1. Some on the left damned Oprah with slight praise or no praise at after her magnificent speech at the Globes on Sunday night. A few even upbraided her for one thing or another unrelated to the speech. And, not least, an old picture of her with Harvey Weinstein made the rounds.
Such reactions are incredibly insensitive, to put it nicely, to a very famous and accomplished African American woman who had just captured before an audience of tens of millions this shape shifting moment better than anyone else has up to now — not to mention reveal a tin (or should I say callous) ear to the desires of women to work and live in workplace and country in which they aren’t the objects of sexual harassment and violence.
After reading these screeds, I asked myself — is it any wonder that the left has been on the margins of U.S. politics for more than a half century, notwithstanding a few upticks over the decades? Millions of women loved Oprah’s speech. And I hope millions of men did too. We can do better.
2. While at the YMCA last week, I watched Ari Fleischer express puzzlement at Trump’s low standing in public opinion polls. After all, he said, employment is up, wages are growing(?), and the stock market is hitting record levels. Hence, there is no good reason, he continued, for Trump’s unpopularity other than fake news.
But what this reactionary old Bush hand fails to understand is that for the majority of Americans, democracy and democratic norms matter. So do decency, civility, and presidential fitness. So do peace, diplomacy, and nuclear restraint. So do relations of equality and respect for people of color, women, and immigrants. So does a habitable planet. And on these matters and more, most Americans on one level or another realize that Trump is a existential disaster — a reckless, narcissistic, authoritarian wrecking ball.
It’s no mystery, therefore, to any objective observer (which the well-paid FOX crony Fleischer isn’t), why Trump is so disliked and detested by tens of millions.
3. Earlier this week, I wrote on Facebook that Trump is in a big pickle, which he is. But I should have added that the danger of authoritarianism orchestrated by Trump increases at the same time. His daily assault on democratic norms, the independent press, immigrants, and much else shows no sign of abating. So another danger is that this assault is such a part of our daily political diet that it can easily become normalized, and won’t trigger the same degree of public outrage as it did earlier.
4. Unlike some, I include in the “Resistance” the Democratic Party, much of the major media, most mainstream social organizations, some judges and courts, and sections of big business. A narrow framing of the opposition to Trump doesn’t serve any good purpose. In fact, it can encourage a sectarian politics on the left at a moment when such politics should have no place. This is especially the case as regards the mid-term elections, which offer the only opportunity to strike a strategic blow against Trump and the rightwing Republican-controlled Congress.
5. Some on the left say: 1. Many progressive minded people, including many Democrats, think that Russian election meddling is the only reason Hilary lost in 2016, and 2. That those same people believe that simply repeating Hillary’s campaign strategy of two years ago will bring us victoriously across the finish line this November of this year. To appropriate the slang of football commentators when a player does or says something on the field that is sketchy, “C’mon Man!”
6. Leakers and whistle blowers as well as an independent media perform a crucial public service and should be defended by all of us — especially now when authoritarianism dangers are unmistakable and growing.
7. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offers a powerful analysis of the political dynamics within the Republican Party in his latest oped. He argues, among other things, that in betting the house on Trump, the Republican Party are imperiling the country as well as run the risk of setting itself up for a historic defeat at the polls this fall from which it will be hard to recover.
8. On a different note, this being the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it is no surprise that much has been said and written about that world-shaking event. It left behind a wealth of experience from which socialist activists and organizations can learn, but only if they absorb it critically and reflectively.
But from my reading, this spirit seems too often absent. The accent instead is on celebrating the revolutionary creativity, flexibility, and bravado of Lenin and the Bolsheviks and the mass upheaval that ushered in the first socialist revolution. It is undeniable that that is one piece of the experience that deserves serious study. But there were also negative features on many levels that can’t be ignored nor decoupled from what was to follow in the following decades. I know from my own experience nothing good will come from a one sided, undialectical approach. In the communist movement, where I hung my hat for a long time, Lenin was an icon and the Russian Revolution
the apogee of revolutionary practice. Indeed, we took this tendency to an extreme and paid a severe price for it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that has changed much.