We Can Fight The Extreme Right And Still Stand for Something

Larry Alcoff Aug 1, 2016


I am writing this quick note to people who were “with her” from the beginning and to those who are now supporting Hillary Clinton after she claimed the nomination. I understand the threat of Trump and, more importantly, 'Trumpism' and the neo-fascist, nativist and nationalist base within his supporters.


I want you to be concerned about the Democrats and Hillary Clinton as well. I don't want you to participate in a simplistic narrative that somehow everything is alright with them.


First, I appreciated that Rev Barber spoke and that Bernie Sanders was acknowledged and respected from the podium if not from the convention organizers and their whips on the floor. I am glad that Barack Obama called on us to hold them accountable to their words and professed agenda. I was also happy that Hillary Clinton sounded more like a left populist on some of the main themes articulated by Sanders – income inequality, healthcare, Wall Street, public education, etc.


But we should be critical that when Hillary rhetorically asks “how will I get this done?” and she answers herself by citing her ability to work with Republicans and find common ground. She doesn't mention, or acknowledge the role of social movements, organizing, and protests. She really answers her question by what she doesn't say — she rejects the idea that major change occurs and is sustained from the bottom up or from the streets, picket lines, and sit downs and sit-ins. (you could see this same strategic view played out during the primaries in how she reacted to BLM protestors).


We should, also, all be concerned (or repulsed) with the level of jingoism and nationalism on display at the Democratic Convention — not just the flag-waving, but the organized 'USA, USA' chant to drown out 'No More War' chants, the parade of military brass led by Gen John Allen who represented the militarism and interventionism of US empire at its worst. Why did many of you who were there in the room decide it was important to drown out 'No More War'? Is loyalty to Hillary Clinton that important?


I was also concerned with the preaching of American Exceptionalism. Constant claims that the US is the greatest country on earth, besides not being true, say that we can't learn from others, we have the right to dictate or lecture from a position of self-declared superiority to others, and it is the premise for telling immigrants that they must become like us to be part of us. As Linda Alcoff says why do we have to be the greatest? Why can't we just strive to be good?


Lastly, we should not be silent when the DNC and Clintons are willing to uncritically accept the support of the enemies of Trump as their friends. This is most notably true in the elevation of Michael Bloomberg, a member of the billionaire class, to convention hero. This is the mayor who doubled down on racial profiling and 'stop and frisk'. He supported charter schools at the expense of public schools, gentrification on steroids, and the making of housing unaffordable for so many.


So please don't become the messengers, echo chamber, and myth-makers that in our efforts to beat Trump and Trumpism ends up whitewashing neoliberalism, militarism, and American exceptionalism and empire.


We can fight the extreme right and still stand for something.




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