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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/20/16


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by Lydia Howell

Awakening to election results on 11/9 echoed feelings of 9/11: a sickening spasm of fear, that momentarily paralyzed...and, yet, on neither day was I surprised. One immutable universal law is actions have consequences.

First, white people---regardless of party affiliation---have a huge responsibility to face racism and in this moment loudly oppose the hate crimes perpetrated under the banner TRUMP WON.

Second, Face reality. The Clinton campaign and the DNC failed and should be held responsible for Trump's victory.

The Democratic Party and its loyalists are floundering in shock because they refused to recognize that populism defined this election: the progressive populism of Bernie Sanders and the authoritarian populism of Donald Trump--challenging the political establishment. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) selected Hillary Clinton as their preferred candidate in 2015 (and possibly earlier), collaborating with her campaign and Corporate Media to rig primaries against Sanders. The DNC/Clinton machine wanted a "Pied Piper" Republican opponent, (naming Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump) who they thought would insure her victory.

DNC allies in Corporate Media obliged and gave Trump over $2 billion in free air-time during the primaries---and almost totally ignored Bernie Sanders, broadcasting empty stages "waiting for Trump", rather than air Sanders' big rallies happening at the same time.

The Clinton campaign exemplified entitled elites, technocrats and the Corporate Establishment; a multi-cultural patina and a drum-beat of fear (Trump), was supposed to get "the Obama coalition" to the polls. Fear has been the biggest Democratic sales technique for decades and Clinton ads primarily relied on fear. But, when little has changed in people's actual lives (or has gotten worse), fear had less punch than the chance to punch back with the ultimate Screw-You (outsider) candidate.

May 2016 polls showed Bernie Sanders---soundly beating Trump: by 15 per cent or more. I have criticisms of the Sanders' campaign: failure to fully integrate race into his economic inequality arguments and avoidance of foreign policy. But, in this populist upsurge, it was obvious that only another "outsider" candidate (Sanders) could trump Trump.

The DNC/Clinton machine denied voters that choice; some Democratic-leaning voters rebelled by staying home, voting third party or even for Trump.

Was a white backlash part of Trump's victory? Of course, it was, from Trump's political debut of "birtherism" against President Obama to the ongoing demonization of Muslims and Latino immigrates to labeling Black Lives Matter a "terrorist" group. The hate crimes against people of color and Muslims started as soon as election results were known. Part of what's fueling hate is certainly the racism rooted in American history, scapegoating "the Other" for problems created by ruling elites. It's the long-term flimflam in a society that ignores class as much as it denies contemporary racism. Underneath both the American class system and the institutional racism (and sexism) that reinforce it, is the idea of the Zero-Sum Game: a scarcity model of fewer and fewer resources for everyday people----scraps tossed from the banquet table of the 1per cent (and their top 10 per cent allies) that the rest of us fight over.

Racism is the oldest tool used to divide and conquer us. Nothing I want to say here is intended to minimize that reality. My aim is to urge thinking in complexity, to increase the solidarity that's crucial, for building broader movement necessary to address challenges before us.

President-Elect Trump is the result of 35-plus years of escalating economic exclusion, perpetrated by both corporate-sponsored political parties. Michael Moore called Trump "the human Molotov cocktail thrown at the establishment" in his new film "Trumpland" (still worth viewing, in spite of his absurd Pollyanna view of Hillary Clinton). So many of us of all ethnicities are forgotten and Trump was, for the white working-class and falling middle-class, an echo of how Dr, King described riots: "the sound of the unheard."

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), started in 1985, helped fuel white backlash by abandoning the white, working-class---especially the unionized working-class. The DLC goal was to make the party "more business friendly"-----lessons well learned by Bill and Hillary Clinton in Arkansas. In her years on the Board of Wal-Mart (1985-1991), Hillary Clinton never championed those exploited workers (70% women). That retail behemoth has raced across rural America eating up Main Street businesses. Unions seem to be mostly a source of campaign contributions and GOTV volunteers. From "free trade" NAFTA to dismantling the New Deal social safety net ("welfare reform" collaboration with Newt Gingrich) , de-regulating Big Banks and Wall Street, the Clintons and other Corporate Democrats with Republicans, created the housing crisis and economic melt-down of 2008-9.

The 1990s criminal justice infrastructure of ever-expanding prisons (for "excess labor", largely of color), escalated "war on drugs" created legal templates for the domestic side of "the war on terrorism" with "conspiracy" charges outweighing actual evidence; those labeled felons penalized after release. Too many have inaccurately laid all blame for these bipartisan economic and social disasters on the Republicans.

President Obama continued the protection of Wall Street, Big Banks, Big Pharma, insurance companies and Big Oil. As 12 MILLION families had their homes foreclosed, not one banker was jailed for mortgage fraud and only about 500,000 families were helped to keep their homes. Living-wage jobs continued to be outsourced or automated while Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)---also pushed by Hillary Clinton--promised more of the same. Nothing was done to restore the social safety net or address a deepening "affordable" housing crisis.

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Lydia Howell is a poet, lifelong activist and independent journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Winner of a 2007 Premack Award for Public Interest Journalism (writng for alternative press PULSE Newspaper) and a 1978 Dallas Press Club Award for (more...)
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