The trope of supporting the Democratic Party as the lesser of two evils has proven to be a huge failure. Barack Obama epitomized the foolishness of this political choice. As Black Agenda Report pointed out he was not less evil than Republican presidents. He was just the more effective evil. As the first black president and with the Democrats’ undeserved reputation as the party of justice and peace, he was able to get away with more evil doing than any other president in recent memory.
Donald Trump is just the opposite. He is openly evil and successfully appealed to 60 million voters in spite of, or in some cases, because of that fact. In little more than one week Trump has moved forward on his pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border, repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it, build the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines, and ban immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
His executive order banning citizens of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq from entering the United States generated immediate outrage and a swell of popular action. What went unnoticed is that citizens of these seven nations were first chosen for scrutiny and travel restrictions by Barack Obama.
Trump’s executive order only mentions Syria by name and includes other “countries of concern,” a term that is an Obama administration contrivance. Visa waivers no longer applied to people who visited any of these countries. Even persons with dual citizenships were subjected to these restrictions which amounted to nothing more than war by other means. All seven of these countries have at various times been subjected to American aggression. They have all been attacked with military action, proxy wars and sanctions. America makes countries unlivable and then tells fleeing victims that the door is shut.
The Trump team’s amateurishness turned the immigration ban into a public relations problem. They did not anticipate popular outcry, demonstrators converging on airports and lawsuits filed to protect people who just 24 hours earlier were legally able to enter the country. Some were freed in the ensuing chaos but others were detained or stranded and unable to enter the country. Federal judges ruled against it in a variety of ways and the acting attorney general finally declared that the Justice Department would not defend the executive order. Trump responded by firing her.
But these temporary setbacks should not be seen as a complete victory nor should they result in support for the Democrats. The ham fisted Donald Trump did what others have done before him. He benefited from policies enacted by predecessors and gave himself wider latitude to carry out human rights abuses. Bush claimed a right to indefinitely detain anyone he considered a terror suspect. Obama took this doctrine one step further. He claimed and acted upon a right to kill anyone he deemed a terror suspect. The NSEERS policy which subjected men from 25 countries to travel restrictions and extra scrutiny began with Bush but was continued under Obama for two years. Obama did not dismantle the program completely until he was on the verge of leaving office.
The response to this crisis must include an honest assessment of the Democratic Party and its role in creating it. The Democrats’ treachery and ineptitude which brought Trump to power has still not been discussed thoroughly and should be on the agenda for any and all discussions. Right wing Democrats like Cory Booker should not be let off the hook because they showed up at an airport making an obvious case for following immigration law. This same man turned his back on the wishes of his supporters and instead followed the dictates of his corporate backers when he thwarted a plan to bring cheaper drugs into the country. The politicians who put their thumbs on the scale for the unethical and incompetent Hillary Clinton also must explain themselves. This needed conversation cannot be lost in the effort to fight Trump.
No one should think that the Democratic Party will be able to capitalize on this situation or anything else Trump presents to them. One can also assume that his 60 million voters are quite happy with this decision and will applaud him for making it. There isn’t necessarily a downside for Trump in getting bad press when his would-be opponents are hapless and won’t admit that their implosion handed him the presidency.
It is a good thing that so many people rose up against presidential law breaking. But that presents yet another contradiction. This resistance will be valuable only if it results in mass action against the larger political system. Selective amnesia for Hillary Clinton or other Democrats will not do. Appeals to the phony clarion call for lesser evilism should not be the response to Trump administration policies.
It is good to fight for humane treatment of Syrians but their rights should be respected whether they are at an American airport or in Damascus. They leave their homeland because Obama administration policy destroyed their country in the frenzy for regime change and that must not be forgotten. The silence of Obama supporters during the commission of this war crime should not be forgotten either.
The ruling classes prefer Obamaesque evil over Trump’s for obvious reasons. They need a president who can commit wrongdoing with a smile, not with a sneer. We the people shouldn’t be fooled by either one. The story of the immigration executive order is a test case for progressives. Will they fight by returning to a discredited party or will they fight to create something new?
Democratic senators ought to reject every Trump appointee still awaiting confirmation. They must act like the Republicans do when they are out of power. Until the immigration executive order some Democrats, like progressive heroine Elizabeth Warren, were supporting some Trump nominees. The “going along to get along” must end. But so should support for the Democrats. People who raced to the airport to try to help their fellow human beings should look elsewhere and kill off the incompetent lesser evil for good.
Democrats owe their members more than just speaking up when Trump commits an illegal act. That is just a starting point. The Trump presidency is proof of the Democratic Party’s irrelevance. Its failure is proof that new politics are needed. Claims of lesser/greater evil must not rule the day. All of the evil must be excised no matter where it comes from.