Forty Short Post-Election Theses: Where We Stand Now and Where We Go From Here

1/ Do not underestimate Trump’s executive ability. He ran at least five different campaigns during this one cycle, showing himself swift-footed and quickly able to change staff and ideas depending on the needs of the moment. He will move blindingly fast to enact his repressive agenda, every word of which he meant seriously.

2/ Trump’s marketing strategy was to formulate a message based on anxieties that already existed, instead of shoving a preexisting ideology down people’s throats. As important as the economic anxiety was the populace’s resistance to liberal political correctness.

3/ The monopoly of political correctness over the media and the intellectual apparatus has had dire results, it has reached its end point in the fascistic reaction. Political correctness diverts attention from the kinds of material issues that propel this kind of election result. How can this monopoly by broken?

4/ When democracy on the left is suppressed—i.e., someone like Bernie Sanders is cheated out of the nomination that should have been his—the result is an extreme reaction from the right, and the victory of the opposite of the suppressed message. This has been true for nearly forty years of neoliberalism.

5/ Fascism arises only when liberalism fails. How has liberalism failed us? The cultural liberalism of the elites doesn’t allow room for economic liberalism, which has been sidelined during the course of the neoliberal ascendancy.

6/ Trump has rewritten all the rules of politics. Those in the elite bubble, both Republicans and Democrats, have been made to look like fools. Trump made a direct appeal to the people, converting American politics into a reality show. Politics is reality TV now, and will remain so. How does a rational message of economic redistribution and justice get through this screen?

7/ The Democratic party insisted on nominating a scandalous candidate not because they are stupid but because they wanted to preserve neoliberalism at all costs. This is why the entire party establishment fell in line, it was more important to protect neoliberalism than stop fascism. They deliberately gambled with the future of the country and lost.

8/ The demographic wall has been shattered. Trump’s only chance of success was to break through in the Rust Belt, as the Democrats’ weakest point of exposure. Ted Cruz or any conventional Republican would not have won, the demographic wall would have stood. The only way was to scramble the map. Has the Rust Belt been breached for good? Yes, if fortune favors Trump and he can deliver even a small amount of what he promised.

9/ Just as the neoliberal elites were gambling, the electorate took a massive gamble too, they chose to end unbearable stagnation under neoliberalism, even at the risk of bringing on something apocalyptic. They knew the risks, but they could not bear neoliberal precariousness anymore.

10/ The elites had a chance to figure out an amiable solution to inequality, to share the fruits of the biggest economy in the world. They didn’t, and now it’s de facto civil war. Things cannot go back to the status quo ante, the elite consensus has collapsed for good.

11/ The Democratic party has been completely hollowed out at every level after a quarter century of Clinton/Obama neoliberalism. The house, senate, governorships, and state legislatures are all gone. The presidential firewall at last collapsed, because in the end you cannot lose offices at every other level yet keep just the presidency.

12/ Why didn’t Hillary select Bernie for vice president? This would have guaranteed a win. Even choosing Elizabeth Warren would have guaranteed support from economic liberals. Sticking to neoliberalism down to the last point of contention was more important than securing a win. Was she planning to keep her word on anything she promised Bernie on policy? Why would millennials believe her or anyone in the corporate wing of the party in the future?

13/ The millennials are up for grabs. The discredited Democrats don’t have them. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are also up for grabs, if Trump does something magnanimous in their interest, which is highly unlikely—but potentially the Democrats can lose them in a new realignment.

14/ The liberals’ only strategy was to attack Trump personally, which failed. People are not that gullible, which is to their credit.

15/ This election result goes back to 9/11 and the consequent American violence against innocent Middle Eastern people. This is the boomerang effect. When you start imperialist wars, and violate the norms of humanity, in the end it comes back to haunt you. The explosive situation created outside is replicated at home. We never resolved the war crimes of the Bush administration, that was an absolute no-go area for Obama. We kept playing with fire, with perpetual war abroad and terrorist fears constantly inflamed even eight years after Bush. This never-ending global chess game, killing people at will when our fancy strikes, is integrally connected with the Trump win.

16/ Note the terrorist events that occurred around the world like a metronomic beat all throughout the election campaign, propping up Trump’s law and order message at moments of key vulnerability, and which have now ceased all of a sudden.

17/ This is the perfect bookend to election 2000, when the media was in the tank for Bush II, desperately wanting him to be president. They are reaping the results of what they sowed then: the illiteracy, dumbness, irrationality, and catering to the basest fears and instincts. Given who they are, they will draw all the wrong “lessons” from this debacle, and try to perpetuate their ignorance.

18/ By not taking the slightest steps to address economic inequality, neoliberals have plunged us into the abyss. Whenever we want even the slightest concessions, as in 2000, the system gives us something ten times more repressive to set us back. It is a system-wide failure, it is not just a failure of either political party. Trump is who we are, it is where we are, it is who we want to be, just as Bush was all those things to at least half the population.

19/ Trump, masterful strategist that he is, saw two bankrupt political parties, and seized control of one, as in his real estate dealings. Who will seize control of the bankrupt Democratic party now?

20/ A new political consensus will emerge eventually, though it may take a while. Both parties are dead, the neoliberal consensus is over. This is the first stage of either an authoritarian/inegalitarian political economy or a participatory/egalitarian one. The false center is gone.

21/ The neoliberal wing of the party had no intention of presenting any policy agenda, they were only prompted to concede a few things because of the pressure put by the Sanders wing. They have lost all credibility and should never be heard from again.

22/ Only Bernie Sanders has the moral authority to lead the Democratic party. Already he is insisting on fighting Trump tooth and nail, while Clinton is nowhere to be seen.

23/ Anyone who supports what the Clintons represent beyond this point doesn’t deserve to be called a liberal.

24/ Clinton offered efficient managerial stewardship of the assets of the propertied class, including young professionals, which includes wise stewardship of the empire. That was the sum total of her philosophy, and Obama’s too. This turned out to be extremely divisive, because the nation is more than that. Others have different priorities than neoliberal economic success.

25./Writers, intellectuals, academics, and artists in the public eye are nearly 100% with “the Dems.” When I was in college it was ridiculous to be for the Dems. We were socialists, Marxists, radicals, anarchists, greens, freethinkers, rebels, secularists, hardcore feminists, utopians. What the hell happened to all of that? Young people should get away from the Dems, and build a green/socialist/egalitarian alternative, not just at the political party level but as a living reality, a transcendent goal of existence. Trump has done us a favor by blowing up the corporate Dems, they were never going to change on their own.

26/ This should be the end of the intensely anti-intellectual “liberal” websites and blogs, right? We know who they are, shoveling pure snark at anyone the least bit skeptical of the party line, designed to flatter the hip and cool young professionals with politically correct propaganda and little understanding of the reality of working people. Young people should educate themselves about the history of political economy, stop wasting time with this diversionary new media.

27/ Can we ever imagine Clinton or anyone from that side of the Democratic party touring Appalachia? The inner cities? Wherever the poor live? Not as a political stunt but with any degree of sincerity toward fellow citizens?

28/ Hillary tried to make the last two months of the election, along with her supporters in the liberal media, a referendum on rape culture! That’s just not where the country was for this election. Bernie would have never brought up this stuff, it would have been a pure contest of economic ideas, his sane proposals to reform trade and taxation and immigration, versus Trump’s lunatic ones.

29/ The only person on the planet Trump could have beaten was Hillary. The Democrats insisted on picking that one person.

30/ Obama didn’t even nominate a liberal justice the left could get excited about, he chose a bland corporate nobody supported in the past by Republicans, and now they want us to cry over impending supreme court losses! Before he announced the nomination, the Republicans had already declared opposition for the rest of his term, so he knew it would be a live issue until the end, possibly one that could have swung the election. Yet he chose not to exploit it.

31/ The electorate wisely rejected 44 years of a Bush or a Clinton at or near the top, which it would have been by 2024.

32/ We also come full circle in confronting the total decimation of the Democratic party in congress and at the state level under Clinton and Obama. The Democrats had a lock on the House since the New Deal, which they lost permanently in 1994, making any legislative advance impossible. This was a direct result of the Clinton neoliberal cave-in, it’s what happens when you end opposition and turn your own party into a replica of the other side. Essentially, we’ve had one-party rule since the end of the Cold War. And this has created the philosophical vacuum in which Trump has stepped in.

33/ In his first television appearance since the election, Bernie Sanders showed tremendous statesmanship, by repeatedly telling Wolf Blitzer that we would not tolerate assaults on Muslims and immigrants. Any political leader who does not adopt the same level of opposition at this moment of reckoning is irrelevant to the future.

34/ The entire Democratic party leadership should resign in shame. How does Howard Dean have the nerve to want to run for DNC chair after having opposed Sanders and having thrown in his lot with the Clinton machine for more than a decade? Sanders has the moral authority to have his choice, Keith Ellison, go forward. A new leadership and new philosophy of resistance needs to mobilize before Trump’s inauguration, and before his anticipated dire first actions, particularly against immigrants. Can the party move that fast?

35/ The ongoing street protests are exactly what’s needed. They are the only thing that could stall Trump’s intent toward immigrants and Muslims. Who will take up their cause? That’s your future leadership right there.

36/ Trump is coming after undocumented immigrants and Muslims in a big way. Mobilize now, be ready to fight. Every liberal institution rolled over in the first two years after 9/11, as registration of Muslims, illegal incarceration, mass deportations, and torture and rendition became the new order. Nothing happened in those first years as a token of liberal resistance. We will soon find out if this has changed.

37/ Why didn’t Tim Kaine debate Mike Pence on his radical policies? What if Trump’s policies  had been fully exposed instead of going after him as a sexual predator? Everything he plans to do in his first days was already out in public, why was this not the main focus? Kaine, another neoliberal Clinton acolyte, a former DNC chair during yet another decline, should be nowhere near the leadership.

38/ Here come Fareed Zakaria and Jill Abramson and all the rest of the liberal prognosticators, blaming themselves for their failure to understand the agony of people in the rural areas. They are sorry they didn’t go to the South. The South? They’re right under your nose, in the urban areas, do you need to travel thousands of miles to find poor people?

39/ Blaming poor white people for taking advantage of white privilege is another part of runaway political correctness. The poor white person is as subject to police and surveillance authority, as subject to arbitrary employer exploitation, as the poor person of any color. Can that meme end now?

40/ A forceful seizure of the Democratic party is necessary, and at the moment only Bernie has the moral authority to do it. In the longer term, there must be electoral reform, campaign finance reform, space for third parties and viewpoints beyond the two centrist parties. But in the short-term, Bernie is the youngest 75-year-old in the land, so take it away!

Anis Shivani’s books in the last year include Soraya: Sonnets, Whatever Speaks on Behalf of Hashish: Poems, and Karachi Raj: A Novel. Literary Writing in the Twenty-First Century: Conversations and A History of the Cat in Nine Chapters or Less: A Novel come out in early 2017.

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Anis Shivani is the author of Why Did Trump Win? Chronicling the Stages of Neoliberal Reactionism and This Is the Only Way to Solve the Immigration Problem: A Radical Human Rights Approach. A History of the Cat in Nine Chapters: A Noveland Logography: A Poetry Omnibusare forthcoming in early 2019.

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