The Opposite of Trump

in Politics by
This column first appeared on Latino Rebels.

On Tuesday night I kept Googling “New Hampshire primary” to get the official word that Bernie Sanders won, but all Google wanted to tell me about was how Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were in a dead heat for second place. Bernie’s name wasn’t mentioned at all, the whole way down to the bottom of the page.

Earlier in the day, some MSNBC analyst said she thought a third-place finish for Klobuchar would be “stronger and more important than a first-place finish for Bernie.”

Man, is the Liberal Establishment extremely butt-hurt this year, now that Bernie looks like he’s going to run away with the Democratic nomination, if not the White House, and this time there’s no seasoned assassin in a pantsuit to stop him. They had the nerve to trot out Old Sloppy Joe as the presumptive nominee, all grey and feeble, blathering about God knows what, as if Obama’s babbling chaperone would get the 2008 Obama Coalition more fired up than Hillary did in 2016. Uncle Joe sounds like he’s still running in 1988.

I’m constantly surprised, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, by the base stupidity of the people running this country. “Stupidity” is giving them too much credit, though. They know what they’re doing: it’s they who think us stupid. So what I really feel is offended.

But what else am I expecting from a class of careerist politicians who get off on power and have their heads so far up their parties’ asses, with their parties so deep in Wall Street’s crotch, that it’s got to be way too dark for them to see anything. The Anti-Democratic Party Establishment thought Biden would be their nominee last November because… well, because they said so, damnit! Just like they said that Clinton would be their nominee as early as the summer of 2015. And they were right about that, though they’ll deny things got a little hairy in the spring of 2016, when Democratic voters began clamoring for a true progressive instead of a neoliberal knockoff with decades of experience hurting workers and the poor, both at home and abroad. Still, nothing Hillary’s corporate friends in the media and DNC weren’t able to fix.

Hard to believe we’ve been subjected to what passes for a presidential election season for over a year now—can a season be longer than two years?—and we still have till November to go, at the very least, assuming the President surrenders the White House peacefully and we don’t have to send the Orkin Man in to spray him out along with the rest of the Trumpf infestation.

You realize we’ve had more people enter and drop out of the race for the Democratic Party nomination this year, before the Iowa caucus, than ran for the 2016 nomination in total ? Our presidential election process has now become a reality game show, where what’s at stake is not a three-week marriage or some record deal, but nothing less than the future of the country and the whole rest of the world

What sick soul can remember all the names? I remember Beto. That poor hacky-sacking fool had no idea what giant donkey turd he stepped in till it was too late, but at least he loved himself enough to quit while everything was still at the shits-and-giggles stage. Kamala Harris was like Hillary but without all the laughs. Cory Booker was another Obama but without the charm, and Julián Castro was an Obama for Latino America—since Obama did so much for Black America during his eight years in office.

There were other names, too, they’re at the back of my mind, I could reach for them or just look them up, but why give them any more precious limelight than they deserve? Most of them clearly ran for their measly 15 minutes of fame, and they got it. So let them go sell their books, up their speaking fees, and demand higher bribes from corporate lobbyists—the rest of us still have a presidential election to worry about.

With the field of viable candidates for the Democratic nomination whittled down to Bernie, Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, Biden and Bloomberg (sorry, Tom Steyer), I’m not sure why we need any more Democratic debates. I figure, if you don’t agree with Bernie’s platform, or especially if you prefer a Buttigieg or Bloomberg over a Bernie, you might want to ask yourself if you’re really a Democrat.

Putting aside the fact the two parties are merely the ravenous mouths of the same corporate beast, to be a Democrat means—or should mean—that you stand for workers’ rights, women’s rights, civil rights, economic rights, and to be a Republican means you stand for the rights of property owners.

If you call yourself a Democrat but you’re not for health care, decent housing, a good education and a living wage as rights of citizenship, then why aren’t you a Republican?

If you’re not for an end to war for war’s sake, if you’re not for a clean and healthy planet, if you’re not for welcoming refugees and asylum-seekers and a path to citizenship for newcomers, if you’re not for science, if you’re not for the separation of Church and State, then you can quit fretting about who’s going to be the Democrats’ standard-bearer this year, because Trump’s your man.

I was skimming through video of Bernie’s rock concert Tuesday night in New Hampshire, catching parts of Nina Turner’s pitch (which I’ve seen in person, she’s good) and Prof. Cornel West’s musings and AOC’s spiel—about shaving a bit off the massive war budget and making big companies like Amazon and Apple pay something in taxes, then using that money to fund Medicare for All, free tuition at public colleges, erasing student debt, raising the federal minimum wage, implementing a Green New Deal, shifting our economy off fossil fuels and onto renewable energy, making it hard for the violent or crazy to get their hands on an assault rifle with an extended clip, rebuilding our infrastructure, exploring space—boilerplate stuff in most liberal democracies in the 21st century—and I’m thinking to myself, Yes, this is directly opposed to everything Trump and His Party have been ramming down our throats for the past three years.

What Democrat could disagree?

But, of course, a lot of Democrats do disagree. A lot of Democrats think we don’t need the opposite of Trump, just something not Trump. They see our house is burning, yet rather than put out the flames, they want merely to control the burn (no pun intended).

Centrist Democrats—a.k.a. Clinton Democrats, Obama Democrats, neoliberals, sellouts, take your pick—are still conning most of the liberal base with the idea that capitalism can be saved by simply taming it. Capitalism just needs to be put on a diet, they say. But capitalism doesn’t do diets: capitalism needs to feed, more and more, and if it isn’t growing, it’s dying.

Even the neoliberal New Yorker is wondering if capitalism is still compatible with the exigencies of our modern world, what with the planet being trashed faster than it can replenish itself, and socioeconomic inequalities growing wider than Trump’s waistline—as Marx predicted, and as Piketty has recently laid out. Capitalism can’t help but gobble up resources, pollute the planet (because polluting is more profitable in the short term than not polluting), accumulate more and more power and wealth in the hands of a shrinking minority who control the machine, and turn the working class into a vast swamp of atomized robots meant for two things: producing things for capitalism to sell, and buying the things capitalism sells.

Capitalism can only exploit resources and people. Exploitation is its M.O., the lynchpin of the whole Godforsaken enterprise. There’s no such thing as capitalism without exploitation.

And if someone out there thinks we shouldn’t have an economic system that treats the earth, sea and air like private property, and treats people like machines, providing them with just enough to maintain themselves so they can show up to work every day and put in their eight to 16 hours, they may want to ask themselves if they’re actually a socialist deep down.

I’ve been rereading Hunter S. Thompson’s crazy-ass dispatches from the ’72 campaign, gearing myself up for what’s already proving to be a 2020 campaign that makes anything the Doc fired off his Selectric typewriter look like an Eagle Scout’s wet dream.

It’s depressing to see how little things have changed, how they’ve in fact gotten much worse in many ways: Nixon, after all, was never heard on tape saying he used to “grab [young women] by the pussy” before he became president, and the whole Watergate fiasco was a domestic dispute. Tricky Dick never pressured Willy Brandt or Golda Meir to dig up dirt on Hubert Humphrey in exchange for “$391 million worth of sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, night vision goggles” and other hardware. Plus, Nixon did create the EPA, which has become the bête noire of today’s Republicans and the entire capitalist class.

Trump is like Reagan, a screen star who might be suffering from a touch of dementia but still knows how to throw red meat to the GOP base. Only Trump isn’t nearly as principled or articulate as the Great Communicator, and Nancy was no mail-order bride from Slovenia.

But the contours of the ’72 campaign are all there. The corrupt, power-mad President, with a dogshit personality but a cult following nonetheless, using the full force of the federal government to go after his list of enemies. The populist Senator with his legions of supporters among progressives, students, hippies, druggies, freaks, Hollywood liberals, etc. The grasping former Vice President kept afloat by Big Money. The faux progressive candidates siding with the former Number Two, in an effort to keep that populist Senator and his army of peaceniks and humanists out of the White House. The starry-eyed candidate of color who hardly stood a chance (we’ve seen a few this year). The racist, anti-liberal candidate who has no business calling himself a Democrat, at least in the post-sixties sense.

We can only assume, then, that it’s going to come down to: 1) the Democratic National Convention, this time in Milwaukee instead of Miami; 2) who Bernie picks as his running mate, assuming he doesn’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; and 3) if the Bernie Train can keep barreling down the tracks at full steam till Election Day.

Nixon won reelection in ’72 in one of the biggest landslides in American history, getting over 60 percent of the vote, and winning every state except Massachusetts. Should the same happen this year, America’s through, kaput, finito, goodnight San Francisco.

The Brits just had something of a dress rehearsal of our presidential election, pitting the Trumpesque Boris Johnson against the Berniesque Jeremy Corbyn, which resulted in Johnson and the Brexit gang gaining power and Corbyn and the Labour squad having its worse showing since 1935. Britain is not America—no place on earth is like America—but you would think the Brits had their shit together a little more than we do. They have a royal family, sure, but we have the Kardashians and the Trumps. Maybe it’s just those accents and their use of the Queen’s English which makes me feel that way, and if so, shame on me. Maybe—apparently—they’re as batshit as we are.

But the Brits have lived with way more socialism than we have, with a NHS which most of them say they’re proud of and a solid education system that doesn’t saddle a Manc with a lifeload of student debt. So if our smarter, collectivist cousins across the Pond are ditching their Labour Party and closing their door to foreigners, just think what we less educated, greedier, more racist Americans will opt for given a similar choice.

Is that a chill running down my spine?

You know, it’s times like these I wish I would’ve stuck with accounting and not studied history and taken the lonely, depressing path of writerhood. At least then I could have mounds of hope every four years like much of the liberal rabble seems to have, being ignorant of the past and unable to read what’s written on the wall in capitalist pigshit.

But who knows. Maybe. We’ll see. Here’s me hoping a little—again.

Hector is the editor and publisher of Enclave. A Chicago writer now floating on the edge of Las Vegas, he is also the former deputy editor for Latino Rebels, as well as the former managing editor for Gozamos, a Latino art-activism site based in his home town. He has contributed to RedEye, a Chicago daily geared toward millennials, and La Respuesta, a New York-based site for the Puerto Rican Diaspora, plus a number of publications, including The Huffington Post. He studied history (for some reason) at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where his focus was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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