The horrors of the past months shouldn’t stop us from remembering that 2015 was a year of polarization in US society — with the increasing confidence of right-wing forces taking place at the same time as a less-remarked-upon growth in those looking for an alternative on the left.
At a time when the airwaves are filled with ridiculous police theories about the “radicalization” of Muslims, we need to locate and encourage the genuine and healthy process of left-wing radicalisation wherever it’s taking place.
In the days before the ISIS attacks in Paris, US headlines were dominated by the wave of anti-racist protests sweeping across college campuses in the wake of historic demonstrations at the University of Missouri that pushed out the school’s president.
There’s the most obvious and widespread expression of people shifting leftward: the Democratic presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who is polling at over 30 percent as an open (if quite moderate) socialist in party polls.
Amid the media’s Trump cacophony, it can be easy to forget —or never find out in the first place — how small a section of the population his supporters represent. As political analyst Nate Silver wrote at FiveThirtyEight.com:
“Right now, [Trump] has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.)”
The point here is not to minimise the real impact of the spread of Trump’s poisonous ideas.
Instead, the reason to step back and gain a wider view of the political landscape so that we can more accurately assess where we are on the defensive, but also where we can push back.
The understandable alarm over the Trump minority can distract from the main dynamic in the presidential race: while the Republican Party is in crisis because of its inability to find a candidate to beat Trump, Hillary Clinton is consolidating her commanding lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton looks certain to be her party’s nominee not because her message is more appealing to voters, but on the contrary, because the Democratic Party is not a democratic party.
Rather it’s an organisation whose major decisions and nominations are determined by big money donations, corporate media connections and a rigged internal structure.
If and when Clinton becomes the nominee, there will be enormous pressure on Sanders supporters and activists, even if they would prefer to stay independent of Clinton and the Democrats, to join in the Clinton campaign, based on the familiar logic of the lesser evil.
[That] argument will sound convincing to many, but it’s a losing strategy. We can’t defeat Republican Islamophobia and anti-immigrant racism by backing a party whose current president carried out the most deportations in history and waged endless wars that have fuelled terrorism and anti-Muslim hatred.
There’s another way, and we’ve seen that it works — by pressing forward with protests [and the left alternative].
• Full article here