Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Electoral Theatre: Tragedy and Farce

Elections are often accused of being a distraction. The choices offered are superficial and it doesn't really matter too much which political faction gets the majority and who gets the top spot. Society will continue ticking over, the powerful as a group (the capitalists since this is the 21st century) will still be dominant in society (though to be honest a few will lose out) and we'll get to go through it all again in a few years.

It looks like 2016 will be a more transparent example of this then we usually get. Remember how Trump portrayed himself as an outsider and vowed not to be beholden to lobbyists?

“I don’t want any strings attached,” Trump said. “I turned down $5 million last week from a very important lobbyist because there are total strings attached to a thing like that.
 “He’s going to come to me in a year or two years,” he added. “And he’s going to want something for a country that he represents or a company that he represents. That’s the kind of money I won’t take.”
That was on the 23rd August 2015.

Well, guess Trump did what Americans call a pivot because his transition team is stacked with corporate lobbyists.

But the Trump transition team is a who’s who of influence peddlers, including: energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort.
Looks like big business is back in business already.

And looks like we can forget about the banning of Muslims

Before: Mr Trump initially promised to ban all Muslims entering the US, but switched to "extreme vetting" after he became the party's presidential candidate.
In a campaign statement in December 2015, he said a "total and complete" shutdown should remain until the US authorities "can figure out" Muslim attitudes to the US.
In August 2016, he said he would enact "extreme vetting" of immigrants.
After: The immigration section of Mr Trump's website makes no mention of this pledge.

Oh an remember how pundits and journalists in the UK and the USA, (and probably elsewhere, I'm sure I saw a few German and French magazine covers on the same lines) were calling this the most bitter and acrimonious Presidential election campaign in history? With Clinton calling Trump un fit to be President and his supporters were `a basket of deplorables`

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
And of course Trump wasn't shy in dishing out the insults, I honestly lost count of the times Trump publicly called Clinton corrupt and threatened to put her in jail so here's just a random example from their second debate.

Trump, embracing the spirit of the “lock her up” mob chants at his rallies, threatened: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation – there has never been so many lies and so much deception,” he threatened.
Clinton said it was “awfully good” that someone with the temperament of Trump was not in charge of the law in the country, provoking another Trump jab: “Because you’d be in jail.”
“She got caught in a total lie and now she is blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln,” added Trump as Clinton attempted to defend leaked Wall Street speech transcripts.

And of course current President Obama waded in saying;

“I think I was right and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job. And had they won, I would have been disappointed but I would have said to all Americans: this is our president and I know they’re going to abide by certain norms and rules and common sense, will observe basic decency, will have enough knowledge about economic policy and foreign policy and our constitutional traditions and rule of law that our government will work and then we’ll compete four years from now to try and win an election.
“But that’s not the situation here. And that’s not just my opinion. That is the opinion of many prominent Republicans. There has to come a point at which you say enough. The alternative is that the entire party, the Republican party, effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated by Mr Trump. And as I said in my speech last week, I don’t think that actually represents the views of a whole lot of Republicans.”
Emphasis added.

These are all just a few examples I skimmed from memory, and as someone who doesn't live in America I was thankfully spared the constantly hourly barrage of election coverage of the past year, so this is really just the tip of the bickering ice berg.

But that was a pre November 8th world, after the election things are very different. After Clinton conceded this is what President Elect Donald Trump had to say

I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us. It’s about us. On our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign.
I mean, she fought very hard. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.
I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
Emphasis added

And this wasn't a one off attempt to appear gracious in victory, a few days later in an interview Trump continued dishing out the compliments.

“It was a lovely call and it was a tough call for her,” Trump said in the interview, that will air Sunday. “I can imagine. Tougher for her than it would have been for me.”
“I mean, for me, it would have been very, very difficult,” he continued. “She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, ‘Congratulations, Donald, well done.'”
Trump revealed that former President Bill Clinton called him on Thursday night to offer his congratulations.
“He couldn’t have been more gracious,” the president-elect said. “He said it was an amazing run. One of the most amazing he’s ever seen.”
And I've had a look at Trump's proposal for his first one hundred as a full fledged President, and so far I've not been able to find any reference to locking up Hillary Clinton, or even run her out of DC on a rail. It's almost like he's forgotten one of the main reason he argued the American people should vote for him over her.

And again Trump is not an exception her, indeed the spirit of peace seems to be catching like a winter flu. Clinton is now calling for unity under President Trump.

Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.
Remember during the campaign trail she sad that Trump was the head of a movement that had empowered "The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it." now though she's prepared to work with deplorable coalition?

And Obama the man Trump is replacing in January had this to say

"We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.
"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember we're actually all on one team. We're Americans first, we're patriots first, we all want what's best for this country." 

What happened to you thinking Trump was worse than Romney and McCain, and how you'd be prepared to work with them (whatever that means) but not Trump?

Now this may seem a bit small given that Trump's election win has spurred on an increase in hate crimes since he broke the 270 threshold. But its worth bringing up because this a pretty transparent case of the big three politicians in the United States lying. They lied to their base, they lied to the poor sods who put time effort and money into their campaigns, they lied to the US public, and they lied to the world.

If Obama and Clinton were being sincere before the elections then what they're doing is capitulation to the greatest threat to American democracy they've ever seen. If they're being sincere now after the election than they were deliberately smearing an opponent in a divisive and potentially dangerous fashion.

On the other hand if  Trump was being honest before the election than his inviting of lobbyists into his inner circle and lack of interest in locking up Clinton (a woman who he said repeatedly was the greatest threat to America at present) is just an early sign of his capitulation to the status quo. Making his populist outsider status void after two days (at best) of celebrating, and two months before he's even in the job proper.

Or alternatively his post election moderation is closer to how he really feels, and like the Democrats he's guilty of the same under handed scaremongering and manipulation of his own support base. People who dedicated a significant portion of their time energy and money into getting him a lucrative and powerful new job.

 Still there is something of a silver lining in all this. This additional example of politicians being slippery then a barrel full of jellied eels seems to be a case of diminishing returns. The overall number of votes cast was slightly higher than in 2012, but turnout was down, and both the Republican and Democratic vote dropped, with the Democrats plummeting losing around 6 million votes.

It should be kept in mind that this was an election where both sides were painting the other as an inherent danger to the Republic and practically the antichrist. Hell some in the Republican party went a step further and said Hillary Clinton was literally the antichrist.

That provocative question headlines a new Jennifer LeClaire column for Charisma, which promotes what she calls a “documentary” titled “Hillary Clinton – The Antichrist Or the Illuminati Witch?”
 So for so the lack of response by so many people to these tactics is kind of surprising. Whether this is evidence of trend leading towards a rupture between the people and the political machines that run America remains to be seen. Though another more encouraging sign is the response of ordinary citizens.

Currently much of the news coverage from the USA has been dominated by the Anti-Trump protests that have erupted all over the country.

The protests have clearly rejected the conciliatory overtures of the Democratic establishment and its reassuring to see that the rise of a man like Trump isn't going unopposed. In many countries elected governments have been brought down or forced to shelve key policy ideas in the face of such opposition. It's often said that Richard Nixon the most hated President in American history(so far anyway) went from the most Conservative President ever to the most liberal because the domestic opposition was so severe he was forced to attempt to break by making multiple concessions (ending the Draft, forming the Environmental Protection Agency, détente with the Soviet Union and reconciliation with China etc.) and Trump has already indicated that he's abandoning or at least watering down a number of his key platform pledges without any opposition at all.

I think overall the lesson of 2016 with examples from France, Poland and now the USA is that workers have a lot more power than they realise and its a mistake to leave it to professional politicians, even the ones telling you what you wanted to hear when touting for votes.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

2016 = 1933?

The new German Chancellor addresses a crowd in January 1933

In the run up to November I kept stumbling upon antsy Democrats trying to drum up support, though weirdly this tailed off the closer we got to the 8th of November. One popular tactic was to remind everyone about a little nation called Germany and the year of our lord Nineteen Hundred and Thirty Three. Basically comparing the United States Presidential elections of 2016 to the German Federal elections of 1933. The message being only a united vote can stop Fascism.

This argument has been used in the UK in the early to mid 2000's when the BNP vote was on the rise and they got a few council seats too.

The Election of 1933

This argument is simply false, the rise of Nazism in Germany really had little to do with the elections of 1933. At best NSDAP's vote share help cement an already established government. The elections were held on the 5th of March 1933 and here's the results.


Votes % Seats +/–
National Socialist German Workers Party 17,277,180 43.91 288 +92
Social Democratic Party of Germany 7,181,629 18.25 120 –1
Communist Party of Germany 4,848,058 12.32 81 –19
Centre Party 4,424,905 11.25 73 +3
Black-White-Red Struggle Front (DNVP)[a] 3,136,760 7.97 52 +1
Bavarian People's Party 1,073,552 2.73 19 –1
German People's Party 432,312 1.10 2 –9
Christian Social People's Service 383,999 0.98 4 –1
German State Party 334,242 0.85 5 +3
German Farmers' Party 114,048 0.29 2 –1
Agricultural League 83,839 0.21 1 –1
German-Hanoverian Party 47,743 0.12 0 –1
Socialist Struggle Community 3,954 0.01 0 New
Workers' and Farmers' Struggle Community 1,110 0.00 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 311,698
Total 39,655,029 100 647 +63
Registered voters/turnout 44,685,764 88.74

So yes the Nazi's did very well staying the largest party and increasing their vote share. However as you can see they didn't get an outright majority and the second and third parties the Social Democrats (SPD) and Communists (KPD) were in vehement opposition. But really it didn't matter much either way, since Hitler had already been Chancellor since the 30th of January that year, and already begun co-opting the German state machinery by staffing it with Nazi members and sympathisers, and had already launched a campaign of terror and repression throughout the nation against his enemies.

Ernst Thalmann the leader of the KPD was already under arrest as were around 4,000 senior party members including the Reichstag members. The Reichstag Fire Decree passed six days before the election had effectively made the party virtually illegal, and Hitler's large army of SA storm troopers (Over two million members by 1932) had been hard at work with the assistance of the German police the elections were no barrier to the Nazi regime.

In addition to direct collaboration from some police forces, Hitler had appointed 50,000 SA members as "Hilfspolizei" ("Auxiliary Police") officers who worked with regular police.
In Prussia Herman Goring had become Interior Minister giving the Nazi party direct control over the largest police force in the country and he wasted no time turning the territory into a police state smashing all public opposition to the Nazi party.

 In keeping with the purpose and aim of the decree the additional measures … will be directed against the Communists in the first instance, but then also against those who co-operate with the Communists and who support or encourage their criminal aims… I would point out that any necessary measures against members or establishments of other than Communist, anarchist or Social Democratic parties can only be justified by the decree … if they serve to help the defense against such Communist activities in the widest sense.
Within the next two weeks (so before, during and after the March 33 elections) the Nazi party moved to replace the interior ministers of the other German states with party members and Prussian style repression was quickly repeated throughout the nation. The main target was the KPD but as Goring made clear in his instructions to the Prussian police the entire German labour movement was also a target.

And of course all newspapers supporting the KPD and its "allies" like the SPD Vorwärts or the pro Trotsky Permanente Revolution newspapers were banned.

The Enabling Act

The focus of some who raise the spectre of 33 isn't the election itself but on the vote for the Enabling Act amendment to the Weimar Constitution. The act helpfully made much of what Hitler wanted to do legal, and therefore further consolidation of his power. Though it should be kept in mind that Hitler was a man in charge of a party that embarked on an armed uprising in 1928, and had carried assault, murder and intimidation on a national scale for years, so clearly legalism wasn't a deal breaker for him and his mates.

But Hitler did consider the passage of the act important enough to negotiate with others, so let's assume defeat in the hall would have been a concrete blow to the Nazi's. How likely was such and even with a united SPD/KPD opposition slate?

Hitler needed a super majority or two thirds of the new Reichstag, and as we've seen from the vote table above, they didn't get that many seats. But here's the problem, the Nazi's were not alone. NSDAP had entered into a coalition with Conservative DNVP giving it roughly 51% of the seats. It then entered into agreements with all the other parties in Reichstag including the fourth largest Catholic Centre party to get the votes needed to pass the act. So could a united Left part block this coaliton?

The answer is no, assuming like the Nazi's did that a vote for the SPD would go to the KPD or vice versa if one of the parties wasn't on the ballot and the two parties vote share's would be combined totally in this united front, (kinda unlikely given the two parties history of hostility) their vote and seat share would have been less one third at around 30%. Of course that's assuming all these elected members would have been allowed in. In reality no KPD members were allowed there to vote, they were busy fleeing or being arrested. The only party that opposed the act was the SPD and not all of their 120 members voted against it either, the vote was 444 in favour and 94 (all SPD members)  against. The over 26 members were in the chamber because they were also being targeted by the Nazi's for repression.

And to refer briefly to 2016, this hypothetical argument is the one thing that 2016 and 1933 have in common. There was a de facto united front against Donald Trump even numbers of Republicans broke ranks to side with the Democrats who had the support of the CPUSA. And it still didn't matter, this united electoral front failed miserably.  And in 1936 the Popular Front slate in Spain successfully defeated the right wing parties in the elections and all that happened was that the right wing launched a coup attempt and when that failed resorted to launching a full scale civil war.

So if we were to travel to another dimension where the only difference was in Weimar Germany the SPD and KPD formed an electoral coalition nothing much would've changed. If anything it would've been worse as both parties would have been repressed far more quickly and the vote on the Enabling Act would have been 444 in favour versus 0 against. But lets again for the sake of argument assume that somehow the Enabling Act was defeated, why would this mean the defeat of Hitler? It mess his plans up that's true but he survived the humiliation of the crushing defeat of his Putsch in Munich when the Party was practically non existent. In 1933 he was already Chancellor and also in charge of the German police force and was using it and his private army to destroy his enemies. Why would he stop doing this, is it not more logical to assume that in order to ensure his party remains in power that the repression against his enemies would increase?

The Nazi party didn't come to power due to lefty infighting, it came to power because the German state preferred Fascist thugs to the possibility of  socialism. The Nazi's didn't get to make their seizure of power constitutional because the German worker had to choose between two parties, but because all other major political factions in Germany preferred militaristic nationalism to pro Moscow Commissars and lefty reformers. And that all feared the power of the German working class which for better or worse was represented by these two organisations, at least in the state and federal legislatures.

The real lesson to be taken away from 1933 is that voting is not an effective weapon to fight Fascism. In pre Fascist Italy, Mussolini only four seats in the parliament before and yet he managed to seize power too. The same thing occurred in Spain, the Popular Front won the elections and yet by 1939 the Fascists were in power.

The Lesson that Should be Learned from 1933

There is however an important lesson to be learned from the rise of the Nazi party and its fellow travellers, and that is what actually is an effective way to fight Fascism. The Nazi's didn't officially ban the KPD from standing in the March 1933 elections, instead it focused on attacking its physical structure. It didn't view KPD as an electoral threat but a physical one, and indeed street fighting between the KPD and the Nazi's was a cause for concern for the Nazi party. In addition to the KPD and SPD the Nazi's were quick to target groups that didn't even stand in the elections. The Freie Arbeiter Union (FAUD) an Anarcho-syndicalist union that had already gone underground in 1932 was also targeted for repression with its leading members imprisoned or driven out of the country by the Gestapo. The FAUD believed the best way to stop the Nazi's was to mobilise a general strike, a tactic which did succeed in defeating the Right wing Kapp Putsch in 1920.

Up to the rise to power of the
Nazis, the worker Franz Bungert
was a leading member of the
Duisberg FAUD. Without even
the pretence of a trial, he was
interned in the concentration
camp of Boegermoor in 1933. After a year he was freed but was put under perma-
nent surveillance. His successor was Julius Nolden, a metalworker then unemployed
and treasurer of the Labour Exchange for th
e Rhineland. He was also arrested by the
Gestapo, who suspected that his activity in a Society for the Right to Cremation(!) hid
illegal relations with other members of the FAUD.


In addition Hitler also moved to smash the German Trade Union movement. By May 2nd Trade Unions ceased to exist in Germany. 

Hitler proclaimed May Day, 1933, as a national holiday and arranged to celebrate it as it had never been celebrated before. Trade union leaders were flown to Berlin from all parts of Germany. Joseph Goebbels staged the greatest mass demonstration Germany had ever seen. Hitler told the workers' delegates: "You will see how untrue and unjust is the statement that the revolution is directed against the German workers." Later that day Hitler told a meeting of more than 100,000 workers that "reestablishing social peace in the world of labour" would soon begin. (19)
The next day, Hitler ordered the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to destroy the trade union movement. Their headquarters throughout the country were occupied, union funds confiscated, the unions dissolved and the leaders arrested. Large numbers were sent to concentration camps. Within a few days 169 different trade unions were under Nazi control. (20)

 Again the emphasis of the Nazi's was to attack and disrupt and destroy the enemies physical organisations. The main concern of Fascist movements is their opponents ideological opposition and physical abilities. The FAUD was small and weak by 1933 and it was still hunted down and destroyed by the Nazi state. The Trade Unions were broken up because they represented a potential obstacle to Hitler's restructuring of the German state and economy.

And this wasn't a quirk of the Nazi's either, over in Italy in the 20's similar events were happening.

  It was from this moment onwards that the state moved on the offensive and Mussolini’s ‘revolutionary action’ squads were supplied with enough arms to take to the streets.
Until the formation of the AdP, the fascists had things mostly their own way. Starting off with an attack on the town hall in Bologna, the fascist squads swept through the countryside like a scythe, undertaking ‘punitive expeditions’ against the ‘red’ villages. Following their success there, they began attacking the cities. Labour unions, the offices of co-operatives and leftist papers were destroyed in Trieste, Modena, and Florence within the first few months of 1921. As Rossi writes, they had “an immense advantage over the labour movement in its facilities for transportation and concentration…The fascists are generally without ties…they can live anywhere…The workers, on the contrary, are bound to their homes…This system gives the enemy every advantage: that of the offensive over the defensive, and that of mobile warfare over a war of position.”**

 It is in physical confrontation and mobilisation by the labour movement that the key to the defeat of Fascism lies. A general strike brought down Kapp's nationalist putsch in 1920. The arming of the Spanish working class delayed the rise of Fascism for three years, and in Italy the only effective opposition to Mussolini's mobilisation of the Black shirts was the Arditi del Popolo. And the isolation and rejection of the AdP in favour of electoral schemes was the leading cause of the victory of the Fascists in Italy.

However, just as the AdP was building up the momentum on the streets, they were betrayed by the PSI who were more interested in signing a pact of non-aggression with the fascists; this at a time when the fascists were at their most vulnerable. Socialist militants were forced by their leadership to withdraw from the AdP, while the CGL union ordered its members to leave the organisation.
One union leader, Matteotti, confirmed the sell out in the union paper Battaglia Sindicale: “Stay at home: do not respond to provocations. Even silence, even cowardice, are sometimes heroic.”
The communists went one step further by forming their own pure ‘class conscious’ squadrons thus decimating the movement further. According to Gramsci, “the tactic…corresponded to the need to prevent the party membership being controlled by a leadership that was not the party leadership”. Quite soon, only 50 sections of 6,000 members remained, supported both by the anarcho-syndicalist Unione Sindicale Italiana (USI) and the anarchist Unione Anarchica Italiana (UAI).
A number of these sections went into action again in September in Piombino when the fascists, who had burned down the offices of the PSI (the same organisation that had sold them out a month before), were intercepted by an anarchist patrol and forced to flee. Piombino was soon to become the nerve centre of the defence against fascism, defending itself a further fascist onslaught in April 1922, before finally succumbing after one and a half days of fierce fighting, when the fascists, aided by the Royal Guard, were able to capture the offices of the USI.
In July 1922, the reformist general strike to defend ‘civil liberties and the constitution’ marked the final disaster for the labour movement, as the work stoppages were not, and could not be, accompanied by aggressive direct action. The fascists simply ran public services with scabs and made themselves masters of the streets. With the strike’s collapse, the fascists mustered their forces to deal with the last remaining outposts of resistance, one of which, Livorno, succumbed to a force of 2,000 squadristi.
If 2016 in the US of A has any connection to Germany 1933 or Italy 1922 etc Its  as yet another example of the futility of ballots in opposing reactionary movements. Fascists  and their fellow travellers are dangerous people, and we owe those who have already fallen fighting them to stop repeating the mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Post Election MAGAPOST

Well it looks like that glass ceiling will remain intact for awhile at least. Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the USA. I'm not happy, but honestly I wouldn't be happy if Hillary Clinton had it in the bag.

I'd like to say I'm not surprised and pretend to cleverer than thousands of career politicians but there were a few times like Donald Trump's insulting of the grieving family of a dead serviceman or his "grab em by the pussy" line and his generally very sketchy behaviour regarding women and the allegations of sexual harassment would tank him. The religious right is a big part of the modern Republican party and I couldn't see them supporting such an open womaniser. These are the same folks who made married couples on TV shows sleep in separate beds, for fear that such racy imagery as a couple tucked up in a kingsize duvet  would plunge the nation into Godless hedonism, and then finally Communism. And to be fair a few of them didn't support him.

In the months since Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed him, Donald Trump has been inexorably associated with Liberty University. We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him.A majority of Liberty students, faculty, and staff feel as we do. Donald Trump received a pitiful 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia’s primary election, a colossal rejection of his campaign. Nevertheless, President Falwell eagerly uses his national platform to advocate for Donald Trump. While he occasionally clarifies that supporting Trump is not the official position of Liberty University, he knows it is his title of president of the largest Christian university in the world that gives him political credentials. Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose
But by and large that vote block seems to have remained strong. I guess the lesson here is that moral guardian movements are more interested in power than purity.

But even in the moments where I thought for certain Trump was a chump I never got the bizarre sense of self assurance of the Democrats. I saw polls and talking heads saying there would be landslide, and that Hillary would take Florida and crack the deep south by taking a few states and coming close to the others, and the Senate and House were up for grabs. Yesterday (in the UK time zone) the radio news headline program was repeating every hour a brief chat with a Clinton campaign aide saying she was going to win, the only question was by how much, either she'd have a landslide or it'd come down to one state and one county. Those were the only possible results he predicted.

If I were a gambler I would of put money on the Democrats remaining in the White House but by a pretty slim margin. So never take betting tips from me is what I'm trying to say here I guess. But at least I wasn't off the mark by a country mile.

Given how toxic Donald Trump is and how quick he was to alienate, and then insult and anger large demographics of the US population we can forgive the Democrats for a little optimism. But spending a few minutes on American left of centre websites and forums and you'd think they had nominated some sort of clone hybrid of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, when in reality it was the worst candidate they could've picked  There candidate has been a target for hate and fear since 1992 at the latest. 24 years of constant negative associations is quite a handicap even if your a saint, and no one with a snowballs chance in hell of becoming President of the United States is spotless. And while much of the allegations and smears trumpeted by the `lock her up` crowd were grossly exaggerated if not completely made up, Hillary Clinton was more than a bit mucky.

Her allies in the Democratic party hierarchy like disgraced former DNC Chairwoman Schultz were undermining her Primary opponent Bernie Sanders and had cultivated extensive covert links with members of the American media and given favours to wealthy donors.  Its a bit hard to write off accusations of vote rigging, media bias and corruption -your opponents main points of attack-  when people close to you have been caught out doing just that. And in a way that was to your benefits you to boot.

I can also only assume that many American democrats lived in bubbles, because they completely misread the mood of the country. This is a period where belief in the American system and its institutions is at an all time low,

that is why Donald Trump did so well against the Republican also rans and ultimately why he won today. He ran as an outsider on a populist anti-establishment platform and against this the Democratic party in its wisdom put up the person most closely linked to the political establishment, and ran largely on that connection. Thus reinforcing the arguments levelled against her. Indeed she had a lot of trouble beating Bernie Sanders to the nomination, her own establishment credentials and record alienated a very large segment of her own party. The internal opposition was so large that I remember some Democrats were worried that the nomination fight would jeopardise the election campaign.

Multiple Democrats talked at length at how Trump had no experience while Clinton had decades of it. The problem here is that's a double edged sword, lack of political experience is strange as it may seem is a positive with many people, it makes a candidate look more down to earth and in touch with the people. Now admittedly its strange how a millionaire who inherited his wealth, has managed to come across as a champion of the common man, but I suspect his campaign team(s) advised him on how to tap into it*.

Though once again the Democrats seem to have helped him out here, by picking someone even more associated and tied with the established and discredited order than him. 
For many Hillary with her decades in DC and exclusive talks with wealthy business interests and foreign capital for very high fees just makes her seem aloof and corrupt. And they didn't even try to lessen the damage with a "radical" new policy platform.  Honestly I'd prefer to live in a country with her platform over Trump's but there isn't much in the way of a break with the status quo that could counter the criticism or energise their voters.  Though in retrospect I think the Democrats were relying on the fear of a Trump Presidency to motivated the masses instead.

It worked for Chirac I guess.

Going Forward

So what can we learn from today? Apart from the obvious don't put a person already hated for over 20 years as your candidate for a popularity contest. Well I think this election is a very good example of how fragile and useful voting as a mechanism for social change really is.  We had a man championed by racist militia's and open Fascists, and the best opposition that could be put up against him thanks to vested interests and the party system was the very embodiment of what he was mobilising against and was already hated and feared since 1992**.

And with Congress under the control of the Republicans, and some Supreme Court judges nearing retirement it looks like his first term will have no effective official opposition. For Americans the choice is now just hang on, take your lumps and wait four years to try again, or build alternative support networks and structures for resistance. Its sink or swim time, America's vaunted checks and balances no longer apply the country is under the control of open reactionaries. Violence against minority groups is only going to continue and I honestly doubt Trump will make good on any of his vague promises to ease the burden on the working class.

But on the other hand this would have been the case if Hillary's cheerleaders had been correct too. And also if the US government remained split, however in that case electoralists would have an easy scapegoat in the party their sad loathes the most.

Governments that won election have been defeated by protests and strike action, in some cases they've even brought the government down. Casting ballots is not a substitute for political or economic activism, even if your Trump supporter and pleased as punch for today's result its only a matter of time before another political gang gets in and starts undoing your hard work.

Basically what I'm trying to say is don't mourn organise, but by organise I don't mean canvass for the democrats in the mid terms.

*Though now that I think about it many populist leaders claiming to be concerned with the plight of the down trodden have come from upper income brackets, like Napoleon who was from one of the wealthiest families in Corsica, or FDR.

** Yes I keep saying this, because it deserves to be repeated, the Democratic party was so out of touch it didn't see a problem with choosing a woman who'd been a figure of hate on a national level since 1992 if not a bit earlier.

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