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It’s Not Populism, It’s Voter Suppression

American media has a sick Trumpism tendency. Pundits are eager to explain a Trump victory as natural just so they can dump on someone they don’t like. A lot of unnecessary conclusions are made upon election results. For the corporate media, Trump is a stain on the working class. For the increasingly reactionary alternative media it’s a sign that Sleepy Joe was actually too woke and we need to start talking more like Trump.

Both cynical positions forget to do one thing: count the damn votes. There is lots of analysis about how this should have been a landslide (probably not considering Biden’s heinous record). But this analysis tends to act as if all the votes are counted. It’s as if all the coverage of voter suppression stopped as soon as we cast our votes for the Democrats. It’s like the pundits are saying it doesn’t matter if the Republicans actually win, it matters we voted to prove we live in a democracy, even when we don’t. The alt-left media is no better, as they barely have an inch of daylight from the alt-right these days as they hammer home how Trump speaks to the people and that Democrats are forgetting the “white working class”.

The white working-class should be outlawed from American speech. Cancel it. I don’t care. Cancel culture is great. It’s the one redeemable thing from the Trump era. No one seems to care that poor people of color can’t get their votes counted. Maybe try to “reach” those people. Furthermore, this whole breakdown of votes by category is a sign of fascism too. People seem to be obsessed with how this or that group voted. Let’s categorize people by income, race, gender, ability, occupation, etc. and make sweeping conclusions! What could go wrong?! Who else does that?

This sort of “analysis” that has no material grounding but purely categorizes is right out of the Trump playbook. The corporate media and it’s supposed cancelled opposition (wishful thinking) actually agree on a lot. They agree that the issues, that each candidate actually stands for should not be discussed. Rather we should try to find out about what makes people turn to “alternatives” as if it’s a reality show we can all gawk at. Where’s the politics?

Pundits desperately want the Trump narrative of hate to be true. American people rejected it. What is true is that the billionaire class is pouring unprecedented amounts of money into elections, ensuring to keep a minority fascist party in power and the urgent calls for socialism outside of even the Wall St. endorsed resistance party. What is true is that the ruling class has used the coronavirus pandemic to further consolidate its power, in part through wide spread voter suppression.

Henry Giroux constantly says that capitalism and democracy aren’t the same thing. It’s not an obvious statement given the state of things. Elections are bought and sold. Votes aren’t counted. To identify a material understanding of voter’s “interests”, let’s start there. An assault on education and public institutions has hallowed out critical thought but this is not the time to give up on democracy. This is the very time to defend it.

Voters consistently want progressive platforms in polls. The Bernie Sanders agenda was much more popular than either the Donald Trump agenda or Joe Biden agenda. This is remarkable given the propaganda and corruption within our oligarchy. But it’s also obvious. People want to have health care, a living wage, access to college and housing, etc. It’s common sense.

The effort by the ruling class is to obscure the obvious. Rather than say how the vote gets stolen they talk about how a specific demographic or region functions. There’s nothing very scientific about it. This is the media running away from reporting and going all in on opinion. This is once again out of the Trump playbook. Don’t open your eyes. Let me tell a story instead.

It’s unclear what the conclusion of this analysis is supposed to be. Give up and give it to the lying cheating Trump in the name of democracy? Abandon democracy and let the ruling class choose a more stable genius? Scrap your wokeness and embrace a left-wing nationalism to reach Trump voters? There’s no coherent conclusion here because there isn’t a concrete basis to the analysis. Trumpism is a moving target that no one can get right because it’s simply not representative. It’s the rule of the wretched few who hide behind the police while breaking the rule of law.

Is it not a good enough story to say the poor want rights but the ruling class is winning the class war? Sounds pretty compelling to me.

The Republicans are processing 40 lawsuits. Let’s take Ohio. Lots of analysis about the “industrial Midwest” and how Trump speaks to the soul of lowly workers but what about a federal judge blocking changes to the signature matching requirements for ballots? Philadelphia reports Trumpsters videotaping voters. A Politico report details GOP signature bias in Nevada’s Clark County.

Trump and co. played dictator in an Arizona lawsuit by the Navajo Nation who wanted to count votes by mail. Or take Florida’s reaction to felon voting amendment. The Washington Post estimates only 300,000 of 1.4 million felons got to right to vote because of fees. In Florida the narrative is that Latinx rejected socialism from Biden. But is it that Biden is a secret socialist, a pure Trumpism conspiracy, or simply that black and Hispanic mail in votes have been disproportionately flagged, as per Sun Sentinel. There’s countless examples, in nearly every state.

Ben Burgis counts over 31 million people in the US who can’t vote. These people are people in jail or who used to be and immigrants. How can we make any conclusions about the American public when this many people are left out of the process?

Trump is using voter suppression as a replacement for popularity. If Trump was popular he wouldn’t need to cheat. Can it be any more plain than that? The American people did not reject democracy. The American oligarchy did. If Trump wins it won’t be because he’s a populist, it will because the people have no power.

Let’s face it. Pundits across the political spectrum want to paint the corporate fascist Donald Trump as a populist. I have a different opinion. Count the votes. Unless the byline says Paul Street or Greg Palast I’m not reading anymore pundits from clueless corporate or increasingly unhinged alternative media for the coming months.

Protestors across the country are being arrested protesting Trump’s refusal to count the vote. This is democracy in action. Armed militias, police and fascist pundits aren’t. Democracy has always been a tenuous social contract, but it relies on public institutions hollowed out by neoliberalism. Treating this election as one that can be analyzed through the lens of purely voter’s desires rather than a class-based analysis of power is beyond ludicrous.

A white minority protected by the police state is trying to assert violent tyrannical rule. A poor progressive majority is growing, not so much thanks to that fascist calculation of “demographics” but because the oligarchy and Empire can no longer provide resources to even its own citizens. The urgent calls for socialism and defunding the police are smeared in many ways. One of these ways is that it’s a minority position.

Donald Trump demands a fair election where no votes are counted. The pundits may want to give him the power of popularity but a fair election will be his downfall. Trump’s rise is based upon violent threats, an unprecedented subversion of the law in regards to vote counting in a pandemic, and the heavy hand of the state police. His downfall proves democracy is a social contract and that people will put a lot on the line to uphold it.

While it may be concerning that even a minority of people turned to fascism, what’s just as concerning is a narrative by the left that to beat Trump we have to forget about the voting rights of people of color and win that illusive white worker, or the parallel narrative by the corporate media that it’s actually poverty, not bourgeois white supremacy that propelled Donald Trump’s rise. Either narrative not only gives Trump undue legitimacy but also misreads the way to remove him from office. With an unpopular tyrant, the message isn’t voted him out as we already have. The message should be count the votes.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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