It’s one freaking election. One in an off-off year in a state that was once the capital of the Confederacy. A right-wing multimillionaire who attacked the book of a Nobel Prize winner as if it were a pornographic snuff film being shown as an after-school special barely beat the corporate hack who was a former governor. Virginia is not a microcosm of the US as much as it is a microcosm of the South. White supremacy dies hard in a land conceived as a slavers paradise; a land whose history is based in the freedom to own other humans in perpetuity. Despite the suburban soccer moms of Fairfax County, it is the hollers of the Blue Ridge mountains, the Christian college of Lynchburg, and even the bourgeois fans of Hokie football that control the levers of power in Richmond.
It’s not the end of democracy. That ended years ago. Like George Bush’s hanging chad victory in 2000 and Donald Trump’s electoral but not popular vote win in 2016, it’s just another nail in the coffin. Or like Joe Biden’s win in 2020, where the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party twisted arms, promised paydays to politicians and otherwise forced the left-leaning primary candidates into a line behind Joe. Just like it is doing now in Congress as it morphs a bill designed to help working people into one that will mostly help the corporations that give most people in Congress their true payday.
Columnists fret, progressives fret, even leftists who focus on electoral politics fret. How can we stop the reactionaries from taking over everything? How can we stop the US fascists—the Trumpists and their allies—from total victory? While I don’t have the answer to that, I do know that it’s not by trying to be more like them. Fascism is a real possibility in the United States. It always has been. Wall Street knows this better than most liberals do. Wall Street would ultimately have no problem with a fascist regime in DC. Like German capital in the 1930s, US capital understands that an authoritarian state run for the benefit of profiteers is a great way to make money. The fact that so many of the Democrats in power are part of the same economy that would easily lie with the fascists compromises their opposition. They put their bank accounts and their potential for cashing in ahead of their commitment to the people who elected them and the democracy they claim to live in. Their party cannot overcome the fascists as long as it serves the same masters.
In the 1960s, a political phenomenon known as the Außerparlamentarische Opposition (extraparliamentary opposition) existed in West Germany. It was a popular mass movement organized in response to the so-called Große Koalition (Grand Coalition) which ruled the country at the time. The Grand Coalition was a coalition between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. This ruling coalition effectively controlled the domestic and foreign policies of the country, sometimes leaning left and sometimes leaning right, dependent on which party had more seats in the parliament. The reason I mention this is simple. The current political situation in the United States is deadlocked. The mainstream political system has been trending rightward for decades, with a very sharp turn in that direction since the electoral college appointment of Donald Trump. Nationally, popular and progressive forces have been sidelined into political campaigns inside the Democratic party that go nowhere, thereby neutralizing what could be a popular movement made up of millions. Instead of mourning the loss of one more corporate Democrat or lambasting pathetic tools of the banks, Big Pharma and the energy industry like Manchin and Sinema, an organized extraparliamentary opposition could bring more people into the streets than any proto-fascist group or lunatic fringe organization aligning themselves with the Trumpist cause.
The Democrats will not change the status quo. The party as it exists is as much a part of that status as the GOP, the S&P 500, the mainstream media, and most of organized religion. It has no reason to quit the goose laying the golden eggs. Its very coexistence with the Trumpist movement and its inability to mount an aggressive campaign to throw their leadership into the prisons they deserve makes this clear. If the US version of fascism is to be defeated in the twenty-first century, we cannot leave it up to the Democratic Party to lead the charge. I doubt we can even count on its support, no matter how meager.
Back to the Virginia election. The fact that the Trumpist Youngkin won the governor’s seat in Richmond is not that big of a deal. It is, however, an indication that this element of US politics are not done yet. Re-electing the Democrat McAuliffe would not have changed this. While I am of the opinion that Joe Biden has done a bit more good than bad so far, it is clear that leaving the Democratic Party to do the dirty work of taking down the Trumpists is a risky proposition. Getting organized and into the streets is a much better plan.