Jeff Cohen Norman Solomon

Trump Really Could Win Again, but Progressives Can Still Stop Him

Four years ago, we warned that Trump could win the presidency. Now, we’re warning again.
[Book Catalog / CC BY 2.0]

By Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen / Common Dreams

Five days before the election that put Donald Trump in the White House, a 2016 article we wrote appeared under the headline “Dangerous Myths About Trump That Some Progressives Cling To.” The piece warned progressive activists about “three key myths”:

Myth #1: “Trump can’t win.”

Myth #2: “If Trump becomes president, he’ll be blocked from implementing the policies he’s been advocating.”

Myth #3: “Trump couldn’t do much damage as president.”

We wrote that each of those myths was based on major misunderstandings of political realities: In fact, Trump actually could win. If he did, we shouldn’t “have an inflated view of our own power to block the policies of a President Trump.” And, “Trump plans to appoint to the most powerful policy positions of the U.S. government individuals who are as whacked out as he is: Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Ben Carson, war fanatic John Bolton, to name just a few.”

“The racist Trump regime must be defeated in battleground states—and by significant margins, so the election can’t be stolen.”

We added: “A Trump presidency—made possible by his demagogic appeals to racism, misogyny, immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia—would empower the worst elements of U.S. society.”

Our point now is not to say we told you so. Our point now is to tell you that Trump really could win again—and progressives must do everything in our power to stop that from happening. That means, individually and collectively, going all-out to Vote Trump Out. Crucially, in swing states, that means voting Joe Biden in.

We have no illusions about Biden, who has faithfully served neoliberal corporatism throughout his political career. At the same time, we have no illusions about the neofascist elements of the Trump presidency or the virulent extremism of much of his political base.

That’s why, in recent weeks, the two of us have helped launch a campaign to “#VoteTrumpOut (in Swing States) / Then Challenge Biden from Day One.”

An encouraging reality is that the progressive movement is much stronger today—online, in the streets and on election ballots—than four years ago. We’re better organized, better funded, better networked and more astute about the need to challenge corporate Democrats.

Large numbers of progressives are ready, willing and able to battle a Biden-Harris administration on behalf of transformational reforms like a Green New Deal, major criminal justice reform to counter racism and establish true public safety, Medicare for All, affordable housing, free college, increased taxes on corporations and the rich, and big cuts in Pentagon spending.

Before that battle for progress can begin, the racist Trump regime must be defeated in battleground states (listed here)—and by significant margins, so the election can’t be stolen.

While a Biden-Harris administration could be pressured toward reforms benefiting poor and working-class people, Trump is immune to progressive pressure and protest. And a second Trump term would stoke more white-supremacist vigilantism and an even more far-reaching assault on democratic rights and marginalized communities.

The #VoteTrumpOut campaign is aimed at a sizeable bloc of voters in swing states that mainstream media pundits generally ignore: “swing voters on the left.” Some of these change-oriented voters are thinking about sitting out the presidential election or casting a third-party protest vote, even though they live in battleground states.

We will be dialoguing with thousands of these voters in swing states every week, and regularly sending them thought-provoking videos from the likes of Medicare for All campaigner Ady Barkan and lifelong activist/scholar Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky has offered this comment: “I live in the swing state of Arizona, and I’d vote for a lamp post to get Trump out.”

It’s probably silly to debate how much better Biden is than a lamp post. We’d prefer to discuss a 30-foot flag post at South Carolina’s state capitol that was famously scaled five years ago by African-American activist Bree Newsome Bass to remove the Confederate battle flag. Her act of civil disobedience in the wake of the Charleston church massacre gained international acclaim, and the state soon permanently removed the flag.

Last week, she sent out urgent tweets: “Trump and Republicans have to be driven out of office. . . . If he’s not defeated electorally, it will solidify a fascist dictatorship & the far right will ramp up exponentially. . . . I cannot overstate how terrifying the prospect of a solidified Trump dictatorship should be to everyone.”

Trump really could win again. The more progressives wrap their minds around that reality now, the less likely they’ll have to live with it for another four years.

Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen was associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media – and a cofounder of the online action group, www.RootsAction.org. His website is here: http://jeffcohen.org

14 comments

  1. Liberals have spent years trying to ignore (or deny) how thoroughly Democrats split apart their own voting base. There remains a fierce resistance by the middle class against seeing the consequences of the Democrats’ war on the poor. At a time when this agenda is taking an especially-heavy toll, count of Democrats to run a solidly conserva-Dem candidate, and begin building the stage to blame Russia.

    1. Agree. If the DNC hadn’t taken over the Democratic Party w/ its exceedingly poor judgement on nearly all issues, we would not be be in this hell-hole. The entire sell out to unfettered global capitalism, especially unsustainable consumer capitalism, has screwed the whole planet.
      Ms. Pelosi: “We’re all capitalists” Well, f’n-A

  2. No Norman. You–and Chomsky, and Michael Moore and a plethora of other vaunted liberals and progressives–have got it wrong. Before the Right can be defeated, the Democratic Party as we’ve known it for the last four-plus decades needs to go down in flames. The neoliberal/neoconservative Clinton-Obama legacy of war-mongering and greed-serving needs to die.

    That means, yes, Trump for four more years, during which time he and the Republican Party–with plenty of help from the Democratic Party’s Right-wing leadership taking its last gasps as it sinks into long-deserved oblivion, its credit-line with the American public having expired and its usefulness to America’s corporatocracy proven ineffectual–will do A LOT of damage. But will he do more harm than the arch-Right-wing tag-team of Biden-Harris–a senile, bigot corporatist/crypto-fascist and a sadistic authoritarian opportunist? Seriously?

    Biden and Harris and the Right-wing Dem leadership–along with their abject partisan followers–will be riding high on their own flatulence if Biden wins, and they will be no more susceptible to pressure from progressives than Trump is. And the progressives who choose to ride with them? Once again, told to shut up and go with the flow to gain scraps–or less than scraps–and enjoy their consolation prize of more pretty lies in stirring speeches from Dem partisan leadership if they “win,” or spat upon and dismissed as traitorous if the Dems lose.

    Was Obama “pressured” into getting us single-payer, universal healthcare–which we NEED RIGHT NOW, and which we would have RIGHT NOW if not for Obama’s deceitful subterfuge using the Heritage Foundation’s pro-corporate “healthcare” industry agenda via the ACA–was he pressured to do the right thing there? Did progressives “pressure” Obama into pardoning Chelsea Manning? Did we successfully “pressure” Obama to stop persecuting whistleblowers? Under “pressure” from progressives, did Obama end W.’s love-affair with warfare and regime-change, or did he do the opposite? Was Obama “pressured” by anti-war progressives to stop slaughtering people with unmanned Predator drone strikes? Did “pressure” from us groundlings move Obama to stop deporting poor immigrants who’d crossed the U. S.-Mexico border in record numbers?

    The underlying premise of Solomon’s argument is obviously that a Biden-Harris Presidency would be the “lesser of two evils.” But there is no evidence for this. None. In fact, there is a huge amount of substantial evidence pointing the other way–that a Biden-Harris Presidency would accomplish far more evil covertly than a continued Trump Presidency would overtly. With a Bernie Sanders the “lesser of two evils” argument makes some sense, yes; with Biden-Harris, no.

    The authors conclude with an evocation of panic from the TDS-afflicted tweets of Bree Newsome Bass about a Trump “dictatorship.” Newsome Bass did a brave thing when she climbed that flagpole to take down a romanticised, recidivist symbol of evil, but what did her courageous act accomplish? Did it free one unjustly imprisoned person of color from a U. S. jail or an immigration detention facility? Did it feed or educate one poor black child? Did it stop one sick cop’s truncheon or taser or bullet from reaching its intended target? Did it prevent one American family of any color or creed from being evicted from their home because they could not afford to pay their mortgage or rent, as likely–no, MORE likely, with the corona crisis still rolling–today as it was fifteen years ago because of healthcare costs? Perhaps in the minds of some youths raised in the nursery of American racism her action kindled some small flicker of enlightened doubt about the received unwisdom of their parents and peers and “tradition,” maybe–but did it alter by one iota the mind and heart of even a single determined racist?

    I am most likely voting for Howie Hawkins and the Green Party this round. I recommend that other progressives and Lefties do the same, if that option is available, with the pragmatic goal of getting the Green Party on the election map by breaking the 5% threshold for matching funds, even if that prospect seems unlikely. If that or another candidate option is unavailable, who am I to brow-beat anyone about how they cast their vote, or if they choose to walk away this round? Either way–yes–it is an act of protest. Perhaps the authors have forgotten WHY progressives protest? To put “pressure” on leadership to do the right thing, to bring us social justice, equal rights and human decency, yes? But the only pressure that would-be leaders such as Biden and Harris–and sitting leaders like Pelosi and Schumer and countless others on the top tier of the Democratic Party–is the threat of removal from power by their constituents. So let’s remove them. Let’s burn down the Democratic Party.

    #Demexit

    1. Thanks for exposing the inauthentic opposition party – the pitiful party that will never be anything we need them to be. I gave up on them some time ago and wonder why more of us have not ? In any case – DemExit !

    2. I fully agree with you. I refused to vote for Hillary and I refuse to vote for Biden/Harris. We can’t beat the republicans until we clean our own house first.

    3. Yeah, you got it nailed from your first sentence. I’m totally on side w/your point with the exception that if I really want to kick the DNC in the balls, I’m voting Trump. It hurts 2x as bad. What you see in the DNC is exactly what I see: rotten to the core worse than Trump.

      They’re only selling fear; which was what they sold last go-round. Watching Hedges debate that puke Reisch on Democracy Now 4 years ago is an eye opener as to how weak they really are.

      The weakest part of ‘The System’ today is the DNC. I want the system to go down, so yeah, I’m hitting them in their weak spot. I’m confident that I’ll still ‘be here’ in 4 years. I’m scared shit.

      I’m scared shit. But my principles tell me that the DNC, like Trump is also evil. At the end of the day, all I have is my integrity. I’ll vote Trump to hit back. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

  3. Sherlock Hemlock’s comment makes more sense than the article. A Democratic victory, as unlikely as that seems to me, will simply vindicate the shenanigans. And by shenanigans, I mean the destruction of civilization by the corporatist death cult. If I held my nose sufficiently to vote for Biden, I would suffocate.

    The Earth is currently experiencing a man-made 6th mass extinction event, and the USA is leading the way. Our duopoly doesn’t care or they don’t understand that humans are not immune to extinction.

    Reforming the corporate parties is a non-starter, we need a viable alternative. Vote Green in the short term and support The Movement for a People’s Party.

  4. I honestly cannot believe some of the comments here.

    A Trump win will push the GOP deeper into insanity, and the entire country will go with it. Nobody should ever lose sight of this fact while complaining that the Dems aren’t progressive enough.

    The Dems might not be everything you want for Christmas but if they continue to lose it doesn’t automatically mean they will go further left. The GOP had a solid run for most of the 80s and 90s and it didn’t cause the Dems to veer left… it caused the Dems and the entire country to veer right.

    This isn’t a game people… the entire country is about to implode and you think now is the time to pretend progressivism has real mass appeal? Or that people will vote for it before they vote for a Biden?

    If you want society to veer left, you don’t do it by empowering right wing crazies and assuming that power is going to somehow destroy them. It can just as easily make them stronger.

    1. “the entire country is about to implode and you think now is the time to pretend progressivism has real mass appeal?”

      Spoken like a true, Right-wing nihilist Dem partisan sales rep. Progressivism doesn’t need “mass appeal”–it’s already got the masses on its side even if they don’t realize it yet, manifesting in outbreaks of civil disobedience and angry demonstrations of human decency against injustice in the form of the current Black Lives Matter, which has wordlessly metamorphosed and progressed to being about how OUR LIVES MATTER–progressivism has been there, on the streets, raw and untamed, from Occupy to Antifa.

      “If you want society to veer left, you don’t do it by empowering right wing crazies and assuming that power is going to somehow destroy them. It can just as easily make them stronger.” Yes indeed. Quite so. Now apply that to your fraudulent, Right-wing Democratic Party’s leadership instead of using it as a convenient and cowardly kudgel to brow-beat progressives and Lefties who remain intractable to the Dem Party Management class, in whose lower-ranks of hypocrisy you appear to find comfort.

      Have a nice Empire.

  5. the pretense that liberals aren’t the most fascist is obvious to any marxist-Leninist
    these senile idiots—chomsky, the disgraced linguist, and a ruling class toady—solly, promoting a candidate that has supported every racist imperialist war imaginable—an immoral cretin
    social change in amerika—impossible

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