The populace may hiss me, but when I go home and think of my money, I applaud myself. —Horace, Satires
It’s been three weeks since the election, and in the mirrored halls of the news and social media the contributors of uplifting opinion have been telling themselves that no matter what else might be said about the campaigns and the vote, it was a great day for democracy. Rough-and-tumble democracy in the raw, free-range, artisanal, and organic, the will of the people trampling out the vintage of political correctness, emerging from the ash heap of vicious cant, texting yes to the Declaration of Independence, no to an uncivil transfer of power. Cue the music, roll the camera and the flag. The people have spoken. Our democracy lives. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not perished from the earth.
This post first appeared in Counterpunch.
Early in the evening during which Donald Trump’s election as president unfolded, I talked to a union activist friend in Wisconsin about something unrelated. In signing off, he said he expected to stay up late seeing if the Democrats regained a Senate seat in the state, Hillary Clinton’s victory being assured. A few hours later, it became clear that Donald Trump had instead carried Wisconsin by a razor-thin margin. Who, MSNBCers wondered, were these hidden Trump voters that delivered in Wisconsin one of the three Rust Belt victories paving Trump’s road to the White House.
September 2016 demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Sandusky, IA. via Flickr.
Donald Trump is a fitting emblem of the Capitalocene, the age when capitalism’s relentless drive to expand has generated massive carbon emissions, pushing planetary ecosystems into states of unpredictable turbulence, precipitating a mass extinction crisis of unprecedented ferocity.
A man with an apparently boundless appetite for self-aggrandizement, Trump has promised to pursue policies of such environmental destructiveness that their impacts are likely to be measured in the geologic record, in degrees of temperature increase and feet of sea level rise around the world. Of course carbon emissions are collective and historical, so it would be wrong to suggest that Trump is solely responsible for planetary ecocide, but his election comes at a critical time for the struggle to avert cataclysmic anthropogenic climate change. In pledging to unleash unfettered fossil capitalism, Trump epitomizes and promises to grievously aggravate the catastrophic contradictions of the Capitolocene. In the wake of Trump’s election, some mainstream environmentalists may take solace in the idea of an unstoppable market-led transition to clean energy and green growth. These hopes are not simply misplaced but dangerously demobilizing. Trump is a devourer of worlds. He and the rampant fossil capitalism he embodies can only be stopped through clear-eyed, concerted, and radical political action.
After the US elections and Donald Trump's victory, Verso publishes the first in a series of pieces from our five-volume series produced in the eighties and nineties, 'The Year Left'. This article, by David Plotke, assesses why the Democrats lost the 1980 US election and what they will need to do win future elections.