1. In this election when the Republican candidate represented a different kind of danger, or evil if you will, any assessment of the left’s role has to go beyond how people on the left voted. Most, it is probably fair to say, voted for Hillary, but that alone isn’t an adequate measure of it’s role. In fact, other considerations carry greater weight, especially its mobilizing role in quantitative and qualitative terms.
2. It seems to me that the left had a very flawed strategy from the outset of this year’s elections. It was framed as a struggle against neoliberalism by most of the left. And that never changed in any meaningful way as the campaign moved from one phase to another. As a result, most of the left sat on its hands this fall, while reminding anyone who would listen that Hillary was a very “flawed” candidate in order to protect their “radical” credentials and inoculate its audience from “bourgeois” illusions. And, as election day approached, they proudly proclaimed, as if it was a badge of honor, that they would vote for Hillary, while holding their nose. Some even cast their ballot for Stein. Because the elections were so closely contested, one has to wonder if the outcome might have been different if the left – and Bernie as well – had adopted a year ago a different strategic approach that singled out the overarching necessity of defeating the right.
3. I worry that across the coalition that supported Hillary too many are concluding that “identity politics” – not a term I like because it leads to too much confusion – should give way to class or economic populist politics that are more unifying. Such a framing would be a huge mistake. It was unsuccessful in the past. And it will be of no help in the near term as we go up against Trump and a revengeful right wing regime. Hillary attempted, in my opinion, to interrelate the two; she may not have been successful, but she had the right idea. And that is the challenge going forward.
4. In reply to someone who said I was “dumping on Bernie,” I wrote that it isn’t a matter of dumping on Bernie or anybody else. The issue is the strategic orientation of the left (or much of it) and Bernie last year; I believe it was wrongheaded and warrants some self-reflection on the part of its advocates, especially now, given what all of us are up against and what is required to forestall the plans of Trump and his mates in Congress. And, as for who should be leading what we hope is a broad and diverse democratic coalition in the year ahead – Bernie or Hillary – , let’s hope (there’s that word again) that they both are, along with the president after a short interlude and many other leaders of the center and left. Narrow concepts and practices of struggle that the left has a penchant for serve no useful purpose now.