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Combatting Trumpenstein

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Republicans have created a monster and on November 8th he was unleashed on the entire nation. What are progressives going to do about this?

Take to the barricades: We should resolve to fight the expected onslaught on democracy in whatever way we can. Better to fight fascism inch-by-inch, day-by-day than let it slowly devour our democracy. Remember, Clinton won the popular vote: 59,794,935 to 59,588,437.

Figure out what went wrong: Before we get back in the ring, Progressives have to understand what unleashed Trumpenstein. Trump won because there were a bunch of angry white men who voted for him to shake up Washington. Clinton was seen as more-of-the-same. (Before the election we expected Clinton to win because the pollsters didn't accurately gauge the power of the white anger.)

This truly was a "change" election. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had warned us that a great many Americans see the system as "rigged." Trump picked up this message.

Exit polls will show that this election was primarily about economics although sexism and racism played a part. Trump convinced more working Americans that he was fighting for them. He had a compelling message, "Make America Great Again."

Trump voters gave him their votes even though they didn't like him, because they wanted to shake up Washington. (They didn't like Clinton either but given the choice between two unpopular candidates, many voters -- particularly men -- chose the male candidate).

Hillary was seen as an insider; Trump was seen as an outsider: Democratic pollster Pat Caddell noted that in his survey of likely voters ( ) two-thirds of respondents agreed, "The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites." 81 percent of respondents said, "The U.S. has a two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards. We need fundamental changes to fix the inequity in our economic system." And 87 percent agreed, "The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people."

Trump painted Hillary as a member of the ruler power elite; someone who is a career politician and, therefore, not able to fix the "two-track economy."

When Barack Obama first ran for President -- relatively new to Washington -- he was seen as an outsider. For those of us on the left, Trump was seen as a loose cannon but for millions of voters he was seen as an outsider -- someone not part of the ruling political elite.

Trump built a coalition of populists, racists, and "Supreme Court" voters: Pat Caddell observed, "The American people believe that the country is not only on the wrong track but almost 70 percent say that America is in actual decline." Populists want to break up the" two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards."

Progressives need to take back the populist mantle from Trumpenstein -- which shouldn't be difficult once Trump arrives in Washington.

Trump also appealed to the "alt-right" a loose coalition of racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes. In Washington, he'll be encumbered by these connections.

Finally, there was a segment of Trump's vote who were anti-abortion voters, "hold your nose and vote for Donald in order to save the Supreme Court." One of the continuing challenges for progressives is to move these one-issue voters.

There is no time for fear; this is the time to fight: When we were in Nevada getting out the vote for Democrats, we had dinner with fellow activists who asked, "Where are all the others who are worried sick about the election?' Each of us knew Democrats who had the wherewithal to go to Nevada or other swing states but because they were immobilized by fear, remained California.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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