Trump, to me, is more akin to a White Redeemer of yesteryear than a modern day Deal Maker. The Redeemers of the post-Civil War South broke the back of a brief experiment with multi-racial egalitarian democracy in the Civil War’s aftermath and imposed a new harsh regime – Jim Crow – of racist oppression and exploitation. Trump and the cast around him seem to have similar ambitions, updated to our times and conditions.
Moreover, he seems willing to embrace the same mix of force, violence, disenfranchisement, legislation, and racist and other backward ideologies in new and old forms as his forebears did in their time to realize his ambitions.
Feels like we’re at a pivotal moment and advantage is for now in the hands of the forces of reaction and worse. Never before have I worried so much about the future of our country and all the beautiful things about it – beginning with its mosaic of peoples and cultures. But to paraphrase FDR, we can’t let fear paralyze us.
That said, analogies – all of them – suffer in different ways. And this one is no different. What strikes me in this regard, first of all, is that the scale, infrastructure, understanding (including anti-racist understanding), media resources, and maturity of the contemporary democratic movement is on an entirely different level to resist and turn back Trump and gang than the freed people and their allies were in the years after the Civil War.
The left in these circumstances can play a major role in assisting this process if it sets aside time worn sectarian habits of thinking and doing, if it realizes that the point of departure – not the end – of any serious politics of the left isn’t what we think or are ready to do, but what much larger numbers of people think and are ready to do.