July 29, 2016
Some brief and quick points on issues I've been mulling lately, especially in response to the panic that has arisen with regard to a possible Trump presidency (which I still don't think is possible, but anything could happen between here and now):
I'd say that we are screwed, mightily, regardless of who wins, and the hard work lies ahead of us. I think those who criticise critics of HRC for possibly enabling a Trump victory are over-invested in presidential politics and elections to the extent they don't see how work actually needs to happen in other arenas and levels.
Americans in particular seem over-invested in presidential politics in part because it allows them to think they've done *everything* possible to make the world right again. And then they completely retreat into their own worlds, only to reemerge again after four years, foaming at the mouth about how deeply important THIS election is, etc.
But the work of political change happens at the local level, even in issues like the gentrification of neighbourhoods -- if people were more political about such matters, and saw how connected all of that is to the larger picture, they might realise the Presidency is a blip in comparison. It's not enough to simply worry about who your President is -- worry about what's going on in your neighbourhood, and the fact that you now have a Whole Foods on your corner but that your neighbourhood STILL remains a food desert (Hyde Park, I'm looking right at you).
Whenever we talk about these sorts of connections, we're told that we are too cynical or too complex or too something else -- utopian, leftist, whatever. I'm not sure what to do about moving the general discourse so that we have more complex conversations about all this *all* the time, not just around presidential elections. To be frank, I'm less optimistic than most, at least about the U.S, because I think there's a deep over-investment in symbolic acts. I also think that most people aren't really looking for change: they mostly just get upset when change happens and they're left outside the status quo. This was my sense during the Occupy demonstrations: every time I went to demonstrations, there were all these signs and posters about how people had been screwed over and were not able to keep their homes or their jobs.
Did that mean that a lot/some of them eventually reached a point where they realised, for instance, that a system that only rewards home ownership and doesn't care about housing rights for all is what's broken? Sure. And I'm cautiously optimistic that we can get to a state where we all realise it's the system that's awful, not the fact that it doesn't benefit us.
But then elections come around again, and the blinkers come on, and we are now mired in a lot of nonsense about how Trump is the coming of Satan and all the rest, and we decide it's more important that we remain veddy, veddy quiet about how truly awful Clinton has been, and how terrible a record she actually has -- as opposed to a billionaire who's never occupied a political office in his life.
I don't know what the solution might be. But I will say this to those of you who think Hillary Clinton can be pushed leftwards just because you elect her, despite her proven record of enabling only the wealthiest, of being a hawk, and so much more -- why do you see yourself as so utterly powerless against a Trump presidency?
For more on Hillary Clinton and her terrible, horrible record, see: False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, edited by Liza Featherstone. It includes an essay by yours truly, titled “Marry the State, Jail the People: Hillary Clinton and Carceral Feminism.” See also Doug Henwood’s book My Turn: HIllary Clinton Targets the Presidency.
Here I am talking about my chapter, with links to interviews with other contributors as well.
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