hillary: what will you do to bring the fearful lower classes — who are right now subscribing in droves to the politics of hate — into the fold?
We vilify and castigate them instead of reaching out, imagining them as (to quote my acquaintance Dileep Rao who recently shared some powerful thoughts on this) “inconvenient corpses to be cast aside,” and we miss the fact that they are a part of a growing social movement that will not simply go away if Trump loses.
The great irony is this: as today’s Trump followers grow in numbers and in vitriol, those of us both on the left and right who abhor such movements further strive to protect our gains, and dig our heels in against them. Yet the only way to be sure of defending against their burgeoning fascism and inevitable tyranny is to join them in the one thing they are rightfully angry about: their marginalization.
Chris Hedges said it best:
There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised — the “losers” — back into the economy and political life of the country.