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Post-Election Survey: Democrats Can Still Reach Trump Voters
The study by Working America, shared exclusively with The Nation, finds that many Trump voters are up for grabs—but also points to a lack of progressive infrastructure.

As Donald Trump’s popularity with white working-class voters became vexingly apparent a year ago, the pro-labor organization Working America sent its canvassers out to have “front-porch conversations” with more than a thousand voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The AFO-CIO–affiliated group found trouble: Twenty-five percent of the Democrats they contacted said they would be voting for Trump. His appeal wasn’t about specific issues, Working America director Karen Nussbaum told me last year. “They have a strong feeling that government isn’t working for them, and they want political leadership that helps them. If we move them to clarify who’s really to blame and who really will help, we can help make sense of a frightening situation.”

Apparently, Democrats failed to do that. In the states Working America canvassed, a surprising number of white working-class voters who had backed Barack Obama chose Trump over Hillary Clinton, helping flip those states to the GOP. So after the election, Nussbaum’s team went back into the field, surveying over 2,300 voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania to make sense of what had happened. Their conclusion, provided exclusively to The Nation today: Many Trump voters “are as up for grabs [to Democrats] now as they were before the election,” Nussbaum said. That may be of little comfort, two days before the inauguration, but it should remind Democrats that the defection of some of their voters to Trump wasn’t a lasting shift based on policy but a bad choice these voters nonetheless perceived as best for them.

Working America’s post-election report resists a shrieking, clickbait headline. Like all of the group’s work, it’s the result of conversations, not polling, so extrapolating from its numbers can be hard. It’s also not trying to be a scientific, demographically correct sample. For example, it deliberately over-interviewed Democrats, as well as white voters, and included non-voters in its data. As a result, white voters in the survey favored Clinton over Trump 47-40 percent (with the rest either voting third party or staying home); nationwide, white voters backed Trump 58-37. Voters of color in the survey backed Clinton 75-10, which was closer to the national result. A disturbing 11 percent of voters of color the group surveyed didn’t vote at all, compared with 6 percent of white voters. Among the Trump voters, there were some “lock her up” diehards, Nussbaum said. But most of them “wanted to talk with us, they’re still searching.” One-third of the folks they canvassed decided to join Working America, an openly pro-labor progressive organization—and of those, one out of five voted for Trump.

“None of us won,” a 50-something white male Trump voter on Cleveland’s west side told veteran organizer Soren Norris when he visited him after the election. “I had teased him, ‘Well, your guy won, I’m the one who should be dejected here,” Norris told me. That “none of us won” answer “echoed a theme I heard from a lot of Trump voters,” Norris said. Back in July, I followed Norris around Brooklyn, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, to talk to white working-class voters there. Six months later, we reconnected by phone, and he shared some of what he heard after the election. It was confusing, he admitted.

There was the woman who got insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and voted for Trump anyway, because, she said, “he’s just talking, he won’t get rid of it.” An 80-something lifelong Democrat switched to Trump because “he didn’t feel safe anymore.” A lot of the Trump voters he talked to “just couldn’t stomach Hillary.” But most disturbing to Norris was talking to people who didn’t vote, who tended to be younger and/or voters of color. “They really regretted not voting,” he said. “They didn’t realize Trump could win.”

Interestingly, both Trump and Clinton voters had similar priorities for the president-elect. Their top two issues were jobs/the economy and a change in Trump’s rhetoric, with Clinton voters ranking “change his rhetoric” first and jobs/the economy second; Trump voters flipped that order.

Nussbaum finds hope in “the similarities of concerns and priorities” between Trump and Clinton voters, as well as in the fact that so many Trump voters seemed to have made their choice reluctantly. I reminded her that, last summer, she had told me that Clinton “can absolutely be competitive” with swing-state white working-class voters (and for the record, I wholeheartedly agreed). That prediction ended up being wrong; Clinton lost white working-class voters by a significantly larger margin than Obama did in 2008 and 2012. I asked Nussbaum, gently: what happened?

The Working America leader declined to criticize the campaign, but admitted Clinton’s message did not get through. “The problem comes down to: Who are they listening to? It’s a lot of right-wing media,” she said. Many voters told Working America’s canvassers that “Hillary doesn’t ever say what she’s for,” Nussbaum explained. Canvassers could share “the fact that she has a very developed plan. But they didn’t hear it.”

Just as Working America’s findings resist simplification, its prescriptions do too. The biggest problem, Nussbaum says, is that “the left hasn’t built any kind of infrastructure. Given the decline of unions, what is there in these communities that expresses our values? Who is there to tell people the truth? How do we break through the monolithic messaging” of the right,” she asks. “We treat elections like a short-term project every two years. We need to invest in all kinds of communities, in local activism that puts people together in coalition.”

Interestingly, Working America’s canvassers found, despite the story line that “Trump didn’t have a ground game,” Nussbaum says, the number of Trump voters who told canvassers they’d been contacted by Trump campaign was close to the number of Clinton voters who said they’d be reached by the Clinton campaign. It could be that the Trump campaign was stealthier; it could also be the role that the Koch-brothers group Americans for Prosperity, or the NRA, played in activating local networks that turned out the Trump vote. Canvassers found more AFP literature on doors they knocked on than they expected, Nussbaum said. (This echoes Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol’s influential take on the institution gap between progressives and conservatives.)

In the end, Nussbaum said, Working America’s canvass provides progressives some reason for optimism. “We talked to people who had just voted for a woman-hating demagogue. But there’s an openness and fluidity now that we can’t afford to ignore.” Some Trump voters, she predicts, “won’t want to tell their grandkids they voted for him.” That’s why Democrats can’t afford to write off the white working class, she said. “We have to bring along the folks who are open—we can’t govern without them.”

Post-Election Survey: Democrats Can Still Reach Trump Voters

What Did Bernie Do?
Looking back at the Sanders campaign and the struggles to come.

Socialism in the United States
The Bernie Sanders campaign had success on a level no one could have predicted, winning tens of millions of supporters. To what do you credit this?

Cedric Johnson

The ground was softened over the past two decades for him. There have been some really dark times going back to the Bush years, but through it all we’ve seen social struggles that have illuminated the way forward. Sanders benefited from that. He was the beneficiary of organizing around the Labor Party, antiglobalization struggles, antiwar protests, fights to save collective bargaining in places like Wisconsin and Ohio, Occupy Wall Street, and the demonstrations against police violence. I think people were ready, different constituencies that have come into being in a way that didn’t exist a decade or two ago.

Jen Roesch

The struggles over the last two decades — especially the last eight years — are enormously important and paved the way for Sanders’s success. It’s almost a time-delayed “Occupy goes to the polls” kind of expression.

The material basis — for both those struggles and the success of Sanders’s campaign — is the growing and dramatic levels of social inequality in this country. Sanders managed to tap into antiestablishment sentiment. He spoke to a discontent that people have with politics as usual, with the Democratic Party, with disappointed expectations of Obama. Sanders was able to give expression to a politics to the left of the Democratic Party mainstream which could provide a left populist answer to people’s discontent — in the inverse way that Trump is tapping into that discontent.

Matt Karp

The scale of Bernie’s success is staggering. This was the most successful left-wing primary campaign in US history. The only analogues are Jesse Jackson in 1988 and Ted Kennedy in 1980, but Sanders won many more votes, delegates, and primaries than either of them.

What made Bernie different? A major factor was Sanders’s embrace of a social-democratic platform. The campaign focused on simple, broad solutions like national health care and free college — universal goods that speak to people’s everyday problems, and have been consistently shown to be popular. But politicians in both parties have studiously avoided talking about them for decades.

Sanders also mobilized a direct class politics in his rhetoric. He was not afraid to name names, like the Walton family or Goldman Sachs, rather than just talking generally about opportunity or inequality. And he expanded his critique beyond individual wrongdoing: these are not just bad people, but they are in an inherently exploitative class position, the billionaire class. American politicians don’t ever talk this way, but it resonated.

For us, Sanders’s popularity was all the more exciting for his embrace of the “socialist” label. But how big of a role did Sanders’s socialism really play in his public perception?

Cedric Johnson

It’s remarkable that he was even able to run as an openly democratic-socialist candidate and not be marginalized. Clinton tried to attack him on that, but he was able to weather those criticisms. It didn’t really stick in the way it would have a decade or two ago.

Jen Roesch

The important thing is that Sanders’s socialism wasn’t a barrier to him getting millions of votes. When I came of political age, the Soviet Union was just falling. Socialism was associated with Stalinism. People told you to go back to Russia. Twenty-five years later, more than thirteen million people voted for someone who calls himself a socialist. That’s a certain kind of barrier coming down, that’s incredibly important for the socialist left.

Matt Karp

There is a paradoxical effect when the word socialism gets abused — particularly the way the right wing has abused it, calling Obama socialist, calling Obamacare socialist, all this crazy stuff.

So the word “socialism” gets watered down, but it also expresses a real truth. The polling on socialism says that this younger generation contains a large of group of people interested in something beyond liberal reform. Maybe they don’t know what it is, exactly, but they’re open to it and they’re going to keep exploring and I think it’s our job to keep pushing them.

Jen Roesch

Matt is hitting on an important point. Sanders opened up a discussion about what socialism is. At various points throughout his campaign he started out with a broader conception, talking about Eugene Debs and then at other times would describe having a military — or anything that’s owned by the state — as socialist. It’s incumbent on socialists to continue a discussion about what kind of socialism we want to fight for. That space has really opened up for us.

Cedric Johnson

It is important that Sanders was able to do what he did as a socialist candidate, but we need to think carefully about what brought people to his side. It wasn’t the label, but the attraction of specific policy platforms. Free higher education, single-payer health care, calls for regulating the banks, as well as things like postal banking . . . Unless you’re over fifty, most people don’t even remember those things as a possibility or a reality. Sanders’s success had more to do with, as Matt pointed out, the resonance of his critique of class power and, as Jen noted, the harsh conditions that people are living through.

In all elections, people’s votes are an expression of a temporal preference, not necessarily a full-throated acceptance of all things that a candidate represents. We should be excited about Sanders’s popularity, but we should also be somewhat cautious in how we think about what motivated people to support him.

Matt Karp

There were some people on the Left who were worried Sanders watered down the term, that he would make socialism meaningless, or turn socialism into liberalism. But even if there were some distortions, I’m glad we are having this conversation. I’d rather have millions of people talking about socialism than have millions of people not talking about socialism.

Cedric Johnson

If something opens up the possibility for a different kind of conversation, a popular critique of capitalism, then I’m all for it. I don’t think we have to wait for the perfect set of conditions to arise to make things happen. As we see the potential for power, there’s a need for us to shift gears from the kind of pristine conversations we have within activist circles and accept the fact of politics, that the process itself is not always pretty. Things don’t always line up the way we want them to, but we shouldn’t be discouraged by that.

Jen Roesch

I was sitting in a meeting of students on campus and an eighteen-year-old said, “I was against all of these different things and I was angry about all of these different issues, and then Sanders came along and gave it a name and it made me want to start understanding what socialism is and learning more about it.”

That’s a minority of people who voted for Sanders, but it’s a minority that far outstrips the current capacity of the Left to bring those people into activity.

Race, Class, and Struggle

As Sanders increasingly posed a threat to Hillary Clinton’s nomination bid, all sorts of charges were leveled against him. The red-baiting stuff was a flop, but there was more success when Sanders was accused of paying insufficient attention to race. Were these complaints warranted?

Cedric Johnson

I think that’s a wrong view of things. Sanders is committed to antidiscrimination along racial and gender lines. A lot of the criticisms lobbed at him were calling for him to adopt a typical kind of patron-client approach to the elections — to engage with particular brokers of this or that identity group. Throughout the primary I heard, “If only Sanders had adopted a reparations plank” or “If only Sanders had taken a stronger position on Black Lives Matter, then he could have taken away the black vote from Clinton and he could have won the primary and the Democratic nomination.”

I think that’s just a wrongheaded view of how politics works. It assumes that most of this is about messaging and if you just offer the right message to people, then they’ll rally by your side. There’s also an oversimplified view of black political life at work here. Clinton made all sorts of missteps which should have damaged her support from blacks, like the instance in South Carolina during that pricey fundraiser where she shut down a Black Lives Matter protester. Some might think that that would have eroded her black support, but it really didn’t because her “superpredators” comment was not the only thing people were thinking about when they were deciding whether to support Clinton’s nomination.

Jen Roesch

Sanders’s positions on racism had nothing to do with why he didn’t win the black vote. He is far to the left of Clinton on racism, from his social policies to his opposition to mass incarceration, to his programs to address broad inequality.

One of the central liberal critiques of Sanders on racism was that he focused too much on class. But his economic policies — emphasizing jobs programs and broad policies of redistribution — would be a huge advance in addressing inequality and improving the lives of millions of black and brown people.

I am heartened to see similar calls today, for example, in the platform for the Movement for Black Lives. Their seven demands don’t just focus on racist policing and mass incarceration, but speak to the entire experience of racism in this country. Sanders’s ideas clearly resonated with people coming of age right now.

But there were also limitations to Sanders’s approach to race — not so much from the electoral calculus, but from the perspective of building a new left. He gave some amazing speeches in front of black audiences, but he didn’t incorporate it into his stump speech and did not highlight issues of racism when he spoke in front of primarily white, working-class audiences.

Sanders brought class politics into the discussion of the fight against racism, but did not do enough to bring the issue of racism into the struggle against class inequality.

Matt Karp

I agree with Cedric and Jen about black voters and the Sanders campaign. But I do think this is an important issue going forward. There’s no question that for the center and for the right of the Democratic Party, an appeal to individual identity is at the heart of a strategy to splinter and destroy any broad-based, universalistic politics of solidarity.

I’m not so worried about the clumsier iterations of this, like when Clinton said “breaking up the big banks won’t end racism.” I don’t think that really plays anywhere except maybe with a small group of white liberals who want to signal their virtue. But the more significant manifestations — when we saw leaders like John Lewis slam Bernie on civil rights — that was really powerful, and it’s going to remain on the agenda.

The Democratic Party’s institutional ties to communities of color and its ability to mobilize certain forms of rhetoric to undermine universalistic politics is something that we have to reckon with. We can’t just fight it with ironic tweets. We need a vocabulary and a strategy that goes beyond calling out the hypocrisy of neoliberal antiracism. We need to develop something that addresses specific historical oppressions, and builds rather than undermines solidarity based on those oppressions.

Cedric Johnson

What Sanders did was put in front of us a clear, progressive left agenda and he appealed to blacks as he did to all other voters. There was some movement in different states, where over time, he was able to build his base of black support, not by pandering in the way that Clinton did, but by actually presenting people with ideas that resonated with their experiences and seemed to connect with their needs and interests.

When Clinton deployed Jim Clyburn and others in South Carolina, they twisted things in ways that I’m still puzzled folks didn’t see straight through. For instance, Clyburn made this argument that “nothing in life is free” as a way to disparage the free higher education proposal. What’s odd about that is that free higher education at public institutions would have had a dramatic effect on the capacities of black people at historically black colleges — like the one I attended, Southern University of Baton Rouge — to complete their education. It would have been the same for South Carolina State, Chicago State, Grambling State University, dozens of public universities across the South, and even in some of the northern states where blacks constitute the majority of the student body.

Those are the institutions that produce the most black graduates, but in front of certain audiences in South Carolina, Clyburn was able to discredit the proposal and present this scenario where free higher education was going to drain students away from the smaller, black liberal arts colleges that he is connected to. I just think there were some dishonest maneuvers, which is always a part of this political process, but there were things that worked effectively for their side that we should have contested more strenuously.

Matt Karp

Just a point of clarification. I do not think ironic tweets are sufficient as a left-wing political strategy, but they are a good thing and I am in favor of ironic tweets.

Building a Bigger Left

In the years leading up to Occupy, the US left seemed influenced by strains of anarchism. Many of these tendencies rejected structural cri­tiques of capitalism and traditional forms of left-wing organization.

It may be safe to say that post-Sanders the general moment is more informed by social democracy. By this we could mean broad support for the welfare state and more people willing to make militant demands of the state: providing free education and health care, ensuring living wages, curbing state violence, and so on. Would you agree with that characterization of a shift?

Cedric Johnson

That’s a fair characterization and it is a welcome shift.

Thinking back to the Katrina disaster, we saw the same sort of sentiment that would later animate Occupy. People were so upset with the government’s failures, corruption, and the pervasive sense in New Orleans was, “Just get out of our way and let us do what we have to do to rebuild.” The prevailing idea was that government was an impediment to rebuilding and in part they had reason to believe that.

But to go back to Jen’s earlier point about that end of the Cold War moment: we both came of age when ideas about socialism were cast in the historical dustbin, that so-called “end of history” moment in the late eighties and early nineties. That sense that you could actually use state power to change people’s material circumstances, to improve livelihoods, was abandoned. Today, we’ve come back around to that view because we can’t really live in complex, urban societies without some centralized planning.

Jen Roesch

I agree and I think it’s one of the most exciting and important developments in the last year. There’s a broad shift away from “anarcho-liberalism” towards a class politics and an openness to political organization.

There are social-democratic elements, but I wouldn’t necessarily narrow it just to that. There are real questions of organization. I agree with Cedric on this. For a lot of people Occupy was the first protest they saw or participated in. And people know that it failed. They know that we were not able to sustain the encampments and that the state was able to shut us down. People see the Black Lives Matter movement and see that it’s gone up and down and there’s a whole range of struggles. There’s a growing awareness that we need something beyond single-issue movements and we need something beyond semi-spontaneous movements that rise and fall without any kind of political or organizational direction.

Matt Karp

The Sanders campaign was also a return of the US left to electoral politics in a serious way, which opens up opportunities and challenges of its own. I’m hoping that Sanders’s surprising success is a reminder that elections are something the Left should take seriously and participate in. I’m not saying that the struggle should be restricted to elections, but it’s hard to imagine any kind of meaningful left victories occurring without an electoral component.

There’s an opening for social-democratic politics at all levels. But at the same time there are many challenges that come with that kind of strategy. How do you enact social democracy on a state or local level? You really can’t. To even win the barest essence of social democracy, like a national health-care system, you can’t do that by winning city council seats. We need to engage in lower-level electoral politics while continuing to build a national movement.

Cedric Johnson

Elections certainly matter. It is remarkable that we saw so many people engaging in this election in a way that we haven’t seen folks on the Left do so in a while. I think the danger, of course, is that we think that elections matter more than they really do. What they do is provide an opportunity to express or demonstrate the amount of power that we might have in a particular district or in a state, but more importantly, they help shape the political arena.

After Sanders ended his campaign and endorsed Clinton, he vowed to keep the fight going by forming Our Revolution — a political organization to further the kind of politics he championed. What do you make that effort so far?

Jen Roesch

Our Revolution, empirically speaking, has not galvanized Sanders’s supporters. It is really a continuing, deepening contradiction because the whole premise is about running down-ballot candidates and trying to reform the Democratic Party from below. It is not the case that thousands and thousands of people who supported Sanders have flowed into this formation and attempted to turn it into some kind of vehicle for building the Left. Our Revolution was never designed to do that.

People are looking for alternatives that are bigger than electoral politics. That’s not to say that electoral politics don’t matter and I think the question of building a left alternative to the Democratic Party remains a central question, but that is not going to happen through the slow accretion of electoral victories. I think it’s going to be through much more fundamental breaks within sections of liberal organization, who come to see the need to build an independent party. I think that that’s what we have to have our eyes on if we’re going to talk about having an electoral alternative.

Matt Karp

What Jen is saying about this being a process is dead-on. It’s not just about organizing or appealing to the already-existing left, but about reaching out. That is the promise of Sanders getting over thirteen million votes.

Taking part in struggles in and around the Democratic Party in the short term, even in the medium term, will be essential to this process. I don’t think that requires committing to a naive idea that the Left is on the verge of taking over the Democratic Party, that all we need is 51 percent of the primary votes and then the party is ours. But elections are sites of struggle, opportunities for engagement, and we can’t ignore them.

In a lot of places, the Democratic Party is the only game in town, and we shouldn’t ignore it, either. We can use elections within the party to diffuse ideas and to mobilize people, energize people, push people. Younger Bernie voters are already open to a politics that goes beyond liberal reformism. Engaging them in more electoral struggles can further that process, and I don’t think it demands a rigid fealty to any particular party strategy. We can be agnostic about the future of the Democratic Party for the short term.

Cedric Johnson

Would a third-party candidate have been able to garner the kind of support that Sanders did by operating within the Democratic Party machinery? It is not likely given the way presidential elections work; the process is stacked against third-party candidates. I think we’re stuck with that conundrum. His historic run happened within the Democratic Party and, as Matt points out, in some places, it’s the only game in town.

I’m not against the idea of people trying to work locally. A lot of people at the Labor for Bernie meeting that we had back in the spring were talking about running down-ticket local candidates to challenge incumbent or establishment Democrats. I don’t think that kind of activity necessarily means a commitment to the Democratic Party. It just means working within whatever specific political geography you’re stuck with in certain cities, and in different parts of the country. But, at the same time of course, I think we all agree that there’s a need to build something outside of the parties of capital.

The Sanders campaign carved out a significant base to the left of liberalism. At the same time, Donald Trump represents the rise of a right-wing populism. Over the next five to ten years, which force do you expect will exert more influence nationally?

Cedric Johnson

I’m not convinced Trump’s base is going to remain intact. Some Republican strategists have been arguing for a while now that their traditional base — the people that brought them to power during the Reagan years and really allowed them to consolidate power — is shrinking. The parts of the electorate that are actually expanding in the country right now, they’re not trending towards the Republican Party, for the most part. The base that brought about the Reagan revolution and the Contract with America and that saw us through the Bush years has been on a steady decline. If that decline continues apace in combination with organizing on the left, there’s a possibility to offset the most disastrous impacts of the Trump phenomenon.

Matt Karp

Looking beyond 2016, I’m pretty confident that the Republican Party will be able to co-opt and constrain Trump voters. Trump was a unique figure — a self-funding celebrity billionaire, who entered the GOP primary with an immediate polling lead. He had this massive independent platform for his own style of politics, which combined ethnic nationalism with a rhetorical rejection of right-wing
economic orthodoxy. The rhetoric was mostly bogus, but it was also a big part of what made him popular — not just that he said appalling racist things, but that he could humiliate Jeb Bush for being in the pocket of his donors, that he railed against trade deals, etc.

But how many Donald Trumps are there? How many more have emerged this year? The Republican leadership has maintained solid control over the congressional party and the party in the states. Going forward, I think that leadership will be able to rule out Trump-like figures who deviate from right-wing orthodoxy. So you might get more nationalism and even more racism, but I doubt you’re going to get more populism, which is a big part of what made Trump distinctive.

Jen Roesch

I think the right-wing base for Donald Trump is real. A lot of it is incoherent, but there is a hard right-wing core to it. It is extremely racist and xenophobic. I don’t think it’s nearly at the level that we’ve seen, for example, in Europe, with the rise of genuinely far-right, semi-fascist parties and outright fascist parties, like Golden Dawn in Greece. But Donald Trump represents a sign of things potentially to come if we’re not able to put forward a left-wing alternative.

In some ways the question here is really about the Democratic Party and especially Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “America is already great” is not an answer to the discontent that millions of people feel and it is not an answer to the anger that Donald Trump is tapping into with the establishment. It’s critical that we carve out an independent space to the left of that, that is able to pose our own alternatives and say, “It’s not immigrants, it’s not blacks, it’s not Muslims. The reason you’ve seen your living standards decline, the reason that we see a crisis of death rates for the middle-aged white working class and poor Americans is because of the economic devastation that’s been run by both major parties and by Wall Street and the corporations in this country.” Our side needs to pose an alternative and organize around that.

What Did Bernie Do?

Donald Trump may have accidentally created a new women’s movement

When Marin Alsop was 9 years old, her father took her to see Leonard Bernstein direct the New York Philharmonic. The next day, she got a bracing response when she told her violin teacher she wanted to be a conductor. She couldn't. She was a girl.

Today, Alsop is music director and conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Yet despite her own ability to break through that glass ceiling, the 2016 election showed her that one crucial one remains in place.

"We thought we had achieved things, but they weren't sustained," she said.

"Some young women probably didn't realize how stacked the deck is against women in our world," Alsop pointed out. "This is how it's been historically. We think, 'Oh, here's a breakthrough,' and then the door slams shut even harder."

Not only did the first female presidential nominee of a major political party lose after her victory was taken for granted, but she lost to a man caught on tape boasting about groping women. Now the sadness, alarm and ensuing determination that many young American women felt after the door-slam of the 2016 election have become catalysts for a resurging women's movement.

"We all assumed that it was time for a woman to have this opportunity, and that it was obvious," added Alsop. "It's galvanized people."

The Women's March on Washington is bringing some women together around America, where they meet in state and local chapters to prepare for the march and to share experiences. In Key West, Fla., women are participating together in late-night yoga. In Orlando, they meet at a Fuddruckers restaurant. Women in Washington state are knitting special hats for the march. Women in Texas gather in living rooms to create signs.

The day after the election, Planned Parenthood received roughly 40 times the average number of donations. Appointments for contraceptives such as intrauterine devices at Planned Parenthood centers increased tenfold. The website of the National Organization for Women was so overwhelmed with the number of visitors it crashed.

"It was horror," said Terry O'Neill, president of NOW.

"A lot of people woke up to the day after the election … feeling very scared," said Emma Collum, 32, one of the Florida organizers for the Women's March on Washington. "You woke up not knowing if your neighbor had voted for an administration that was basically going to take away your rights."

Activists and organizers interviewed for this article all reported that in dozens of conversations with women they have come in contact with since Election Day, there has been a sense of fear or panic.

The tenfold increase in IUD appointments post-election reported by Planned Parenthood can be attributed to the fear of changes being made to the Affordable Care Act, something President-Elect Donald Trump has promised will happen. According to Gallup, concern over health care jumped from 4 percent in October to 10 percent in November. The same polling also saw a spike in concern over elections and election revisions.

"The best way I can sum up the feeling … is that we saw the earthquake up in the ocean and we know the tsunami is coming," O'Neill said of her conversations with activists and the leaders of organizations that partner with NOW.

Women's march organizers such as Collum, Amber Keith and Meghan Brokaw reported having a hard time waking up the morning after the election, or sleeping at all. Brokaw described it as "a despair."

But they also spoke of that fear, and the root cause of that fear, as having a silver lining.

"I think 'scared' could be categorized as one of the top emotions in the formation of this organization," Collum explained. "Now I felt empowered by this organization and I felt safe."

"I wish that we had this before the election, this sisterhood and this community," added Brokaw, 31. "But I'm excited that it's happening now."

Would this community of women have formed had Hillary Clinton won the election? The activists and organizers interviewed for this article said probably not.

"I would have just celebrated and then gone on with my life," said Keith, 41. "It definitely lit a fire in me."

The number of volunteer applications at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which manages centers primarily in the Carolinas, increased from five to 10 a week to hundreds in the immediate aftermath of the election, and now is still more than double what it was before Trump's win.

The Women's March on Washington, for which Brokaw and Keith help lead the Kansas chapter, has registered nearly 300,000 attendees since Election Day. Organizers estimate the number will be even higher in Washington on Saturday.

For many, the march is not the culmination but a beginning.

"We're using this march as a launching pad," Keith explained. The Kansas contingent plans on having a platform outlined before heading to Washington that will likely focus on education and increased female and moderate representation in the state Legislature.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Collum said the new community of female activists was inspired by Florida's status as a swing state.

"We can turn the head of the country if we can turn the head of the state," she said. "That's a lofty goal, but, dammit, it's a goal."

Dr. Alexa Canady, the first female African-American neurosurgeon, has faced discrimination throughout her life. The post-election determination and the quick organization of events such as the women's march have reminded her of the civil rights era in the 1960s.

"People organize when they're ready, when they have something that galvanizes them," she explained. "I think, in fact, it may open the eyes of many women to how tenuous things are."

Donald Trump may have accidentally created a new women’s movement

Michigan Republican trashes Trump to calm town hall crowd angered by Obamacare repeal

A Michigan Republican calmed an impassioned crowd protesting the repeal of Obamacare by reminding them he’d opposed Donald Trump.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township) met Tuesday evening with about 250 of his constituents at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, but many more were left outside the crowded auditorium due to fire code limits, reported MLive.

The constituents who arrived early enough to take part quickly peppered Amash with questions on climate change, the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law and other political issues.

“Do you or do you not support the immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act with or without a replacement?” one attendee asked.

Amash told the constituent that he expected state governments to come up with a replacement for the health care reform law — and the crowd erupted in anger.

The crowd frequently interrupted Amash during the town hall, and members of the audience repeatedly insisted the lawmaker refer to the law as the Affordable Care Act instead of Obamacare.

Amash drew applause by asking the crowd to move away from a “Team Democrat” versus “Team Republican” mentality — but he was met with even more enthusiastic applause by denouncing the president-elect.

The crowd cheered when Amash told them he hadn’t voted for Trump and had frequently criticized his fellow Republican on social media.

“I mean, have you seen my tweets?” Amash said. “I’m not a very partisan guy. I will hold President Trump accountable just like I held President Obama accountable.”

The lawmaker made news last week when he called out Trump for repeatedly criticizing Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who had questioned the election results due to concerns about possible Russian interference.

“Dude, just stop,” Amash chided Trump.

Amash voted against a budget resolution last week that would set in motion the repeal of the 2010 health care law.

He and Rep. Raul Labrador were the only two members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to vote against the resolution, joining four GOP moderates and three conservative Republicans who aren’t part of the Tea Party-backed legislative group.

“A lot of people fell for what I call the ‘We have to have dinner tonight in Paris, France, or else we’ll starve routine,'” Amash told Roll Call. “We don’t have to vote for this terrible budget in order to move to the repeal of Obamacare. We can put together a good budget and also repeal Obamacare.”

Amash and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) asked the White House for more evidence related to alleged Russian election hacking, and he has criticized the Trump transition team’s response to those claims.

He refused to support Trump, even though he believed he could win, because he was worried the real estate developer and former reality TV star did not fully understand or respect the U.S. Constitution.

“Let’s see it happen,” he said last month of concerns that Trump might target him. “It’s up to him how he takes it. I’m going to stand by my beliefs and stand up for my constituents and stand up for the Constitution.”

At least some of his constituents hoped Amash would hear their concerns before voting with his ideological allies to repeal the health care law.

“I want our country to be strong and I want Justin out of his bubble,” said voter Peter Dimitriou. “I want him to start dropping some of the ideological precepts he lives by to hear some of the real stories of his constituents.”

Michigan Republican trashes Trump to calm town hall crowd angered by Obamacare repeal

"I'm not on Obamacare…"
"I'm not on Obamacare. My health insurance is through the ACA (Affordable Care Act), which was what they had to come up with after Obamacare crashed and burned as bad as it did. So I'm gonna be fine"

It’s Not About Trump, But Us

The looming inauguration of Donald Trump has led many on the “liberal/left” to vow eternal resistance but this fury has obscured the need for self-reflection on how “progressives” have lost their way, as John Pilger explains.

On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation. “In order for us to heal and move forward …,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favour of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

And: “We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting ‘anti’ language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.”

Thus, real protest is to be avoided, for it is not tax exempt. Compare such drivel with the declarations of the Congress of American Writers, held at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1935, and again two years later. They were electric events, with writers discussing how they could confront ominous events in Abyssinia, China and Spain. Telegrams from Thomas Mann, C Day Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out, reflecting the fear that great power was now rampant and that it had become impossible to discuss art and literature without politics or, indeed, direct political action.

“A writer,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn told the second congress, “must be a man of action now . . . A man who has given a year of his life to steel strikes, or to the unemployed, or to the problems of racial prejudice, has not lost or wasted time. He is a man who has known where he belonged. If you should survive such action, what you have to say about it afterwards is the truth, is necessary and real, and it will last.”

Her words echo across the unction and violence of the Obama era and the silence of those who colluded with his deceptions. That the menace of rapacious power — rampant long before the rise of Trump — has been accepted by writers, many of them privileged and celebrated, and by those who guard the gates of literary criticism, and culture, including popular culture, is uncontroversial. Not for them the impossibility of writing and promoting literature bereft of politics. Not for them the responsibility to speak out, regardless of who occupies the White House.

Clinton’s Contempt

Today, false symbolism is all. “Identity” is all. In 2016, Hillary Clinton stigmatized millions of voters as “a basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” Her abuse was handed out at an LGBT rally as part of her cynical campaign to win over minorities by abusing a white, mostly working-class, majority. Divide and rule, this is called; or identity politics in which race and gender conceal class, and allow the waging of class war. Trump understood this.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident poet Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

This is not an American phenomenon. A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.”

No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among today’s insistent voices of consumer-feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital.”

There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an “issue.” Across the Review section of the Guardian on Dec. 10 was a dreamy picture of Barack Obama looking up to the heavens and the words, “Amazing Grace” and “Farewell the Chief.”

The sycophancy ran like a polluted babbling brook through page after page. “He was a vulnerable figure in many ways …. But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool ….[He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”

I have conflated these quotes. There are others even more hagiographic and bereft of mitigation. The Guardian’s chief apologist for Obama, Gary Younge, has always been careful to mitigate, to say that his hero “could have done more”: oh, but there were the “calm, measured and consensual solutions …”

Idolizing Obama

None of them, however, could surpass the American writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the recipient of a “genius” grant worth $ 625,000 from a liberal foundation. In an interminable essay for The Atlantic entitled, “My President Was Black,” Coates brought new meaning to prostration. The final “chapter,” entitled “When You Left, You Took All of Me With You,” a line from a Marvin Gaye song, describes seeing the Obamas “rising out of the limo, rising up from fear, smiling, waving, defying despair, defying history, defying gravity.” The Ascension, no less.

One of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” said Obama, who expanded America’s favorite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.

Every Tuesday — reported The New York Times — he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the “terrorist target.”

A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama’s drones killed 4,700 people. “Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that,” he said, “but we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda.”

Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor: “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically … In the propaganda system … it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

Destroying Libya

Take the catastrophe in Libya. In 2011, Obama said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story; and NATO – led by Obama and Hillary Clinton – launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten.”

Under Obama, the U.S. has extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 per cent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa. Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late Nineteenth Century, the U.S. African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds U.S. officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite whose “historic mission,” warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged.”

It was Obama who, in 2011, announced what became known as the “pivot to Asia”, in which almost two-thirds of U.S. naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific to “confront China,” in the words of his Defense Secretary. There was no threat from China; the entire enterprise was unnecessary. It was an extreme provocation to keep the Pentagon and its demented brass happy.

In 2014, the Obama’s administration oversaw and paid for a fascist-led coup in Ukraine against the democratically elected government, threatening Russia in the western borderland through which Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, with a loss of 27 million lives. It was Obama who placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, and it was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any administration since the Cold War — having promised, in an emotional speech in Prague, to “help rid the world of nuclear weapons”.

Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history, even though the U.S. Constitution protects them. He declared Chelsea Manning guilty before the end of a trial that was a travesty. He has refused to pardon Manning who has suffered years of inhumane treatment, which the United Nations says amounts to torture. He has pursued an entirely bogus case against Julian Assange. He promised to close the Guantanamo concentration camp and didn’t.

A Smooth Operator

Following the public relations disaster of George W. Bush, Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee’s decision was part of this: the kind of cloying reverse racism that beatified the man for no reason other than he was attractive to liberal sensibilities and, of course, American power, if not to the children he kills in impoverished, mostly Muslim countries.

This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded, especially “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne put it. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”

William I. Robinson, professor at the University of California, and one of an uncontaminated group of American strategic thinkers who have retained their independence during the years of intellectual dog-whistling since 9/11, wrote this last week:

“President Barack Obama … may have done more than anyone to assure [Donald] Trump’s victory. While Trump’s election has triggered a rapid expansion of fascist currents in U.S. civil society, a fascist outcome for the political system is far from inevitable …. But that fight back requires clarity as to how we got to such a dangerous precipice. The seeds of 21st century fascism were planted, fertilized and watered by the Obama administration and the politically bankrupt liberal elite.”

Robinson points out that “whether in its 20th or its emerging 21st century variants, fascism is, above all, a response to deep structural crises of capitalism, such as that of the 1930s and the one that began with the financial meltdown in 2008 …. There is a near-straight line here from Obama to Trump … The liberal elite’s refusal to challenge the rapaciousness of transnational capital and its brand of identity politics served to eclipse the language of the working and popular classes … pushing white workers into an ‘identity’ of white nationalism and helping the neo-fascists to organise them”..

The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarized police and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of $ 14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.

Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph.

The lies about Russia — in whose elections the U.S. has openly intervened — have made the world’s most self-important journalists laughingstocks. In the country with constitutionally the freest press in the world, free journalism now exists only in its honorable exceptions.

The obsession with Trump is a cover for many of those calling themselves “left/liberal”, as if to claim political decency. They are not “left,” neither are they especially “liberal.” Much of America’s aggression towards the rest of humanity has come from so-called liberal Democratic administrations — such as Obama’s. America’s political spectrum extends from the mythical center to the lunar right. The “left” are homeless renegades Martha Gellhorn described as “a rare and wholly admirable fraternity.” She excluded those who confuse politics with a fixation on their navels.

While they “heal” and “move forward”, will the Writers Resist campaigners and other anti-Trumpists reflect upon this? More to the point: when will a genuine movement of opposition arise? Angry, eloquent, all-for-one-and-one-for all. Until real politics return to people’s lives, the enemy is not Trump, it is ourselves.

It’s Not About Trump, But Us

Source: ONTD_Political

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