On March 11, 2016 hundreds of people in Chicago gathered to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The billionaire reality television star has unleashed the barely concealed angst and fury of white America. He calls for preventing Muslims from entering the United States and for building an even bigger wall on the Mexican border to stop immigration there. He was forced to renounce the support of the KKK and he continues to make racist statements about “the blacks.”
The Chicago actions brought together young and old in a multi-racial coalition. It was wonderful to see a gathering of black Americans and Latinos and whites and at least one person with a flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle.
Trump is a lightning rod and rightly so but he should not become the only one. Hillary Clinton is no less terrible and if Trump is the nominee she will become even worse. At a recent debate neither she nor Bernie Sanders were willing to call Trump a racist. The Donald Trump phenomenon has already created an even more rightward shift among the Democrats. They want support from white people who have been yearning for someone to come out of their closet and openly make the case for white nationalism.
Trump has bested other Republican candidates because he gets to the heart of the matter for the white people’s party. While others pursue an agenda crafted by pollsters in focus groups he speaks directly to those who have been called the silent majority or Reagan Democrats. Gun rights are more about white people being in physical control of the black population. Abortion restrictions are intended to make white women have more babies. Evangelical Christians believe in America’s ultimate religion, white supremacy, more than they believe in anything else.
Trump has made all of these issues irrelevant because he tells white people that he will make them and their issues number one again. Republicans didn’t become the party of white America with talk of tax cuts for the rich. The masses of their voters don’t really care about that. The system which destroyed living wage jobs has upended their lives too and neither party speaks to that need.
Unfortunately, Trump lets the Democrats off the hook because his racism gives them an out. They love free trade deals just like the Republicans do. They eagerly conspire with Republicans on governmental austerity and none of them are anti-war. Their crimes are now ignored because they have Trump to point to as the new bogeyman. The Chicago protests should be replicated around the country but not just against Trump.
Trump opposed the invasion of Iraq. He has since backtracked but he spoke of a need to be even handed with Israel. He has said that Social Security is fine the way it is and he has no plans to change it. He initially wasn’t disparaging of Obamacare and expressed concern about not letting people “die in the streets.” He opposes trade deals like NAFTA which have sent jobs overseas in the neoliberal inspired race to the bottom. All of these issues put him to the left of Hillary Clinton, who must also become the target of protest.
Progressives were aghast when Trump said he would kill terrorist suspects and their families. Of course Barack Obama already did that when he performed an extra-judicial execution on Anwar al-Awlaki and his son. The same people who feign shock at Trump are silent regarding Democratic criminality. The same week that Chicagoans took to the street against Trump, the Obama administration killed 150 people in Somalia in an air strike. We were told they were taking part in a “terrorist graduation ceremony.” There is no indication of a commencement speaker or caps and gowns but those people are dead and Trump isn’t even in the White House.
Every four years the public are distracted with the high level foolishness inherent in an American presidential campaign. The corporate media and the two largest political parties work together to bring endless coverage of candidates who differ very little from one another and use double speak and code words to assure the ruling class that they won’t change very much at all.
The low hanging fruit of open bigotry should not be the only galvanizing force for progressives. The whole political system must be protested. The people need to be up in arms over many issues and not just the ignorant ruminations of one boorish man rich enough to pay for his own campaign.
The left have no friends among the Democrats or Republicans. The quadrennial circus side show is a very dangerous distraction. Instead it should be a time to gain political insight and maturity. It is time to shut down Trump and Hillary too.