Since Donald Trump was declared president, I, like many others, have felt dejected and physically sick. I have felt sick not only because he is now president, but also because of what this election reveals about our current political conjuncture. As of the election, fascism has political legitimacy in the United States.
To me, it feels like we are mourning the death of a loved one. Perhaps we are mourning the death of hope, because how can there be any hope for progress when the majority of the country just voted an openly racist, rape advocating megalomaniac to be president?
But take a look at the exit polls. One question that voters were asked was whether they believed that the country was generally headed in the right direction or that it was “seriously off track”. Of those who picked the former, 90% voted Democrat and only 8% voted Republican; whereas, of those who said that the country was seriously off track, only 25% voted Democrat.
There was a similar trend when voters were asked whether they believed that the “condition of the nation’s economy” was excellent or poor, whether they felt angry or enthusiastic about “how the federal government is voting,” and whether or not they approved of Obama’s job performance.
We’ve all heard about how Trump mobilized the racist white working class vote. But it’s more than just that. Between the two primary presidential options (because, let’s face it: third party candidates never really have a legitimate chance of winning), Trump was the only candidate who criticized the political status quo and the current establishment.
In comparison, the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was based on the premise that there is nothing (or at least, very little) wrong with the status quo—that America is already great—and that we just need to continue along the same path. There’s a reason that these colleges are filled with so many passionate Hillary supporters: this disproportionately privileged environment is disconnected from the masses of people in this country.
I don’t deny that some policies, like Obamacare, brought improvement to people’s lives. But for many Americans, things didn’t get that much better under Obama. Mass incarceration has continued at an alarming pace: the U.S. has more people behind bars than any other country, and more African American men in prisons than were enslaved before the Civil War.
More transgender people have been murdered during Obama’s presidency than at any other time in history. Obama launched over ten times more drone strikes than President Bush. He deported more people and expanded border patrols and security more than any previous President. And wages have not gone up during his presidency.
The majority of people in the United States are sick and tired of the political system, have very little faith in government, and want change. The people asked for a revolution. But this is what happens when only the far right offers that revolution. The truth is that most of this country voted for Trump to stop Clinton, not the other way around.
At the same time, every fascist presidency represents a crisis in global capitalism. The rise of Trump may be new to the United States, but how much worse are Trump’s proposed policies from Indian troops shooting Kashmiri girls in the face, or Israeli soldiers bombing hospitals and killing Palestinian children on the beach?
Are they worse than Saudi Arabia bombing a Yemeni funeral that killed over 140 people, assassinations of community leaders by government-sponsored death squads in Honduras, or neo-Nazis taking over Ukraine? These cases—among countless others—have two things in common: The U.S. has either directly or indirectly backed the violence, and the masses continue to struggle and resist.
As Che Guevara said, we are in the “belly of the beast”—the center of this global crisis. We must understand how we are connected to the masses of people around the world and to the global struggle against fascism, racism, patriarchy, and exploitation. We must also uncover why and how the U.S. government continues to support undemocratic regimes around the world whenever it is in the interests of American corporations.
White working class people also must understand that it is the ruling class that they should hold responsible and people of color with whom they should unite—not the other way around.They need to be organized, too, around issues that matter to them, but with an anti-racist perspective. Only then will there be a possibility of building the unity of the working class as a whole—a force that will be a greater threat to elite power than anything else imaginable.
Now that Trump is president, organizing for transformative change is more pressing than ever. And this organizing can only happen on the ground, among the people, and far away from elite college campuses. In fact it is likely the the protests that have taken place since the election have already put pressure on Trump’s administration, as there has been a shift in many of his policies.
So let us turn the result of this election into our martyr. Out of the ashes of this tragedy we can and must construct a new way forward. There really isn’t time to mess around. Let’s get organized, let’s struggle, and let’s keep fighting until the day that we win: until the day that we are victorious in the fight against fascism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy and exploitation.
Tascha Shahriari-Parsa PO ‘18 is majoring in history.