By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk” Nov. 6, 2020)
“Our choice is between Donald Trump, a neo-fascist catastrophe, and Joe Biden, a neo-liberal disaster.” — Dr Cornel West.
America’s democracy is unravelling before our very eyes. Before the elections, Trump told his well-armed neo-fascist supporters to “stand down and stand by”. He openly race-baited his opponents and called Black and brown people nasty names, hitherto unheard in national presidential discourse.
His opponents, the democratic establishment, led by Barrack Obama, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, the congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses as well as the liberal media, refused to take Trump seriously in 2016, and failed to offer any real alternative policy or programmes to Trump’s anti-worker policies and racism.
They preferred to portray Trump as a clown who narrowly and skilfully “sneaked” to victory in 2016 and reasoned this could never happen again. As Trump’s administration mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, which up to Election Day had claimed more than 230,000 U.S. lives, they salivated at the prospect of a “Democratic Tsunami” in which Biden will moonwalk into the White House, and a shellacking of the Republicans in congressional races for the House and the Senate.
How quickly they forgot that Donald Trump won every white demographic in 2016: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, rural and urban, young and old, men and women. His base remained unshakably solid.
In contrast, rather than take the policy battle to Trump and the Republicans to stake out real differences between the parties, the Democrats wasted three years investigating an elusive bogeyman: Russian interference in the 2016 elections and the virtual impossible attempt at removing Trump from the executive office through impeachment.
All the while the Republican band played on. The economy recovered, the stock market soared and unemployment, albeit with low-paying, unsecured jobs, took a dive. Trump in four years named over 200 judges to lifetime positions in the federal judiciary. To understand the transformation, President Obama appointed fewer judges in his eight years. He appointed pro-industry officials to crucial federal agencies such as labour and the environment that will do untold harm to the country’s well-being. With the replacement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Amy Coney Barrett, he has consolidated a six-member conservative wing on the US Supreme Court that will influence law and justice for at least the next generation.
Clearly, the Democratic establishment has thrown in its lot with the money class and couldn’t care less about the poor and working people of the United States. It assaulted and lampooned progressive ideas, which called for a living wage of at least $15 per hour and a Green New Deal that was intended to move the country and the world away from fossil fuel and towards a more friendly environment, especially in light of the dangers of global warming and climate change.
In addition, the democratic establishment sabotage of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the second election cycle turned off many young voters who related to Sanders’ call for universal health care, free tuition for college student, forgiveness on student loans, cut in the military budget and a tax on the wealthy in light of the
growing wealth inequality envelopes the United States.
The Republicans have made into a fine art the corruption of the democratic process, particularly the gerrymandering of congressional districts to continue their dominance as well as the intimidation and suppression of black and brown voters. These suppression practices are most pronounced in key states like Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, Ohio and Michigan. It is beyond comprehension that the Democrats never seriously pushed back against these anti-democratic practices.
It is that failure of the Democratic establishment that has the United States in the sad and frightening situation it finds itself. We are witnessing in plain view the intellectual death of the liberal class. Biden may yet pull off a narrow victory, but his neoliberal policies will not bring employment, social, economic or health relief to the suffering majority.
Economic inequality is at an all-time high. The richest 100 U.S. citizens earn more money than the bottom 50% of the nation’s citizens. The Democrats have failed miserably to offer a narrative, programmes and policies that clearly and definitively separate themselves from the Republicans. With all the bad news surrounding the health crisis in the United States the Republicans seem poised to maintain control of the senate and to reduce the Democratic majority of the house.
The sad state of affair in US politics begs this question: what evidence could we possibly point to that proves that its Republicans and not the Democrats who inspire the worse in people? Would it not be true to conclude that the Democrats and Republicans are two separate wings of the rich man’s party?
There is something else at play in politics in the US and may have some relevance for elections her in SVG as well. It appears that people are no longer voting on policy and programmes and the objective conditions in the country, but rather elections are akin to participation in a polarised team sport with individuals making ultimate life and death decisions, based on tribal affinities rather than personal, community and national interest.
Make no mistake! Trump and the Republicans constitute a grave danger to the world. Trump has shown that he is prepared to blame anyone or anything other than himself or his Republican administration for many local and international problems. He pulled off the Paris Climate Accord, thus completely disregarding the existential threat posed by global warming, scapegoated and withdrew funding and membership from the World Health Organization and blamed it for the COVID-19 pandemic, and picked a fight with China, the economic giant and rival. Worse for developing countries, as witnessed in Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Palestine, he is prepared to commit economic aggression and strangulation even at the risk of condemning entire populations to mass hunger and deprivation.
Dr. Cornel West describes our dilemma well. We are forced to settle for a neo-liberal disaster rather than endure another four years of Trump, the neo-fascist catastrophe. If Trump prevails the world mash-up.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].