by Larry Miller
I’ve heard and read an array of distressing statements from the left about the upcoming election.
“This election is nothing more than choosing between the lesser of two evils.”
“Fascism and neoliberalism are two sides of the same coin.”
“Social democracy is the left wing of Fascism.”
“Voting has no purpose.”
All these statements add up to not voting for Hillary Clinton. But such perspectives are ahistorical and do not address the needs of the people’s movements at this time.
The following is not a defense of Hillary Clinton and her political positions, but instead is an argument for a strategic consideration to defend the American people against a growing fascist threat.
Donald Trump is calling for a police state in America. Trump’s call for “rounding up” 11 million immigrants, with the creation of a special police force, is a fascist act. His history of discrimination toward African-Americans combined with his vitriol toward Black Lives Matter and the Black community and his proclamation of being the “law and order” candidate make it clear that both Black and Brown communities would receive the brunt of his call for new forms of state terror. In the not too distant past Black people in this country experienced a state of terror called Jim Crow. Under no circumstances should such terror be allowed to return.
The “We can’t vote for Hillary” arguments today do not reflect what we need to fight a growing and frightening ultra-nationalist and racist movement. A Trump victory would mean significant setbacks and unbearable obstacles for those fighting to improve the lives of working and poor folks.
I have an Iranian friend who is scared to death that Trump will win this election. She cannot return to Iran because she would be arrested by the fascist theocracy in power. She knows firsthand what it means to try and organize under a police state. She warns of the setbacks that would be faced by Black and Brown communities that already face incredible hardship.
A vote for Hillary does not equal a vote for neoliberalism. We don’t give up our own platform and demands by our vote. What we do is protect the democratic rights that we still have so we are more capable of organizing.
We need to be able to fight on more than one front. During World War II the Black community mobilized against Hitler fascism. At the same time they fought discrimination, Jim Crow laws, lynching, for voting rights, and against attacks on Black communities. African-American soldiers fought fascism in Europe, against white supremacy and segregation inside the military, and brought that battle back home after the war, leading to the great freedom struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.
Today the left should support blocking Trump from gaining the White House. This in no way calls for pulling back or watering down the demands of the important liberation movements being waged today. But it does say do the smart thing, find allies everywhere including within the Democratic Party, make use of contradictions within the ruling circles, and distinguish between enemies.
U.S. liberation movements are still weak and at early stages of development. We are without a unifying party that brings together the working class, liberation movements and communities of color. The Working Families Party and the Green Party are important to the struggle but they should not be confused with the type of political party that is needed to lead a political revolution in this country.
As Linda Burnham has pointed out in Notes on an Election, “The U.S. left is not strong enough – not nearly strong enough – to frame its own choices. Every choice that is framed for us by the center and the right will be agonizingly difficult. The key issue is whether the choices we make create the possibility to build our strength and move in the direction of a coherent strategy, or further weaken and marginalize our already fragmented and debilitated forces.”
In a recent interview on NPR, an immigrant Latino delegate to the Democratic convention, said, “Not voting against Trump is a privilege and luxury my people do not have.”
Bottom line: organize to vote for Hillary Clinton while organizing liberation and resistance movements.
The real need is to support and engage with communities that are resisting, organizing and seeking power — do door-knocking in poor and working-class communities; stand at a factory entrance during shift change; march with Black Lives Matter; march for immigration rights with groups like Voces de la Frontera; organize to elect progressive candidates locally; fight Islamophobia; organize for Palestinian rights; organize to oppose militarization and use of drones – all while calling on people to do everything in their power to stop Trump.
Those of us who are white need to find ways to talk to white co-workers, neighbors and others to expose why this billionaire who built his empire on union-busting, exploitation, discrimination and misogyny, is the last person to be the voice for working people.
Power to the People!