The Self-Justifying Fantasies of Clinton Democrats

Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism, 5, Part 1

To my friends and others who supported Hillary Clinton

This is the first part of the last of my series, Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism.  I hope to have this finished in the next few days, and to call it “Aftermath: Precipitations of crisis and the meaning of Trump.”  Given all the post-election talk that is swirling around, in which Clinton supporters are–one hopes–struggling to understand, but coming up against the parameters of understanding that they have accepted, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask CounterPunch to post this part.–BM 


For Star Trek watchers out there, remember all the times when the solution to a difficult situation was something along the lines of, “If I could reconfigure this tricorder to emit a phased tachyon pulse . . .”?  Hey–if we could emit phased tachyon pulses, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with!

Reconfigure: “Trump isn’t my president.”  We need more than “reconfigure.”  If you voted for Hillary Clinton, there is no question: Trump certainly is your president.”  If you supported Hillary Clinton and the system she affirms in empowered, privileged, militant ways, including her affirmation of American exceptionalism, then Donald Trump is your president.

I’m not saying “get used to it.”  But if you really believed (and still believe) that Donald Trump is going to be a disaster, then you’d be doing more than walking around with your noses in the air, crying in your classroom, and talking about how depressed you are.

I’m not saying these things to be unsympathetic.  On the other hand, when it comes to expressions of being in “mourning,” that’s just too much.

There already is an ongoing disaster in the world.  It’s called capitalism.  The global form of this capitalism is imperialism, a world shaped by capitalist social relations.  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vied for leadership of the country that is the linchpin of this ongoing disaster.  For this job, there is no doubt that Clinton was the best candidate–there was probably never a greater example, at least in the United States, of the ruling class lining up behind a candidate, than Clinton’s candidacy.  And you, Clinton supporters, lined up with them.  A Trump presidency is the result–this is your result.  So, if you think what your contribution will be now is just to go into a long-term state of denial (as the Democrats did with George W. Bush–when they weren’t lining up behind him, which was most of the time), please think again.

There is plenty of historical evidence to suggest that social-democrats are worthless or worse when it comes to fighting fascism.  Clinton Democrats are not even remotely social-democrats, and perhaps Trump is something other than a “fascist,” exactly.  But the analogy is good enough, especially given the way that Clinton supporters are attempting to place blame for the Trump election on those who did not support Clinton, and otherwise hiding behind “Trump is not my president” and the like.  This is just further evidence that, when it comes to really changing the world, Democrats are irrelevant at best.  It is only in making a radical break with this whole scene that anything good can be accomplished.

This isn’t a matter of welcoming crisis or trying to do something to bring on crisis–that was never a good strategy, but crisis doesn’t work that way in any case–but instead of truly taking advantage of the galvanizing effect that a Trump presidency will have.  The question will be, “galvanizing for what?”–the answer cannot and must not be another retreat into depressing Democratic fantasies and thinking about the next election.  You said something was different this time–little did you know.  So, please, get your crying done and get ready to get down to some real work.

Or, you can hang on to your self-justificatory fantasies and mythology about the past year.  I honestly hope that you don’t do that, but I know that the temptation to do this is strong, and, that way, you can blame the people who didn’t support Clinton and go about your usual routine of taking responsibility for nothing that could actually be called political.  What’s interesting is that the Clinton supporters have far more anger toward the people who didn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump than they do for the outright Trump supporters–which is another sign of not wanting to face reality.  One simply hopes that reality will face you in such a way that you will realize that your fantasies fall far and qualitatively short of what is really needed.

(On the flip side, if you want to hang on to your mythology that someone else is to blame for the failure of HRC’s candidacy, go ahead, that’s fine with me.  Anything that makes either of the so-called “major political parties” fall apart is all to the good.)

This isn’t “personal.”  Indeed, everything Clinton supporters did to make it “personal” backfired.  That just showed smallness of mind.  On the other hand, to the extent that Clinton supporters said some really nasty things about those who didn’t support Clinton, you might think about apologizing, to show your willingness to take responsibility and to go forward in good faith when it comes to the systemic questions that need to be faced squarely.

The rest of us, myself included, also need to engage in reflection and self-criticism, not for the purposes of self-purification, but instead so that we can move forward without baggage.  For my part, I will attempt to understand the meaning of the fact that I thought the process leading up to the election was mainly one of the Republicans tearing themselves apart, when in reality it seems the Democrats were the ones doing this.  If it turns out to be both, and that there are many millions of people, including Trump supporters, who are instead getting educated to the reality of “the Establishment” (I always thought this was an excellent term, we just need to fill it out), regardless of what sick joke of a “party” in the two-party system is associated with it, that will be excellent.  Let’s help this happen.

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Bill Martin is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago; at present he is also Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Huaqiao University in Xiamen, PRC. His most recent book is Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. Now he is at work on a large project of synthesis, bringing together elements of Buddhism, Maoism, and French Marxism (especially the ideas of Alain Badiou). He is also a musician, and recently released two albums of experimental music, Gravitas (Avant-Bass 1) and Terre de Bas (Avant-Bass 2).

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