Whilst the Left must avoid an obsessive distraction with the extremist President, it should at the same time use his visit as rallying point to explain the context of why this phenomenon exists an place it with our local and national problems arising from the crisis of capitalism.
For the Facebook warriors and demo junkies the rise to the White House of a racist, homophobic demagogue whose campaign style involves mocking a reporter with cerebral palsy provides a perfect conduit for their righteous indignation. Consciences can be assuaged but unless this progresses into getting organised and taking on the fight in the local area on issues that are hurting our community such as the disgraceful state of social care, work place exploitation, the collapsing NHS and the attacks on those perceived to be different, then it’s just like sticking your finger into the socket and expecting a different outcome.
Demos, Facebook and other social media are a great way to engage people and give them confidence that solidarity is not a nebulous concept, but in isolation, and without a plan for the next phase of the struggle they become futile. The echo chamber at work.
Being a Leftie is made very difficult because unlike the far right who can just trot out catch all statements, we actually have to make the argument, and this can prove to be tough. We spent a great deal of time during Election 2015 refuting UKIP regarding immigration. Some voters were just deaf to anything we had to say and it was the same regarding the Overseas Aid budget. The simplistic Daily Mail attitude made these difficult issues black and white in the eyes of some folk. The people were, and still are angry and the Labour Party’s epic failures in the last Parliament didn’t help. Why would you vote for a Party that took six months to come out against the Bedroom Tax or who failed to show any leadership at local level in areas where they were in power to resist savage cuts? Thus the argument regarding immigration control as the panacea for all ills becomes tempting. This is the problem with populism and only hard work and unglamourous graft can counter it.
The new Administration in Washington has moved to implement the campaign rhetoric. This seems to surprise the Belt Way media and even some GOP members of Congress judging by NBC’s Meet the Press and other new outlets. A politician actually delivering on election pledges! Yikes y’all!. This isn’t meant to happen! And in the UK this can be seen in the response to Brexit where Tory politicians (and some Labour ones) enjoyed the knock about rhetoric of the campaign but now they are expected to actually deliver it the sheer shock of implementing a sea change to how we progress as a country is becoming all too much for the poor dears. Witnessed by Boris’ reaction on 24th June when he looked as if he’d lost £100 and found a euro.
The latest crisis of a dying economic system, allied to the extraordinary inertia on Capitol Hill where everything President Obama tried to do, from the Affordable Care Act to gun control and the economic stimulus was met with sulking bad grace by the likes of GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Their sole aim was to make it a one term Presidency and when that didn’t work they resorted to chucking a huge spanner in the works by trying to shut down the Federal Government. The voters hated it but the Democratic Party, feeling a threat from the Left via Bernie Sanders and Seattle Socialist Party representative Kshama Sawant put the gravy train first by ensuring Hilary Clinton took the nomination for President.
Sick of rip off trade deals which lined the bosses pockets at the expense of blue collar jobs, sick of being ignored and viewed as white trash the Republican nominee learnt from history by pointing the finger at elites (despite being one of them) and especially directing ire against people of difference. Some of the American people found that; “it’s so hard to love when there’s so much to hate” and the vagaries of the electoral college system did the rest.
Whilst the crisis Capitalism is a universal phenomenon of trashed wages and pension, rip off utilities, a housing crisis and poor opportunity for interesting well paid work, all politics is local. By coming together and reaching out to our neighbours and communities, campaigning on cuts and a myriad of other local issues we can build a solid bottom up way to transform society. By listening to the problems of those around us we can counter the facile solutions and show that a co operative approach can give us socialist solutions.
As for the State visit. Bring it on! It will provide a fantastic opportunity to show the strength of opposition to what is happening across the pond and by extension here. We can exhibit the traditions of tolerance and celebrate the diversity that this President fears because he can’t understand it.