The Left: Stop Laughing, Get Into Shape



Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization, discusses Building the Trump Brand, during a National Press Club luncheon speech, Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Washington. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)


Over the past four months, people of all political stripes have expressed to me confusion about Trump’s dominance in the polls and command over the GOP base. I am merely confused by their confusion. A lot has been made of the GOP’s shift to the fringe-right over the last 10 years, and many have generally accepted this narrative to be true; yet no one wants to connect the dots to Trump’s popularity. Many liberals tend to just want to write off Trump as an anomaly, and this is a big mistake. The fact is, his strategies are working, and there’s a lot the left can learn here.

Trump is not a glitch. It should be of no surprise to anyone that he has been wildly successful in rallying Republican support. Trump is the natural product of the “take our country back” sect of conservative America that has only grown more prominent since President Barack Obama took office. The mind-bogglingly hateful things that liberals think he says merely for controversy are actually what his audience wants to hear. When Trump says President Obama is so bad there will never be another black president, or when he says mosques and refugees should be held under government surveillance, or when he says Mexico is sending crime-prone rapists dooming us all and we need a big beautiful wall with a beautiful door right in the middle, this is all part of his calculation–and the results scream horrible success. Trump is no less ‘what the Republican party is all about,’ a flimsy construction, than the people behind him in the polls. I’ve listened to what each of the GOP candidates have said in the last four months and they all ultimately preach some combination of austerity, hawkishness and nativism. Sure, Republican candidate John Kasich pointing out the glaring absurdity of dismantling Medicaid earns him half a cookie. But no one who considers themselves left-wing should ever want to consider someone who is brazenly anti-labor, defunded Planned Parenthood, cut welfare and took from public schools to fund notoriously disastrous charter schools–and would likely govern the country even more conservatively.

There are no ‘saner options’ here, at least none that the left should consider.

Who else would that be? Chris Christie? Ted Cruz? Strange advice. Christie is a pitiful Trump-lite, with his promise to get the CEO of FedEx to help the government track immigrants like packages and his chest-thumping antagonism towards the Black Lives Matter movement. Cruz’s statements regarding median wages and employment for women during the most recent GOP debate were disingenuous readings of data at best. The relentless laughter at the GOP is well-deserved. One of my favorite things to come from this election has been the absurd question of whether or not one should kill baby Hitler if given the chance; this question originated from a bizarre poll posed by the New York Times’ Twitter account and later asked of several candidates. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, answered with a “hell yeah!” Ben Carson was asked whether he would abort baby Hitler, and gave a hardline stance against aborting anybody. Many people, such as myself, found this moment hysterical. He’s a doctor who goes out of his way to appease the talking points of the anti-vaxxers, those opposed to the medical merits of vaccination. He has claimed multiple times that China is actively involved in Syria which is not true, while claiming he has “better sources” than the White House–likely the same folks who backed his claim that the Egyptian pyramids were grain storages.

Yet none of these things have hurt him in the polls. All it takes to rally together his widening base is to say “Obamacare is slavery!” and “gun control is for Nazis!” and he’s smooth sailing. Mockery is merely a way of coping with the surreal landscape of modern politics, and how real people – real Tea Party conservatives – are 100 percent on board with ‘President Carson.’

But beware. There is one way overdone mockery of the right hurts the left–it does not beget self- analysis.

According to Gallup, 60 percent of Republicans say candidates have good ideas for solving issues, compared to 42 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of all national adults. Lefties laugh too much at the haywire GOP while the selection of potential Democratic nominees they’re expected to pick from is abysmal. While many young lefties are still holding out hope for second-place Bernie Sanders, the Associated Press says Hillary Clinton already has a 45-to-1 superdelegate advantage over the socialist senator. I’m dismayed that Clinton, who historically has been a war hawk, an enemy of welfare, pro-capital punishment, pro-drug war, a blatant liar on her record and a flopper regarding hugely important issues is likely going to be president.

Leftists should also not have to subject themselves to voting for Hillary Clinton as a lesser evil. Time spent laughing at lunatics of the right is better spent studying why they’ve been so successful in pushing America’s “center” rightward, so that they’re not forever pushing washy candidates in the name of “pragmatism.”

Additionally, I do find myself disliking the Obama administration, which is decidedly hostile towards civil liberties, warmongering, and cut food stamps in the name of ‘compromise’. Even the man himself said he could be considered “center-right” in Europe, further demonstrating how what’s considered the center here has shifted. Looking at the GOP as an alternative might make some sense to a centrist, one of the perennial ‘undecided voters,’ but not to someone like me.

The fact is, the left hardly has a party. The political left is making minor gains in the national conversation with Bernie Sanders running, but after he loses in Iowa, we’ll go right back to hearing the 17th idiotic hubbub about a balanced-budget amendment. The left has been a political loser for quite some time, and it is time for us to get in shape. We must take the Trumps seriously, lest we lose the nation further. The answer for leftists who want better electoral politics is to focus on ourselves and mobilize–as those oh-so-hilarious Tea Partiers did– and either forcefully, miraculously turn the Democrats into the party the right thinks they are, or seek to dismantle the two-party system for greater representation.