Category Archives: political strategy

Biden v. Trump: Are We In Or Out?

An important article for Progressives, I would like to share from Carl Davidson’s “Leftlinks” website

“Biden v. Trump: Are We In Or Out?”
by Whitney Maxey

The next few months are decision time for the left.
Either Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be inaugurated President on January 20, 2021.
Millions of people, including the vast majority of voters of color and of workers of all backgrounds who reject bigotry and lies, will cast their ballots for Biden. Among them will be a large cohort who regard Trump as a unique danger and will go all-out to beat him.
Will we join them in that effort or not?
I believe if we throw down, and if we are successful, we create the best possible fighting conditions for working-class and people of color movements domestically and internationally.
And we will build a stronger and bigger left in the process.
We will shift the terrain because Biden and Trump are not the same.
There are major qualitative and quantitative differences between them. Trump heads a right-wing populist and authoritarian trend dripping with white supremacy. Biden is a neoliberal but is subject to pressure from the left to address at least some of our concerns. Denying those differences and choosing not to mobilize to beat Trump is turning our backs on multi-national working class and people of color communities and movements in their time of most need the world over.
Trump’s doubling down on neoliberal ideology to let government create the best circumstances and avenues for the market to do what it pleases to coordinate and direct national medical resources. He rejects the demand for government to step in to at least try and make the process more equitable. This literally means the difference between life and death for people who have contracted Covid-19, who are disproportionately working-class Black and other people of color.
Trump, along with European powers and the right-wing populist bloc he has been facilitating, have exacerbated the plight of many in the Global South. This bloc has repeatedly interfered to try and grossly undermine the various self-determination struggles. This has meant further destabilization and less of an ability to navigate the Covid19 multi-pronged crisis for so many of these countries. For example, since the start of the crisis, Trump has increased sanctions on countries like Venezuela and increased military presence throughout Latin America. The last thing these countries need is to be handcuffed as they struggle to see their country and the people in it through this crisis.
In contrast, Biden has called for lifting sanctions that prevent Iran from getting medical and other essential supplies, and condemned Trump pulling out of the JCPOA nuclear agreement (a.k.a. the Iran nuclear agreement).
Biden wouldn’t have pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord and would put us back into the agreement. Though the action itself is symbolic, it points to two very important things that our movements can build on: 1) A belief that Climate Change is real and something must be done about it on a global scale and 2) science and facts matter.
These are two major areas of departure between Trumpism and the moderate thrust of a Biden-led Democratic administration. Given part of the crisis we are facing is ecological our movements would be much better served with an administration led by someone who is already down the path of recognizing that there is a problem to be fixed (Biden) versus someone who thinks the whole thing is a “hoax”.
A Biden presidency creates more favorable conditions for our communities and movements to fight for the audacious ideas and demands that this crisis affords us the ability to do in a way that wasn’t possible even three months ago.
Biden would have to be more responsive to the political power that is being constructed by an increasingly galvanized and organized left wing of the Democratic Party social base. Approximately 25% of the Democratic Party electorate is progressive or left of progressive and thus Biden recognizes that he needs us to win. This is evident in his concessions to Bernie Sanders and statement that he needs Bernie not just to win the election but to govern. That means we can win more concessions as we go forward to include more of the things we want in his vision and plan for the US and abroad.
Additionally, we have a larger, though still relatively small but influential and loud progressive congressional leaders that are symbolized by “The Squad”. This provides more opportunities for our movements to center class, race, and gender into the narrative of the Democratic Party and inform more of its policies and programs.
Biden has and will continue to speak out, to the best of his ability, against white nationalism. He will not be beholden as Trump is to the Christian fundamentalist bloc which promotes a political program that hits hard at the multi-national working-class and people of color.
Will Biden be an avid defender of social democratic ideas that excited and energized so many within social movements? No. But he was never going to be. That’s not the ideology or world view that he represents and is fighting for. But he does have to be responsive to those ideals and the energized base that accompanies it.
We’ve already seen that around the expansion of healthcare debate which at its core is about human rights vs. the market. Will we allow the private market to effectively monopolize meeting our health care needs, or is health care a human right that must be insured by government action? Biden, and other moderate Democrats, have been forced by grassroots pressure to warm up to the idea of a public option for Healthcare. We should build on that shift and not thumb our nose at it, especially since any gains we are able to make on this front will necessarily mean greater access to health care for working-class and people of color. We have seen shifts in their political positions on the Hyde Amendment and how to center people in these Covid19 stimulus packages. These examples demonstrate our movements’ ability to influence those in Biden’s ideological lane, or close to it, that he represents.
We aren’t going to get everything we want in one fell swoop. We are fighting to build political power and fighting for hegemony amongst other competing forces who have started out much stronger than we are.
But the class struggle that centers race and gender is alive and well. Let’s not waste an opportunity to create more favorable conditions for the movements and communities we care about domestically and internationally by reducing Biden to be the equivalent of Trump.
We have to engage in the conditions we are presented with even if they are not to our liking. We need to be central to, not stand aside from, the actual ideological and on-the-ground struggle that is underway in this country. That means mobilize against Trumpism and the GOP in 2020 and beyond; expand the social bases that made up the Bernie coalition; develop independent political organizations and other statewide independent political power building formations that center people of color and the multi-national working-class; and continue to build tactical and strategic alliances with those that comprise the anti-Trump/anti-GOP front.
Immersion in the battle at hand gives us a fighting chance to win, over time, things like:
A response to the COVID-19 pandemic that gets closer to the approach outlined by the five principles of the Peoples Bailout, including Green New Deal policies and programs
Healthcare for All
Programs that center the needs of Black, Indigenous, and other POC communities in government responses and interventions
A shift in how the Global North (and the US specifically) relates to the Global South (especially Africa which has been systematically underdeveloped and politically undermined for centuries) during the Covid19 pandemic, and in its aftermath
Demonstrating that the working class is too big to fail by having policies and programs that promote the increase of its health, wealth, and relationship to work and industry
The outcomes of this 2020 electoral cycle matter from the presidency down to the city level. We have a role to play and an ability to flex some of the hard-earned independent political power we have built in the last several years. Let’s use that power responsibly to create circumstances and avenues that can make possible today and tomorrow what was impossible yesterday.
We can’t afford to let up now. The global multi-national working class and communities of color are counting on us.

Whitney Maxey (she/hers) has done community organizing for the past 10+ years primarily in electoral and housing issues in Florida. She currently does organizing work with an independent political organization in Memphis, Tennessee called Memphis for All. All of her organizing experience has been working predominantly within working-class Black and Latinx communities. As a member of the Organizing Upgrade editorial collective, Whitney brings on-the-ground organizing experience and some organizational development experience to the team.

Blaming Trump, Blaming Biden, Saving Ourselves

Let me share with you this excellent article by my dear friend and superb Political Scientist at U. of Indiana, Jeff Isaac.

Blaming Trump, Blaming Biden, Saving Ourselves

Donald Trump is a threat to American democracy. This has long been known. But only in the past month or so has the magnitude of the threat he presents become crystal clear. In the face of a deadly virus he has weakened key government health agencies; lied about the danger; failed to take decisive action, and then followed with rash and inconsistent action. All the while he has placed an entire nation at risk as he has exploited the crisis, partly of his own making, in order to further cement his authoritarian hold on the presidency.

Trump’s response to the crisis has laid bare the irresponsibility and malevolence of his administration and the challenge his very political existence poses to public health and to democracy itself.

It is thus easy to blame him for our current situation. And it is necessary to do so.

Less than two weeks ago, this case was made by two of the best columnists covering the plague that is Trumpism. Michelle Goldberg insisted that “Of Course Trump Deserves Blame for the Coronavirus Crisis,” noting:

It can become tedious to dwell on the fact that the president is a dangerous and ignorant narcissist who has utterly failed as an executive, leaving state governments on their own to confront a generational cataclysm. But no one should ever forget it. Soon, even if the pandemic is still raging, there will be an election, and the public will be asked to render a verdict on Trump’s leadership. Being clear that people are suffering and dying needlessly because the president can’t do his job isn’t looking backward. It’s the only way to move forward.

Jamelle Bouie followed a day later with “Don’t Let Trump Off the Hook,” insisting that: 

It is the political task of the Democratic Party to make the public understand the nature of the Republican Party and its leading role in this disaster so that when November comes, Americans hold no illusions about what it would mean for their futures — and their lives — to give Republicans another four years of power in Washington.

I agree with Goldberg and Bouie. Trump is a menace, he is responsible for the magnitude of the current crisis, and blaming him, and then removing him from office, is the only way to get a government capable of dealing with COVID and its effects in a way that is just, competent, and simply humane. In order to remove Trump, it is necessary to relentlessly expose and to blame him.

At the same time, this has proven to be a difficult thing to accomplish politically. And while we writers and activists must relentlessly criticize Trump, we also need to understand the reasons why the opposition to Trump has been so profoundly hamstrung by its inability to effectively blame him during the current crisis as it has thus far unfolded.

One reason is simply that the very real crisis has given Trump, always the master of mass media attention-getting, a perfect platform for his unique brand of daily reality TV, and he is exploiting this to the max. The virus–and Trump’s responses, non-responses, and Tweets—has literally taken over the news, spreading like the virus itself, and crowding out everything else. Trump is using his “bully pulpit” to bully, bloviate, and lie, and as his voice has been magnified, all others have been diminished. 

There are obvious exceptions, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and to a lesser extent his counterparts in Ohio, Washington state, and elsewhere. But in a way they are exceptions that prove the rule. Because, at the same that these figures have been able to garner justifiable media attention for their efforts to contain the pandemic, they have been forced by circumstance to moderate their criticisms of Trump and in effect to play along as if he were the responsible and competent president that he manifestly is not. A recent Associate Press story by Kathleen Ronayne and Jonathan Lemire states the challenge confronting these Governors well: “Flatter or fight? Governors seeking help must navigate Trump.” As Ronayne and Lemire make clear: 

“Facing an unprecedented public health crisis, governors are trying to get what they need from Washington, and fast. But that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with Trump, an unpredictable president with a love for cable news and a penchant for retribution. Republicans and Democrats alike are testing whether to fight or flatter, whether to back channel requests or go public, all in an attempt to get Trump’s attention and his assurances.”

This, then, is the second reason it has proven so difficult to hold Trump politically responsible: because it is impossible for any elected official at any level of government to accomplish anything meaningful to address the pandemic without some assistance from the federal government, whether this be executive action by Trump or legislation, which of course requires the approval of a Trump-dominated Senate and the signature of Trump himself. During the intense negotiations surrounding the two pieces of emergency legislation passed in recent weeks, it was common to hear Democratic Senators and House members talking about how important it was to “work across the aisle” to get the legislation passed, and to “look forward” to what can be done rather than “look backward” at who is responsible for what. Admittedly, that was, and remains, a very fine line to walk. And there has been a constant rhetorical wavering between the rhetoric of “coming together for the public good” and the rhetoric of outrage and blame of Trump’s handling of the crisis. In recent days Nancy Pelosi has come out with strong and entirely legitimate attacks on Trump. At the same time, she and Chuck Schumer have been compelled by circumstances to work closely with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, one of Trump’s closest confidants, to finalize deals with the White House. This has understandably muted their attacks on the administration. Unlike during the protracted impeachment struggle, it has been impossible for most Democratic messaging to focus on Trump, for it has been necessary for all elected public officials to focus on the virus.

And this leads to the third reason why blaming Trump has been so difficult: because the pandemic, by literally shutting down all forms of public gathering and virtually eliminating all forms of face-to-face interaction, has essentially shut down the Democratic primary campaign, and along with it all forms of public campaigning and all kinds of public assemblies, demonstrations, “town halls,” and events where people can come together to be politically mobilized.

The enforced social distancing, however necessary, has been profoundly enervating for everyone, turning most of us into house-bound and anxious individuals whose social contact is extremely limited. And with the complete closure of public life, the only form of mass politics and political mobilization that currently exists is the form of mobilization practiced by Trump through his monopolization and manipulation of the mass media. 

And so we confront a bitter paradox: the more necessary it is to hold Trump responsible, the more difficult it is to hold him responsible.

Governors are trying to govern, legislators are trying to legislate, health care workers and other “essential personnel” are working hard at their jobs at great risk, everyone else is trying to get by while “sheltering in place,” and Trump alone dominates the public sphere.

This is an explicable and even predictable consequence of a crisis of this magnitude.

But dominance can be challenged. And indeed, it was presumably the purpose of the Democratic primary contest to select a Democratic candidate best suited to challenging Trump’s dominance. Such a challenge is necessary now, more than ever, and the fact that the obstacles are great only means that determined and creative leadership is all the more necessary. 

In the face of this need there is now an obvious void, as Joe Biden, having claimed “victory” after his strong Super Tuesday results, has more or less gone into quarantine.

To be fair, he has attempted to speak out, appearing regularly on cable news shows, making announcements, and even organizing a few video “events.” As Eugene Scott of the Washington Post’s “The Fix” has noted, “Joe Biden is Working From Home.” But, as The Hill’s Bernard Goldberg has also noted, “Joe Biden can’t lead the charge from his home in Delaware.” And while in recent months I have disagreed with much of Ryan Cooper’s relentless criticism of Biden, it is hard to argue with his recent assertion that “Joe Biden is the worst imaginable challenger to Trump right now.” What Cooper says seems true:

Indeed, Biden has barely been doing anything. As the outbreak became a full-blown crisis, Biden disappeared for almost an entire week. His campaign said it was trying to figure out how to do video livestreams, something any 12-year-old could set up in about 15 minutes. (Hey guys: Any smartphone with Twitter, YouTube, or Twitch installed can become a broadcasting device with the press of a single button.) When Biden did finally appear, he gave some scripted addresses that still had technical foul-ups, and did softball interviews where he still occasionally trailed off mid-sentence. . . . 

Trump, meanwhile, is similarly out there on TV every day boasting about how what he’s doing is so smart and good. What he’s saying is insanely irresponsible and has already gotten people killed, but absent an effective response from the Democratic leadership, it can appear to casual news consumers as though he has the situation in hand. Democratic backbenchers and various journalists are screaming themselves hoarse, but it plainly isn’t working.

I am unconvinced by those on the left who have never reckoned with the real weaknesses of the Bernie Sanders campaign, and who now believe that COVID can revitalize Sanders’s bid for the nomination. (Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor declared on Monday that “Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders.” But, as one Facebook friend put it, “Reality” has no Democratic delegates.)  But I am equally unconvinced by those Democratic centrists who are now denouncing Sanders’s refusal to leave the race. And the reason is simple: while Biden acts like the nomination is his, and while almost everyone else acts like the nomination is his, and while in fact the nomination probably is his, Biden has allowed the COVID crisis to sideline him, and has allowed the momentum of his campaign to wane. And now is not the time for the presumptive Democratic nominee to rest on his laurels. If Biden is going to lead us forward, he needs to be woken up and energized. And if he can’t now compete with Sanders, how is he going to compete six months from now with Trump? While weeks ago it made sense for many, including some important left activists, to call for Sanders to leave the race in exchange for real concessions from Biden, now it is necessary to reignite some version of a Democratic campaign. If Sanders can light a fire under Biden’s ass, all the power to him. And if Biden continues to remain in his basement, then this will be telling indeed.

What should Biden do? There is no easy answer. But it is clear that he should get his act together. If he is going to run an effective social media campaign while temporarily in quarantine, then he needs to put together a real social media campaign. He needs to be proactively in the public eye, and do everything he can to gain positive media attention every single day. Indeed, if Andrew Cuomo can venture out in public and hold a makeshift press conference every day, surrounded (at a distance) by his advisers and in the presence of a small group of reporters who question him, why can’t Joe Biden do something similar? Yes, he is a much older man, more susceptible to the virus (but Cuomo, at age 62, is also in the at-risk age group). But he is running to hold the most powerful position in the country. If he is too frail to do what Cuomo is doing, and if he has no alternative way of performing leadership, then it is hard to see how he can effectively run against Trump in November.

So as we blame Trump, it is also appropriate to blame Biden, for not doing more to lead, visibly and publicly, at a time when leadership is needed now more than ever.

At the same time, even if Biden were an utterly electrifying and media savvy personality, the defeat of Trump and his Republican enablers in November would still require an energetic grass-roots campaign and sustained voter mobilization. And this is the work of campaign workers, activist groups, and engaged citizens. Even before COVID, such an effort was an urgent challenge. Both the urgency and the challenge are now greater. We know this. And yet we shelter in place, for at least the next two months. And in the best of circumstances, if something approaching “social normality” returns in mid-summer, it is likely to be disrupted again by the coming of flu season in late Fall. And in November we will confront a fragmented and inefficient election system that might well be unable to accommodate the needs of “social distancing.” And a president empowered by the exhaustion, alienation, and anxiety of the citizenry at large. Democracy itself is thus at grave risk.

Can the Democratic party get its act together, and reignite a real campaign animated by a real vision?

Can we save ourselves, from the plague that is COVID or the plague that is Trump?

Combatting Progressives’ Self-Destruction

Combatting Progressives’ Self-Destruction

Entering 2020 at a time of growing existential threat to basic humane values in America, and across the world – concern for human decency, respect for science, valuing democratic institutions – it would seem to be an overriding imperative for progressives to do all in their power to unify the forces of human decency in the service of an inclusive vision of social justice. But I have become deeply distressed by the recent tendency I have seen among many groups on the Left of developing an increasingly intolerant racialized politics.

Losing sight of the historic concern of progressives for building an egalitarian multi-racial, multi-ethnic, democratic society committed to combatting all forms of ethnic, racial, religious, and gender prejudice, many having taken to blaming white people, often particularly white males, as the cause of the suffering of black and brown people. And they have shown increasing intolerance for any who challenge their racialized politics, rather promoting an identity politics that explicitly sets racial and ethnic groups at odds with one another, and denigrates and alienates vast segments of the population. And this regardless of the widespread and shared suffering of so many that results from the vast disparities in wealth and power consequent upon de-industrialization, privatization, deregulation, automation, the decimation of the organized working class, unconscionable reductions in government income due to the practical disappearance of taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, and the consequent evisceration of the social “safety net,” not even to speak of the growing existential threat posed by global warming.

Having spent a good part of my adult life fighting for the values embodied in the mission statement I wrote more than 40 years ago: “promoting sustainable development, revitalizing local communities, enhancing human dignity, creating effective democracy, and achieving economic, social and racial justice,” it has particularly pained me to see two local historically progressive organizations, Citizen Action of New York and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, with which I have long been associated, increasingly lose interest in that inclusive progressive vision. Rather they have become relatively uninterested in the general societal issues effecting all working people. They have increasingly come to see all issues in racial terms, tending toward exclusively prioritizing a racialized politics. They have thus become quite comfortable blaming white people for the oppression of black and brown people, even going so far as to claim that all white people are racists. And they have become increasingly intolerant of divergent opinions, thus creating a toxic interpersonal environment for any who dissent from their “group think”. This view was exemplified recently by a LIPC Board member who said that he didn’t give a damn about the working class in general, or for the Labor movement, in particular. A further clear example of this trend can be seen by Citizen Action’s recent appointment as its Statewide Political Director of a person who had recently posted a blog entitled “All White People are Racists – A History Lesson.”

I find these views quite unacceptable. The entirely legitimate and necessary concern with fighting racial discrimination has degenerated into a racialization of political discourse which it has long been the goal of progressives to combat, namely that of stigmatizing an entire population because of the color of their skin. Is that not the classic definition of racism? Further, such a policy, beyond being morally indefensible, is politically disastrous. How can we expect to build an effective progressive movement while alienating the majority of the population? Rather than such demonization and divisive attacks, progressives should be building that multi-racial, multi-ethnic, socially inclusive, program which maximally unifies the 99% around a program of social justice and democratic empowerment, not one which divides that potentially empowering majority. We must repudiate such racialized attacks, and rather give renewed voice and vitality to that inclusive vision so brilliantly articulated by Dr. King when he dreamed of a world in which his “four little children will … live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character … and (where) little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”? That’s a vision that we must not lose sight of, and one which should continually motivate our work and guide our activity. And any organization that would move us in an opposed direction certainly does not deserve our continuing support.

A few upcoming speaking engagements

“Some Thoughts About The Democratic Candidates,” at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, (38 Old Country Road, Garden City, NY,) Sunday, August 18th, at 11am.

“The Good Life: Thinking about what really matters.” at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library (120 Main Street, Setauket, NY), September 4th a 7pm.

“On the Progressive Path Forward,” at Temple Beth El, 660 Park Avenue, Huntington, Sunday, September 8th, at 3pm.

“What is Art?”: a discussion of John Dewey’s Art As Experience, The Frick Estate Lectures at the Nassau County Museum, October 23rd, from 1:30-3:30pm.

For more information, contact mer at

It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism

Since some people raised questions as to what I believe, I thought I could do no better than share this beautiful OpEd from Ilhan Omar, with which I am in complete agreement. It would be great if all progressives could work together toward these common goals.

It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism

Throughout history, demagogues have used state power to target minority communities and political enemies, often culminating in state violence. Today, we face that threat in our own country, where the president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land. In recent weeks, he has lashed out unprompted against four freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and me, from Minnesota.

Last week, as President Trump watched the crowd at one of his rallies chant “Send her back,” aimed at me and my family, I was reminded of times when such fear mongering was allowed to flourish. I also couldn’t help but remember the horrors of civil war in Somalia that my family and I escaped, the America we expected to find and the one we actually experienced.

The president’s rally will be a defining moment in American history. It reminds us of the grave stakes of the coming presidential election: that this fight is not merely about policy ideas; it is a fight for the soul of our nation. The ideals at the heart of our founding — equal protection under the law, pluralism, religious liberty — are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.

Having survived civil war in my home country as a child, I cherish these values. In Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, I saw grade-school children as young as me holding assault rifles in the streets. I spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where there was no formal schooling or even running water. But my family and I persevered, fortified by our deep solidarity with one another, the compassion of others and the hope of a better life in the United States.

The America we arrived in was different from the one my grandfather had hoped to find. The land of opportunity he imagined was in fact full of challenges. People identified me in ways that were foreign to me: immigrant, black. I learned that these identities carried stigmas, and I experienced prejudice as a visibly Muslim woman.

But the beauty of this country is not that our democracy is perfect. It’s that embedded in our Constitution and democratic institutions are the tools to make it better. It was in the diverse community of Minneapolis — the very community that welcomed me home with open arms after Mr. Trump’s attacks against me last week — where I learned the true value of democracy. I started attending political caucuses with my grandfather, who cherished democracy as only someone who has experienced its absence could. I soon recognized that the only way to ensure that everyone in my community had a voice was by participating in the democratic process.

Today, that basic promise is under threat. Our democratic institutions have been weaponized. The Trump administration has sought to restrict people from exercising their voting rights. It has sought to undermine the basic checks and balances of our Constitution by not respecting subpoenas from Congress. And the president has used overtly racist rhetoric to strike fear and division in communities of color and religious minorities across the country.

The idea — explicitly expressed by this president and enshrined into law by executive order — that people from certain Muslim-majority countries cannot enter this country is not just bad policy; it is a direct threat to liberal democracy. The chants of “Jews will not replace us,” shouted at a rally in Charlottesville in 2017 by white supremacists, whom this president tacitly accepted, are a direct attack on the values of religious freedom central to the founding of our nation.

The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another — and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.

His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces — from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.

The only way to push back is to be unequivocal about our values. It is not enough to condemn Mr. Trump’s racism. We must affirmatively confront racist policies — whether the caging of immigrant children at the border or the banning of Muslim immigrants or the allowing of segregation in public housing. It is not enough to condemn the corruption and self-dealing of this administration. We must support policies that unmistakably improve working people’s lives, including by strengthening collective bargaining, raising the minimum wage and pursuing a universal jobs guarantee.

The consequences of this fight will not just be felt here at home but around the world. Right-wing nationalism in Hungary, Russia, France, Britain and elsewhere is on the march in ways not seen in decades. America has been a beacon of democratic ideals for the world. If we succumb to the fever of right-wing nationalism, it will have consequences far beyond our borders.

The proudest moments in our history — from the Emancipation Proclamation to the civil rights movement to the struggle against fascism — have come when we fight to protect and expand basic democratic rights. Today, democracy is under attack once again. It’s time to respond with the kind of conviction that has made America great before.

Progressives Must avoid the “Trumpian Trap”

It has become quite clear that Trump’s electoral strategy is built on mobilizing racism and anti-immigrant nationalist xenophobia. It seeks to create a narrative framed around the threat that “they” pose to “us”.  He knows that his base of support, while remarkably durable and fanatically committed to him, is much too small to insure his re-election. Thus, in addition to insuring their maximum mobilization, he needs to draw many uncommitted to his side, while engaging in systematic voter suppression of constituencies that oppose him. Thus his strategy is to turn that “we” v. “they” mobilization into a “white” v. “black and brown” electoral strategy. Trump knows that, in a country that is about 65% “white”, if he can do that he wins. 

The challenge for progressives is to counter this Trumpian strategy without falling into the trap of making this a fight between the races. We know that Trump will continue to stoke the racist and xénophobic fires. And that he will be able to control a significant amount of public air time and tend to dominate social media and the public debate. Progressives will not be able to avoid this issue, and must not fail to combat his racism and xénophobia clearly and directly. The challenge for us is to know how to do that without falling into the trap he is trying to set of making this a “color war,” a fight of white against black and brown.  For that is a war we will lose. And we cannot afford to lose this fight. 

The stakes could not be higher. It is not an overstatement to say that if we do not stop Trump in 2020, we may not be able to stop America’s slide into neo-fascism. And the reason is clear. The strategy of the now Trumpian Republican Party is to re-write the rules of the electoral process so that it becomes practically impossible for even significant majorities of the population to influence policy. From voter suppression, and extreme gerrymandering, to unlimited campaign expenditures and drastic constitutional revisions, their strategy is clear: protect corporate wealth and disempower the populace. While I cannot dwell on those details here, a detailed understanding of that strategy and its historical development can be obtained in Nancy MacLean’s brilliant book Democracy in Chains: the radical right’s stealth plan for America.  

Thus, I repeat, progressives must not fall into the Trumpian Trap of letting him make this a fight between the white majority and the black and brown minority. We must confront his racism and xenophobia head-on with a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, inclusive program of economic and social justice. We must address the sufferings of all Americans, and advocate clear progressive programs that speak to the needs and offer practical solutions to the problems that are felt by working people across this country. From global warming to opioid addiction, from outrageous income inequalities to the failing social safety net, Democratic candidates need to present an inclusive vision and program that transcends racial, ethnic, and regional divides and offers all  Americans a realistic hope for a better future. That can be a winning message. We cannot afford to fail.  

Forum on Building a Cooperative Economy

How We Are Building a Cooperative Economy: On Long Island and Across New York State 

Campaigns underway: Creating Workplace Cooperatives

Creating a New York State Center for Worker Ownership

Building a Campaign to establish city and state public banking

Funding Community Development Financial Institutions

Promoting the NYS Community Equity Agenda

Featuring: Andy Morrison, Campaigns Director

New Economy Project, &

Lisa Tyson, Director

Long Island Progressive Coalition

Friday, June 7th — 9-11am

At the office of the Long Island Federation of Labor, 

390 Rabro Drive, Hauppauge

For further information or To confirm your attendance 

email or 

Call 516-364-2178