Election 2016: Dissenting Voices— A PLEA FOR REFLECTION


Editor at Large


Although the word “leftist” has been bastardized beyond recognition, for purposes of this discussion, it broadly includes those who believe capitalism is inherently flawed and not subject to remediation through rearranging the parts.  Although tactical and other such differences are not uncommon among colleagues, even healthy, fundamental divergences are not.  Since the nomination and subsequent election of Trump, such a division has occurred, alienating a passionate but distinct minority of leftists.

For the most part, the concerns of this minority, of which I am among, have either been ignored or condescendingly dismissed, implying only the truly enlightened have their eyes on the prize:  the larger international landscape.  Our vision is not at issue, but through the lens of the minority, we perceive a different reality in which leftists are abandoning the most basic egalitarian principles.  Compounding matters, this betrayal rests on a foundation of assumptions so tenuous as to not support a feather.

What discourse that’s transpired on this divide has prompted precious little introspection, and perhaps it would be fruitful—at the risk of oversimplification–to take a step back and retrace the footsteps that led us to this unfortunate schism.   The left, in contrast to liberals/soft left, has long expressed disdain for assessing candidates on a “lesser of evils” basis, which only leads to a perpetuation of “evils.”  Once it became clear that Trump’s candidacy was more than a cartoon character feeding his insatiable ego, they began to see the breadth of Establishment opposition and “groupthink” of sorts took hold.

Again, risking oversimplification, it appeared that initially the left’s dance with Trump was fueled by “an enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  They felt maybe, just maybe, this diseased clown could cause capitalism to implode domestically and create a new dawn internationally through transcending the cold-war mentality of both major parties.   It was certain that Clinton would perpetuate the status quo or worse, and as despicable as Trump the man was to the left, he at least represented new possibilities in contrast to more of the same.

This led to an avalanche of articles in distinguished leftist publications, with few explicitly endorsing Trump, but most skirting close to adopting the “lesser of evils” position they vehemently profess to abhor.  Article after article ad nauseam read like an exercise in redundancy:  barbarian that he is, Trump is far less dangerous than an inveterate cold warrior like Clinton.  He wants to clean the slate and “make nice” with Russia and China, whereas Clinton—whose faults hardly required embellishment—was portrayed as Attila The Hun who might well take us to the brink of disaster.  Then, sparing only a few words, a bouquet would be thrown in Jill Stein’s direction.  What a lovely gesture!

Why have I and other old warriors been profoundly anguished by the left’s apparent acquiescence to Trump?  Let me count the ways.  Starting with imploding capitalism as we know it, as my colleague Dr. Rowan Wolf has written, Trump might not be a captive of the system, but he is the system.  He already exposed the lethal underbelly of capitalism through his campaign’s raw invective and sheer darkness, legitimizing every conceivable form of bigotry and unleashing “brown shirts” to promulgate his mendacious brand of manipulation in a maniacal quest for unchecked power—a coarse oligarch donning an “outsider’s” clothes.  The populace responded to this horror show by expressing their approbation of a manifestly deranged man, and those waiting for implosion best not hold their breath.

Internationally, the central argument posited by the left is that Trump (the consummate statesman!) will finally relegate the cold war to history’s junkpile.  It’s true that Trump might reduce existing tensions with Russia and China, but it’s even more likely he’ll exacerbate relations with North Korea, Iran, every Muslim nation, give carte blanche to Israel, and the African Continent will be invisible to him.  That said, an informed assessment of Trump’s effect internationally isn’t possible, as we’re talking about the countless unknowns when the principal figure is a pathological liar and clinical narcissist—morally and temperamentally unfit for anything other than being a successful capitalist.  Are the “have nots” collateral damage while we wait in fantasy land for such a man to create a new world order?

No thoughtful leftist would differ one iota with the aforementioned depiction of Trump’s character, and yet they unabashedly predicate hypotheticals on premises that would turn Aristotelian logic on its head.  What isn’t hypothetical is the real harm that will befall real people in real places, predominantly at-risk population segments who’ll suffer untold harm from an insensate man to whom compassion, sensitivity, justice, and even common civility are foreign concepts.

The left was justifiably apoplectic over Obama’s Cabinet choices, who now appear saintly relative to Trump’s surreal selections.  Indeed, they bring a new and frightening dimension to inmates taking control of the asylum.  Yet, the left remains undeterred in their “wait and see” mantra, seemingly impervious to core Marxist principles of sounding a clarion call on behalf of the voiceless.  Is the left willing to write off the vulnerable as expendable, based on the acumen in international affairs of an erratic, mercurial, and unstable man?  Apparently so, and with moral certitude as though the ends justify the means when the means are family.  Is that our vision of community?

I often hear that several leading voices on the left are members of at-risk populations, such as individuals of color, but how many of them are absent shelter, food, medical care, and the like.  As I’ve previously written, I fear what we’re witnessing is a lamentable form of elitism, good people whose humility has fallen victim to hubris and doctrine.  How remarkable that they’re willing to wager the well-being of others on ethereal projections of what a Trump presidency will bring internationally.  I choose to look at what Trump and his “brain trust” have said and done throughout their lives, and I feel terror for my less fortunate sisters and brothers—here and abroad—perceived by Trump as “pathetic losers.” 

It’s unlikely any minds will be changed by these sentiments, as my friends and colleagues on the left are more comfortable at their computers than soup kitchens or homeless shelters.  Most haven’t been on the streets, save for an occasional protest, since the civil rights and anti-war struggles of the sixties and seventies.  Instead, they talk to each other, converting the already converted rather than creating an infrastructure for outreach to the masses.  For this reason, I and others who share my convictions are now referring to ourselves as “radical egalitarians” rather than “leftists,” as the meaning of the latter has never been more blurred.

In closing, I’ll reluctantly relate what was shared with me recently by a lifelong leftist in the anti-poverty movement.  The reluctance emanates from my concern her words will be hurtful to some, as I don’t find personal disparagement productive in the search for light.  In the end, after all, we’re all seeking to find that elusive Lady Justice.  My friend’s desperation spilled over in reading what she referred to as the “cleansing” of Trump by the left, and her pain over this seeming apathy for those in harm’s way prompted her to recite Welch’s condemnation of McCarthy:  “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”  Those aren’t the words I would use, but this isn’t the left’s finest hour.

—Ed Duvin



EddieDuvin31712Ed Duvin serves as Editor-at-Large with The Greanville Post, and also a member of the editorial board. His writings and positions—often controversial— on ethics, human rights, philosophy, politics in general, and questions relating to the morality of human interactions with animals and nature have inspired generations of activists in the US and abroad. His characteristically low-key contributions are simply enormous. —PG

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2 thoughts on “Election 2016: Dissenting Voices— A PLEA FOR REFLECTION

  1. The passionate warnings by Rowan Wolf and Ed Duvin sternly demonizing
    Trump are retroactive as we are faced with the fait accompli of his election.
    His manner of adopting recidivist neo-con policies with here and there an
    iconoclast break indeed frighten many (one needs to keep in mind however
    the alternative of a perpetuating neo-liberal status quo) but it is less dangerous
    than the Reagan catatonic reactionary smile. One must adapt to political realities
    as they present themselves and change tactics according to what remains possible. The extremism of the power bloc shows the weakness of a threatened oppression
    whereby the niceties of placating the public are abandoned for stricter measures.
    That is where one should proceed as the societal imbalances get to be more evident and more intolerable but abandon despair and ineffectual protests (unless they
    are total and involve those who now depend on the Trumpal liberation myth). One must row with the few oars left from the wreck.

  2. At the rate and direction that things are moving, there won’t be anything left to row. It is clear that several things are in the works:
    1. The dismantling of all government functions beyond revenue gathering, military and the police state (for as the US has learned in its exploitative practices in Latin America and elsewhere, when you gut all social net and infrastructure, the people may rise up and they must be physically coerced to return to their production roles.

    2. As much corporate and .01% “taking” as possible until the system collapses, at which point they will provide another “bailout” to further fill the coffers of a bloated super minority.

    And it is a foregone conclusion that the Supreme Court will soon be sculpted to facilitate and approve the deconstruction of one system and construction of another.

    There are those who are dissuading mass protests. While I fully agree that these demonstrations by themselves are not gong to stop or necessarily deter the wrecking ball coming towards us, it does make public at a local level that there are people resisting (“you are not alone”), and serve as a visible headcount of dissatisfaction for the powers that be.

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