By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
Sometime after 2 a.m. eastern standard time – in the middle of the late night, Hillary Clinton – who won the popular vote for President – phoned Donald Trump and made her concession. He had won the electoral vote.
In an historic rebellion of the white, working-class, half of American voters used democratic means to elect a man who does not understand the Constitution, who does not respect the Bill of Rights, and who does not believe in democracy.
It is an irony, then, that a radical regime was voted into power that represents the greatest threat in 40 years to what is left of American democracy. Words do matter. With the threats and promises made by our new President-elect over the course of the last year and a half, it’s clear that not since the time of Richard Nixon have the civil rights of Americans been so openly splayed out on the chopping block as they are now – or will be in a few months.
From his pledge to investigate Clinton, to his threats against journalists, against Muslims, Mexican-Americans, to his promise to stack a Supreme Court that will dismantle Roe v Wade, to his cloaked war-mongering and causality about nuclear warheads, to his disbelief in climate change, Trump has laid out enough of his basic policies for us to take him at his word.
And importantly, we’ll never know what effect the FBI “intervention” into the Presidential campaign had on the election. Rogue, pro-Trump FBI agents actively and illegally worked to undermine Clinton’s campaign, raising the specter of a “coup d’etat“. Clinton however never made it an issue, although Tim Kaine did. Mainstream press didn’t cause much of a ripple with the scandal. The Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, for example, to this day have never written directly about the FBI intervention.
In his victory speech in the wee hours at that glitzy ballroom – in a building in Manhattan surrounded by dump trucks for security reasons, Trump reached out his small hand to Clinton and all others he had misaligned over the months. He called for a national healing, for the country to come together – come together away from all of its divisions – divisions, of course, that he had a direct role in creating.
We’ve heard a lot of nice words this morning, Clinton’s public concession speech and President Obama’s conciliatory speech. But both Clinton and Obama made remakes of how they “hope” Trump will abide by the smooth transition of government, by our laws and will keep America inclusive. Since when did the defeated presidential candidate and the sitting President ever in our modern history have to express public concerns that the incoming regime will continue the rule of law and follow the Constitution?
Perhaps only half of Trump’s supporters are racist – clearly most wanted some kind of radical economic change overall, but many have demonstrated that they’re willing to follow a strong, authoritarian leader who uses racist code words to ramp up the more white nationalist base and alternative radical right.
This all means that what we still have of our democratic rights are up for grabs and the trembling democratic institutions will be shaken to their foundations.
I want to repeat: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote – but by less than 200,000 votes nation-wide (as of this writing). That means this country is more divided than ever – and more evenly divided now more than ever. But it also means more people voted for a woman President than voted for Donald Trump. More people voted for Hillary’s inclusiveness than for Trump’s divisiveness.
Yet America is entering a dark period of our existence. In a few months, we’ll be in a period – politically-speaking – of One Party Rule, where Republicans will control all 3 branches of government. The Republicans will control the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and with Trump’s nominees – the Supreme Court – for decades to come. Republicans also control most state assemblies. (Sure, there are divisions within the GOP and Trumpland – but they are quickly mending before our eyes.)
This clamp by one political power on all the apparatus of state power represents an extremely dangerous situation for our freedoms.
Yes, many nice words were spoken this morning. (Perhaps they were meant to calm all the markets.)
But we in the progressive and independent media don’t have to mince our words. We are in and of the Fourth Estate – the real free press. We can still call things as we see them – for awhile more, at least. We can still say and write things like “Donald Trump is a fascist,” and remain content that police agents won’t be knocking on our doors or disrupting our internet connections.
Many in the press and from many corners, on the left – and on the right – called Donald Trump a fascist during the course of this long campaign. Just because he’s now President-elect and will assume the mantles of the Executive Branch, walking into the Oval Office, does not mean that he no longer represents a fascist force in this country.
America has never quite been in this type of precarious situation as it is right now over the course of most of our life times. We’ve never been here before.
Perhaps, the easiest analogy for us now is the model provided by the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany during the 1920s and thirties. Hitler made all kinds of promises to the German working class, for jobs, to make Germany great again – he was a populist – and he was able to mobilize the masses – with many lies. Hitler was legally elected to power but by way less than a majority. But once in, he and his party grabbed the reins of the government apparatus, trampled the German constitution, jailed or killed all his opponents, and violently forged a one-party government. What he did after that is the most horrible period in human history. Murdering 6 million Jews, millions of others, starting World War II.
But America is different than Germany in the thirties. America does have a democratic tradition that goes back 240 years. Germany had nothing like that.
America does still have a Constitution and Bill of Rights that have weathered changes over time. Germany had nothing like that. We also have values of “fairness” and social justice and inclusivity. Not so Germany – although it had a huge left-wing.
We also have a tradition of a military that does not engage in domestic politics. Not so in Prussian Germany.
America still has a free press – somewhat. However, we just witnessed how the mainstream, corporate media enabled Trump’s campaign. The inaccuracy of the polls and pundits displayed their failures in full view over the course of this campaign.
And there are many things that need to be said about this election – and there will be time for them.
But there is still an independent and progressive press, mostly online, that is not beholden to powerful interests – except those interests of the People.
Now, more than ever, we will need that independent press. We will need media institutions like the OB Rag and the San Diego Free Press. (Our sisters and brothers at the SDFP by the way have experienced record-breaking numbers of readership over the course of the last several weeks – over 20,000 readers just yesterday.)
There is a hunger in OB and San Diego and elsewhere for the truth. For telling it like is – no matter what power is insulted or criticized. No matter what government official is taken to task.
In the meantime, support your local independent press – it’s one of the ways we’ll survive Trump Nation. And it’s one of the ways we can resurrect our democracy.