It’s motley

Arrayed against Trump and MAGA is a cross class, people’s coalition. There is nothing pure about it; if anything, its diverse and motley. At the center of this coalition, unless you embrace a narrow and, in the end, self defeating understanding of it, is Joe Biden, the Democratic Party (which is trending in a progressive direction), and allied organizations, not least the labor movement (which is also trending in a progressive direction).

The left in its non-sectarian forms and social justice movement are in the mix too, but, by no stretch of the imagination, are they the leading component or setting the agenda of this disparate, wide ranging coalition. To the degree that they properly understand the nature of this coalition and where they fit in it will determine how and to what extent they contribute to the overarching challenge of smacking down Trump and electing Biden when tens of millions cast their votes in November.

Structures of accountability

A singular focus on power can easily go off the tracks if it isn’t embedded in and conditioned by a set of values, norms, and real and robust structures of accountability. This is the case at every stage of struggle, and every political organization, not simply at the point where millions are constructing a new society. This seems simple enough, but at the level of practice, too many examples, tell us that it is easier said than done.

A flawed strategy

Urging a vote against fascism in November, while damning President Biden with faint or no praise or singularly leaning into his mistakes and shortcomings, or simply leaving him out of the conversation altogether, may seem strategically astute, politically clever, and morally on time, but it is none of these. Such an approach, if taken seriously by too many voters would doom the efforts of the rest of us to prevent Trump’s return to the White House.

Such an approach, of course, might resonate with a section of the left and newly radicalized young people, understandably angry about Biden’s failure to demand an end to the genocidal war of the IDF against the people of Gaza. But anger and moral righteousness alone is seldom a good guide to what makes sense politically at this moment, given the whole concatenation of political actors and forces at play, the overarching challenge of activating voters, and the unprecedented stakes of this election.

As my old friend Lenin would say back in the day (I’m paraphrasing): At moments like this, a strictly sober, strictly objective accounting of the whole lay of land in all of its complexity is necessary!

A dual task

The task of the non sectarian left, I would argue, is not only to empower itself, not only to increase its own organizational and political capacity. No less important is to assist the entire range of people’s organizations — not least labor — as the “battle at the ballot box” draws near. This bloc/coalition of people’s organizations in collaboration with the Democratic Party at every level possesses the wherewithal — power, political acumen, and moral standing — to defeat Trump and the MAGA movement and re-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, not to mention provide the muscle to regain full Democratic control of Congress.

Of course, such an outcome would have to be defended in the election’s aftermath. Trump and MAGA, as we know all too well, won’t accept defeat without a struggle and are already planning their moves in that event. “By any means necessary” is more than a slogan for this cabal of reaction, racism, retribution, and revanchism. All of which are wrapped in the gown of White Christian Nationalism. Something is rotten in … and we have to disgorge it!

Normandy and nationalism

Watching the ceremony at Normandy reminds me that pride in one’s country can be a source of heroism, unity, and uplift as well as their opposites. It isn’t a substitute for internationalism, but it doesn’t have to be the latter’s antithesis either. One can reinforce the other, provided the requisite political leadership is committed to that task.

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