von Jungle World
Spencer Sunshine on the outcome of the presidential election
The election of racist demogague Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency – in the face of all of pre-election polls – has sent a shock wave through the left-leaning parts of the country. Coupled with what looks like a Republican domination of the Congress – which will allow Trump to appoint the empty Supreme Court seat – dark days are indeed ahead for the U.S. Left. Trump was able to channel the social anxieties of his largely white base by deploying techniques of demonization and scapegoating against a number of minority groups (especially muslims and undocumented immigrants), coupled with his support for protectionist trade policies and vague promises to revive industrial production and national glory. The fact that he may lose the total national popular vote – possible because of the U.S. electoral system’s state-by-state, winner-take-all structure – is a poor consolation. Trump has shown that, in these uncertain times, a rich man with a gift for improvisation, a certain kind of charisma, and a complete lack of ethics can indeed talk his way into leading a global superpower. Lacking a coherent political outlook and with a poor grasp of international politics, Trump will undoubtedly appoint conservative advisors, some of whom may be tied to the white nationalist movement, to craft his administration. The U.S. Left – from militant anti-fascists to Democrats – has made no plans for this outcome. Whether Trump attempts to implement his more outlandish promises – to register Muslims and build a wall on the Mexican border – will probably be seen in his first 100 days. With a Republican federal government, it also remains to be seen if the judiciary will be able to uphold the rule of law in the face of a president who has called to jail his opponent and has expressed only contempt for civil rights, democracy, and common decency. If that fails, we see shortly if Trump will merely be a figurehead for an especially racist conservative government, or if he truly will make moves towards establishing authoritarian state power, as many on the Left have claimed is his intention.
Spencer Sunshine is a researcher, activist, and political consultant regarding Far Right movements. His forthcoming book, Unorthodox Fascism: The New Right, Third Positionism, and the Specter of Multiracial Fascism in the United States, will appear on Routledge’s Studies in Fascism and the Far Right.
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