By Margaret Kimberley
Nov. 9, 2016
This columnist did not see a Donald Trump victory coming. The degree of disgust directed at an awful candidate was more than I had predicted. Neither the corporate media, nor Wall Street nor the pundits nor the pollsters saw this coming either. Their defeat and proof of their uselessness is total. Those of us who rejected the elite consensus and didn’t support Hillary Clinton should be proud.
Black people are now in fear and in shock when we ought to be spoiling for a fight. All is not lost. Even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship. Not the electoral ship, the political one. For decades black Americans have been voting for people who have done them wrong. Bill Clinton got rid of public assistance as a right, and undid regulations that kept Wall Street in check. He put black people in jail and yet black people didn’t turn on him until he and his wife tried to defeat Obama.
But Obama gave us more of the same. Bailouts of Wall Street, interventions and death for people all over the world, and a beat down of black people who still loved him. Despite the fear of Republican victory we end up losing whenever a Democratic presidential candidate wins.
Victory is ours if we dump the Democrat Party and their black misleaders. The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been. Instead they marched in lock step with a woman who was heartily disliked. Sanders went along as the sheep dog who led his flock straight over the cliff. The Democrats inadvertently galvanized people who had stopped participating in the system and who want change from top to bottom.
One of our biggest problems lies not in facts but in perceptions. What did Democrats do for black people? The Democrats ship living wage jobs off shore in corrupt trade deals like NAFTA and TTP. They don’t prosecute killer cops or raise the minimum wage. Trump will be hard pressed to deport more people than Obama did. The list of treachery is very long.
When Donald Trump asked black people, “What have you got to lose?” his words were met with derision. But in reality he posed a good question. What do we have to show for years of Democratic votes? Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine. But he didn’t rebuild Detroit or New Orleans. The water in Flint, Michigan is still poisoned and the prisons are still full.
The outpouring of love for Barack Obama was purely symbolic. In state after state, black people who gave him victory in 2008 and 2012 stayed home. They loved seeing him and his wife dressed up at state dinners but they were never fully engaged in politics because that is not what Democrats want. The love was phony and void of any political intent. Donald Trump will be president because of that veneer of political activism.
As for white people who voted for Trump, of course many of them are racists. However they are not without valid complaints. They don’t want neoliberalism but black people don’t either. They don’t want wars around the world and neither do black people. We corrupt our own heritage of radicalism in favor of shallow symbolism. While we slept walk in foolish nostalgia for Obama and cried at the thought of him leaving office, white people kept their hatred of Hillary to themselves or lied to pollsters. They want America to be great again, great for them. White nostalgic yearnings are dangerous for black people, and we must be vigilant. But there may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.
Republicans have been the white people’s party for nearly 50 years. Trump just made it more obvious. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. We don’t have to be the losers in this election. Let us remember what we have achieved in our history. Half of black Americans didn’t even have the right to vote in the 1960s yet made earth shattering progress in a short time. But we must understand the source of that progress. It came from struggle and daring to create the crises that always bring about change.
Yes white people will strut for president Trump but that doesn’t mean we must submit as if we are in the Jim Crow days of old. We have ourselves to rely on and we can reclaim our history of fighting for self-determination. The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now. Before we quake in fear at white America we must send the scoundrels packing.
The black politicians and the Democratic National Committee and the civil rights organizations that don’t help the masses must all be kicked to the proverbial curb. The rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet.
Those of us who voted for the green party ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka must stand firmly and proudly for our choice. We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us. We must applaud Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing their corruption. There should be no back tracking on the fight to build left wing political power.
The black people who didn’t return to the polls shouldn’t be blamed either. Those individuals must have personal introspection that is meaningful and political. Their lack of enthusiasm speaks to Democratic Party and black misleadership incompetence. We should refrain from personal blame and help one another in this process as we fight for justice and peace.
The end of the duopoly is the first step in liberation. Staying with a party that literally did nothing was a slow and agonizing death. Sometimes shock therapy is needed to improve one’s condition. If we don’t take the necessary steps to free ourselves this election outcome will be a disaster. Instead, why not bring the disaster to the people who made it happen? The destruction of the Democratic Party and creation of a truly progressive political movement is the only hope for black America.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com.