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Are we all just grinding our own axe? Photo by Jason Abdilla on Unsplash

What Happened In This Election?

Hatred of Democrats was nearly as intense as hatred of Trump. Dems need to ask themselves why, and find a way forward.

Mike Troiano
Nov 29, 2020 · 7 min read

Trump was nearly as successful at making the election a referendum on Democrats as Democrats were at making it a referendum on Trump.

The record turnout in this election was more a measure of the intense anger on both sides than of the intense patriotism on either, like 150 million Americans each grinding their own axe. What happened in the end was a little more than half of us voted against Trump, and a little less than half of us voted against Democrats. That’s why, win or lose, we all feel so miserable.

How We Got Here

To figure out how we got here, you need to start with a fresh look at not only racism, but the way people respond to being accused of it.

In 2020 America both parties are bent by the gravity of racism, with one determined to exploit it regardless of the consequences, and the other intent on condemning it regardless of its universality.

Democrats are right to champion these things, but foolish to do so in a way that prevents them from accumulating the power to do something about it. Republicans, on the other hand, are willing to do whatever it takes to accumulate power. Donald Trump, who first looked like an uninvited guest at the GOP lawn party, in fact turned out to be the ultimate expression of their cynicism.

Trump’s Gift

I met Trump briefly, and it’s true that he’s charming and funny in person. He really understands media, and knows instinctively how to entertain the large number of people who’ve embraced the mythology he created around himself.

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“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming, or tedious.” ~ Oscar Wilde. Photo: Napoleon Sarony, via Wikimedia Commons.

Medicine, or Candy?

Democrats painted the election as a contest between the oppressors and the oppressed, then asked voters to side with the latter… which — lets be honest — nobody really wants to do.

What Needs To Happen Next

An election is a contest of narratives. I believe the Democrats should have advanced a different one, and that in two years they’ll need to not only to take another shot at the Senate but to hang onto control of the House. That narrative is this:

Rich elites are working hard to protect their place atop an unfair system by dividing Americans along racial lines. To beat them we need to come together as working people, to implement common sense policies that make our families safer, our jobs more secure, and our nation more united.

The big difference between this narrative and the one Democrats are using today is the calling out of what Ian Haney López calls “strategic racism.” Strategic racism is racism deployed as a means toward hidden political ends, and in addition to being accurate in this case, it helps to shift the dynamic from a contest between people of color and their White allies to one between a united multi-ethnic front of working people and the emergent oligarchs who’ve been their real oppressors all along. We know this message works because it’s the reason Minnesota shifted from purple to blue.

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Mike Troiano

Written by

Venture storyteller, wartime consiglieri, lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own. http://about.me/miketrap

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

Mike Troiano

Written by

Venture storyteller, wartime consiglieri, lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own. http://about.me/miketrap

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

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