Richard Seymour, a political activist and author, penned an article in today’s Guardian newspaper that caught my eye. In it he posits “that Joe Biden can defuse this by restoring civility and bipartisanship to Washington would be unforgivably complacent. The United States, and not just the United States, urgently needs an anti-fascist movement. We have not begun to see the end of this.”
Take a deep breath, Richard. We already have an anti-fascist movement
It’s called Antifa and is so loosely defined that no one can actually decide what it means or who its members are. Which is fine by me. I’ve written on this subject before and in my view what America absolutely does not need is a further split in our social fabric into fascist and anti-fascist, bringing mob against mob to the streets. The long, soft rain that grows the seeds of fascism is a long-term and continuing rupture of equitable society. We saw that in the unfair and inequitable WWI terms of armistice against Germany that ravaged the economy and thereby fueled the rise of Hitler. We’ve seen it in America with the destruction of trade unions and off-shoring of industry that made pauper the middle class and led to 1% of the wealthy owning the nation.
Fascism is a treatable disease
The current Covid pandemic is a treatable disease as well, but we don’t hope to cure it by raising an anti-pandemic political movement. Rather, we look for causes in a search for treatment. Beyond treatment, we look for and develop a vaccine. So, now we’re on to something that quite possibly makes more sense than storming the halls of Congress and raising yet another militia (if in name only) to put down such activity. An anti-fascist movement simply pushes us further toward separation in an already stunningly separate national discourse.
Although he lost this last election, Trump hardly lost it in a landslide, but quite narrowly
Having had the opportunity to watch him in action over a four-year term, Americans awarded him ten million more votes than he won by in 2016. That fact should sober even the most partisan liberal. The reason Biden won was not his blazing call to arms or dedication to a Green New Deal of jobs and environmental salvation. It was the weak tea of a return to normalcy—much more a for god’s sake we cannot do this than a here’s the cure for our wounded nation. And it worked, but very narrowly. And when I say narrowly I don’t mean only in votes counted, but in a dangerous narrowing of the gap between what separates us and what brings us together.
Which doesn’t bode well for the 2024 election
The public opinion that set up Trump’s 2016 win is, in my view, the culmination of that forty-year soft rain in full germination. And yes, I’m tired of blowing that same old horn, but it must be blown—constantly—until its call is recognized. Trump’s win was a wake-up call, a useful and necessary recognition of why and how we have become so emotionally and politically split as a nation. The fact that Biden won so narrowly is proof of two things: 1) Democrats simply will not accept the error of their ways and 2) they feel a return to the comfortable days of yore is not only possible, but preferable.
They’re dead wrong and have only a narrow window of opportunity to prove otherwise
Democrats will either swing powerfully toward the messages of Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren and Ocasio-Cortez and articulate that swing during the next four years or wander in the wastelands of Republicanism forever. Having said that, there’s no way they can make all that happen within a currently dysfunctional Congress. Yet they have a very narrow control of both House and Senate at the moment. What they do to begin that process and spend every possible moment praising the small victories and cheering on the larger goals, will determine whether they lose or increase their control over the Congress in the 2022 mid-terms.
Not much time
It’s been said that the two great destroyers of political power are arrogance and resentment. We have a full plate of both in America at the moment—arrogance on the part of the wealthy and powerful, bringing resentment as nearly never-before seen by those citizens racially and economically abandoned by their government. Actually, runaway wealth and power are simply the newest and most obvious instances of the Fords and Rockefellers. Racism has been with us since the birth of the nation, along with the poor. But the baselines of democracy grew strong with a healthy middle-class and we purposefully threw that under the bus forty years ago with globalization.
So some is old and some is new
The difference is that the health of democracy moves at warp-speed today and at this precious moment both anger and fear split our resolve. The right-wing is angry at job loss and fearful of losing America’s white majority. Liberals are angry at our economic divide and fearful they’ll be found complicit. Given those angers and fears, Biden’s mission impossible becomes more clear. Don’t look to Wall Street for a way forward, but Madison Avenue might have a clue. Democrats are trying to sell the toothpaste of political better breath and a brighter smile. Okay, I’ll buy that. But they threw out the Bernie Sanders breath and Liz Warren brighter smile, so they better sit down in the conference room with their client and repurpose the ad.
A great idea is a great idea, but marketing sells the product
Is it hard to market fairness and equity? That ought to be a product that simply jumps off the shelf, but maybe the ad campaign must first move away from the arrogance and resentment we created in earlier times. Pay attention here, we’re selling toothpaste now. Promising change and then change you can believe in, before dumping the whole notion to Trump’s successful burn down the house didn’t work out all that well. Try this on for size:
Bidenpaste: finally an end to arrogant tooth decay and resented dental appointments, promising a bright smile and fresh breath.
Hmmm. Might work, if we can get those teeth bright quickly. It’s the fresh breath that’s tricky. Gotta give that some thought. But I think we’re on the right track. Let’s go out and have a few drinks…the client-meeting’s not ‘till Tuesday.
Photo credit: Arc Digital