Anyone But Trump: Hoping, Fighting, and Voting Together

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Commentary

Before I start, let me say the world is messy right now. It is messy to think. It is messy to write. But I continue in defiance, with hope for our liberation.

It is July 4. What better time to wonder about the MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement that openly threatens anyone that queries the actions of Donald Trump. Frederick Douglass asked all those years ago: “What to the slave is the fourth of July?” My update also asks: What is this day to the woman seeking an abortion, or that is homeless, or is Palestinian or … Given the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that grants full immunity from criminal accountability to the President, there is no independence.

It seems that the emperor who has no clothes does not need them anymore. Power is carte blanche. These right-wing justices of the Supreme Court who claim to be originalists deny and defy the very constitution that constructs limited Presidential authority. That is what happens when a misogynist bully of a President gets to appoint three Justices of his liking.

This is a moment of urgency that is new. The exposure is so complete that there is a crisis of confidence. It is a bit like COVID in how it revealed the crisis of our medical system but did not create it. Trump did not create the crisis of the nation state, but he exposes and manipulates it.

It is key to recognize how old and completely new this all is. The Court is showing us how undemocratic our country is. And if the Court is not democratic, what is? They overturn Roe and take away the right to abortion. They keep denuding law that assists racial equality. They roll back the responsibilities of government to any of us.

But their hubris is also their undoing — they expose their right-wing agenda for all to see. Justices Alito and Thomas are out of control. These exposures are their own kind of crisis. So maybe this is what a right-wing liberal democratic coup looks like — all of it legal, using the law to subvert the law, and the wishes of most of the people.

This right-wing SCOTUS coup, led by Trump appointees to the Court, is using the law itself to destroy the last remnants of liberal or neo-liberal democracy as we have known it. This is the new order of the day, maybe expressing the needs of global racist capitalist misogynist rule. Fascism is an old term that might not be sufficient here to capture this right-wing assault. The old nationalism nor its political language or mechanisms like the electoral college suffice.

My thought: until progressives in the U.S. unite across our overlapping needs to save the planet and ourselves from demise, we, the big we, must play defense in the existing electoral parameters, until we can create a viable, accountable state. We must keep things from getting worse, and simply defeat Trump.

Our motto must be STOP TRUMP! And recognize this as a necessary reform/step toward the revolution for humanity and the planet that so many of us wish for. So, vote, to then remain free enough to do the real work for creating a meaningful liberatory democracy.

 

Please, Joe

Biden stumbled and seemed enfeebled in the Presidential debate and Trump blustered and lied. Now, for a week Joe continues to promise he will stay in the race and win. Who in their right mind could think any of this makes sense? These two old white men are the best that party politics can do? How is that possible? Is this what a failed/outmoded state looks like?

Do not forget that the guy doing all the lying is the same person who appointed the three key right-wing members to the Court — to ensure an end to abortion, and climate change legislation, and the liberal democratic state as we have known it. The newest Court decisions all limit the purview of the federal government and sides with the January 6 rioters. They question the validity of the prosecutorial reach.

Joe Biden’s mental and physical fragility was exposed in the debate, which is different than saying that the debate was the problem. It just made perfectly visible for all to see that this problem in undeniable. Joe Biden’s aging body and mind have been in view for a long while, but better monitored. The debate put his deficits in clear view.

And, yet some of the very Democrats that say that we must defeat Trump are the ones lying about what the debate did not mean. If the Democrats want to defeat Trump, how can they not support choosing another candidate? The polls show that Kamala could beat Trump more easily than Biden now. How can this not push Biden to step aside? What level of hubris, egotism, blindness allows this? Is this what an anachronistic regime does?

I am reminded of the Joe Biden that hung Anita Hill out to dry in the hearings against Clarence Thomas. If Biden had been different, Thomas would probably not be on the Court in the first place. I am reminded of the Biden who is personally against abortion but will unenthusiastically follow the law. And who still is unable to be aggressively and creatively behind an agenda for reproductive justice.

The issue is not just his age, or dementia or hubris or self-aggrandized ego. He and his posse are outdated. His embrace of early Zionism has limited his understanding of Netanyahu and allowed an unconscionable genocide. Although there are many who think he has been a great president I ask you to think about the present world we inhabit.

 

Newest States for Global Capital

The crisis we are in took early form in the 1970s, heightened in the 1990s and then started to crack open in the last two decades. Similar national narratives exist across the globe — France, Argentina, India, etc. The first woman president, Claudia Sheinbaum, has been elected in Mexico. Yet, when I asked young people, when recently there, if they were excited, most of them said: “I voted for her, but she probably will not make a difference. Nothing will make a difference. She is surrounded by men and their interests.” Remember that Mexico has the highest rate of femicide in the world.

Neoliberals have convinced many of us that government is incompetent because they have made it impossible for government to do much for us. I have written books about this for years. But now, what I term fascist democracy is moving towards a new stage, and it is up to us to stop it here.

Our government has been unraveling since the capture of the globe by global capital. This is evident in the huge numbers of refugees. It is evident at most national borders, here and elsewhere. It is evident in the outrageously incompetent presidential nominees because the location of power is shifting elsewhere, still to be fully determined.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court arrogantly has put the crisis in full view for all of us to see. September 11 was a crucial moment of realigning global powers. The U.S. has been a hysterical state ever since, making wars like Iraq and Afghanistan with abandon and losing them.

In what world does it make sense to abide the rulings of this illegitimate Court? Or to have Biden and Trump be the candidates when most of the public wants neither one?

 

Vote, and Then Let Us Make a Revolution

We must keep Trump from winning. And recognize that the old systems of electoral politics do not work any longer. We need to create new rules and structures. But we must stay hopeful that we have power to do so. And, we do have that power collectively.

But we must recognize that we are living in a coup. The presidential debate was part of a coup, in a sense. Right wing fascists already have significant power and voice. Trump told us in the debate that he would have to see if he wins before he will agree to the outcome of the election. Maybe this was the most truthful thing Trump said the whole night.

If the Democratic party really thinks that Trump is a danger, it has no other choice than to offer a new candidate who is more able to protect our fragile democratic processes. Remember, we have never been a democracy but a liberal democracy at our core. (Liberal Democracy is inherently liberal — meaning that the laws are the protector, but they are still structurally compromised by racism and sexism and classism.)

Liberal democracy has never been enough. Neither is neo-liberal democracy. But it is better than fascist democracy. These are our choices right now.

So, please, Joe. I am a writer and could write the speech for you easily. It is time for you to step aside because you are a liability, and whether that is fair or not does not matter anymore. You say it is crucial to defeat Trump and it looks like you cannot do that any longer, so step aside, and endorse Kamala or at least open the field.

Even before the debate debacle when it was clear than many of us did not want you to run, your answer to us was: “watch me.” You angered many of us — especially youth activists — when you did so. And Jill — really? You need to get out of the way too. I know personally what early onset dementia looks like. And someone with it needs help seeing it.

It is time Joe. It is past time. Let us hope it is not past time for us.

 

Hopeful Dreams

We must vote against Trump — the racist, the felon, the rapist. There are millions like me.

Maybe the greatest success of the neoliberal assault on the social welfare state was getting most of us in the public to believe that the government is not a location to have our needs met. Neo-liberalism, first coined as neo-conservatism, argued that expecting too much from the government is dangerous and disappointing. It was a reaction against the civil rights and women’s movements of the ’60s dictating that too much equality is not a good thing. Fast forward to today and neo-fascist democracy.

I have written elsewhere: this present Court has exposed its radically anti-democratic agenda, call it fascist racist misogyny, and it is important to recognize this, even though it is cloaked in the institutional architecture of (liberal) democracy. It is crucial that we as a public not be palliated and quieted by the façade of a Court interested in democratic practices. It is crucial to see that the politics of the last half century have moved from liberal to neo-liberal to fascistic democratic agendas. And, that we are now at a crucial catastrophic moment.

We must demand equality and freedom because we can. Our movements to save the planet from climate disaster, to demand gun control and human safety, to have affordable and available day care, to have safe working conditions, to be free of racism and sexism and heterosexist gender conforming standards. All of us are most of this country.

The right-wing is a minority and always has been. When Reagan won in a supposed landslide it was 26% of eligible voters who elected him. And since that time in 1980, the right wing has not grown, it has morphed into its minority MAGA form.

If we mobilize ourselves to form coalitions and bridges and connections between ourselves for ourselves Trump cannot win. There is no way he can win if we all vote against him. But if Biden runs and a lot of us do not vote, Trump can win. So, vote for anybody but Trump.

And then after the election the real work begins, making sure that we demand what we really need — a humane country. End the war in Gaza. Work towards peace in Ukraine and Sudan. End the environmental assaults that are triggering climate crisis everywhere. Create reproductive justice for each of us that need it. We will work and dream together.

Democracy and peace and love for humanity — in all our iterations is possible. We, the big we that I have written about for decades, can do this.

Fighting back against fascist democracy will be the proof that we can win.

 

Zillah Eisenstein is a noted international feminist writer and activist and Professor Emerita, Political Theory, Ithaca College.  She is the author of many books, including “The Female Body and the Law” (UC Press, 1988), which won the Victoria Schuck Book Prize for the best book on women and politics; “Hatreds” (Routledge., 1996), “Global Obscenities” (NYU Press, 1998),  “Against Empire” (Zed Press, 2004), and most recently, “Abolitionist Socialist Feminism” (Monthly Review Press, 2019).

 

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