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Published on November 12th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan

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Democrats, This Is A Wakeup Call — You Better Fuckin’ Wake Up!

November 12th, 2016 by  


There are a lot of ways to cut the pie and dish out blame for the Trump win. You can blame the media; nominating an establishment politician at such an anti-establishment time; Sanders supporters who didn’t back Clinton once she won the nomination; voter ignorance and apathy; decades of both Democrats and Republicans leaving the working class too neglected; cultural bubbles created by the Internet and lack of fact checking; growing wealth inequality due to “trickle-down economics” and financial deregulation; the electoral college; the superficial but very real power of celebrity; Donald Trump’s persuasion skills and Hillary Clinton’s absurd deficiency in them; and probably 100 other things. Or you could assume it simply came down to complacency and the incorrect assumption that bragging about sexual assault, spewing blatant racism and blatant sexism, alienating and demeaning party leadership and legends, lying perhaps more than any candidate in history, praising Russia and encouraging Russian hackers, putting nuclear war back on the table, being married 3 times, having committed adultery and tried to get others to do so, being sued for fraud as well as sexual assault just like he bragged about, and not having any experience in government would somehow disqualify Trump in voters’ minds.

But blame is negative. Constructive reflection moves us forward. What exactly is to be learned and changed from any or all those things?

If Democrats, Greens, and Independents are disgusted at the result of the election, and super fearful of what is to come, that could lead to an unprecedented progressive movement. Donald Trump could have been a gift that indirectly produces more good than harm. But that means three things:

1) We better get to work now.

2) We better not stop in 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, or 1 decade.

3) We better work on things that actually work.

Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and #NeverTrump had an absurd amount of funding at their backs, and huge networks of politically engaged people. But they failed anyway. One study found that some of the anti-Trump ads Republicans ran during the primaries seemed to have a counterproductive result — they seemed to help Trump rather than hurt him! That was one of the points when I realized things had gotten very real. If I recall correctly, that’s when the Koch Brothers said (not a real quote) “screw it, we’re not getting involved, since the money doesn’t seem to matter at this point.” With the obvious divide in the Democratic Party along very similar lines, it was also clear that Hillary Clinton would have a beast of a challenge on her hands if she and Trump went head to head. Well, it was clear to a lot of the party, but another big portion of the party assumed what the majority of Republican Party leaders seemed to assume — Trump couldn’t win the GOP nomination, and he certainly couldn’t win the presidency.

Let’s just take a moment to make this exceedingly clear: If you were in the “it’s simply not possible” camp, you need to seriously reconsider assumptions you’ve made about US politics.

To be fair, though, almost no one who follows politics closely (probably even inclusive of Donald Trump) thought Donald had a chance of winning the election when he jumped into the race. But that’s basically the point — practically everyone who is politically informed is living in a bubble. It may be a big bubble that encapsulates John Oliver and Bill Maher as well as Bill O’Reilly, but it’s still a bubble.

Donald Trump said early on that he loved the uneducated. By and large, they were they “first movers” who deserve much of the credit for electing Donald. And the less educated did indeed overwhelmingly vote for Trump in the general election. But what does that tell us about the more educated?

The “good” news, however, is manifold. First of all, recent history shows us very damn well where a political movement like this can lead — we saw the results in Germany. That should make more people aware early on what’s at stake, and it should provide lessons that help us avoid a repeat. I have to say, though, I wouldn’t bet on that solving the issue alone.

A second point is that American society is very diverse, has freedom of individuality at the core of the country’s founding, was built by and large by immigrants, and is unwilling to accept blatant racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Well, almost unwilling to do so — but my hope is that Trump’s election is the last straw for a majority of the population (don’t tell me the majority of the population voted for Hillary since she won the popular vote — only ~50% of the population voted).

A third point is that perhaps the protest vote finally won, and that could mean massive change in a good way. The protest vote almost won in the primaries against Clinton. It won in the primaries against the Republican establishment. And it won in the general election against Clinton. Back in 2000, it partially won — it won in the general when the Nader push essentially beat Gore, but Bush Jr. was still the establishment choice for the GOP. But the protest vote really won this time. I understand the protest vote pretty damn well — I used to campaign for it. My way of explaining it was: If a car is headed off a cliff and one party/approach is interested in slowing down while the other isn’t, it doesn’t make much difference in the end if the destination is going to be the same. The point is that “the establishment” isn’t doing enough, so we need a revolution.

I argued heavily against the protest vote this time, because the potential result seemed too dire and too likely, and I became hopeful the Democratic establishment could get us out of the path of disaster enough that some of humanity would survive. Alas, the protest vote finally won — on both sides of the revolution.

Don’t take this as a freak occurrence that will go away in a few years. This has long been building. Just as wealth inequality has long been building. Below are several points anyone who wants to be a politician or be involved in politics must recognize.

  • The anti-establishment trend is taking place not only in the US — but also in much of Europe.
  • The 62 richest people in the world in 2015 had as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the global population (and that number is down from the 85 richest people in the world in 2014).
  • We have increasingly centralized political power globally.
  • Wealth inequality in the US has been drastically growing for decades (largely because of financial regulations — or lack thereof — that heavily favor the rich getting richer at the expense of everyone else, but also because of corporate globalization and increasing automation in various sectors of the economy).
  • Unions in the US have hugely lost their bargaining power. Union membership is down from 22% when Bill Clinton was elected to 12% today.
  • The relative cost of health care and education have skyrocketed while those industries have grown.
  • All of these factors have hit the lower-middle class and the poor the hardest, of course. That includes lower-class portions of various cities, but also much of rural America.
  • No one should discount the racism dark-skinned people face in cities (structural racism as well as direct racism) and the challenges of urban life for the poor, but as that article linked just above notes, the poor in rural America have arguably been the most neglected of all — in large part because of the inefficiencies/impracticalities of extending social services across such a large, distributed geography.

plutocracy

Again, as I highlighted in my article about Republican civil war, note that Trump won heavily because of Republicans’ core base of rural voters and newfound electoral gains in the Rust Belt. The rural vote trumps (no pun initially intended) essentially every other cultural matter. However, crumbling suburbs where rising wealth inequality can hurt just the same are also not particularly on the up & up.

Place still matters. A lot.

And the benefits of economic progress benefit some places much more than others.

county-vote

But what do Democrats who want to see climate action, greater socioeconomic equity, and a higher overall quality of life need to do in order to take back control of the United States government?

There are 3 core takeaways for me from this election.

1) Get Freakin’ Involved.

The country is going to be governed. The portion of the population that is most passionate about guiding exactly what the government does is the population that is going to make the laws, inspire the laws, and help the country or bring it toward collapse.

If you are shocked that the country gave the White House to Trump and Congress to Republicans, maybe it’s time to get involved.

I know it is a tough world, that there is a lot of negativity and it’s hard to avoid working with corrupt people, but as my life mentor once (or many times) said, we need good people in politics too.

votes

2) Get Better. Inspire Your Core.

The Democratic Party, in order to appease the rich corporate side of the political arena, has had a hard time inspiring its idealistic, progressive core. This covers topics such a global warming, health care, and tax breaks for the super rich, among other things. My advice for Hillary when it was clear she was going to win the Democratic nomination was two-fold: 1) Have fun. 2) Be more progressive. She did the latter decently, but her biggest problem with that all along was probably just communicating how progressive she was. She tried to do the former as well … but she really didn’t have the personality for it.

The Democratic Party needs to do a much better job of making it clear to progressives that our idealistic values are center stage. Wait, that’ll piss off the pollution industry? Who cares — the pollution industry almost 100% funds and backs Republicans anyway. It’ll piss off hardcore Christians? Hmm, have you noticed who they voted for?

The Democratic Party also needs to understand the importance of personality and charisma when it comes to elections. Voters are shallow and uninformed — they vote based on personality and charisma perhaps more than any other factor. You need to run charismatic people that are highly likable.

Part of this task also involves understanding how Donald Trump is a master of persuasion, and learning language intelligence from the likes of Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga (via Joe Romm).

3) Divide & Conquer. Go After The Countryside.

Donald Trump divided the Republican Party, and then conquered it. He and a 25-year smear campaign divided the Democratic Party, and then took enough of the Rust Belt to win the presidency, House, and Senate. Dividing is divisive, but it doesn’t have to be about hate and misinformation — in fact, it shouldn’t be about hate and misinformation.

Rural America has been a Republican stronghold for a long time, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. How is the Republican Party helping this population? This is partly what enabled the Republican civil war — that portion of the population has been used and abused by the GOP in order to give the country’s most extreme corporatists and billionaire class more and more of the country’s wealth. The Republican Party has given the billionaire class (like Donald Trump) more and more of rural America’s wealth. Let them know that. Make them know that.

Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” and a few absurd proposals may have been all these people needed on the policy front in order to vote for Trump, but Trump almost definitely won’t deliver for them — and certainly not for the vast distributed population that typically votes Republican. Nope, this New York billionaire who owns extremely fancy/gaudy hotels and resorts (or licenses his name to them) in cities around the world isn’t going to save rural America. He also isn’t going to give them a much higher minimum wage, cut their health care costs, improve their social safety net, or distribute massive tax breaks for the rich to them in any significant way — as far as I can figure.

But Democrats better work hard to make them understand all of this by 2018.

One of the best hopes for rural America is that it make more money becoming an energy independence engine and economic engine of the 21st century. The beautiful thing about renewable energy is that it’s distributed. Wind farms and solar farms can help communities across the countryside. Individual wind turbines and rooftop solar power systems can do the same (but I would focus on community solar/wind farms and gardens). This isn’t a false promise to make their lives great (again?) by sticking it to the DC insiders. This is a real economic engine that can improve communities across rural America — it’s already doing so.

Then, campaign on this rural economic engine. (Just don’t over-promise.)

Along the side of that, make sure these people know that Republicans in Congress are obsessed with assaulting their health. Coal and oil country may overlook it, but most of those rural landscapes are not coal and oil land. Utilities aren’t particularly popular. Power plants aren’t particularly popular. Cancer isn’t particularly popular. Pollution benefits the corporate elites, the billionaire class — it doesn’t benefit rural America.

This is a winning message if delivered well. But the seeds of that delivery need to start immediately.

Energy independence with economic growth. Energy self-reliance. Sticking it to the utilities. Sticking it to the oil billionaires and coal barons. Remember, too, Democrats don’t have to take all of rural America — just a portion of suburbia gave Donald Trump the presidency.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the lower-income populations of rural America would be better off with a long list of Democratic social policies that corporatist Republicans won’t allow. But that may remain too hard to explain as a conversion argument.

 
 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.



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