1. The metaphors that might capture the recent revelations of sexual predation, violence, and misbehavior by men are many. But one is “tip of the iceberg.” For this crisis goes far beyond men who occupy “high stations” and “command authority” in the workplace and society. It is much broader and deeper.
The fact is that unequal power inheres in and gives definition to gender relations between women and men in every sphere of life. No exceptions.
I would add one other thought: we should know by now that unequal social power no matter what form it takes is inherently oppressive and punctuated — sometimes permeated — by gross and systematic abuse and violence. Moreover, with the exception of class power, it should command but one solution — robust, substantive, and consistent equality.
2. Al Franken should step down today. He hasn’t, as some say, had his day in court or due process, but I have to think that his women colleagues in the Senate know much more than we do with respect to the allegations of several women against their male colleague. Moreover, we are in the midst of a social crisis and cultural shift and thus the Democrats and the larger movement in their approach to this crisis and shift should set aside a narrow political calculus and be guided by larger moral and political considerations. And Al Franken should do the same today.
3. In publicly supporting Roy Moore, Trump reveals once again how that his moral center and politics are stepped in the toxic brew of racism and misogyny. It is easy to think that he is “cut from a separate cloth” and, actually, he is in some ways. But we can’t leave it there. He’s also the creature of right wing extremism that began its rise roughly forty years ago and climbed to an ascendant position in national politics in large measure because it heavily trafficed in racist and patriarchal ideas and practices. Yesterday, to no one’s surprise, Republicans in a reversal of their earlier position jumped on the Moore campaign bandwagon.
4. The Trump ship of state is taking on water as new information reveals collusion (and a coverup of collusion) between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the elections and immediately after. Whether this piling up of damning information sinks the Trump presidency isn’t foreordained, but it could well happen.
This turn of events isn’t, as some progressive and left people suggest, a distraction from the real business of working class and people’s politics. It is anything, but that.
Nor is it a spectacle to be simply watched in small circles with either disgust or amusement. Indeed, the sustained intervention of tens of millions who oppose Trump’s authoritarian rule, likely collusion with the Putin government, and coverup of wrongdoing is a democatic imperative..
How that exactly happens will take a larger conversation by people in the center of the far flung, multi-leveled coalition opposing Trump. But it should happen. And, in my opinion, should include contingency plans to activate a broad swath of the American people — a new Gallop poll has Trump at 33 per cent public approval — in the event that Trump does attempt a reckless power grab as more information leaks out of impeachable wrongdoing to the public or as Mueller and his team move closer to the center of the rot.
At some point Congress has to enter the fray, but that won’t happen anytime soon. For now Congressional Republicans are enabling Trump to facilitate their own reactionary agenda. And it would be a mistake for the Democratic leadership in Congress to make Trump’s removal — and correctly so — the centerpiece of their opposition strategy for now.
The ball is in our hands, and we should run with it, albeit smartly and tactfully.
And don’t let anyone discourage you with the smug assertion that even if we remove Trump, we will be left with Pence who’s no better. Pence is reactionary to the core, but he doesn’t represent the same order of danger as Trump does. But more importantly, Trump’s removal will shift the larger political landscape and dynamics of struggle in our favor.
5. As my swimming partner insisted last week, Trump’s racially infused ceremony honoring Navajo WW II veterans had to be by design. Things like this don’t just happen. I guess Trump and his team figure that such outrageous and unapologetic displays of racism are red meat to his base, whose support he will need in the face of growing challenges to his presidency.
6. Voter suppression, which takes many different forms, is a necessary staple of right wing extremist rule. Absent such efforts, it is hard to imagine how the Republican Party could retain its dominant presence in U.S. politics. It is, after all, on the losing end of trends that are reshaping the political and demographic profile of the country.
And yet it seems to me that the defense of the right to vote and its necessary corollaries — voter expansion and turnout — don’t receive half the attention that they deserve from our side of the political ledger. That isn’t to say that nothing is being done, but one has to ask if it is enough, especially given the opportunity that the midterm elections offer to register a body blow to right wing authoritarian rule.
The fielding of candidates with a forward looking program is necessary part of a winning formula in next year’s elections. But it will take more than a compelling program to shift control of Congress into Democratic hands — and nothing is more important than that.
7. Someone recently told me that I’m no longer a Leninist. To which I replied, “Fair enough.” But then added that I hope someone rescues him from the self-described Leninists who reduce him to a few slogans and a marker of their “revolutionary” political identity. When I was in the Communist Party I said on more than one occasion, “We should study Lenin more and invoke his name less.”